Knight, Spooner continue to bond in Providence

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Knight, Spooner continue to bond in Providence

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. The word bromance has been tossed around quite a bit with Bs forward prospects Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner. They were both drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft that also produced Tyler Seguin, theyve played against each other for the last three years in the OHL and now theyre both joining the pro hockey ranks with the Providence Bruins this season.

They bonded closely at Bruins Development camps over the last few years, and were by each others side at the NHLPA-hosted Prospect Showcase last month in Toronto.

So theres plenty of common ground for a close friendship thats seen Knight, Spooner and defenseman Torey Krug all move in together in a Providence apartment for the season. All three skaters were expected to compete for a couple of spots up for grabs in Boston in NHL training camp, but will instead open as three of the more familiar faces in P-Bruins camp while the lockout rages on.

Theyre among a talented crop of players that Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli hopes infuse youth, talent and excitement into a Providence farm club that was missing all three of those things last season.

The silver lining is that there will be a lot more development time for the young players, said Chiarelli. Weve got more skill and I think were going to have some good goaltending as well. We want those guys to focus on the task at hand.

You want the skill to come out in a good and proper work environment. Its hard to put a stick in it as to where they should be playing, but Im just happy weve got somebody we can watch play.

Its not quite what Knight or Spooner hoped for while preparing over the summer, but they realize its about work rather than play in the world of pro hockey. Thats a far cry from the London Knights and the Kingston Frontenacs.

Its almost October and we havent played in any games yet, so its a little weird, said Knight. You go to an OHL camp and guys are maybe having McDonalds after practice. Now guys are having protein shakes and people are definitely taking things more seriously. Its great to watch the older guys like Trent Whitfield to see how they treat their bodies and prepare for each workout.

One thing that the stint in Providence will do for Knight and Spooner specifically: get them into midseason form in time for a potential invite to impromptu Bruins training camp in Boston once the NHL regular season begins. Spooner and Knight were expected to compete with Chris Bourque and Jordan Caron for a winger role on the third line, and all four of those players will be skating together in Providence.

The KnightSpooner bromance might have to take a time out if one or the other ends up making the NHL roster once the Bruins season does begin, but given the talent involved -- the other probably wont be too far behind.

Penguins edge Sharks 3-2 in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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Penguins edge Sharks 3-2 in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH - Nick Bonino's main job for the Pittsburgh Penguins is to get to the front of the net and create chaos. The well-bearded forward executed perfectly in his debut in the Stanley Cup Final.

Bonino took a pretty feed from the corner by Kris Letang and beat Martin Jones from in close with 2:33 remaining to lift the Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 on Monday night.

Rookies Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary staked Pittsburgh to an early two-goal lead before the Sharks tied it in the second period on goals by Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau. The Penguins responded by upping the pressure in the final period and it paid off with Bonino's fourth goal of the playoffs after he darted to the San Jose net in time to knuckle Letang's pass by Jones for the winner.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Matt Murray finished with 24 saves for Pittsburgh, which began its bid for the fourth title in franchise history by peppering Jones constantly in the first and final periods. Jones made 38 stops but couldn't get his blocker on Bonino's wrist shot. The Penguins threw 41 shots at Jones, well over the 28 he faced on average during San Jose's playoff run.

The Sharks made it to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history by rebuilding themselves on the fly. Two years removed from a brutal collapse from a 3-0 series lead in the first round against Los Angeles, San Jose ended a 9,005 day wait to play in the NHL's championship round by relying on a tough, aggressive style that squeezes opponents with a relentless forecheck while limiting chances in front of Jones.

Yet veterans Marleau and Joe Thornton - the top two picks in the 1997 draft held in Pittsburgh who had waited nearly two decades to make it to the league's biggest stage - insisted the Sharks were hardly satisfied after dispatching St. Louis in a cathartic Western Conference finals.

Maybe, but the Sharks looked a step slow - maybe two steps slow - while searching for their footing against the Penguins, who rallied from a 3-2 deficit to edge the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to advance to their first Cup Final since 2009.

Rust, who surprisingly made the team out of training camp and became an unlikely playoff star by scoring both of Pittsburgh's goals in Game 7 against the Lightning, gave the Penguins the lead 12:46 into the first when he slammed home a rebound off a Justin Schultz shot for his sixth of the postseason, a franchise record for playoff goals by a rookie.

Less than a minute later Sheary, who didn't become a regular until the middle of January, made it 2-0 when Sidney Crosby whipped a blind backhand cross-ice pass to Sheary's stick. The rookie's wrist shot from the right circle zipped by Jones and the Penguins appeared to be in complete command by overwhelming the Sharks in a way few have in months.

San Jose and its group of Cup newcomers regained its composure in the intermission and responded with a big surge. Hertl jammed a shot from just outside the crease between Murray's legs on the power play 3:02 into the second to give the Sharks momentum. Late in the second, Marleau collected a rebound off a Brent Burns one-timer behind the Pittsburgh net and then beat Murray on a wraparound to the far post that caromed off Murray's extended right leg and into the net.