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Final thoughts: A gut punch

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

GoDuquesne.com 

SAINT LOUIS 76:72 DUQUESNE

There is a particular agony in the distinction between “shock” and “scare” in college basketball.

That distinction hinged on the final minute tonight, when, at 70 points apiece, Duquesne and No. 19 Saint Louis had fought to the finish, trading leads 13 times in the second half alone.

Jeremiah Jones had set the stage by sinking the first of two free throws at 1:12 to knot the score. But as it stood entering that final minute, the true engines of the effort had been Ovie Soko, Dominique McKoy and Micah Mason.

Mason was five of six from 3-point range and had 15 points and 6 assists to no turnovers. McKoy, a day after his 21st birthday, had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Soko had dumped in 13 second-half points for a game-high 18 points and 7 rebounds.

“Their two big kids really at times had their way against us,” Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said. “You want to pinch in but No. 22 (Mason) is over there shooting threes, so you can’t really do that, either.”

Mason had given Duquesne a 69-68 lead with a pure, cold-blooded triple at 2:16. Billiken guard Jordair Jett answered with a jumper.

Soko turned the ball over, and then he played savior. With Jett streaking down-court with the ball and only Derrick Colter left to stop him, Soko played it perfectly. He gestured for Colter to not go for the block, so Colter stayed low. When Jett rose up for the layup, Soko swatted the ball away.

Jones grabbed the rebound and drew a foul. He tied the game. And that brought us to the final minute. Jones was back on the line. He sank both, pulling the Dukes to within a mere 57 seconds from stunning the 19th-ranked team in the country.

The Billikens never flinched. “They didn’t get rattled,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “Not at all.” They came out of a timeout, and Jett, seeing that his first option, big man Rob Loe, was covered, dished to the backup option, a kick-out 3-pointer to Austin McBroom. McBroom drilled it from the wing, and it was 73-72. “To me it was just a normal shot,” McBroom said.

Duquesne got its looks. Soko went inside, got contact but no foul, and McKoy missed the tip-in. Loe missed his free throw on the other end, and McKoy had another chance.

With Mason covered and it still a one-point game, McKoy kept it and went to the rim with 15 seconds left. His layup glanced off the rim. After two made Saint Louis free throws, everyone knew the game was in Mason’s hands. He caught the ball in the corner, but his potential game-tying 3-point attempt was an air ball, a shot he rushed and also well contested by Loe.

Ballgame. Saint Louis survived a scare. That’s how it’ll look in the box score; that’s how it’ll be explained on ESPN; that’s how the Billikens might even remember it. This one will haunt the Dukes, though, and a few players in particular. Because in the furious finish was a flurry of hero’s moments. The only player who claimed one, in the end, was the man named McBroom.

Here's the full P-G game story.

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Sandy Relief

Written by Rob Rogers on .

With the news of allegations of Sandy Relief-related bullying of the mayor of Hoboken, not to mention the investigation into Bridgegate, Chris Christie's chances of being the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 seem to be fading. 

012314 Sandy Relief

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Girls basketball state rankings

Written by Mike White on .

We try to bring you the state rankings for boys basketball on a regular basis. Now here are the girls rankings, compiled by Pennlive.com and the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Two WPIAL teams are ranked No. 1 in the state - Seton-LaSalle in Class AA and Vincentian in Class A.

CLASS AAAA

Top 10 plus honorable mention selections. Records through Monday, Jan. 20 with home district in parenthesis …

1. Cumberland Valley (3) — 13-2. Previously: 3

2. Central Bucks West (1) — 13-3. Previously: 4

3. Mount St. Joseph (1) — 13-2. Previously: 1

4. Spring-Ford (1) — 13-3. Previously: 2

5. North Penn (1) — 13-2. Previously: 8

6. Mt. Lebanon (7) — 12-3. Previously: 9

7. North Allegheny (7) — 13-1. Previously: 5

8. Bethel Park (7) — 12-1. Previously: 6

9. Upper Dublin (1) — 13-2. Previously: 7

10. Manheim Township (3) — 15-0. Previously: HM

HONORABLE MENTION

Bayard Rustin (1) 11-3; Cardinal O’Hara (12) 10-4; Central Bucks South (1) 11-3; Dallastown (3) 12-5; Dover (3) 13-1; Fox Chapel (7) 13-3; Garnet Valley (1) 15-1; Hollidaysburg (6) 10-1; Mechanicsburg (3) 13-2; Nazareth (11) 10-3; Red Lion (3) 12-4; Shaler (7) 12-1; Souderton (1) 11-4; Upper St. Clair (7) 10-4; Wilson-West Lawn (3) 9-7.

CLASS AAA

1. Archbishop Wood (12) — 12-1. Previously: 2

2. Bethlehem Catholic (11) — 12-1. Previously: 1

3. Bonner-Prendergast (12) — 13-2. Previously: 4

4. Blackhawk (7) — 13-1. Previously 3

5. Scranton Prep (2) — 12-1. Previously: 5

6. Lancaster Catholic (3) — 13-1. Previously: 6

7. Villa Maria (10) — 10-2. Previously: 8

8. Hickory (10) — 14-0. Previously: 9

9. Allentown Central Catholic (11) — 13-1. Previously: 10.

10. Elizabeth Forward (7) — 13-1. Previously: HM

HONORABLE MENTION

Belle Vernon (7) 10-3; Berks Catholic (3) 14-2; Bradford (9) 12-2; Fleetwood (3) 14-1; Greencastle-Antrim (3) 13-0; Hopewell (7) 13-2; Middletown (3) 14-1; North Pocono (2) 13-1; North Schuylkill (11) 14-2; Northwestern Lehigh (11) 14-1; Palmyra (3) 15-2; Pope John Paul II (1) 11-2; South Park (7) 11-4; Susquehannock (3) 12-3; West Mifflin (7) 11-3; West York (3) 10-4.

CLASS AA

1. Seton-LaSalle (7) — 13-3. Previously: 1

2. Neumann-Goretti (12) — 15-0. Previously: 2

3. Burrell (7) — 15-0. Previously: 3

4. Neshannock (7) — 17-0. Previously: 5

5. Bishop Canevin (7) — 13-4. Previously: 6

6. General McLane (10) — 12-1. Previously: 10

7. York Catholic (3) — 12-2. Previously: 7

8. St. Basil Academy (1) — 14-2. Previously: 4

9. Mohawk (7) — 12-2. Previously: 9

10. Blairsville (6) — 12-1. Previously: HM

HONORABLE MENTION

Bellwood-Antis (6) 11-2; Bishop McCort (6) 10-3; Brentwood (7) 11-4; Carlynton (7) 12-3; Delone Catholic (3) 14-2; Dunmore (2) 12-2; Juniata (6) 10-1; Karns City (6) 12-1; Marion Center (6) 13-3; McGuffey (7) 13-3; Minersville (11) 13-1; Mt. Carmel (2) 10-3; Seneca (10) 8-3; Tussey Mountain (5) 13-1; Tyrone (6) 9-3; Westmont-Hilltop (6) 11-2.

CLASS A

1. Vincentian Academy (7) — 11-2. Previously: 1

2. Serra Catholic (7) — 13-1. Previously: 2

3. Port Allegany (9) — 13-0. Previously: 5

4. Berlin Brothersvalley (5) — 12-1. Previously: 7

5. Old Forge (2) — 11-1. Previously: 9

6. Marian Catholic (11) — 12-1. Previously: 8

7. Bishop Guilfoyle (6) — 9-2. Previously: 4

8. Southern Fulton (5) — 10-2. Previously: 3

9. Kennedy Catholic (10) — 11-2. Previously: 10

10. Portage (6) — 14-1. Previously: HM

HONORABLE MENTION

Bishop Carroll (6) 8-4; Clarion (9) 9-4; Cochranton (10) 8-3; Conemaugh Township (5) 8-3; Coudersport (9) 12-1; Elk County Catholic (9) 12-2; Halifax (3) 10-5; Phil-Mont Christian (1) 11-2; Pittsburgh Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (7) 10-5; Quigley Catholic (7) 10-5; St. Joseph (7) 9-4; Shade (5) 10-2.

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Canadiens at Penguins - 01-22-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-It's cold. Really cold out. The rivers are turning to ice:

-It's during stretches of weather like this that we miss "The Igloo" the most:

-Those walks up the hill in front of the building could be kind of dicey with the ice and snow and the wind would eat right through your soul, but that building which offered the promise of warmth, nachos and generally entertaining hockey never looked more like an igloo than when it was covered in snow.

-A lot has been made of the Penguins' defense as of late. Frankly, it hasn't been too good. If you look at the 11 games they've played since Dec. 23, the have allowed an average of 3.36 goals per game. Prior to that date, that number was at 2.18.

What's the key to Dec. 23?

-Pascal Dupuis was injured early in that game. But how much of a correlation is there to that injury and the increase in goals allowed? We're not sure. The Penguins' penalty kill has actually gotten a little better since his injury. It was at 85.9 percent before his injury. After his injury, it's at 88.6 percent. Additionally, they allowed 35.8 shots per game before his injury. After his ailment, that number has dropped to 29.2 percent.

-We asked a few members of the Penguins if they felt there was any connection. Brooks Orpik flat-out said, "no." Matt Niskanen brought up how Dupuis made life easier for him as a defensemen in opening things up for him to be able to skate pucks out of the defensive zone. Suffice it to say, there wasn't a consensus on it.

-We chatted with Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty a bit today. He is a native of Connecticut and confirmed he was a fan of the late, great Hartford Whalers as a kid. His favorite player was Chris Pronger.

-Today is the 96th birthday of Canadiens great Elmer Lach, the first winner of the Art Ross Trophy in 1947-48. Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette tweeted out some tremendous photos of Lach throughtout his life today. Our personal favorites are:

-A frigid Dahntahn:

-The barn:

-The (indoor) ice:

 

 

-Tyler Kennedy Wilkes-Barre/Scranton:

-Mario Lemieux Team Canada:

 

-Brooks Orpik Team USA:

 

-Fans entering the barn:

-There are several Canadiens fans on hand. Guy Lafleur:

-Brendan Gallagher:

-The always rare Shayne Corson/P.K. Subban combination:

It's a good night for No. 25. Kevin Stevens with the 25th anniversary patch from 1991-92:

-Randy Carlyle:

-One could argue this was a better investment than the previous No. 12:

-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Canadiens defenseman Zarley Zalapski:

-Warm ups:

-The Penguins' starters are Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sill.

-The scratching of Sill is curious.

-The Canadiens' starters are Lars Eller, Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban and Carey Price.

-Their scratches are Raphael Diaz, Alexei Emelin and George Parros.

-Jeff Jimerson makes us wish were were Canadian:

FIRST PERIOD

19:10: According to the TSN announcer behind us in the press box, Neal and Subban "had words" during the warm ups.

18:11: Brandon Sutter chugs up left wing and chucks a wrister on net. Price fights it off.

17:52: Subban touches the puck for hte firs ttime and is "greeted" with boos.

17:05: Megna sneaks a little feed from the right circle to Craig Adams in the slot. Adams chucks a one-timer which is blocked.

16:47: Pacioretty gets a chance on the right wing and snap off a wrister from the right cirlce. Martin chases him down and blocks the shot with a stick-on-puck.

15:16: Chuck Kobasew is called for high sticking xxx. That won't help his standing with the coaching staff. xxx take the ice.

15:02: Subban swats a one-timer from the right point wide to the near side.

14:14: David Desharnais forcse a pass from the right half wall. Adams reads it all the way and pokes it out of the defensive zone.

13:37: Daniel Briere tried to jam in a forehand shot from the left of the cage but is denied by Fleury. Crosby flings the rebound down ice with a backhand.

13:16: The Kobasew minor is killed with little threat from the Canadiens.

12:48: Olli Maatta takes a pass at the left point and pumps a one-timer on net. Price makes the initial save. Kobasew chops the rebound on net but Price punches that away.

11:12: The Penguins take the first lead. Niskanen chips a little pass up the right wing wall from the neutral zone. Malkin picks up the puck and races up ice past a flat-footed Markov. He creates a little space, draws in Subban and backhand a pass to Jokinen sneaking in from the left circle. Jokinen leans down and taps the puck by a helpless Prices' stick. That kind of developed out of now where. The "Hey Song" is played. Malkin and Jokinen get assists. Penguins 1-0.

9:02: Off a feed by Malkin from the right wing corner, Neal jabs a shot on net from the slot. Price makes the initial save but offers  rebound. Jokinen has a chance at the puck but can't get a handle on it.

8:30: Battling for a puck behind the Montreal net, Subban ends up slashing Malkin and is given a minor penalty. He heads to the penalty box to a mix of boos and cheers.  Malkin and Jokinen mixed it up with Subban after the slash in the right wing corner. Malkin was a tad luck to not be penalized for that. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Neal and Letang take the ice.

7:03: Martin swipes a slapper from above the left circle on net. Price eats it up.

6:30: The Subban minor is killed with minimal threat from the Penguins.

5:40: Markov snap off a wrister from the right point wide to the near side.

5:37: Deryk Engelland leads a rush up the right wing, gains the offensive zone and deals a pass to Glass in the right circle. Glass whacks a shot over the cage.

5:19: Nathan Beaulieu flips a puck out of play from his own zone. That's two minutes for delay of game. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Letang and Neal take the ice.

4:57: Crosby snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by former teammate Douglas Murray. Fire Ray Shero.

3:55: Off a steal in the Canadien's left wing corner, rosby lifts a wrister from a bad angle on the left wing. Price smothers it.

3:35: Taylor Pyatt takes advantage of some power-play time and cashes in. Taking a pass from Martin at center point. Niskanen winds up and cranks a slapper at the cage. Pyatt is position right in front of Price and gets a piece of the puck with the shaft of his stick. It deflects by Price's glove hand and hits twine. A nice, dirty, net-front deflection. Niskanen and Martin get assists. The "Hey Song' is always nice. Penguins 2-0.

2:20: Briere tries to jam in a backhander from the right of the cage. Rene Bourque gets position on Maatta to the left of the cage and swats it in. The puck hits off the inside of the net very quickly and bounces back out. Maatta stakes it away up ice. Bourque celebrates for a moment as officials immediately wave "no goal" and play moves back up ice. Eventually, play is halted and officials review the play on video. They overturn the call on the ice. Bourque gets the goal. Briere and Brandon Prust get assists. Penguins 2-1.

0:45: Bouillon deflects a puck on net from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.

0:32: A late penalty for the Penguins. Orpik is nabbed for interference against Murray. He held up Murray near the Penguins' bench. Adams, Rob Scuderi, Crosby and Letang take the ice.

0:15: A loose puck slide out to Subban at the right point. He wides up and cranks a one-timer which Fleury fights off.

0:00: Subban corrals a puck at the right point and whips it on net. Fleury smothers it as time expires. End of period. Penguins 2, Canadiens 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-The Penguins had a slight edge in terms of controlling that period. They spent most of the period in Montreal's zone. They weren't particularly strong in the final two-plus minutes however.

-Taylor Pyatt keeps offering a little bit more and more each game. He's found a role here as a net-front presence. And this team doesn't exactly have an abundance of net-front players.

-Subban has been pretty active in terms of trying to mix things up. He seems to be getting Malkin's attention.

-We really like Paul Martin's game that period. He was a presence in all three zone.

-The Penguins have a 9-8 edge in shots on net.

-The Canadiens have an 18-17 edge in attempted shots.

-Subban leads the game with three shots.

-None of the Penguins has more than one shot.

-Markov lead the game with 9:19 of ice time.

-Crosby leads the Penguins with 7:59.

-The Canadiens have a 10-9 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).

-Desharnais is 4 for 7 (57 percent).

-Adams is 3 for 4 (75 percent).

-Prust leads the game with two blocked shots.

-A reader spotted a rare Martin Straka/Paul Stanton combo:

-Another reader spotted a Jeff Hackett Canadiens jersey:

-Rob Scuderi graces the cover of Icetime:

SECOND PERIOD

20:00: The Canadiens will start the period with 1:28 of power-play time on fresh ice. Sutter, Adams, Martin and Scuderi take the ice.

19:15: After Sutter forces a turnover, Martin is able to tap th epuck down ice to get a line change.

18:41: Off a feed by Markov, Subban unleashes a one-timer form the left half wall. Fleury boots it out.

18:30: Letang deflects apass out of play and kills off the rest of Orpik's minor.

17:50: A loose puck deflects to Crosby in the slot. He has a point-blank chance and rips a wrister over the cage.

16:50: Gallagher chips a puck by Scuderi on the right wing and moves in from the Penguins blue line. He rips a wrister from the right circle to the far side which clanks off the far post. Scuderi owes that post a beer.

15:33: Orpik golfs a loose puck from the left point. Price makes the save at first but allows a rebound to skid behind him. Subban skates it out of danger.

14:25: Attendance is announced as 18,617. It is the team's 311th consecutive sellout.

14:14: The Maatta fake shot strikes again. Neal wheels around in the slot and banks a pass off the left wign wall. Maatta jumps on it, fakes a slapper then slides a deft cross-ice pass to Jokinen in the right circle. Jokinen leands down and whips a one-timer by Price's glove hand on the near side. What a sneaky play by Maatta. Maatt and Neal get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-1.

13:32: A wrister by Pyatt from the right wing is denied by Price.

10:24: A backhander by Gallagher from a bad angle on the left wing is fought off by Fleury.

9:09: Subban "rodeos" Kunitz to the ice in front of the Penguins' bench and is called for holding. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.

8:55: A one-timer by Malkin from the center point is deflected out of play.

8:17: The rout is on. Off some puck movement from the left wing, Letang swipes a shot from the left point wide to the near side. Crosby is positioned to the left of the cage and re-directs it with his forehand behind the blocker of a helpless Price. That looked pretty simple. Letang and Kunitz get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4-1.

7:58: Pyatt lifts a wrister from the left wing which Fleury fights off.

7:48: Briere races in off the right wing by Niskanen and attacks the net. Fleury smothers his forehand shot.

7:26: Yet another Penguins power play. Bouillon held up Neal on the Canadiens' left wing wall. He actually body slammed him. Neal, Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Letang take the ice.

6:47: As a few sing-song "Caaaarrrr....eeeeeeeeee...." chants reign down, Neal snipes a wrister from the left wing wide of the cage.

6:15: Off a feed from Neal, Crosby streaks in from the Montreal blue line, splits a few defenders and lifts a wrister from inside the right half mark. Price snags it with a glove hand.

5:30: Jokinen controls a puck in he right circle, surveys the zone and whips a wrister on net which Price deflects out of play.

 

5:10: Neal heads back to the dressing room.

4:57: No Neal. No problem. Taking a pass in the neutral zone, Malkin flies in off the Montreal blue lien off the right wing, blows by Markov and is able to tuck a forehand shot by Price's right skate. Markov looked helpless in trying to defend Malkin. Price is mercifully pulled for Peter Budaj. Scuderi and Orpik get assists. The "Hey Song" is getting winded. Penguins 5-1.

3:28: Letang race sup the righ wing and has a backhander blocked by Bouillon.

3:04: A wrister by Gorges is fought off by Fleury.

2:39: Jokinen whips a wrister from the right circle which Crosby re-directs over the cage while driving down the slot.

1:42: Eller collects a puck on the right wing, moves in a bit and lifts a wrister on net which Fleury eats up.

1:30: Kobasew appears to head down the ramp way to the dressing room.

1:16: Beaulieu whacks a one-timer from the right point wide of the cage.

0:04: Off a drop pass by Adams, Glass lifts a wrister from the right wing. Budaj eats it up.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 5, Canadiens 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-First things first, there is no update on Neal or Kobasew.

-The Penguins sure opened up something nasty on the Canadiens in that period. They look miles sharper than they did Monday against the Panthers. They are taking full advantage of nearly everything the Canadiens are allowing them.

-Malkin had torched Markov a few times tonight.

-The Penguins' power play has rebounded after a bad night against the Panthers.

-The Penguins have a 23-15 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 38-32.

-Crosby, Bourque and Subban each lead the game with four shots.

-Markov leads the game with 16:23 of ice time.

-Crosby leads the Penguins with 16:03.

-The Canadiens leads the game in faceoffs, 25-18 (58 percent).

-Prust is 4 for 5 (80 percent).

-Adams is 5 for 8 (63 percent).

-Gorges and Murray each lead the game with three blocked shots.

-Fire Ray Shero.

-Letang leads the Penguins with two blocked shots.

THIRD PERIOD

20:00: Neal is back on the ice to start the period.

19:10: Kobasew is back as well. He skates with Crosby and Kunitz.

18:25: A slapper by Subban from the center point is wide of the cage.

16:57: Orpik and Adams give Eller a good thump in the Penguins' right wing corner.

16:08: Crosby grips and rips a wrister from the right circle which Budaj fights off.

15:59: Bourque lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.

15:17: Malkin settles a puck on the right wing and lifts a wrister. Budaj eats it up.

14:45: Gallager swipes a one-timer from the high slot which is blocked.

14:38: Off some perimeter puck movement, Desharnais lifts a wirster from the left circle. Fleury fights it off.

14:33: Niskanen is called for slashing Gallagher. Adams, Martin , Sutter and Orpik take the ice.

14:20: Adams sort of runs over Subban at the right point of the Penguins zone.

12:58: Pacioretty races in off the left wing and attacks the net. he snaps off a wrister to the far side. Fleury catches it with the cuff of his glove hand and deflects it out of play.

12:45: Pyatt get some penalty kill time. Short-handed, he pushes the puck up the right wing and lifts a wrister which Budaj fights off.

12:33: The Niskanen minor is killed.

11:54: A wrister by Pacioretty from the left circle hits a cluster of bodies in front and deflects away.

9:37: Gorges lifts a wrister from the left point on net. Fleury fights it off.

8:25: Neal snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Budaj kicks it out.

8:11: Maatta pumps a one-timer from the left point which Budaj denies.

8:03: Maatta whacks another one-timer from the top of the left circle which is blocked.

7:57: Pacioretty races up the left wing on a partial two-on-one. He rips a wrister which Fleury fights off.

7:48: This is run and gun. Crosby takes the puck in transition up the right wing and rips a wrister from the high slot. It glances off the cross bar and deflects out of play.

6:35: Subban has been moved to a defensive pairing with Gorges.

5:54: Pyatt (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) takes a thump from Murray (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) in front of the Montreal penalty box.

5:41: Taking a feed from Malkin, Jokinen rips a wrister over the cage.

5:18: Gallagher rips a wrister from the slot which is blocked by Martin. The rebound hops around before it is smothered by Fleury.

5:15: Off the ensuing faceoff, Murray snaps off a wrister from the left point which Fleury snags despite traffic.

5:10: After Fleury freezes another puck, tempers flare up as all 10 skaters scrum and battle in the Penguins' crease.  THEN Fleury challenges Budaj to a fight! The referees hold each of them at bay in the neutral zone. After several minutes to sort things out, Budaj and Fleury remain in the game. These referees made a significant effort to prevent that fight. We wonder if there was an edict handed down by the NHL to prevent goalie fights after Philadelphia's Ray Emery mugged Washington's Braden Holtby earlier in the season. A whole mess of penalties are doled out. The Penguins get a power play after everything is sorted out. Crosby, Engelland, Malkin, Letang and Jokinen take the ice.

3:10: Play returns to five on five. 

0:00: End of game. Penguins 5, Canadiens 1.

POSTGAME

-Dare we suggest this was the Penguins' most complete game since that 4-0 shutout of the Capitals Nov. 20? This game wasn't perfect. There were a few warts, but that was easily the Penguins most thorough effort from start to finish in at least two months.

-Clearly, the Penguins were motivated after getting smacked by the Panthers Monday night. It wasn't just a matter of putting in a full effort tonight. They flat-out executed. They were sharp with passes, particularly in the offensive zone. They supported one another in the offensive zone. This was a very focused and motivated team tonight.

-Said Kris Letang, "It was a question of getting back to our game and playing the right way. That’s what we did to night. I guess there was more focus because of the way that we lost the other night."

-The other story from this game was the non-fight between Marc-Andre Fleury and Montreal's Peter Budaj.

-If you didn't see it, here you go:

-If you're wondering why the referees did everything they could to prevent them from locking up, it's not hard to figure out.

-The referees were Francois St. Laurent and Kyle Rehman. St. Laurent was the referee who allowed Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery to beat up Washington goaltender Braden Holtby Nov. 1. Additionally, Rehman was one of the referees who worked Saturday's five-on-five brawl between the Flames and Canucks. We're willing to be both of them got earfuls from their superiors after those incidents.

-Dan Bylsma commended Rehman and St. Laurent for preventing the fight, but they clearly had motivation to do so after being involved in two embarrassing incidents.

-Fleury even said after the game that Rehman told him he worked the Flames Canucks game and he didn't want a repeat.

-Fleury added, "I thought for a little while, it was going to happen. … Then the ref didn’t want nothing to do with it. I asked him very polite to let me go. But he didn’t want."

-Regardless of the motivation, it was probably a good thing for both parties that fight didn't occur.

-Getting back to the actual game, how much chemistry did the Penguins' power play have tonight? It looked sharp, efficient and dangerous. The passing with this unit was probably the most impressive thing to us. The Canadien took a bunch of penalties before the Fleury-Budaj dust-up and the Penguins made them pay quite a bit.

-The second line looked very dangerous. Evgeni Malkin gave his fellow countryman Andrei Markov fits all night and burnt Markov twice in one-on-one situations which led to goals.

-Jussi Jokinen was tuned in quite a bit. He made a great read on Malkin's play and cashed in with an pretty goal which gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

-James Neal had a nice, subtle pass off the wall which allowed Olli Maatta to set up Jokinen for his second goal.

-We really liked the game Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik played as a pairing tonight. It was easily their best effort since Paul Martin has returned from his leg injury.

-Taylor Pyatt is quietly showing he can be a solid third-liner. He's using his size fairly well, especially in front of the net. He will never be confused with Milan Lucic, but he gives this team some size. His play on the walls has been strong.

-Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi had arguably their best game as a pairing tonight. They really looked on the same page with some of their passes in getting the puck out of the defensive zone. When the Penguins signed Scuderi with the hopes of teaming him with Letang this past offseason, a game like this was presumably what they had in mind.

-Marc-Andre Fleury was sharp. He held the fort most of the night. If not for a breakdown by Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta, he gets a shutout.

-Max Pacioretty had a fairly strong game for the Canadiens. He used his speed to create a few things. He just couldn't beat Fleury.

-The Penguins led in shots on net, 31-24.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 54-48.

-Sidney Crosby led the game with six shots on net.

-Rene Bourque led the Canadiens with five shots.

-Markov led the Canadiens with 23:00.

-Letang led the game with 22:54.

-The Canadiens led the game in faceoffs, 32-30 (52 percent).

-Plekanec was 9 for 18 (50 percent).

-Brandon Sutter was 9 for 17 (53 percent).

-Douglas Murray led the game with five blocked shots.

-Letang led the Penguins with three blocked shots.

-All six of of the Penguins defensemen (excluding Deryk Engelland who was used as forward) recorded at least an assist tonight.

-Chris Kunitz moved past Robert Lang for for 27th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Both players have 261 career points but Kunitz (115 goals) has more goals than Lang (103).

-Orpik (130 points) moved past Ross Lonsberry (129) for 67th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

 

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Signs of spring at seven degrees, singing woodpecker makes this gardener happy

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog red belly 123In this photo you can see how the red-bellied woodpecker gets its name. Photo by Doug Oster

As the sun peaked above the horizon this morning, I heard the first sounds of spring as I walked the dogs.

It's hard to focus on anything but winter when it's seven degrees out. That is, until I heard the shrill and distinct call of the red-bellied woodpecker for the first time this year.

Regardless of the temperature, I had to smile, and stood out there for 15 minutes listening to the beautiful bird searching for a mate.

Every spring it seems I hear the red-bellied as I begin the first gardening chores of spring. I imagine the bird following me around, letting me know it's there by occasionally singing in the adjoining forest. The bird is my planting companion and I'm happy to have it flying around the garden.

Yes, spring is a long way off, but if you listen carefully in the morning, you'll hear more and more new bird calls. They know the days are getting longer and their songs tell us it's just a matter of time until we're back in the garden.

You can hear the red-bellied woodpecker's call here.

 

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