Haggerty: PBR line serving it up for Bruins

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Haggerty: PBR line serving it up for Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- All votes are hardly in, not with only two games played, but the Bruins' PBR Line looks like a winner.

PBR probably conjures up images of blue ribbon beer goodness to most, but its also the perfect moniker for the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley as they teamed up for five points, a plus-6 and 12 shots on net in Bostons 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden Saturday night.

The three forwards were kicking each other after Thursday night for failing to convert on a bevy of offensive chances, but it was an entirely different story against the Lightning.

They were simply continuing the chemistry and production they began building during the preseason, and there was no mistaking how all their efforts funneled into the explosive elements of Peverleys two-goal masterpiece against the Lightning.

I feel we're creating a lot of chances off the rush, and even in zone, by our forecheck and by the way we keep moving our feet, said Bergeron. I thought we had a lot of chances last game as well and we didnt finish. Tonight we had the same thing and we found a way.

Peverley actually bookended the four-goal outburst from the Bruins against the Lightning, and ironically enough potted a pair of Mark Recchi-esque goals while going about replacing the retired legend at the left wing post he manned alongside Bergeron and Marchand last season.

Both were collected by patrolling near the painted area, and having that nose for the net Recchi turned into an art form.

Peverley served as a bottom-six forward last season for the Bruins in an adjustment to a deeper, more talented team, but now hes back in a prime scoring role like the one that allowed him score more than 20 goals and 50 points for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Its no stretch to think Peverley can do that again with the kind of catalyst winger and premier centerman logging shifts with him that he never had with the Thrashers.

When he came to us from Atlanta, he was in the top two lines and thats where he played, said coach Claude Julien. With the depth that we had last year, we just felt that him on the third line and Chris Kelly on that line, just gave us such good depth. We felt really comfortable with those top three lines scoring with Michael Ryder, and they proved that against Montreal in that series.

I dont think we ever doubted Peverley could play in the top six. I think he just seems to be getting better with our group, and he feels more comfortable.

The first marker was a goal earned simply by crashing the net and popping the rebound of a Marchand shot that clanked off both posts behind Mathieu Garon before it landed at Peverleys feet. The score was truly created by the devilish mind of Marchand, who fooled the defense into thinking hed feed Zdeno Chara at the point before he unleashed a laser at the net fooling the Bolts netminder.

The final goal was all speed and tenacity a pair of words that will become synonymous with the PBR Line as Marchand and Bergeron got the Lightning defenseman scrambling. Bergeron set things in motion by squeezing off a shot after hed quickly moved from backhand to forehand in the slot area that handcuffed the Tampa goaltender.

Garon was able to stop the first shot, but once again Peverley was crashing down on the net with a fierce burst of speed and tucked the puck past the Tampa Bay backup backstop.

Though Peverley and Recchi have some obvious differences as hockey players, one cant be faulted if they watched 60 minutes of hockey on Saturday night and thought they were watching a faster, more elusive Recchi skating around on the Garden ice.

Peverleys jets and skating wiggle give the PBR line a chance to create chaos with their speed and suffocating forecheck and thats exactly what happened to an overmatched group of defensemen all evening long. Throw in the chemistry that all three forwards created last year when they were together at times during the regular season and playoffs, and you have a line that Julien whether purposefully or by slip of the tongue labeled his top line during his postgame comments.

Given their speed, production, chemistry and willingness to play hard, relentless hockey at both ends of the rink, they look like the trio Julien is going to call on most often in key situations during the game.

The scariest part: after improving by leaps and bounds from opening night to Game No. 2, Marchand believes there is a great deal more growth still on tap for the PBR Line.

I think our line played better tonight than we did last game. I think the more were practicing and playing together the more confident were getting where each other is going to be and making plays together, said Marchand. Hopefully as the season goes on well be able to continue to grow and get better.

With Marchands feistiness, Bergerons two-way dominance and Peverleys blazing speed, the sky is the limit as the PBR Line gathers steam over the course of the brand new hockey season.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.