PITTSBURGH — Many wondered whether Nick Bonino would even be in the Penguins' lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday.
After all, he'd been hobbled Thursday when he blocked a shot late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Lightning, and didn't practice Saturday or Sunday.
Well, Bonino not only started Game 1, he all but ended it.
His goal with 2:33 remaining gave Pittsburgh its margin of victory in a 3-2 decision against San Jose.
Bonino scored from the inner edge of the left circle after getting a feed from defenseman Kris Letang, who was behind the Sharks' goal line.
Penguins right wing Bryan Rust took a high hit from San Jose's Patrick Marleau early in the third period and adjourned to the dressing room.
Rust returned a few minutes later but, after skating one shift, left again.
Coach Mike Sullivan said it was a blindside hit and that Rust was day to day.
Rust gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 12:46 into the first period, when he chopped a Justin Schultz rebound past Sharks goalie Martin Jones for his sixth of the playoffs and fourth in two-plus games.
Chris Kunitz got the other assist, extending his scoring streak to six games.
Just 62 seconds later, Conor Sheary made it 2-0 when he beat Jones high on the blocker side from just inside the right dot for his third of the spring.
The Sharks regrouped during the intermission and controlled the second period.
They cut the Penguins' advantage to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 3:02, when a Tomas Hertl shot from between the goal line and the bottom of the right circle deflected off Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and went between goaltender Matt Murray's legs.
San Jose pulled even at 18:12 as Marleau collected a Brent Burns rebound near the right post, then carried it around the net and tucked it inside the left post.
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Rust 6 (Schultz, Kunitz), 12:46. 2, Pittsburgh, Sheary 3 (Crosby, Maatta), 13:48. Penalty—Zubrus, SJ (high-sticking), 8:54.
Second Period—3, San Jose, Hertl 6 (Donskoi, Burns), 3:02 (pp). 4, San Jose, Marleau 5 (Burns, Couture), 18:12. Penalties—Cole, Pit (hooking), 1:14; Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 18:52; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 18:52; Malkin, Pit (slashing), 18:52.
Third Period—5, Pittsburgh, Bonino 4 (Letang, Hagelin), 17:27. Penalties—Marleau, SJ (illegal check), 4:47; Lovejoy, Pit (hooking), 17:51. Shots on Goal—San Jose 4-13-9—26. Pittsburgh 15-8-18—41. Power-play opportunities—San Jose 1 of 2; Pittsburgh 0 of 3. Goalies—San Jose, Jones 12-7 (41 shots-38 saves). Pittsburgh, Murray 12-4 (26-24). A—18,387 (18,387). T—2:31. Referees—Dan O'Halloran, Dan O'Rourke. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Jonny Murray.
Bettman cooling toward NHL players in Olympics
The NHL remains open to continuing to send its players to the Olympics, just so long as it doesn't have foot the bill.
"Our teams are not interested in paying for the privilege" of Olympic participation, commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and Sharks.
NHL players have been a fixture at the Olympics since the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, thanks in large part to significant financial support from the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation. They have handled most travel costs, accommodations and insurance for league owners.
Also, the league anticipates a clearer picture on potential expansion to Las Vegas and/or Quebec City by the board of governors' meeting on June 22, though Bettman declined to get into specifics. The executive committee has yet to come up with a final recommendation.
There are three options on the table: The league could decline to expand, defer to a later date or go ahead with putting a new club in place in time for the 2017-18 season.
The commissioner gave high marks to the first year of coach's challenges. There were several goals overturned during the season on plays ruled offsides on replay, including an early score by the Lightning in Game 6 of the East final when the front edge of Jonathan Drouin's right skate crossed the blue line before the puck, which was on the stick of teammate Victor Hedman. Tampa Bay lost the game 5-2 and eventually the series against Pittsburgh.