Bruins

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Penguins crush Predators 6-0 to take 3-2 lead

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Penguins crush Predators 6-0 to take 3-2 lead

PITTSBURGH — The night started with a catfish throw.

It ended with haymaker after haymaker — both literal and proverbial — from the ever resilient Pittsburgh Penguins.

The defending champions provided an emphatic and repeated reminder of what makes them such a difficult out in a 6-0 demolition of the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-2 lead.

Pittsburgh will have a chance to become the first franchise in 19 years to win back to back championships when the series shifts back to Nashville for Game 6 on Sunday night.

“Understand that we’re going to play a desperate team,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after collecting three assists. “Nothing’s done yet and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of ourselves.”

So do the Predators, who can’t get back to Smashville fast enough.

“I don’t know if anybody shakes off a game like that that quickly,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Nobody feels good leaving the building playing the way we did.”

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good mojo he created during a pair of wins in Games 3 and 4 gone.

Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel — just as linemate Malkin predicted — and 35-year-old playoff newbie Ron Hainsey also scored for the Penguins. Crosby’s eventful night included becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Final, a two-minute roughing penalty for trying to dribble Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban’s head on the ice near the end of the first period and an flip of a water bottle onto the ice during play.

“It’s just one of those things it slipped out of my hand,” Crosby said. “I had a gesture with my hand and before I knew it the thing was flying across the ice. I know you’re not allowed to do that, so I’m not going to start doing it in the Stanley Cup Final.”

Matt Murray bounced back from so-so performances during Pittsburgh’s lost weekend in Nashville to make 24 stops while also benefiting from a dominant performance by the guys in front of him.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as he has for each of the last two springs when his team finds itself in a tight spot, pushed all the right buttons again. He stuck with Murray, reunited Sheary with Crosby and Jake Guentzel, and stressed his team needed to play with urgency but not desperation after the Predators rallied to tie the series by outscoring the Penguins 9-2 during two wins in Nashville.

It took all of 91 seconds for Pittsburgh to get its swagger back.

Just 91 seconds after a Nashville fan flipped a catfish onto the PPG Paints Arena ice — a move that came shortly before a three-goal outburst by Nashville in Game 1 — Schultz powered home a slapshot to end an 0-for-15 power-play skid.

“We were on our toes tonight,” Schultz said. “We were really jumping and playing our game, playing fast. It all started with that start and got us going for the rest of the game.”

Rust made it 2-0 just 6:43 into the game with a nasty backhand flip over Rinne’s glove.

Then things got chippy (and a little weird) for the game’s best player. Crosby and Subban became tangled up behind the Nashville net late in the first period, with Crosby ended up on top of Subban. Crosby then started hitting Subban in the head repeatedly, eventually drawing a roughing penalty while Subban — who quipped that Crosby was complaining about Subban’s bad breath during a Game 3 exchange — went off for holding.

“I’m not an official so I’m not going to judge what’s over the line and what’s not,” Subban said.

Malkin ripped a wrist shot over Rinne’s glove on the ensuing 4-on-4 to make it 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first. Rinne gave way to Juuse Saros at the start of the second period after stopping just six of nine shots, continuing his wildly uneven play. Rinne stopped 50 of 52 shots he faced back home in Games 3 and 4. He’s stopped just 34 of 45 in Pittsburgh during the series.

Saros hardly fared any better. Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to push Pittsburgh’s lead to four. Kessel ended a six-game goal drought 8:02 into the second. The score had been predicted by Malkin and it came just seconds after Crosby threw a water bottle onto the ice as the play went by Pittsburgh’s bench, a move he told referees was unintentional.

When Hainsey, who waited 907 regular-season games before reaching the playoffs for the first time this season, tapped in a pass from Malkin to make it 6-0, the stage was set for the Penguins to return to familiar territory.

The franchise has won all four of its Cups on the road. A shot at a fifth awaits Sunday, though it’ll hardly be easy.

The Predators are 9-1 at home in the playoffs, a place they will need to be a haven once again if they want to extend their improbable Cup run - and a flat-out odd final - back to Pittsburgh.

“The real hockey starts now,” Subban said. “You’re in the Cup final, this is what it’s all about. It’s about going back and forth.”

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

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File Photo

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

TORONTO – The Bruins will need to take a pivotal Game 4 without their best player as Patrice Bergeron is out for Thursday night’s playoff game at the Air Canada Centre with an upper body injury. Bergeron will be day-to-day moving forward, but that’s not going to help the B’s as they lose one piece of a forward line that’s dominated the Maple Leafs through the first three games of the series.

It’s really not a great sign when the Bruins had two days off in Toronto between Game 3 and Game 4, and Bergeron still wasn’t able to give it a go on Thursday night. Instead it will be Riley Nash centering the top line between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and Tommy Wingels entering back into the lineup with No. 37 out of the lineup. There was a faint sign that something might be up with Bergeron when Riley Nash took some turns in his place at practice on Wednesday afternoon at Air Canada Centre, but no signal whatsoever that something was serious enough to keep him out of the lineup.

It goes without saying that the Bruins might be in big trouble if this Bergeron injury proves to be something that could cause him to miss multiple games in a best-of-seven series where the B’s currently hold a 2-1 lead. Bergeron had five assists and was a plus-4 rating in the first three games of the series with his line amassing 20 points in the first two games of the series.   

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on pregame warm-ups at the Air Canada Centre:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Kuraly-Backes

Schaller-Acciari-Wingels

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

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File Photo

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

TORONTO – It looks like Matt Grzelcyk will be making his return to the Bruins lineup after a one-game absence with a lower body injury.

The Bruins rookie D-man took part in an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre for the Black and Gold on Thursday morning, and will be playing provided he gets through the pregame warm-ups without any hitches. A healthy Grzelcyk will replace Nick Holden in the B’s lineup and give Boston that puck-moving, fast-skating D-man that can be pretty effective counteracting a speedy, aggressive Toronto fourth line that’s been pretty good in the series thus far.

“He’s out there [skating] now, so he should be good to go. Obviously, it will be warm-ups and a game-time decision, but I anticipate he’ll go in,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s complemented well by his partner, who is usually [Adam] McQuaid or [Kevan] Miller. So you get a duo where he’s able to transition the puck very well by himself, and get out of some piles with the D-zone coverage and make a good first pass.

“He can track down pucks before defenses get set or during a line change, he’s good at getting it up [the ice] and seeing who is available. He’s very low risk generally in his game, and he does some very good things at the O-zone blue line to keep plays alive for us.”

The return of Grzelcyk appears to be the only change to the Bruins lineup ahead of a pivotal Game 4 made a little more intriguing by the NHL’s selection of South Boston native Chris Rooney as one of tonight’s referees (along with Gord Dwyer). Rooney has always carried the well-worn reputation of a referee that goes extra-hard on the Bruins to prove there isn’t a bias toward the hometown team, and the Bruins have a 7-9 record over the last three seasons in games officiated by Rooney. It’s not a main reason for the Bruins to either win or lose the game, but certainly something to keep an eye on as things unfold tonight in Toronto.

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on morning skate:  

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE