Pouliot steps in and steps up

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Pouliot steps in and steps up

BOSTON -- One wouldnt blame Brad Marchand if he got a little uneasy watching how smoothly Benoit Pouliot filled in for him on a sick dayWednesday night.
Bostons favorite agitator missed the game because of flu-like symptoms and Pouliot was called onto play with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin against awoebegone Flames unit, and the results were stunning.
All he did was match a career-high with three assists as he melded smoothly inwith Bergeron and Seguin forthe Bruins' 9-0 win that didn't mess a beat from their run of blowout victories in the last nine games. One of Marchand's linemates sensed their partner might be getting a little antsy, and planned to send out an encouraging message.I was talking to Bergy and we said we were going to send Marchand a text at the same time saying, 'We still miss you . . . ' " said Seguin before busting into laughter. I thought Pouliot did do a great job. Hes fast, obviously. Its hard to replace a guy like Marchand, but I thought he stepped up his game for sure.The onslaught started early. The trio posted its first goal just 74 seconds into the game, and that ignitedthe Bruins' rout. Pouliot notchedan assist on that goal, which was scored by Seguin, and added two more to match a single-game career high of three points amassed last season as a member of the Montreal Canadiens against the Minnesota Wild, the team that originally drafted him as a high lottery in 2005.Playing with high-end talents like Bergeron and Seguin gave Pouliot the kind of skilled linemates who can properly utilize his speed.Anyone watching the B's has witnessed Pouliot's elite size, speed and skill package when they all work together for highlight reelgoals. In fact, Pouliot may be moving up and down the lineup at any number of different spots as vacancies open because of injuries or illness, and he's proven wholly capable thus far this season. His coach gave a big thumbs up for a job well done after the game. That's exactly what good teams do: have players step up when others are injured or otherwise incapacitated. I thought Pouliotplayed a good game tonight," said coach Claude Julien. "He was really strong on the puck he made some good plays and he just continues to get better. I think confidence is a big factor when it comes to that, and hes feeling more comfortable with our hockey club.Poliot's performance illustrates the depth Boston enjoys along its front lines. Lose one of the teams top scorers and antagonists in Marchand, and simply plug the talented (if erratic) Pouliot into the lineup while watching closely for behavior that can sometimes cross the line. It was all good in the hood for Pouliot against the Flames. "It was awesome. It feels like theyre always at the right spot at the right time," said Pouliot of skating with Bergeron and Seguin while they accounted for nine points, a plus-9 and 12 shots on net in victory. "Theyre good skaters, good with the puck and they play hard on both ends of the ice. So, my job is just to fill in and try to help them out as much as I can and try to do what Marchy Marchand does. Things worked out."The 10-minute misconduct Pouliotreceived for mouthing off to a ref in New Jersey Wednesday night is the clear, undisciplineddownside to Pouliot's game. But those moments are becoming increasingly rare and were nowhere to be seen in a big moment stepping up for Marchand. And the Bruins hope moments like Thursday's become increasingly common for a player showing his talent in Boston.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.