Krejci missing security blanket in Horton

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Krejci missing security blanket in Horton

WINNIPEG Life without Nathan Horton is proving to be pretty challenging for the Bruins, and its only going to get more difficult now that Rich Peverley is battling a knee injury as well.

The Bruins are 4-5 since Horton went down with a mild concussion on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and the NHLs highest scoring team has averaged two goals per game in that span as well. Theres probably no better example of a single player missing Hortons power forward finishing presence on the ice than David Krejci, who has yet to score a single point during the month of February.

In total Krejci has one assist and is a minus-7 in nine games without Horton, and has gone from barely passable to liability over the last three weeks of hockey.

I miss Horton. The team misses Horton. Hes one of our best players and we definitely miss him. Im just so used to Horton and I know what he does. We just read off each other so well. Theyre big bodies and I use them right, said Krejci. Once he comes back well get the chemistry going right away because the playoffs are right around the corner.

Obviously its not a good situation when one of your teammates goes down. Now its Horton and Peverley. Weve been here before and weve got to battle through it. Im sure those guys will be back soon.

Krejci has 11 shots in six games this month with zero points and a minus-6, and was busted down to the third line for three games while Claude Julien attempted to get his attention. Now the center will have to raise his game with either Josh Hennessy or Jordan Caron riding shotgun on the right-hand side instead of Horton or Peverley. Claude Julien understands how Krejcis game can change when hes not working comfortably between his two bookend power forwards in Milan Lucic and Horton.

But the Bs coach also thinks now is the time for all Bruins to suck it up and fight through the injuries and midseason doldrums.

Theres a chemistry that gets affected there. Theres no doubt. Theyve been together for two years now. Theyve had great success together, said Julien. But at the same time you have to look at yourself as an individual and say, whether or not you have that guy next to you, I still need to bring my game to the table every night.

Its about analyzing your play versus who youre playing with. Its a challenge, but youve just got to dig a little deeper.

Julien wants that attitude throughout the Bs lineup now that it appears both Horton and Peverley will need to be summarily replaced through a roster-wide team effort.

No matter whos in the lineup weve got to make it happen. We base ourselves on the foundation of doing it as a team and if we respect that foundation then we believe its a strong enough one to win hockey games with players out of the lineup, said Julien.

Krejci thinks hes on the right track after hitting a couple of posts in the shootout win over Montreal, and his track record indicates the streaks will see him get just as hot as hes been cold in February.

Im trying my best. Its a combination of everything together, said Krejci. Youve just got to fight through it. Im sure my teammates will help me out. Im going to get back on track. Ive always done it before.

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.