Pastrnak might return for Bruins against Hurricanes in Game 4

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David Pastrnak could return for the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, NESN). 

The forward was on the ice for part of the Bruins optional practice Sunday after being ruled unfit to play the past two games of the best-of-7 series, which Boston leads 2-1. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

“[Pastrnak] skated today briefly,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He did some work after in the gym, so that’s encouraging. He’s got his skates on out there. 

“How does that bode for tomorrow? Not sure yet. Probably a little premature. Let’s see how he does in the morning. So I’d put him at, let’s say 50-50 at best right now. Of course, that could change over 24 hours.”

The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 3-1 in Game 3 on Saturday in Toronto, the East hub city, without Pastrnak and goalie Tuukka Rask, who opted out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and returned home to be with his family. Pastrnak, the right wing on the Bruins’ top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, watched the victory in the stands wearing a mask. 

Pastrnak had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win in Game 1, including the pass to Bergeron that resulted in the winning goal in double overtime. Pastrnak could be seen wincing in the celebration and has not played since.

The forward, who tied Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals and scored an NHL career-high 95 points this season, has been replaced mostly by Anders Bjork on the top line — though Chris Wagner has seen time with Marchand and Bergeron — and David Krejci on the power play. 

Pastrnak practiced once during training camp because he needed to quarantine upon his return from the Czech Republic, where he spent time while the NHL season was paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, and because he skated at a local rink. But he was able to travel to Toronto with the Bruins, where he resumed practicing and did not score a point in three round-robin games during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

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