It took four seasons for Jared McCann to play in his first career postseason game. Nobody took it harder than McCann when his experience was blunted after one game because of an upper body injury.
McCann was scratched from Game 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders, but he returned to practice Saturday afternoon and participated in the abbreviated 20-minute session at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“I’m feeling really good,” McCann said. “The last day there didn’t feel great, and I wasn’t comfortable. Today is a different story. I feel good, and we’ll see where we go from there.”
McCann said he is “optimistic” about returning for Game 3 on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena. Coach Mike Sullivan said McCann had an “encouraging day” of practice.
McCann alternated with Zach Aston-Reese while skating on a second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Since joining the Penguins on Feb. 1, he had 11 goals and 17 points in 32 games.
In his playoff debut, McCann took three shots and had 17 minutes, 5 seconds off ice time. He absorbed a hit from Cal Clutterbuck but finished the game. However, he was scratched after not participating in warmups prior to Game 2.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “I wanted to be out there to help my team. To not be able to do that really (stunk). I’m looking to play tomorrow.”