Categories
National Sports Pennsylvania Sports West Virginia Sports

Arrieta makes triumphant return as Cubs beat Pirates 5-1

By ANDREW SELIGMAN AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Jake Arrieta pitched six solid innings in a triumphant return to the Cubs, Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward homered, and Chicago beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Arrieta (1-0) got a warm reception prior to the game, then gave up just one run and six hits. The 35-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Arrieta played 4 1/2 years for Chicago, winning a Cy Young Award and a World Series, before signing with Philadelphia in March 2018. He returned to the Cubs in February for a $6 million, one-year contract.
“I’ve been anticipating this day for awhile,” he said.
The Cubs have, too.
“It brought back good memories of having him on the mound and pitching against the Pirates, good memories of him doing that a lot,” Bryant said.
One of Arrieta’s most memorable performances with the Cubs was his five-hit shutout in the 2015 wild-card game at Pittsburgh. He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.
The Cubs beat St. Louis in their division series before losing to the Mets in the NLCS. A year later, they won it all, ending a championship drought dating to 1908.
Arrieta said he spent the past few days riding his electric scooter around the city, taking in the familiar old sights and mingling with the fans as much as he can.
“I look forward to more scooter rides, meeting more people,” he said.
GOING DEEP
Bryant made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer to the center-field basket against Tyler Anderson, pointing to his baby son in the stands after crossing the plate. Heyward bumped the lead to three with a long drive to the right-field bleachers off Clay Holmes in the sixth. And the Cubs added another run in the seventh when Bryant walked and scored.
Javier Báez singled twice, drove in a run and scored one. He also stole two bases.
“J-Hey’s home run was loud,” manager David Ross said. “I don’t know if you could tell on TV or in the stadium. It was extremely loud. It was nice to hear that. Up and down the lineup, I thought we did a really good job.”
Heyward called his drive on a 3-1 sinker a reward for “doing things right and being on time.”
“Tried to be aggressive in the zone,” he said. “I feel like like they’ve done a good job these two games attacking us aggressively in certain counts, in certain times and then making us lay off a tough pitch. It was nice to get ahead right there and not miss one.”
STRONG RELIEF
Brandon Workman, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel each threw a perfect inning, combining to strike out seven and walk none. The Cubs avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2014 team lost the first two.
HAYES HURT
Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes left the game because of discomfort in his left wrist. He jammed his hand diving back to first on a pickoff attempt after walking in the first inning.
Hayes scored on Kevin Newman’s two-out single. But Erik González batted for him in the third and remained at third base.
Anderson (0-1) went five innings in his Pirates debut, allowing three runs and five hits. The left-hander, who signed with Pittsburgh in free agency, struck out seven and walked two.
CRICK’S RETURN
Pirates right-hander Kyle Crick was going through the intake process after being away from the team for the birth of his child. Manager Derek Shelton said he could be cleared as soon as Sunday. Crick had a 1.59 ERA in seven relief appearances last year.
UP NEXT
RHP Zach Davies, acquired from San Diego for NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish, makes his Cubs debut, while RHP Mitch Keller starts for Pittsburgh on his 25th birthday. Davies was 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres last year after playing his first five seasons for Milwaukee. Keller had a 2.91 ERA in five starts for the Pirates.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Rust’s hat trick leads Penguins past Islanders 6-3

By WILL GRAVES ÀP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryan Rust sat in the penalty box as the New York Islanders trimmed a three-goal deficit to two, then flirted with cutting it to one as the clock ticked down.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins forward hopped out, however, he found another friendly bounce in a night full of them, pouncing on a clearing attempt and racing down the ice to finish off his fourth career hat trick as the Penguins cooled off New York 6-3 on Saturday night.
“There was a wide array of emotions in the box there,” Rust said.
The only ones he felt afterward were a mixture of jubilation and relief after the Penguins pulled within two points of New York and Washington for the top spot in the crowded East Division. Pittsburgh has won 10 of 13 despite a series of injuries that have decimated its forward group.
The Penguins have kept plugging away anyway. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, Evan Rodrigues added his fourth and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the first time in more than two years as Pittsburgh improved to 5-2 against the Islanders.
“That was a really big win for us because that’s who we’re chasing in the standings,” forward Sam Lafferty said.
The Penguins can catch New York with another win when the teams meet again Monday for the eighth and final time during the regular season.
Mathew Barzal ended a 10-game goal drought by picking up his 10th of the season. Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle also scored for New York, but the Penguins needed just 26 minutes to Ilya Sorokin on their way to building a 5-0 lead.
The 25-year-old rookie had been unbeaten since mid-February, but his eight-game run — one of them a 2-0 shutout win over the Penguins on Feb. 28 — came to an abrupt end after giving up four goals on nine shots before being replaced by Semyon Varlamov.
“I didn’t see enough from anybody, Ilya included,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “Ilya and the rest of the team. It just wasn’t enough. So change it up. Maybe Varly could stabilize us, and maybe we can crawl back in the game.”
NEXT MAN UP
The Penguins are missing five forwards — Evgeni Malkin, Kasperi Kapanen, Jason Zucker, Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev — due to injury. All five play on one of Pittsburgh’s top three lines, leaving in their place a patched-together group that is starting to take some of the scoring load off Crosby, Rust and Jake Guentzel.
On Thursday night, it was recently promoted forward Radim Zohorna scoring on his first shot in the NHL in a shutout victory over the reeling Sabres.
On Saturday night, it was Gaudreau scoring his first NHL goal since Dec. 31, 2018 that got Pittsburgh rolling. He finished off a rush by taking a crossing pass from Lafferty and flipping it over Sorokin’s glove 5:49 into the first period.
Rodrigues made it 2-0 just past the period’s midway point when his shot from the top of the circle threaded through a sea of bodies and into the net. The shots were two of just four the Penguins managed in the first period. The Islanders kept Jarry significantly busier. But when Pittsburgh came out flying in the second, New York had little response.
“I think when you look at the roster right now, some of the guys in the lineup have brought an enthusiasm that (rubs off) on the whole group,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think these guys right now are having a positive impact on our hockey team.”
LATE RALLY NOT ENOUGH
New York scored three straight, eventually pulling within one on Eberle’s sixth of the season with 2:27 remaining. The Islanders had several chances to get closer thanks to the penalty on Rust. Jarry made a series of quality stops to keep New York at bay, though Barzal liked the way the Islanders tilted the ice in the third.
“We didn’t shrink,” Barzal said. “We tried to push. We had a great push at the end.”
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Leonard leads Clippers past 76ers in Rivers’ first game back

By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Terance Mann added a season-high 23 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 122-112 on Saturday night in their first game against former coach Doc Rivers.
The Clippers won their fifth straight by playing the same type of basketball they did during seven seasons under Rivers — getting points in transition and strong games from Leonard and Paul George, who had 24 points.
“We fell behind early, but kept our composure. We figured it out and kept playing. Our mindset was right,” Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said. “Offensively we did a lot of great things. We attacked the paint and made the extra pass.”
Leonard missed Thursday’s game at San Antonio due to a sore right foot, but didn’t show any ill effects. The star forward had 19 points in the first half, including 12 in the second quarter.
Rivers, who was given a 90-second video tribute by the Clippers during the first timeout in the first quarter, said he wasn’t surprised how his former team took control and started to pull away in the second half.
“They kept on the attack and moved the ball,” said Rivers, who took the Philadelphia job less than a week after being fired by the Clippers. “You can see they all trust each other with the ball. Kawhi and Paul played well. If they continue to do all that, they are going to be hard to stop.”
Tobias Harris scored 29 points for the Sixers, who had their six-game road winning streak snapped. Danny Green added 17 and Shake Milton 16.
Los Angeles led by five at halftime, but took command with seven straight points to open the third quarter. The Clippers were up 97-84 at the end of the period and led by 19 in the fourth.
Philadelphia got off to a hot start and jumped out to a 21-11 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter before Los Angeles got on track. The Clippers went on an 18-9 run and trailed by one at the end of the period.
There were seven ties and five lead changes in the second quarter before Los Angeles closed the period on an 8-3 spurt to take a 65-60 lead at halftime.
MANN’S GAME
Mann made his first eight shots from the field and was 10 of 12 for the game. He had 11 points during the second quarter, which tied a career high. He is averaging 15.4 points over the past five games.
The third-year swingman has been taking advantage of the added minutes to show how much his game has improved. He is seeing additional playing time with Patrick Beverley injured, Lou Williams traded to Atlanta and Rajon Rondo still getting up to speed after being acquired on Thursday.
“Everyone has been on the same page and asking me to be more aggressive,” Mann said. “Over time you begin to see things different, stuff slows down and you develop.”
Lue said Mann’s confidence is “through the roof,” but didn’t want to address if his minutes would decrease once Beverley gets healthy and Rondo is up to speed.
“Right now I like where we are at and we are in a good rhythm. We will have to see and keep playing with the rotations when they get back,” Lue said.
HOWARD TOSSED … AGAIN
Dwight Howard was ejected for the second straight game when he picked up two technical fouls with 10:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 76ers center was called for two separate technicals in the first quarter of Thursday’s game against the Lakers.
Howard finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. The only good that happened at Staples Center for him over the three days was he picked up his championship ring after playing for the Lakers last season.
Official Tony Brothers said in a pool report that Howard received the second technical from Jason Goldenberg because Howard said something derogatory about Brothers, who called the first technical.
Brothers said the first technical came when Howard kept yelling and pointing at an official on a possession after he was called for an offensive foul.
The Sixers were assessed four technicals during the game, which perturbed Rivers more than Howard’s ejection.
“A lot of guys were frustrated,” Rivers said.
TIP-INS
76ers: Ben Simmons had 15 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. … Green has scored in double figures in six straight games for the first time since December 2014 with San Antonio.
Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr., who finished with 13 points, was charged with a flagrant foul in the third quarter after throwing down Howard while both players were vying in the paint. … Leonard got his 1,000th steal in the first quarter. He is one of 21 active players to reach the milestone.
UP NEXT
76ers: Play at Denver on Tuesday. The Nuggets won the first meeting 115-103 on Jan. 9.
Clippers: Host Milwaukee on Monday. The Bucks have won four straight in the series, including a 105-100 victory on Feb. 28.
___
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Close range: Baylor grinds to Elite 8 in 62-51 win ova ‘Nova

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — That ice that seemed to be forming across the 3-point arc was hardly enough to throw Baylor off course.
Some rugged defense and a newly discovered love for points in the paint helped the top-seeded Bears find the formula for a 62-51 victory over Villanova on Saturday and a trip to the Elite Eight.
Adam Flagler was the surprise leading scorer, with 16 points, and Baylor (25-2), which came in as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team at 41.5%, won despite making only 3 of 19 against Villanova’s ever-shifting 2-3, man-to-man combo on D.
Baylor, which started the season 18-0 and won its first-ever Big 12 regular-season title, is one win from the Final Four for the first time since 2012. The Bears will play Arkansas in the South regional final on Monday.
Davion Mitchell, a 46% shooter from 3 this season, went 0 for 3 from long range on a 14-point day. The team’s other two high-powered guards didn’t fare better. Jared Butler scored nine points on 1-for-9 shooting from 3, and MaCio Teague had five points without a 3.
“When we are 2 for 12 at half, we figured we’ve got to get inside,” coach Scott Drew said of the team’s 3-point shooting. “We got good looks but not great looks. The guards did a great job of not settling and probing more.”
Because of that, Baylor shot 53% in the second half, even though it made only one 3.
“Coach said we’re not going to win if we keep shooting the off-dribble 3,” Mitchell said. “He told us to trust the defense and get in the paint.”
The game changed midway through the second half when Baylor took Drew’s words to heart and started pounding inside. The Bears took a six-point lead with a 14-2 run during which not a single point came from outside the arc. Baylor outscored ‘Nova 40-32 in the paint for the game.
Defense picked up, too.
Constantly harassing Villanova shooters who’d carved out space in the first half, Baylor held Villanova to 37.5% shooting in the second and 0 for 9 from 3. Baylor had four of its five blocked shots after halftime. During one stretch in the decisive run, Baylor forced five straight turnovers on ‘Nova possessions. The Wildcats finished with 16 turnovers, almost double their nation-best season average (8.8).
Coach Jay Wright’s team scored 10 points over the final 11 minutes.
“We were good enough to beat them but they just played better down the stretch,” Wright said. “I think their defense got into us and wore us down and it made the difference in the game.”
The Wildcats got 16 points from Jermaine Samuels, but only three from Caleb Daniels on 1-for-11 shooting.
Villanova (18-7) came in without injured point guard Collin Gillespie and with a middling defense at best, but looked to be turning things around over the first weekend of the tournament. There were mini-victories in this one, too, in part because Wright’s deft mix of defenses kept Baylor off the mark. This marked only the second time this season anyone has held that high-powered offense under 65 points.
Shooting struggles aside, 2021 still has the makings of being Baylor’s year, and any residue from the pandemic-related breaks that halted the Bears’ momentum after a perfect start appear to have faded.
“You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity, and obviously we have an opportunity to go to the Final Four,” Drew said. “Hopefully, we’ll put our best foot forward.”
NO SCREENPLAY TODAY
In the stands at Hinkle Fieldhouse was Bobby Plump, whose game-winning shot in the 1954 high school state title game was the inspiration for the hoops classic “Hoosiers.” He’s a semi-regular at the arena where the climax of the movie was filmed. He was joined by screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, who also wrote another underdog tale: “Rudy.”
ANOTHER MAN DOWN
It was hardly what Villanova needed. Forward Brandon Slater left the game about midway through the second half after landing awkwardly during a fight for a rebound. Slater only had four points, but was a presence on defense, with two blocks and a few more that he altered.
“Certain guys were struggling with matchups on their quick guards, and that’s when it kind of turned — when he went out,” Wright said.
___
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Barrier falls: Woman officiate men’s World Cup qualifiers

By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer
Kathryn Nesbitt ran the sidelines, waving a flag, blending in for all the right reasons.
The 32-year-old from Philadelphia became a pioneer as FIFA appointed women to work on-field officials for men’s World Cup qualifiers, serving as an assistant referee Thursday night when Canada opened with a 5-1 rout of Bermuda at Orlando, Florida.
There were no controversies in a match that featured Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies setting up three goals for Besiktas’ Cyle Larin. Nesbitt disappeared into the background as much as one can while working in a yellow jersey and black shorts, an orange and yellow flag in her hands.
FIFA announced the first men’s World Cup qualifiers with woman referees will be when Stéphanie Frappart of France works the Netherlands’ match against visiting Latvia on Saturday and Kateryna Monzul of Ukraine calls Austria’s game vs. the visiting Faeroe Islands on Sunday. Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico served as an assistant referee for Suriname’s 3-0 win over the Cayman Islands on Wednesday.
“I’m hoping that people will bring her to the men’s World Cup in a couple of years instead of the Women’s World Cup — actually both,” said Rick Eddy, U.S. Soccer’s director of referee development. “If FIFA really wants to make a stand towards saying they’re supporting women, here’s their opportunity.”
Nesbitt worked 18 MLS games last season, including the MLS is Back tournament final, and was voted the league’s assistant referee of the year. The workload of the 6-foot tall official has included 82 league games in all since 2015 plus seven more as an assistant video referee during the last two seasons.
Nesbitt earned a FIFA badge in 2016 and officiated at that year’s Women’s Under-17 World Cup, the 2018 Women’s Under-20 World Cup, and two matches at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“She’s pretty imposing physically,” said Howard Webb, a Premier League referee from 2003-14 who is entering his fourth season as general manager of Major League Soccer’s Professional Referee Organization. “She’s tall, athletic. She’s very calm and clearly intelligent as well. She’s able to process a lot of information quickly and accurately.”
In U.S. soccer, “The Professor” was the nickname of Júlio Mazzei, who served two stints as coach of the Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League in 1979-80. Nesbitt is a real professor with a Ph.D. She taught analytical chemistry as an assistant professor at Towson University in Maryland from 2017-19.
She quit to become a full-time soccer official.
“I actually started when I was 14 years old. Clearly, that was more of a hobby at the time,” she said. “So it’s just kind of made its way into a career over the last 20ish years or so.”
A competitive figure skater for 15 years and a volleyball player in college, she began officiating under-8 games while growing up in Rochester, New York. She started to work adult and semipro matches after she finished her bachelor’s degree at St. John Fisher College and worked toward her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It kept me active and I really liked that way of thinking about the game,” she said.
She made her professional debut in a National Women’s Soccer League match between Kansas City and Portland on April 13, 2013, and her MLS debut when D.C. United played Columbus on May 2, 2015.
“I have always felt respected there, and there really hasn’t been an example for me that stands out as sexism towards me,” she said. “My first couple of years in the league, I think I was treated the same way a new referee would be treated, as, who is this person and are they going to be any good?”
At the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, Nesbitt worked Norway vs. Nigeria and Sweden vs. Canada game plus three more games as a video official, including the England-Sweden third-place match.
“That was probably one of the most incredible feelings of my entire life — to actually reach a huge milestone for myself and get to experience a World Cup in person,” she said.
On-field officials navigate the additional complication of video review. MLS has used Video Assistant Referees since late 2017, but World Cup qualifying is not aided by technology. Nesbitt has to remind herself not to raise her flag quickly on offside calls in case the VAR decides there was no violation, but be quick to wave off action when electronics are not involved.
“It can be really interesting to switch between doing an MLS game, let’s say, and then going to do a women’s international match that doesn’t necessarily have VAR yet,” she said.
Nesbitt was just the start of a breakthrough weekend for American women and soccer officials, who are selected by CONCACAF and approved by FIFA. Jennifer Garner is scheduled to be an assistant referee and Tori Penso the fourth official for Saturday’s qualifier between Aruba and Suriname in Bradenton, Florida.
Nesbitt is to work as an assistant referee when Anguilla plays the Dominican Republic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the same day Brooke Mayo is slated to be an assistant referee Sunday, and Penso is the fourth official when Canada hosts the Cayman Islands in Bradenton.
Wendy Toms was the first woman assistant referee in the Premier League from 1997-2005 and Sian Massey-Ellis is perhaps the most well-known woman soccer official worldwide because of viewers seeing her as an assistant referee in the Premier League since 2010. She worked her first Europa League match last October when PSV Eindhoven played Austria’s LASK.
Nesbitt trained with her for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“That was a really cool experience for me because she is the first,” Nesbitt said. “I had already looked up to her for years before I even got the chance to work in MLS. She’s always been an inspiration for me. She is so consistent and solid.”
The pioneering women have been rated among the sport’s best. They needed to be among the best to break through.
“Unfortunately, women are judged differently instead of being judged as equals in a lot of a professional sports,” Eddy said.
A camaraderie has developed.
“It’s a really unique, select group of women that have had these opportunities, so I think we do share that feeling and that ambition that we all have,” Nesbitt said. “We’ve all probably had a few conversations about it. And when those appointments come out and we find out about the other one getting a really special new type of appointment, we reach out to each other.”
Webb, who refereed both the 2010 Champions League and World Cup finals, hopes the pool of female officials will expand. For a long time, he says, women unfairly had to be “better than their male counterparts to prove that they were worth an opportunity.”
Nesbitt isn’t in the already under-consideration group for the 2022 men’s World Cup, but there’s always the 2026 tournament co-hosted by the United States. Webb envisions a woman taking the whistle for a men’s World Cup match, with hundreds of millions of people around the globe tuned in.
“I think it is only a matter of time before it will happen,” he said.
___
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Morin’s 1st career goal lifts Flyers past Rangers 2-1

By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sam Morin was slammed against the boards, suffocated by a mob of his Flyers teammates that smacked his helmet in celebration and wouldn’t let him wiggle free.
Morin’s first NHL goal, yes. A game-winner for a team in desperate need of a win, yes.
The triumph meant so much more for Morin — and his teammates. Morin had persevered through two separate ACL tears, hours of rehab, a futile position switch in attempt to revive his career, and just a handful of NHL games for this highlight.
“It’s the best moment of my life,” the 25-year-old Morin said.
Morin scored his first NHL goal with 4:27 left in the game to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
“It’s been a hard couple of years for me,” Morin said.
Nolan Patrick also scored for the Flyers, who badly needed to win a close one against the Rangers. The Rangers had combined to beat the Flyers 17-3 in their past two meetings.
The Flyers moved into fifth place ahead of the Rangers in the East Division at 16-13-4 — the top four teams qualify for the playoffs — with 23 games left in a shortened season. They snapped a four-game losing streak.
Morin, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had never scored a point in 14 career NHL games. The Flyers moved Morin from defense to winger and back to defense again over an injury-plagued career.
“I was a bit lost up there,” Morin said of the position change. “I think anyone could tell. I tried my best.”
Morin earned a reputation in the locker room and on the ice as one of the most upbeat Flyers, Coach Alain Vigneault described him as a “good, big, young Frenchman” who stayed ready when his number was called. The Flyers celebrated as if they had won Game 7 of a playoff series when Morin scored perhaps the goal of the season.
“I think that’s why everybody is so happy. When you work so hard, and guys can see it, and you bring his energy every day, no matter if he is in the lineup or not in the lineup, it’s something special and it just rubs off on the guys and we’re so happy for him,” forward Travis Konecny said.
New York beat the Flyers 9-0 last week and again 8-3 on Thursday, scoring 15 straight goals over the two games.
Mike Zibanejad turned New York’s last two wins against the Flyers into laughers and it was almost comical when he scored again with 9:06 left in the first. Zibanejad floated around the crease and fired in Ryan Strome’s pass from the circle for a power-play goal
The Rangers instantly tweeted, “Mr. 300.”
OK, that number did seem to signify Zibanejad’s goal total this season against the Flyers. It simply marked his career number of games, but seven goals over the last three games against one team is simply astounding.
Zibanejad had three goals and three assists in each of New York’s last two wins against Philadelphia and became the first NHL player ever with six or more points in consecutive games against one opponent in the same regular season. He has only four goals and 20 points in his other 30 games.
So that 1-0 lead meant the rout was on?
Not so fast.
The Flyers showed some moxie and pushed back in the second period when they had a 5-on-3 edge for 1:17. Igor Shesterkin smothered two shots during the two-man edge and 2,500 Flyers fans booed when it became a one-man advantage. With three seconds left on the power play, Shayne Gostisbehere stopped a puck with his glove and took a slapper from the point. Patrick deflected the shot for his fourth goal of the season to make it 1-all.
“They came out hot in the beginning and I thought they were throwing pucks on net, they were spreading us in our own zone,” Zibanejad said. “We didn’t really have the opportunity to get down there and didn’t do a good enough job to get the pucks behind them and try to work them.”
Gostisbehere said the Flyers had “lost its identity” in a dreadful March. Carter Hart, who had allowed 16 goals over a three-game losing streak, got the game off. Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots and the Flyers improved to 5-9-1 in March.
ON THE BENCH
Kris Knoblauch may have served as interim coach for the last last game with the Rangers with David Quinn set to return, possibly Sunday at Washington. Knoblauch has been sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols. Knoblauch is 4-2 with the Rangers.
“It’s been a great ride for me, something that was definitely unexpected,” Knoblauch said. “It was nice being here in the NHL and having that experience. Great group of guys. This is the youngest team in the league and it’s nice to see the possibilities of where this team is going.”
UP NEXT
The Rangers play Sunday in Washington.
The Flyers play Monday and Wednesday in Buffalo.
___
https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports Pennsylvania Sports West Virginia Sports

Malkin records 1,100th NHL point, leads Pens to win

By DAN SCIFO Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Evgeni Malkin scored on a power play for his 1,100th career point and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Monday night.
Malkin is the third Russian-born player to reach 1,100 points in the NHL, joining Alex Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov. Malkin has eight goals this season and also had an assist on Monday while extending his points streak to eight games.
“I think Geno is a guy who relies so heavily on his confidence level, and he puts a lot of pressure on himself to produce offensively for our team,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When a few pucks go in the net, and he’s getting opportunities to score, you can see his confidence build and usually his game follows.”
Tristan Jarry made a season-high 42 saves for Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby scored his 11th goal of the season and had two assists, and Jake Guentzel also scored his 11th — including four in the past four games. Evan Rodrigues also scored for the Penguins, who won their sixth straight game.
Matt Grzelcyk scored a power-play goal for the Bruins, who have four wins in their last 13 games. Boston started the season winning five of six on the road, but it has just one win in its past six away from home.
“In a game like tonight, we had almost 50 shots,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “It does feel like every mistake is going in our net, but that just means we have to clean up our game a little bit.”
Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves in his fourth straight start. Bruins’ No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask traveled with the team and was on the ice following Monday’s morning skate, but he’s not expected to play on Tuesday. Rask has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury.
Pittsburgh led 2-1 when Malkin scored at 11:40 of the second period. He took a cross-ice pass from Crosby and beat Halak with a glove-side wrist shot.
“That was a huge goal for us during the course of the game,” Sullivan said.
Grzelcyk opened the scoring for Boston with a power-play goal at 6:47 of the first period, but Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead with two late first-period goals scored 1:43 apart.
Rodrigues tied it at 16:51 and Crosby put Pittsburgh in front at 18:34 of the first period. The Penguins’ captain took a pass from Guentzel and scored on a sharp-angle one-timer from the goal-line that squeezed between Halak’s glove and the post.
MALKIN HITS HIS MILESTONE
Malkin became the 64th player with 1,100 points. He’s the fifth active in the league and third in team history to hit the mark, following Hall of Fame team owner Mario Lemieux and Crosby. Malkin, in his 935th game, became the 18th-fastest player to accomplish the feat.
Malkin has four goals and 12 points in his last eight games. He scored just four goals and 12 points in his first 20 games.
“When he’s going like that, there’s not much you can do to stop him,” Crosby said. “The way he’s carrying the puck, he’s really confident.”
WHERE’S THE OFFENSE?
The Bruins continued to struggle offensively. Boston finished with 43 shots, including 20 in the first period, but only one goal. David Pastrnak had a chance to make it a one-goal game in the third period, but he whiffed on an open net during a power play.
The Bruins have scored 31 goals in the last 13 contests and 20 in the previous 10 games. Boston went six games recently allowing one goal or fewer, which tied for the second-longest stretch in team history and was one game shy of the club mark, set in the 1928-29 season.
“They generated enough to win the hockey game. You have to finish,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I’m more concerned when you don’t generate. If we continue to generate, I believe there’s enough talent to score goals.”
CROSBY WITH THE ASSIST
Crosby became the 22nd player with 200 or more games with multiple assists, moving him into a tie with Doug Gilmour and Bobby Clarke for the 20th-most multi-assist games in NHL history.
He has four goals and 11 points in his last seven games.
SULLIVAN MOVES INTO SECOND
Sullivan recorded his 232nd win, which tied Eddie Johnston for second-most in franchise history.
Sullivan trails Dan Bylsma, who is first in franchise history with 252 wins. Sullivan’s winning percentage is also second-best in team history.
UP NEXT
The Penguins and Bruins meet again on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The Penguins are in the midst of a stretch in which they will play five games in seven days. The Bruins are on a four-game road trip before a five-game homestand.
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

DeSmith stops 24 in Penguins’ 3-0 win over skidding Sabres

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — With goals at a premium Saturday night, the prolific Pittsburgh Penguins proved they can win with a low-scoring, tight-checking approach.
Casey DeSmith stopped 24 shots, and the Penguins handed Buffalo its 10th straight loss with a 3-0 victory over the lowly Sabres.
Jake Guentzel scored the go-ahead goal by batting in his own rebound with 3:23 remaining in the second period. Sidney Crosby, deep from his own end, and Mark Jankowski added empty-netters in the final minute.
“That’s what we’ve got to be. We’ve got to be able to play this kind of game,” said Guentzel, who scored his team-leading 10th goal. “It’s good to find different ways to win. It’s nice to know we can be low-scoring and defend hard.”
The Penguins had scored four or more goals in five of their previous six games.
It was DeSmith’s second shutout against Buffalo and No. 5 for his career. He made 26 stops for the Penguins in a 5-0 win over the Sabres on March 14, 2019.
Pittsburgh completed a two-game sweep of Buffalo following a 5-2 win on Thursday night. The Penguins have won five in a row overall, matching the team’s longest win streak since Oct. 10-18, 2019.
The Sabres dropped to 0-8-2 in their past 10. The winless streak matches the fourth-worst in team history, and the longest since Buffalo dropped a franchise-worst 14 straight midway through the 2014-15 season.
“It’s hard to describe right now, truthfully. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Carter Hutton, who made 31 saves. “We’re in this as a team, right? It’s frustrating. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in this kind of funk at this level. It’s hard to take.”
Buffalo was shut out for the fifth time this season. It has scored two or fewer goals in seven of its past eight.
The Sabres were without captain Jack Eichel, who missed his third straight game and is out for what coach Ralph Krueger called the “foreseeable future” with an upper-body injury.
Buffalo also was minus rookie center Dylan Cozens, who had been elevated to the top line in place of Eichel. Cozens is day to day with an upper-body injury after being checked awkwardly into the boards Thursday.
Guentzel scored 16 seconds after Buffalo’s Colin Miller was sent off for hooking. The Penguins worked the puck to Malkin in the right circle, where he fed Guentzel alone in front.
Malkin has three goals and seven assists in a seven-game point streak.
Pittsburgh then clamped down on defense by limiting Buffalo to just six shots in the third period.
Bryan Rust made a key defensive play by rushing back to prevent Buffalo’s Tobias Rieder from getting off a shot on a short-handed breakaway with 8:20 left.
DeSmith was grateful for Rust’s hustle.
“He’s one of the fastest guys in the league, and he showed it on that play,” DeSmith said. “That was huge for us.”
The Sabres stuck to a tight-checking, patient approach, while attempting to generate chances off transition in keeping the game scoreless.
It was much sharper defensive outing for Buffalo after the Penguins scored three of their four goals — not including an empty-netter — off odd-man rushes on Thursday.
Hutton, meanwhile, was sharp on the few chances the Penguins enjoyed Saturday. His best stop came 8 1/2 minutes into the second period when he closed his pads in time to stop Guentzel’s snap shot from the left circle.
Generating offense, however, continues to be an issue for Buffalo, which entered the game ranked 30th in the NHL in averaging 2.24 goals a game and last in having scored 34 times in 5-on-5 situations.
STREAKS
The Penguins improved to 18-2-3 in their past 23 games against the Sabres. They are 12-0-2 in their past 14 visits to Buffalo since a 6-2 loss on Feb. 18, 2012.
The Sabres extended their home winless streak to 0-7-1, their longest skid since going 0-5-3 from Jan. 9 to Feb. 5, 2014.
SPECIAL TEAMS
The Penguins’ penalty-killing unit went 2 for 2 and did not allow a power-play goal in two straight games for just the second time this season. The Sabres’ power-play unit is 0 for 15 in its past nine games.
SCRATCHES
Penguins: D John Marino was a game-time decision before missing his second consecutive outing with an upper-body injury.
Sabres: D Brandon Davidson played after being activated off the taxi squad, and replaced Matt Irwin, who was a healthy scratch. D Henri Jokiharju was loaned to the taxi squad.
UP NEXT
Penguins: Open two-game home series against the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
Sabres: Host the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

Ovechkin leads Capitals past Flyers for fourth straight win

By AARON BRACY Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Peter Laviolette loves this season’s schedule, but probably hates that the Capitals don’t get yet another game against the Flyers.
Alex Ovechkin scored, Carl Hagelin had a goal and an assist and Washington held on late for its fourth straight win, 5-4 over Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Nick Jensen, Daniel Sprong and Nic Dowd also scored for Washington, which has won eight of nine. The Capitals swept three games against the Flyers this week, all of which were in Philadelphia.
“It’s like a playoff series,” Laviolette said. “The thing about a playoff series I like is we’re just focusing on one team. When you play a team a lot, it gives you a feel of the playoff series. I like this season, I like the two-game sets, it’s awesome, shows some great hockey, a different way to coach. I like it better.”
Nolan Patrick, James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, who have lost four of five to drop to fifth place in the East Division.
“We’re going through a challenging time right now,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re falling behind in games and trying to battle back. We’re making a few mistakes. (But) our guys are competing and battling. If we continue to do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Ovechkin pulled within one of tying Phil Esposito for sixth on the NHL’s career goals list when he fired a wrist shot from just above the circle past Carter Hart’s blocker side on the power play to make it 4-2 with 6:50 left in the second. It was the 716th goal for Ovechkin, who also has 39 tallies in 61 career games against Philadelphia.
Hart replaced Brian Elliott in goal after Jensen made it 3-1 3:05 into the second. Hart, the Flyers’ regular starter, has been slumping lately and Elliott got the start Saturday for the fourth time in the last six contests.
But Elliott struggled in the first period when the Capitals scored twice.
“There’s no doubt he was fighting it a little bit,” Vigneault said.
Sprong opened the scoring 4:40 into the game on a fluky goal when he chipped it over Elliott after the Flyers goalie couldn’t corral the rebound on Jakub Vrana’s shot from the outside.
Hagelin made it 2-0 with 6:39 remaining in the first when he slid a rebound from right in front through Elliott’s legs.
Van Riemsdyk’s team-leading 12th goal brought Philadelphia within 2-1 early in the second. He intercepted Sprong’s clearing attempt and shot a wrister from the slot past Ilya Samsonov’s glove side.
Jensen made it a two-goal game again 29 seconds later. It was his second in the last four games after going scoreless in 108 games with the Capitals over the last three seasons.
“Just call it bad luck,” he joked.
Patrick netted his third of the season on a one-timer from the left circle to pull the Flyers within one before Ovechkin put the visitors ahead two goals again.
Hart allowed yet another easy one on Dowd’s deflection of Garnet Hathaway’s seemingly harmless wrist shot from the point with 15½ minutes remaining. The puck trickled through Hart’s pads, and that goal would prove to be crucial because Gostisbehere scored with 6:53 left and Giroux with 2:57 remaining to make it a one-goal game.
IN AND OUT
Capitals C Lars Eller returned after missing Thursday’s contest against Philadelphia for personal reasons. However, he left in the first period with a lower body injury and didn’t return. Laviolette said afterward that Eller is day-to-day.
OUT AND IN
Flyers D Phil Myers was back in the lineup after being benched for Thursday’s game against Washington.
UP NEXT
Capitals: At Buffalo Monday night.
Flyers: At Rangers Monday night.
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Pennsylvania Sports

AP source: Embiid could miss up to 2 weeks with knee injury

By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has a bone bruise on his left knee and could miss at least two weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the injury.
Embiid did not suffer structural damage to his knee and will be evaluated again in two weeks. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because the severity of the injury had not been announced.
Embiid was injured in the Sixers’ win Friday over Washington. Embiid landed awkwardly after a dunk on his left leg, his knee joint appearing to bend slightly forward. He writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes, and a stretcher was briefly brought on the court, but the center limped off under his own power.
Embiid has emerged as an MVP candidate after helping the 76ers to the Eastern Conference lead. He’s averaging 29.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in 31 games.
The 76ers host San Antonio on Sunday.
___
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports