Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

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Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With the threat of a two-minute minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct awaiting any player that throws an extended face wash, bites a finger or mockingly dangles his fingers in front of another players face, its expected that the finger play is going to cease in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

No more Maxim Lapierre finger-dangling, Alex Burrows finger-biting or retaliatory finger jabs from Mark Recchi or Milan Lucic. The message was sent loud and clear from Bostons side in a scolding by Claude Julien amidst the victorious Game 3 festivities, and it was backed up by the NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, in a discussion with the media during the Tuesday off day.

A habitual line-crosser like Brad Marchand knows that the series will still hold plenty of fury, intensity and physicality, but it appears as if the finger stuff has been played out three games into the Stanley Cup grudge match.

The finger stuff doesnt prove anything," Marchand said. "It doesnt do anything. Its good for a laugh or two, but for the most part its not effective. You dont want to be sitting in the box because of it. You can only see that so many times before its old news. Were done with the finger stuff.

While the killer face-washes are certainly going to be curbed on Wednesday night, it appears that just about everything else will continue to be in play between two teams with a huge game for control of the series.

"We're all fighting for something we've wanted for so long, Marchand said. Both teams won't let the other one take it from them.

If the Canucks take Game 4 and push a 3-1 lead in the series with Nathan Horton out of the lineup, thats a virtually impossible mountain to climb for the Black and Gold.

Meanwhile the Bruins can really push the momentum hard if they can even up the series and continue hammering away at the Canucks physically while slowing them down from their frenetic early game pace. There's an interesting pattern for the Canucks as theyre sitting at 5-5 in Games 3-5 during the middle of their four playoff series' in this seasons Stanley Cup run.

Were in the Finals right now, and the refs dont want any light calls to cost us games," said Marchand. "So the refs are not going to be calling it too safe out there. Theyll let us play and let us battle, and obviously if things get too out of control then theyll take care of it. Its the Finals. Thats how it's got to be. It has to be a battle every night with guys throwing their body on the line and making sacrifices.

Jordan Caron skated with the Bruins during morning skate for the first time during the playoffs, and will be a part of the pregame warm-up as one of Bostons 23 skaters following the season-ending concussion for Nathan Horton.

Tyler Seguin did such a good job when he stepped in and he was ready to play, Caron said. I think I just need to be ready like he was."

Marc Savard is expected to be in attendance again at TD Garden for the Boston Bruins after making it to one game during the Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Claude Julien wouldnt say whether Nathan Horton would be in attendance for Game 4 just 48 hours after his severe concussion at the hands of Aaron Rome, but the power forwards presence is doubtful given the symptoms and issues in the immediate aftermath of a serious head injury.

"I cant say one way or the other because I dont have an answer, said Julien. As you know being around a bunch of people is not the best thing for people dealing with concussions."

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.