Gray traded from Yanks to Reds after getting new contract

By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Adding Sonny Gray to a rotation already improved by the offseason acquisitions of Tanner Roark and Alex Wood has the Cincinnati Reds thinking about their first NL Central title since 2012.
“I think we have a group of guys that can hold their own with anybody in this division. I really do,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said Monday after finalizing a trade with the New York Yankees for Gray. I know our guys feel a sense of confidence.”
Gray’s unsuccessful stretch in New York ended when the Yankees traded the pitcher after the 29-year-old right-hander agreed to a contract with the Reds that added $30.5 million from 2020-22 and includes a 2023 club option.
New York received infield prospect Shed Long and a high pick in this year’s amateur draft, then flipped Long to Seattle for 21-year-old outfielder Josh Stowers. The Yankees sent the Reds left-hander Reiver Sanmartin.
Derek Johnson, the new Reds pitching coach for manager David Bell, was Vanderbilt’s pitching coach when Gray played for the Commodores from 2009-12. Johnson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, Gray’s offseason home, and they keep in touch.
“It’s a guy who’s really talented and a guy who I think’s right in the middle of his prime and also a hungry guy,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the thing that we’re all counting on. I know what kind of competitor Sonny is and I know that last year didn’t sit well with him at all and he’s going to be out to try to prove something not only to other people but obviously to himself, as well.”
After finishing last in the NL Central at 67-95, the Reds acquired Roark from Washington and Wood from the Los Angeles Dodgers, joining a rotation that includes Anthony DeSclafani and Luis Castillo.
“It’s the best rotation we’ve had in five years,” general manager Nick Krall said. “It makes you feel better about where you are.”
Cincinnati and New York agreed to a deal Friday, pending a window for Gray to reach a long-term deal. Gray and the Yankees settled on a $7.5 million, one-year contract on Jan. 11 that avoided salary arbitration. He had been eligible for free agency after this season, and his new deal raises his guarantee to $38 million over four seasons.
Gray had a physical Monday in Goodyear, Arizona, where the Reds hold spring training, while his agent, Bo McKinnis, worked out the contract with Krall. For Williams, the long-term deal was key.
“We always wanted to add three starters if we could do so economically,” he said. “We didn’t want to be in a position where all three starters would be becoming free agents next year.”
Gray was 15-16 with a 4.52 ERA overall for New York, which acquired him from Oakland in July 2017. He was dropped from the rotation last August after he smirked when fans booed as he walked off the Yankee Stadium mound in the third inning of a 7-5 loss to Baltimore. Gray had a 6.98 ERA at Yankee Stadium last year and a 3.17 ERA on the road.
“We really didn’t see anything that was diminishing in terms of the velocity and spin rates and things like that,” Williams said. “From a physical standpoint everything appears to be there. And we think he’s still at his age got plenty of upside and shouldn’t have any problem recapturing where he was.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had said throughout the offseason he intended to trade Gray, but Cashman waited until CC Sabathia was cleared to resume working out following a procedure last month to insert a stent to clear a blockage in an artery to his heart.
New York receives the Reds’ competitive balance round A selection, currently 36th overall.
Gray is 59-52 with a 3.66 ERA in six seasons with the Athletics and Yankees. He was an All-Star in 2015, his second straight 14-win season.
Long, 23, hit .261 with 12 homers, 56 RBIs and 19 steals last year with Double-A Pensacola of the Southern League. He was drafted in 2013 and requires a spot on the 40-man roster.
Stowers, 21, was selected by Seattle in the second round with the 54th overall pick last year and signed for a $1.1 million bonus. He hit .260 with 15 doubles, five homers, 28 RBIs and 20 steals in 58 games with Class A Everett.
The 22-year-old Sanmartin was 5-7 with a 2.81 ERA in 10 starts and three relief appearances for four minor league teams. He pitched mostly at Class A but made one start for Double-A Trenton.
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Bulls snap 10-game losing streak, beat Cavaliers 104-88

By STEVE HERRICK, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Somebody was bound to break a long skid Monday — Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls seized the opportunity.
LaVine scored 25 points and the Bulls broke a 10-game losing streak, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-88 in a meeting of teams that began the day with the worst records in the NBA.
“It stinks to lose 10 in row,” said guard Kris Dunn, who scored 13 points and was one of five Bulls to hit double figures. “A game like this can galvanize us.”
Chicago (11-36) never trailed and has won all three games this season against Cleveland (9-39), which has lost 16 of 17 overall.
“We talked about the first quarter starts,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “Our energy and spirit were good, kind of gave us momentum into the rest of the game.”
The Bulls hit 15 of 29 3-pointers and built a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. Chicago won for the first time since Dec. 28 against Washington.
Bobby Portis had 15 points while Lauri Markkanen added 13 for the Bulls, who have rolled to two lopsided wins at Cleveland in less than a month.
The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 99-98 in Chicago on Nov. 10 and routed Cleveland 112-92 on Dec. 23 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Rookie Collin Sexton scored 18 points, but had no assists in 29 minutes for the Cavaliers. Ante Zizic, who is seeing playing time because of injuries in Cleveland’s frontcourt, had 13 points.
Chicago hit 12 of 22 shots in the first quarter and built a 15-point lead late in the period. Cleveland cut into the margin and trailed by six at halftime before the Bulls regained control by making five 3-pointers in the third quarter.
“We got a lot from a lot of guys,” Boylen said. “Kris was very good. Zach was real efficient, which we need him to be.”
The Cavaliers, in addition to dealing with several injuries, looked like a tired team after going 1-5 on a road trip that ended Saturday night in Denver. Cleveland missed its first eight shots and coach Larry Drew called timeout less than four minutes into the game.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse or as crutch,” Drew said. “Early on, I could see they did not have their legs. We clearly didn’t have the zap. I really thought at some point it would kick in, but we did not have it.”
TIP-INS
Bulls: The team announced after the game that C Wendell Carter Jr. had successful surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb Monday morning. The rookie is expected to be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks. The surgery was performed by Dr. John Fernandez at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush Hospital in Chicago … Robin Lopez started at center and Portis saw minutes in the pivot. … LaVine dunked off an alley-oop pass from Kris Dunn in the second quarter.
Cavaliers: C Tristan Thompson missed his third straight game because of a sore left foot. “As long as he’s feeling any kind of discomfort, we’re going to keep him out,” Drew said. Thompson missed 10 games in December with the injury. … F Larry Nance Jr. is expected to miss two more weeks with a sprained right knee.
TOUGH TRIP
The Cavaliers’ 11-day trip began Jan. 9 and finally ended Saturday. Cleveland broke a 12-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Lakers, playing without the injured LeBron James, on Jan. 13.
The Cavaliers returned to Cleveland at 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Their flight landed in the middle of a snowstorm that began early Saturday and lasted about 24 hours. The storm, which dumped about a foot of snow on the area, and made the drive home a challenge.
“A few guys got stuck in snow,” Drew said. “We were out in the middle of the intersection pushing cars. I don’t believe I closed my eyes until about 6:30.”
GOOD BALANCE
Chicago had 11 players score and five were in double figures. Jabari Parker hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth and finished with 10. Lopez had eight points and nine rebounds.
NO ADVANTAGE
The Cavaliers haven’t won at home since Dec. 12 against New York. Cleveland has lost eight in a row at Quicken Loans Arena.
UP NEXT
Bulls: Host Atlanta on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Visit Boston on Wednesday.

Parise scores 20th goal, Wild beat Blue Jackets 2-1

By ANDRES YBARRA, Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau believes the typical sense of urgency to make a playoff push is hitting teams earlier than normal this season.
It certainly seemed that way for the Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Disappointing home losses and tightening standings have a way of doing that.
“The sense of urgency is there,” Boudreau said. “I’ve got to believe it’s going to be quite a race from here on in.”
Zach Parise scored his team-leading 20th goal and Devan Dubnyk had 19 saves as the Wild held off the Blue Jackets 2-1.
The Wild bounced back from a listless 3-0 defeat to Anaheim by sending the Blue Jackets to their second straight loss.
Jordan Greenway also scored his ninth goal for Minnesota, which pulled into a tie with the Ducks for the final playoff spot in the West.
“I think we were all disappointed with last game,” Dubnyk said of Thursday night’s loss, in which Minnesota allowed three first-period goals. “We have a lot of pride and our fans are great here and we don’t like giving them efforts like that. I think everybody was ready and prepared to come out and play, regardless of how the game went.”
The Blue Jackets were coming off a tough loss of their own, falling 4-1 on Friday night at home to Montreal. That loss knocked them out of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Columbus won’t play again until January 29. While this certainly wasn’t the way they wanted to enter the All-Star break, the players said they plan to use the time away to reset.
“It’s going to feel good to get a break,” Pierre-Luc Dubois said. “I didn’t think yesterday we played horribly. I think we still could have got a point — we didn’t. I think today just kind of the same thing. We did some good things, some bad things, but the break’s going to feel really good to relax a little bit.”
Artemi Panarin scored Columbus’ lone goal, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots.
Off to their second-best start in franchise history, the Blue Jackets entered the game 14-3-1 when coming off a loss this season.
But they couldn’t muster much offense against a Wild team that was 1-3-0 after the loss to Anaheim, and scrapping to stay in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I don’t know where the standings are going to shake out, but we’re still right there in the mix regardless of how dark it’s been at times the last little while, we’re still right there,” Parise said.
Minnesota outshot Columbus 31-20, including 15-6 in the second period.
“We wasted a great effort by Bob,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of his goalie. “It’s mind-boggling what we do when we get near that net and how many pucks we shoot wide or over handle.”
Minnesota scored first for only the 18th time in 48 games when Greenway took a pretty pass from Eric Staal at 16:07 of the first, and fired a sharp one-timer from the left circle past Bobrovsky. Eighty-nine seconds later, Parise made it 2-0 when Pontus Aberg tried to clear the puck from behind the net. His attempt appeared to hit off a defender’s skate and went right to Parise, who scored from the slot.
Panarin scored on a wrister from the left circle at 3:07 of the second period. Dubnyk was screened by Nick Foligno on the shot.
NOTES: : Newcomers Aberg and Victor Rask assisted on Parise’s goal, their first points with the Wild since being traded earlier in the week from Anaheim and Carolina, respectively. . Columbus had only six shots in the third period. … Parise has scored 20 goals in nine of 14 NHL seasons. . The Wild improved to 13-2-1 when leading after two. . Rask’s introduction to the home crowd was a bit anticlimactic. He served a two-minute penalty when Minnesota was whistled for too many men on the ice at 2:20 of the first period.
UP NEXT:
Blue Jackets: Off for the All-Star break, then hosting Buffalo on Jan. 29.
Wild: At Vegas on Monday.
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Miami QB Tate Martell arrives, says he’s ready to compete

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
DANIA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tate Martell greeted a few well-wishers in the airport after arriving in South Florida, then stopped to pick up a coffee and a sandwich.
The baristas, noticing the crowd around him, asked his name.
If Martell gets his way, they’ll know his name — and his game — soon enough.
The former Ohio State quarterback is in the final stages of enrolling at Miami, arriving with four pieces of luggage on Thursday afternoon after flying in from Columbus to his new home. The plan is for him to complete his academic registration process no later than Friday, and start taking classes there right away.
“It was pretty wild and pretty quick,” Martell told The Associated Press, speaking of the whirlwind that saw him leave the Buckeyes for the Hurricanes. “But it was something I needed to get done, obviously, in a short time. And with school starting I had to get it done fast.”
Martell announced his plans to transfer to Miami early Wednesday. He redshirted as a true freshman at Ohio State in 2017, and completed 23 of 28 passes in six appearances as Dwayne Haskins’ backup for the Buckeyes this past season.
Martell’s transfer out of Ohio State came less than two weeks after former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields announced that he would be joining the Buckeyes. After arriving in South Florida, Martell said he’s only looking forward to what awaits at Miami.
“I’m just happy to be where I’m at now, focused on going and competing down here and doing my thing,” Martell said Thursday.
The next question will be how soon he gets on the field for the Hurricanes.
Martell is not leaving Ohio State as a graduate transfer, and he’ll need more than one semester to graduate from Miami. That means he’ll be applying for a waiver from the NCAA in order to play in 2019, and his attorney told the Toledo Blade on Thursday that he believes Martell’s case has merit for reasons that include the Buckeyes’ change in coaches from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day.
“There were some things that happened at Ohio State that we can potentially get some relief from the NCAA, and we’re going to try it that way,” the attorney, Travis Leach, told the newspaper. “The coaching staff turnover is an issue. There are a few things. There’s no real bright-line test that tells you 100 percent how you can get a waiver. This is a tough one, but there are some good facts on his side.”
Without the waiver or transferring as a graduate, Martell would have to sit out the 2019 season under NCAA rules.
Improving the production at quarterback is a top priority for Miami and new coach Manny Diaz this season. As a team, Miami passed for only 2,175 yards in 13 games this past season and ranked 115th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing efficiency.
N’Kosi Perry, who split time with now-graduated Malik Rosier this past season, is expected back at Miami for 2019, as is redshirt freshman Jarren Williams. Martell would be competing with them for the starting job.
“Certainly, we have to get the quarterback position fixed,” Diaz said when he was hired earlier this month. “We have some young guys on our campus who have shown flashes. They have shown that they have ability. But you don’t win at the University of Miami with flashes, and you don’t win at the University of Miami with potential. You have to perform.”
Martell was a five-star recruit out of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, where he went 43-0 as a starter. The move to Miami will reunite Martell with two of his Bishop Gorman teammates — Brevin Jordan is a starting tight end for the Hurricanes, and safety Bubba Bolden is transferring in from USC.
The ties to Miami run deeper than just through Jordan and Bolden, Martell said.
“I know a bunch of guys on the team through recruiting and camps and high school and staying in touch,” Martell said. “That was a big part of this for me, my relationships with the guys. And obviously my teammates, one that’s here and one that will be here. So I’m excited for sure.”
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Wright St downs Youngstown St 80-74 behind Smith, Wampler

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Malachi Smith and Bill Wampler scored 17 each on Thursday night to help Wright State beat Youngstown State 80-74.
The Raiders (9-10, 3-3 Horizon League) pulled away to a 76-69 lead with six straight points capped by Cole Gentry’s pair of free throws with 1:19 left. The Penguins (6-14, 2-5) cut the deficit to four but got no closer.
Wright State trailed 45-38 at halftime and Youngstown State took its largest lead of the game early in the second half at 48-40. The Raiders erased the gap with a 12-2 run and neither team led by more than four until the final three minutes.
Mark Hughes added 16 points and Loudon Love scored 15 for Wright State.
Darius Quisenberry led Youngstown State with 18 points. Noe Anabir added 14 and Jelani Simmons 12.

Zoo offers free admission to furloughed federal employees

POWELL, Ohio (AP) — A zoo in Ohio is offering free admission to furloughed federal employees for as long as the partial government shutdown continues.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said in a release Thursday that furloughed federal employees must present their federal ID or badge at the ticket booth to receive the free admission.
The zoo also says it will offer free admission to all guests on Jan. 21 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and on Feb 18 in observance of Presidents’ Day.
Standard parking fees of $10 per vehicle will still apply during the promotions. Parking is free for zoo members.

Thousands of students gather for robotics competition

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Thousands of students from 10 states are gathering in northern Ohio for a regional robotics competition.
The Kalahari Classics VEX Robotics Competition began Thursday and continues through Saturday at Kalahari Resort Conference Center in Sandusky in northern Ohio.
The competitions involve 270 teams of students on the elementary, middle school and high school level from Ohio, California, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Teams compete in matches against each other using robots created before the competition in the hope of qualifying for the VEX World Championship in April in Louisville, Kentucky.

Nurkic has triple-double and Blazers beat Cavaliers 129-112

By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic finally got his triple-double.
Less than a week of coming up just two assists shy of the feat, Nurkic got his first career first triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Portland’s 129-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Nurkic said he wasn’t aware he was close until teammate Damian Lillard let him know.
“Dame was like, ‘one more,’ Nurkic said.
Lillard got the ball to Nurkic, who it passed back to Lillard, who knocked down a 3-pointer — giving Nurkic his final assist.
When told that Lillard celebrated along with the crowd afterward, Nurkic laughed: “He’s my teammate. My brother. He should.”
Lillard himself had 33 points to lead all scorers, and CJ McCollum had 19 points as Portland snapped a two-game losing streak. Nurkic added five blocks and was treated to a standing ovation when he left the game with 2:13 left.
Portland finished with 16 3-pointers, led by Lillard with four.
Jordan Clarkson had 22 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who were coming off a 101-95 victory over the Lakers that snapped a 12-game losing streak. The game against the Blazers was the fourth of a six-game trip for the Cavs.
The teams combined for only seven turnovers, the fewest in an NBA game since the league began to officially compile the stat in 1970-71. Portland had four and Cleveland finished with three.
The Blazers led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter, but Cleveland closed the gap to 112-102 midway through the fourth. It was as close as the Cavs could get.
“I just thought we kind of ran out of gas. They guys did a good job getting us back to within 10 but we just weren’t able to sustain it. When you get down and you have to fight back against a team like this it’s tough. On the road you can’t dig those types of holes. Not against a good team,” Cleveland coach Larry Drew said.
Portland was back at home after a winless two-game trip at Denver and Sacramento. The Blazers have won 19 at home to lead in the Western Conference.
Lillard started despite being listed as questionable going into the game with a right hand strain. It is unknown when he was injured.
Lillard opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Blazers had six 3s in the opening quarter to lead 30-26. Portland finished the first half with 11 3-pointers, while the Cavaliers had just two. Portland led 62-55 at the break.
Portland stretched the lead to 70-59 on Jake Layman’s 15-foot jumper in the third quarter. Lillard’s 3-pointer made it 82-66 midway through the third and Portland went on to lead by as many as 21.
Rodney Hood added 20 points for the Cavaliers.
“They’re just a well-oiled machine,” Hood said about the Blazers. “When I was playing with Utah I played against these guys four times a year. They know what they do. They know what they want to accomplish. They have probably the best scoring backcourt in the league.”
Nurkic fell two assists shy of a triple-double last Friday Portland’s 127-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The 7-foot Bosnian had 11 points, 11 rebounds and tied career highs with eight assists and six blocks.
Portland was without Maurice Harkless for the fifth straight game because of left knee soreness, which has hampered him at times throughout the season. There was no word on how long Harkless might be out.
The Cavaliers have been stung by injuries this season. David Nwaba was considered a possibility for Wednesday, but he was held out for a 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. Larry Nance Jr. missed his fourth game with a right knee sprain.
TIP INS
Cavaliers: Cleveland signed guard Cameron Payne to a second 10-day contract late Tuesday night. … The victory over the Lakers was just the Cavs’ fourth win on the road this season. … Cleveland has won consecutive games just once this season. … Cleveland’s bench outscored Portland’s 66-35.
Trail Blazers: Portland had won their last five games at home against the Cavs. … Portland had six players in double figures. … It’s been five years since Portland’s last triple-double, by Nicolas Batum.
BATUM TEXTS: Blazers coach Terry Stotts said he exchanged texts with Batum, who now plays for Hornets. Stotts joked that Batum was upset they’d left Nurk in the game against Charlotte to threaten his mark.
“Matter of fact, he texted me when Nurk didn’t get his triple-double so now I texted him when he did,” Stotts said. Asked if he’d heard from Batum about Nurkic finally getting one, Stotts said, “Yeah, I won’t tell you what he said.”
UP NEXT
Cavaliers: Cleveland visits the Jazz on Friday.
Trail Blazers: Portland hosts the Pelicans on Friday.
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Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman will retire after 2019

By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Like his longtime broadcasting cohort used to say, Marty Brennaman is rounding third and heading for home.
The Reds play-by-play announcer said Wednesday that he’ll retire after the 2019 season, his 46th in Cincinnati. His career started with a chance to call baseball history. It entered a final season with deep sighs and emotional moments.
“It’s something I’ve thought about a long time,” Brennaman said, calling it one of his most difficult days. “It’s something I’ve anguished over more than anything I’ve anguished over in my life. I wake up at night, at 4 o’clock in the morning, and I stare off into the darkness and think about what I’m doing.”
Brennaman, 76, said he wanted to retire while he’s healthy and can do things he’s always wished.
His announcement came one day after Pirates color commentator Steve Blass announced this will be his final season of broadcasting, his 34th with the team. Blass called it “time for me to stop and smell the roses.”
Brennaman joined the Reds’ broadcast team in 1974, replacing the popular Al Michaels. In his second spring training game, Brennaman accidentally referred to the Reds’ home field in Tampa, Florida, as Al Michaels Field instead of Al Lopez Field.
His first regular-season game at Riverfront Stadium provided a chance to call Hank Aaron’s 714th career homer, which tied Babe Ruth’s record. Brennaman said color commentator Joe Nuxhall turned to him after the inning and asked his new partner, “What the heck do you do for an encore? I said, ‘I don’t know.'”
Brennaman and Nuxhall became an endearing broadcast duo for 31 years from 1974-2004. They’d talk about the Big Red Machine’s exploits and compare notes on garden tomatoes. Fans referred to them simply as Marty and Joe.
“Throughout Reds country, Marty and Joe were a staple of summertime, fans tuning in not just for the love of the Reds but because they loved Marty and Joe,” owner Bob Castellini said.
Each of them developed a distinctive sign-off line. Nuxhall, a former Reds pitcher, would say he’s “rounding third and heading for home,” a saying that’s remembered in lights outside Great American Ball Park. Brennaman would end each win by declaring that “this one belongs to the Reds.”
One of the highlights of Brennaman’s career was receiving the Ford C. Frick Award in 2000 at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the fourth Reds announcer to receive the broadcasting award along with Red Barber, Al Helfer and Russ Hodges.
In addition to his work with Reds radio and television, Brennaman has worked NCAA Tournament games, including 11 Final Fours. His son, Thom, also is a Reds broadcaster.
Brennaman has thought about retirement for several years. He talked about retirement with Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who explained that he felt it was time to step away after 67 years in the booth.
Brennaman came to the same conclusion about himself in the last few months.
He had maintained that whenever he decided to leave, he would simply retire after a season in order to avoid a farewell tour. Others convinced him that it would be beneficial for those who know him to have a chance to honor him.
“I’m honored by it, but I’m also going to be very uncomfortable about it,” Brennaman said.
After wrapping up a question-and-answer session, Brennaman expressed relief.
“Is that it? All right,” he said, with a deep sigh. “That’s one of the toughest days of my life. I’ve gotten over it now.”
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Korpisalo stops 29 shots, Blue Jackets beat Devils 4-1

By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their win streak to four games and stayed in the thick of the battle at the top of the tough Metropolitan Division. The team’s productive top line is a big reason why.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson each had a goal and an assist on Tuesday night as the Blue Jackets beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1.
All three have recorded points in the past four games, with Atkinson scoring in each of the past three. He’s got a team-leading 27 goals and will be on his way to the NHL All-Star Game at the end of the month.
“When everybody contributes like that, it’s hard to beat us,” said Dubois, who has five points in the four-game stretch.
Boone Jenner also scored and Joonas Korpisalo had 29 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have won 11 of the last 14 games while sparring with Washington and Pittsburgh atop the division.
Korpisalo has started three of the last four games ahead of star Sergei Bobrovsky and won each time. The 24-year-old Finn could soon find himself the team’s No.1 goalie as Bobrovsky has refused to sign a contract extension with Columbus and may be traded before the deadline next month.
“Korpi has earned the time, just through his play,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “Korpi deserved to play tonight.”
Blake Coleman scored and Keith Kinkaid had 30 saves for the Devils, who saw a two-game winning streak end as they struggle to stay out of the Metro basement.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” Devils veteran winger Brian Boyle said. “You try to get some traction going. We work extremely hard. It’s been months of not (getting) the results we wanted.”
Coach Hynes said some players lacked effort on the second night of a back-to-back. New Jersey got a wild 8-5 win over Chicago on Monday night.
“It was just some individuals who were not ready to go and compete at the level we need them to compete at,” Hynes said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the whole team.”
The Blue Jackets grabbed the lead early and didn’t let up.
Atkinson tipped in a pass from Dubois 45 seconds into the game. Less than two minutes later, Josh Anderson, off a faceoff from the right circle, fed Jenner, who beat Kinkaid from the slot.
Late in the first, David Savard grabbed a face off and slid a beautiful pass from the left corner to the doorstep, setting up Panarin for an easy tip-in and a 3-0 Columbus lead.
Early in the second, Dubois snapped in a shot from the left circle for the Blue Jackets’ fourth power-play goal in four games.
Coleman redirected a shot by Mirco Mueller late in the second period to ruin Korpisalo’s shutout.
“I’m pretty comfortable,” Korpisalo said. “The way we play right now it’s pretty easy to play behind them. Like today, I don’t think there were any dangerous shots. They just clear the pucks in front of me, block shots and it makes me confident to play behind them.”
NOTES: Columbus coach John Tortorella coached his 285th game with the team, passing Ken Hitchcock for the franchise record. He is the franchise’s leader in wins (156-102-26). … New Jersey F Miles Wood was out with an undisclosed injury suffered in the game Monday night. … Coleman has five goals and two assists in the last five games.
UP NEXT:
New Jersey: At New York Islanders on Thursday.
Columbus: Hosts Montreal on Friday.
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