Caron coming into his own

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Caron coming into his own

Those waiting for Jordan Caron to cool down might have to take a number and start grabbing for the nearest Snickers bar.

It looks like the 21-year-old Bruins winger wont be going anywhere for a while after another solid, strong performance in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Claude Julien raised an eyebrow or two when he trotted Brian Rolston out with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for that lines first shift of the game, but Caron was quickly back skating on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand.

Bergeron was clearly on a mission carrying defenders in the offensive zone, winning key face-offs and holding off Washingtons best offensive forwards.

But Caron was right there alongside his fellow Quebec native.

Its just more confidence, and obviously a bit more playing time I think thats huge. When you feel you have the confidence of everybody, I think it gets you going and you feel more comfortable out there, said Caron. Right now its good, but we came up short a
little bit against Washington. Obviously were going to have a tough challenge tomorrow, so were going to have to bounce back and be ready to battle.

It was Caron that started the Bruins game-tying goal in the second period when he used his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame like a battering ram, and caused a Washington turnover when he rushed Alex Ovechkin.

The Russian sniper quickly threw the puck back toward the defensive zone as Caron slammed into him in between the two benches along the side boards, and that allowed Marchand to turn it into a partial breakaway.

Marchand made a quick move with his hands that faked out Tomas Vokoun and gave the Bs agitator a five-hole target to shoot at, but make no mistake: that play was started by a physical Caron without the assist to show for it in the scoresheet.

Jordan made a great play to force Ovechkin and make him throw the puck away. It kind of bounced of the defensemans shin pad in open ice. I went in, tried to make a move, the five-hole opened up and I slid it in, said Marchand. Caron is playing really well right now.

He works very hard. Hes a big body and he controls the puck very well down by the net.

He seems to have a little confidence right now and we can feed off of that. We enjoy playing against the big lines and trying to shut them down. Caron is good defensively and he comes back hard and hes good positionally so he definitely contributes to the line.

The winger finally did extend his point streak to four games when he fired a shot at the net in the third period that turned into second-chance attempts for both Marchand and Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk finished things off for Bostons third goal, and gave Caron an assist for his seventh point in the last four games.

So the 2008 former first round pick, brimming with newfound confidence, continues to show all of the attributes that made him a top prospect and appears to have found a home among the top six forwards on the Bruins.

Eventually Julien settled on Rolston with Chris Kelly and rookie Lane MacDermid, and the top three line combos allowed Julien to match Bergeron, Marchand and Caron against Alex Ovechkin whenever his line headed to the ice. Caron was basically lined up against Ovechkin throughout the night, and the rookie helped keep Ovie quiet.

I thought Caron did a great job. He was lined up against Alex Ovechkin. Certainly we needed our third line as well to be good for us tonight. We moved up Lane MacDermid with Rolly Brian Rolston and Kellysome experience there, said Claude Julien. We did the best we could with our lineup and as far as Im concerned, I thought Caron did a good job. Hes a big enough body. When Ovechkin challenged him physically he was up to the task.

With Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley still out of the lineup -- and Horton just now resuming light activity without any timetable in place to get out on the ice the Bruins needed somebody to develop into an effective winger on the right side. While many thought it would be Rolston after the trade that brought him back into the Boston fold, its been Caron after a two-year apprenticeship with the Bruins thats given the youngster a world class hockey education.

As some point things were going to click in for Caron physically and offensively, and it appears that both are coinciding at exactly the right time for a young player looking to land himself a permanent spot in Boston. Caron still isnt quite there yet, but the prospects of a
roster spot being open to him on a stacked playoff squad have become much brighter in the last two weeks.

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.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

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Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO  — As an irate Bryce Harper charged toward the mound, Buster Posey just stood and watched from behind home plate.

And when the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants cleared their benches Monday and punches flew both ways, the All-Star catcher did his best to remain just outside the fray.

Not where some expected to find the Giants team leader with his pitcher, Hunter Strickland, exchanging head shots with Harper.

“Posey did NOTHING to stop Harper from getting to his pitcher,” former major league pitcher Dontrelle Willis wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Posey declined to enter the fracas, instead remaining around its edges and watching as the players scuffled in “a pretty good pile,” as Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it.

Posey dealt with a concussion in April after being struck in the head by a pitch, but did not say he held back because of concerns related to that. He did say he was wary about the risk of injury.

“There were some big guys tumbling around out there,” Posey said. “You see Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are about as big as they come and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So it was a little dangerous to get in there.”

Still, social media was abuzz at the sight of Posey not sticking up for his teammate.

“Strickland must have told @BusterPosey he was hitting him and let him come cause he didn’t even give a soft jog,” Willis wrote.

“Says all you need to know that Buster Posey didn’t bother to hold back Harper,” tweeted Fox broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt . “Let him go get his pitcher.”

Also absent from the fight: hard-nosed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As his teammates flew over the dugout railing, Bumgarner stayed put, perhaps because the left-hander is still recovering after injuring his pitching shoulder and ribs in a dirt biking accident in April.