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Pens F Bjugstad out for season after having spinal surgery

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Penguins will head into whatever becomes of the NHL postseason without forward Nick Bjugstad.

The team announced Wednesday that Bjugstad underwent spinal surgery to repair a herniated disk. General manager Jim Rutherford said the surgery was necessary after Bjugstad had a "setback" while recovering from a lower-body injury suffered just before the NHL went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The surgery ends a star-crossed season for Bjugstad, who appeared in just 13 games in his first full year with the Penguins. He missed more than three months after having surgery to repair a core muscle in November. The 27-year-old Bjugstad finished with just one goal and one assist, his worst season since making 11 appearances as a 20-year old for Florida in 2012-13.

While Bjugstad is out, All-Star forward Jake Guentzel figures to be back whenever hockey resumes. Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery on Dec. 31 after taking a hard crash into the boards immediately after scoring his 20th goal of the season.

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Updated May 27, 2020

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