Lucic helps Bruins make it tough on Vancouver

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Lucic helps Bruins make it tough on Vancouver

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; From the day general manager Peter Chiarelli came to Boston,he wanted the Bruins to be a team that was tough to play against.

Fortunately for Chiarelli, the Bruins have a player that fits that mold perfectly: Milan Lucic.And when the Bruins needed to be at their toughest, Lucic showed up with hisbest game of the series.

The big power forward finished Wednesday nights 4-0 winover the Vancouver Canucks with an assist on the fourth and final goal, and he wasa plus-two while recording four hits and a team-high five shots on goal.

His Game 4 performance doesnt stick out on the final scoresheet, but his explosiveness all over the ice was an indication that the real Lucic, who everyone in Boston knows and loves, showed up on Wednesday night.

Physicality is part of the game especially in theplayoffs, play physical and theres a lot of battles, said Bruins captainZdeno Chara after the win. So you got to make sure that you do whatever youcan to win more than lose some.

Lucic won many battles in Game 4, and not just the physicalones. The top-line winger showed off his one-on-one skill set in the openingminutes of the third period, which led to Bostons fourth goal of the night.

David Krejci chipped a pass out of Bostons zone to Lucic,who skated hard down the right wing. As Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksastepped up at the Canucks blue line and tried to put a hip check on Lucic, theBruins forward faked going wide and put the puck around Bieksa with one handon his stick, while jumping around him on the inside.

Lucic had enough speed to make Bieksa look like a turnstyle,and he came in towards the net down the right side with Peverley being chasedgoing hard to the left post. Lucic put a pass across the slot to Peverley, butRoberto Luongo poke-checked it up and off Ryan Keslers shoulder. The puck thencame down and hit Peverleys skate and went in.

I just tried to get to the net as fast as I could, saidPeverley. I didnt even really see the puck. It just hit off me and went inthe net. It was just one of those lucky goals. I was just trying to drive tothe net.

It was Peverleys second goal of the night, as he replacedthe injured Nathan Horton on the Bruins top line with Lucic and Krejci.

Lucic was on the ice for both of Peverley's goals. His presenceon Wednesday night was more than noticeable. Still, it wont be whats talked about on Thursday, mainly because Lucic isn't easy to find on Game4s final score sheet.

Peverley was wearing the player of the game jacket. Ryderhad a goal of his own. And Marchand continues to be a pest that produces, as he did with his eighth goal of the postseason on Wednesday night.

But with Lucic, his postseason hasnt been the same as his30-goal regular season. Hes been in the headlines, but mainly becausesome thought he was playing injured. Injured or not, it was clear Lucic's play hasn't been up to par.

Except for Wednesday night. He was finishing checks, winningbattles, and making skilled plays.

Well, when hes skating, hes a great player, saidPeverley after the win. I think hes a great player no matter what, but whenhes on his game, hes usually skating and hitting, and playing physical. Andhe did a great job of that tonight.

He made the Bruins tough to play against.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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.