Lucic, Krejci regaining their form

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Lucic, Krejci regaining their form

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

CALGARY The Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand Show has practicallylugged the Bruins around offensively for nearly two months, and played to rave reviews through the entire NHL community.

Theres very little mystery as to why.

Bergeron has again become Bostons leading scorer, their best player and the biggest threat the B'shave to make significant plays both in the offensive and defensive zone.

Marchand potted his 19th goal of the season in the Bs 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, and moved one step closer to becoming the first Bs rookie to score 20 goals since Brad Boyes potted26 goals backin 2005-06.

But the big story out ofBoston in animpressive, wrinkle-freewin over a Flames team that hadnt lost in regulation at the Saddledome in over a month and a team that the Bs hadnt beaten in Calgary since 1997, when names like Anson Carter, Ray Bourque, Jim Carey and Grant Ledyard dotted the roster was the rise of the Bruins' top offensive line back to form.

There has been plenty of signs and shreds of evidence that Milan Lucic and David Krejci were both piecing their games backtogether, and right wing Nathan Horton was being pushed right along with them. The signs and hints all ultimatelyled to the lines performance in the win over Calgary behind a pair of goals from Lucic, and a dazzling, daring performance down the middle from Krejci that helped produce some much-needed offense.

Theyve been on fire lately, said Marchand. Theyre really picking it up, and were awfully tough to play when weve got other lines going and you cant focus on any one. Its just too hard for the other team.

The newly formed trio managed to combine for 10 shots on net, and totaled more than 13 of the teams total offense with 29 aggregateshots leveled against Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. For Lucic, everything that went down in Calgary originated with things starting to click in the win over the Senators last week.

I think we created a bit of momentum in the last game against Ottawa. Horton had a big goal against Ottawa, and helped set up another big goal for Seidenberg on the power play, said Lucic. As a line were most effective when were skating, and thats what we were doing tonight.

Our game kind of fell off there in January. We all werent making smart plays, we were coughing up pucks and we werent moving like we usually do. These last couple games I feel like were moving as we should be, were strong on the puck and were winning battles. If we want to be an effective line, thats exactly what weve got to do.

Krejci now has tenpoints (2 goals,8 assists) in his last seven games while manning the center spot on Bostons top line, and has once again stepped into the breach left by the injured Marc Savard a role Krejci has dutifully filled in each of the last three seasons whenever No. 91 has broken down.

Meanwhile Lucic had the two goals in Tuesdays win the first a great tap-in on a nice slap-pass from David Krejci while working the puck off the side wall and thenLucics NHL-best fifth empty net goal of the year to ice thingsfor the Bruins and has put up nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) and a plus-6 in his last 10 games.

Even Horton has 2 goals and six assists in his last nine games, and appears to again be flashing the ability to mix in some dominant offensive performances mixed in the more invisible performances like Tuesday night in Calgary. That's partially a Horton thing, but more a Krejci and Lucic thing as the duo has elevated their games with the important hockey month of March approaching.Both players have typically elevated their games when the big moments come, and that's once again the case.

Despite Hortons absence of production, Bs coach Claude Julien said that the top line was something thatthe hard-to-please hockey coach trulyliked as he watchedhis best offensive players finallybeginning to assert themselves again.

They were good tonight. They were good as Ive seen then in a long time here. I really felt pretty good about all four lines: everybody went out and did their job, and they were really reliable the while way, said Julien. You want to get contributions from all four lines, and tonight was the kind of night where everyone was able to recharge the batteries.Consider Lucic and Krejci charged, and ready to go.

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.