Hamilton continues to impress vs. Rangers

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Hamilton continues to impress vs. Rangers

NEW YORK It took 12 attempts, but the Bruins power play finally struck gold on Wednesday night against the Rangers. It was the first goal of the game for Boston in the second period that finally breathed some life back into the B's, and the only goal scored in five chances on the man advantage in their 4-3 overtime loss.

It was more than that, though. The goal was another example of the growing legend of 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton, who seems to keep getting better with each passing game and showing more of what can do with the puck.

"He's very good. I didn't realize how offensively talented he was," said Brad Marchand, who deflected Hamilton's shot past Henrik Lundqvist. "He came in and he's quarterbacking our power play and making so many of the right plays. The one thing I've noticed is that he's getting so many pucks through traffic and he's finding a lane. That's what he did on that first goal."

There are still hiccups, of course.

In the first period, Hamilton wandered far away from the net as Rangers attackers were foraging deep into the Boston zone, and was nowhere close to where he needed to be as Marian Gaborik slammed a rebound of a Michael Del Zotto shot past Tuukka Rask.

The rookie was out of position and looked shaky for parts of the first period, as to be expected in his rookie season during a big spot on the road. But the 6-foot-5 hockey prospect shaped up his game in the final two periods as the rest of the Bruins pushed back against the Rangers.

Hamilton led the Bruins with four shots on goal and exhibited the kind of poise only special players possess in the NHL during their formative teenage years.

Hamilton fired a puck from the high slot into heavy traffic during the successful power play, and Marchand was able to tip the shot past King Henrik for Bostons first goal. The scoring sequence allowed the Bruins to say theyre now 1-for-14 on the power play this season, and also marked Hamiltons first NHL point as a PP assist.

To the surprise of nobody, Hamilton thought the honor was pretty neat given the circumstances of a fresh-faced rookie playing against some tough NHL customers in their building.

Is it something hell always remember?

"I think so . . . yeah," Hamilton said. "With it being a road game it was cool to be here. Its nice to be able to get that assist, but losing still sucks though."

Everything Hamilton is doing continues to impress Bruins officials. There is nothing that sucks about him.

The young defenseman played with Andrew Ference as a pairing, and it marked the third straight different defensive partner hes had in three games -- first with Dennis Seidenberg, then Chara and now Ference. Hamilton was walking the blue line while dangling the puck like a master tightrope walker on power play point, and on several occasions later in the game turned up the offensive pressure by attacking the net when he thought his team might need it.

Those are the kinds of things nobody has seen a defenseman do in a Spoked B sweater in a long, long time.

Anybody who watched the game tonight had to see that this guy was outstanding, said Claude Julien talking about his rookie. Hes not just good, but outstanding. He was so poised and confident. If anybody thinks that this kid cant play in this league then they need to take a look at this game.

I really, really liked his game. Its not just defensively, either. Its offensive, too. He made a great play on the power play and then on the first few seconds of regulation hes so poised with the puck rather than turning it over. I dont know what more to say about him, but I think his teammates are seeing the Dougie Hamilton that everybody is projecting. Were going to make sure to keep his confidence up.

The pressure now goes to the rest of the Bs power play unit with Hamilton beginning to find his offensive range. The first team struggled to keep the puck in the zone, acted passively when they had the puck in the offensive zone and consistently chose poorly when given the choice between shooting or passing the puck around.

So a change in mindset is still important, and results even more so.

"Poise "was one of the big adjectives used to describe Hamilton with regard to other rookies, and there doesnt seem to be a limit to what he can do. He showed good creativity in a series of one-man rushes into the attack zone later in the game, and said he opened up his game "because his team needed a goal in the third period."

There was also a simple play at the end of regulation where Hamilton flipped the puck high up in the air away from danger as the seconds ticked down at MSG.

Thats exactly the kind of cunning a reed-thin 19-year-old hockey prospect can utilize as a great strength in his first tour around the NHL, and something that doesn't go unnoticed by a B's coaching staff that appreciates smart play whether it's a 19-year-old or a 39-year-old making the smart hockey play.

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.