The GOP is angry at Obama for using his executive order to pass immigration reforms that the do-nothing Congress failed to pass. The GOP leadership is threatening action, but at least they have the sense not to threaten a government shutdown again. I wish I could say the same about Ted Cruz.
Hot Oilers Upset Cold Steelers
Shall Meek (13-10 Victors) Inherit NFL?
By Vito Stellino / Post-Gazette Sports Writer
It was the kind of day when you had to think about getting the last seat on the ark than about winning a football game.
A nasty, sleeting rain dropped on the Steelers’ parade yesterday and helped turn what was supposed to be a cakewalk to the division crown into a dogfight.
A one-time meek bunch of players named the Houston Oilers, who seem bent on eventually inheriting the National Football League, rose up and dealt the Steelers a soggy, gritty 13-10 setback.
“You’re going to have to print some retractions,” said a chagrinned Joe Greene, who confidently predicted last week that the Steelers were going to win the Super Bowl despite their previous failure to beat a winning team this year.
“I was overflowing with confidence before but I’m scared now. I’ve got to admit it,” Greene said. “We let it get away.”
The Steelers are now only a game ahead of Cincinnati and the Bengals could close to within a half-game tonight with an upset victory of Miami that could set the stage for a showdown on national TV against the Steelers on Dec. 14.
It might have been poetic justice that Houston ruined the Steelers’ dream of clinching it this weekend because the Steelers had the lead in the first place because the Oilers had upset Cincinnati twice.
But its gotten to the point where Oiler victories no longer rate as upsets. In fact, the Steelers 13-7 victory in the first meeting is now the team’s only win against a .500 team because the Oilers are now 6-6. The Steelers are 8-3-1 and Cincinnati is 7-4.
“I kept thinking, ‘when are they going to come up and be Houston again and make a mistake?’ but they didn’t,” Greene said.
Instead, the Steelers offense, which had its lowest net yardage of the season (84) besides the lowest rushing (75) and passing (9) totals of the year, made the mistakes.
While the Steelers didn’t get a single turnover for only the second time of the year, the Oilers swiped three Steelers passes, sacked Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty four times and drove Bradshaw out of the game with bruised ribs. X-rays proved negative and he says he can play next week.
The Steeler defense was almost as tough, holding Houston to 158 yards, and the Oilers needed the help of a controversial officials’ call to set the stage for Skip Butler’s 34-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the game that snapped a 10-10 tie. The Oilers picked off two Hanratty passes in the last two minutes to wrap it up.
The Steelers scored in the first period on Roy Gerela’s 44-yard field goal and the teams traded touchdowns in the second period. Dan Pastorini tossed a six-yard pass to Fred Willis and Bradshaw hit Franco Harris with a 32-yard strike with 32 seconds left in the half after he scrambled all over the field.
That made it 10-7 at the half but Butler’s 42-yarder midway in the third period – set up when Greg Bingham stole a pass that bounced off Ron Shanklin’s hands – tied it up. It was a strange period in which Houston scored but failed to get a first down and the Steelers got just two.
As the rain continued to pelt down on the diehards in the crowd of 41,195 at Three Rivers who refused to be driven away by the miserable weather, it looked as if neither team would score again – even if it went to overtime.
Bradshaw said, “We looked terrible. It was the worst day offensively I can remember since I’ve been here. No excuses or pointing fingers. We just looked bad.”
The, sounding like George Allen, he said, “There were too many distractions.” And he added some excuses. “It was a short week after a Monday night game and Thanksgiving was in there. We weren’t ready, maybe it was too much turkey.”
Noll said, “The defense and special teams played well enough to win but you don’t win many wars playing defense alone. We didn’t throw the ball well at times and we didn’t make the blocks and the running game won’t go if you don’t sustain the blocks.”
He added, “What we have to do know is not dwell on this. This is history. We’ve got two games left and if we win them both, we’ll win the division. If we dwell on what could and should have happened, it’ll kill us.”
Greene had one final thing to dwell on. “You feel bad when you get whipped on your own field on a day when you don’t even want to be out. But if we had to lose, I don’t feel too bad about them winning, especially Pastorini. He’s spent a lot of days flat on his back. I was happy for him.”
But there wasn’t much else for the Steelers to be happy about on a drizzly, dismal day.
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We told you he was ripped and rough looking and now the first photo of Jake Gyllenhaal proves it.
This just released picture from “Southpaw” (taken by Scott Garfield/The Weinstein Co.) is making the media rounds.
If you missed our story on Aug. 17 in which director Antoine Fuqua talked about the movie he shot in his hometown of Pittsburgh, here it is:
By Barbara Vancheri / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jake Gyllenhaal is ripped and rough looking.
This is not the perfectly groomed, model-handsome actor from “Love & Other Drugs” but one molded and muscled from months in the gym, training long before production started in June on “Southpaw” in Western Pennsylvania.
Director Antoine Fuqua wanted him to convincingly play a light heavyweight boxer. A sneak peek at a smartphone photo shows Mr. Gyllenhaal has transformed himself.
The hair is short. The blood and ink are fake. But the abs are real and impressive. Very.
“He looks like a fighter. He’s got tattoos. He’s got everything. He’s got the eyes kind of messed up, the nose is different. Oh, yeah, he looks rough. He looks tough,” Mr. Fuqua, a Pittsburgh native, said recently over coffee in the lobby of the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, Downtown.
“I really wanted him to be a fighter. Right now, he’s been boxing so much, he’s in that mentality,” the director said of the actor who has portrayed cops, a military helicopter pilot with eight minutes to stop a bomb blast, a sixth-century prince of Persia, a newspaper cartoonist, a Marine and a heartsick cowboy.
“I had him sparring. We had Victor Ortiz, the real fighter. He’s in the movie. I had him here as well and they sparred, and Victor taught him some things, and Coach Terry [Claybon] from LA, who trains with me and Denzel, I brought him out. Other fighters were here, as well.”
Denzel, of course, is Denzel Washington, who won his second Oscar and first for a leading role in Mr. Fuqua’s “Training Day.” They reunite in “The Equalizer,” which will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
In the meantime, though, there is the deadline for “Southpaw,” which The Weinstein Co. could release as early as December, although no date has been announced.
Mr. Fuqua and film editor John Refoua (an Oscar nominee for “Avatar”) have been editing as they go along and apparently aren’t daunted by the timetable. “I like the energy of that. We shot all our huge boxing sequences up front. Normally I’ll do the hardest thing first. I just think people have more in them than they think.”
That strategy minimizes overthinking or second guessing although it can “freak the crew out” sometimes, he acknowledges.
In addition to Mr. Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope, a successful boxer who suffers a series of calamities, the cast includes Rachel McAdams as his wife; Oona Laurence from Broadway’s “Matilda” as the couple’s daughter, who is about 10 years old; Forest Whitaker as a trainer Billy finds at a low point in his life; 50 Cent as a manager and promoter; and Naomie Harris as a social worker.
Despite early Internet speculation, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o from “12 Years a Slave” is not among the cast.
The drama, written by Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), is about a champion boxer who loses everything after a death and goes into a downward spiral. The boxing, violence and language are expected to earn an R rating.
“Ultimately, the story’s about a father and daughter coming to terms with mourning and coming to terms with, ‘Who’s the parent?’ Learning how to be a parent, learning how to be a father, in particular,” Mr. Fuqua said.
As husband to actress Lela Rochon and father of a 12-year-old daughter, along with sons ages 21 (who worked on the movie) and 10, Mr. Fuqua said the story “really hit my heart. It’s a sports movie but it’s more about the father, learning how to be a dad without the mom when tragedy happens.”
Part-time dads, whose work takes them away from their families and such day-to-day details as school assignments and best friends, need to catch up on real life.
“This movie is forcing this man to learn how to be a dad and learn how to control his anger. In the boxing world, of course, it’s OK to be angry and be on the edge and be violent because you get paid for it. In the real world, you can’t go around punching people; it affects everyone.” Billy’s anger and rage as a fighter will destroy him or the most precious part of his life — his daughter — if he cannot tame his temper.
Mr. Fuqua, 48, has been boxing since his days in Pittsburgh and turned his suburban office here into a temporary communal gym, and Mr. Gyllenhaal, no stranger to workouts, as proven by “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and “Jarhead,” embarked on rigorous training.
“Four months, twice a day, in the boxing gym. Every day, sometimes on Sundays, and he completely committed. In fact, that’s where I interviewed him,” the filmmaker recalled.
“Harvey Weinstein called me and said, ‘Well, you guys should meet.’ I said, ‘Well, let me see if he can throw a punch,’ ” the director recalled.
Mr. Gyllenhaal could, and the title “Southpaw” has a double meaning here, from the traditional use of the left hand to tapping into the other side of your brain. “In life, sometimes you have to switch your tactics, even as a parent. Kids age, you age, life moves forward,” Mr. Fuqua said.
The movie, set mainly in New York, shot in Pittsburgh and Indiana for roughly 40 days and planned a few days elsewhere.
Cast and crews went to IUP’s Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex; The Priory on the North Side; the McKeesport campus of human services agency Auberle; the Omni William Penn and other Downtown locations; and the communities of Sharpsburg, Wilkinsburg and Carrick.
Just as he had for the filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Warrior,” former police detective Jimmy Cvetic steered young athletes to the set, and Auberle opened its doors to “Southpaw” in a couple of ways, too.
“That was really special. I put some of the kids in the film when I could — I had to go through the process, of course,” said Mr. Fuqua, who also talked to some of the at-risk children about “their dreams and just going for it.” Auberle supporters acted as movie extras during a gala hotel scene and helped to raise almost $5,000 for the agency’s mission of “helping children and families heal themselves.”
So, whose idea was it to come to Pittsburgh?
The Allderdice High School grad initially wanted to make a movie here about the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that got “put on pause,” he says. “I had ‘Southpaw’ for about five or six years. I got it from Steven Spielberg when he was going to produce it.”
It was originally set in Detroit, but he asked about the best tax incentives, he heard Pittsburgh and realized the Steel City could double for New York. “Me and the producers looked at the numbers, and I said, for me, it’s great, I get to make a movie at home. But at the same time, it’s tough because I got to make a movie at home.”
Although the finish line was in sight, Mr. Fuqua was torn about having to leave his hometown again. After all, he is a former Hill District and Homewood resident whose parents reside in Penn Hills. He was a director of music videos who graduated to features with “The Replacement Killers” and “Bait” and made some awards noise and history with “Training Day.”
“This is when the depression kicks in, of course. For me, it’s a double-edged sword. You know, it’s great to be home — family’s here, friends, you see the city again. It’s an amazing feeling to come back, and it’s kind of a heartbreak. You mean it’s going to end now?
“There’s so much more I want to do and see here because it’s changed so much,” he said, and scouting might mean popping into a place and realizing, “Wow, this wasn’t here before.”
He said, “I’ve been looking around and thinking about buying some property here. My kids got to see it, so it’s a special place.”
Although some friends and relatives assumed Mr. Fuqua could find them parts in his hometown movie, they also got a lesson in how consuming his job can be. He sleeps only a couple of hours a night, always preparing for the next day or scouting on weekends or meeting with new actors joining the cast.
“Now I think they know that when I don’t call back right away when I’m out of town. They get a better sense of it. I’ve hired some of my cousins and family members to work on the movie, so they can also see up close this sort of controlled chaos that happens with filmmaking.”
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-Something we always like to do is take a look at the new players on a roster and what jersey number they wear. We look back at the previous holders of those numbers and try to determine who wore it best. It's a cheap and easy way to fill up a little space on the blog when we're drawing a blank on what to write.
Thomas Greiss, No. 1 - Hank Bassen, Joe Daley, Paul Hoganson, Cam Newton, Roy Edwards, Jim Rutherford, Bob Johnson, Gordon Laxton, Denis Herron, Rob Holland, Paul Harrison, Steve Guenette, Pat Riggin, Wendell Young, Rob Dopson, Peter Skudra, Johan Hedberg, John Curry, Brent Johnson
-We'd have to go with The Moose (AKA Johan Hedberg). He really had the most sustained success out of this group.
Christian Ehrhoff, No. 10 - Earl Ingarfield, George Swarbrick, Keith McCreary, Robin Burns, Ted Snell, Pierre Larouche, Peter Lee, Gary Rissling, Bob Errey, Wayne Babych, Ron Duguay, Dan Quinn, Barry Pederson, Ron Francis, Ville Nieminen, John LeClair, Gary Roberts, Mark Letestu, Tanner Glass, Brenden Morrow
-By far and away, Francis is the best No. 1 in franchise history.
Nick Spaling, No. 13 - Jim Hamilton, Charlie Simmer, Alex Goligoski, Bill Guerin
-Guerin was the most effective No. 13 in franchise history but Simmer gets an honorable mention for being married to a former Playboy Playmate.
Blake Comeau, No. 17 - Billy Speer, Bill LeCaine, Ron Schock, Rick Kehoe, Lee Giffin, Brad Aitken, Tomas Sandstrom, Peter Ferraro, Brian Bonin,Tom Chorske, Toby Petersen, Matt Murley, Karl Stewart, Petr Sykora, Mike Rupp, Zach Boychuk, Dustin Jeffrey, Taylor Pyatt
-Kehoe was the franchise's best pre-Lemieux player and is still in the conversation among top five players in Penguins history.
Steve Downie, No. 23 - Bill Speer, Mel Pearson, Bob Woytowich, Ted Lanyon, Jean-Guy Legace, Doug Barrie, Rick Kessell, John Stewart, Bob Leiter, Eddie Shack, Larry Bignell, Nelson Debenedet, Ed Gilbert, Jim Hamilton, Rod Schutt, Gary Rissling, Doug Lecuyer, Rich Sutter, Andy Brickley, Wally Weir, Randy Hillier, Kjell Samuelsson, Paul Stanton, Chris Joseph, Domenic Pittis, Fredrik Olausson, Victor Ignatjev, Steve Leach, John Jakopin, Dan Trebil, Steve McKenna, Shane Endicott, Eric Boguniecki, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ryan Craig, Trevor Smith, Chris Conner
-We'll go with Eddie "The Showman" Shack. First, He allegedly wore No. 23 because when it was reflected backwards in a mirror, it formed his initials (ES). Second, this is a pretty lean group of talent. Not many all-stars here.
Patric Hornqvist, No. 72 - Jeff Christian, Eric Meloche, Alex Kovalev
-Hornqvist is already the best No. 72 in franchise history. Kovalev was an all-star during his first stint with the Penguins when he wore No. 27. His 72 days were pretty ugly.
-Of more immediate concerns, Marcel Goc is out of the lineup and will be replaced by Andrew Ebbett who will presumably center the fourth line. Ebbett isn't really a fourth-line style center but the Penguins' don't really have many options at this point. Their forward depth is getting a major test right now with Goc, Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett each sidelined.
-It'll be interesting to see how the Penguins' lines shake out tonight after they were shuffled quite a bit last night. The top three lines were all over the place over the last 25 minutes or so.
-A few EN readers are hunting for some jerseys on the Piedmont. Ron Tugnutt:
@akane1066 +1— Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters) November 29, 2014
-And Darius Kasparaitis:
-Here's a major surprise:
With Letang scratched, Robert Bortuzzo returns to the Penguins' lineup.— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) November 30, 2014
-Root Sports had a good look of a play last night where Letang's right ankle was trapped as Carolina's Jiri Tlusty fell on him:
-According to the team's Web site, here are the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings during warmups:
Nick Spaling - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau
Jasyon Megna - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Andrew Ebbett - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Robert Bortuzzo
Olli Maatta - Christian Ehrhoff
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, xx and Thomas Greiss.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Marcel Goc and Kris Letang.
-The Hurricanes starters are Andrej Nestrasil, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Andrei Sekera and Anton Khudobin.
-Their scratches are Zach Boychuk, Brad Malone and Chris Terry.
18:52: Elias Lindholm fires a wrister from the right wing which is blocked by Bortuzzo.
18:42: Off a feed from Bortuzzo, Megna lifts a wrister from the right circle. Khudobin blockers it away.
18:20: Nathan Gerbe directs a puck on net from the slot. Greiss kicks it out.
17:18: Scuderi chucks a wrister on net from the left point. Khudobin steers it away.
16:43: Bortuzzo's return to the lineup sees him take a quick penalty as he wrapped up fellow Thunder Bay native Eric Staal at the red line in front of the benches. Comeau, Sutter, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.
16:22: The Hurricanes cash in almost immediately. Off some perimeter passing, Victor Rask feeds a pass to Falk above the left circle. Faulk cracks a one-timer which blows by Greiss' blocker on the near side. That seemed like a fairly simple power play. Rask and Gerbe get assists. Hurricanes 1-0.
16:04: The Penguins waste little time in tying it up. Malkin races in on a forecheck to collect a dump in off the Carolina end boards. He veers behidn the net and from near the left wing corner, he backhands a pass to Kunitz in the left circle. Kunitz has his stick cocked and fires a one-timer behind Khudobin. That's Kunitz's first goal in 11 games. He and the Penguins needed that badly. Malkin and Comeau get assists. Hurricanes 1, Penguins 1.
15:40: Working with Megna and Spaling, Crosby backhands a pass from the left circle. Khudbobin kicks it out.
15:24: A wrister by Jay McCLement from the left circle is wide to the far side.
15:04: A backhander by Patrick Dwywer from the left circle is fought off by Greiss.
14:28: Bobby Orrtuzzo strikes. As the Hurricanes make a line change, Bortuzzo lugs the puck up ice from his won zone, gains the offensvie zone, skates by Gerbe and John-Michael Liles and rips a sizzing wrister from the right cirlce by the blocker of Khudobin. What a rebound after that mid-ice penalty. Bortuzzo has quietly become very confident in his skating. Martin and Ebbett get assists. Penguins 2-1.
13:59: Riley Nash rips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss eats it up.
13:48: Fending of Maatta, Eric Staal tries to jam in a wraparound from the right of the cage. Greiss kicks it out.
12:27: Sekera rips a wrister from the right point. Greiss fights it off.
13:02: Megna pushes a puck up the right wing and as he tries to leave a drop pass, Tim Gleason smears him against the right wing corner boards of the Carolina zone.
12:25: Spaling whacks a one-timer from the left circle. Sekera blocks it.
9:51: Crosby challenges Ron Hainsey one-on-one but has the puck swept away by Hainsey int he slot.
9:31: Downie has a wrister from the right circle.
9:18: Racing for a puck in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone, Despres (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) is dropped on a nice hit by Gerbe (5-foot-5, 178 pounds). Downie comes flying in and slams Gerbe into the boards. Megna then grabs Gerbe and challenges him to a fight. Gerbe pretty much body slams him to the ice. Gerbe gets a roughing minor while Megna gets minors for roughing and cross checking. Downie will serve serve one of the minors while Downie heads down to the dressing room. Gerbe could have been called for interference against Despres as neither player had the puck. The Hurricanes get a power play. Spaling, Comeau, Maatta and Ehrhoff take the ice.
8:30: Michal Jordan rips a wrister from the high slot off the right post.
8:15: Staal tries to jam in a puck from in front of the crease. Greiss smothers it. Megna returns from the dressing room and heads to the penalty box.
7:24: The Penguins clear the puck and kill off the rest of the power play.
7:04: Off a feed from Crosby, Malkin flings a backhander from the right circle. Khudobin fights it off.
5:54: Downie and Gerbe are separated prior to a neutral zone faceoff.
4:40: A point shot by Bortuzzo is re-directed on net by Hornqvist. Khudobin denies it.
4:29: Skinner dances around a poke check by Bortuzzo at the Penguins' blue line and attacks the net. His forehand shot is denied by Greiss.
3:38: Despres snaps off a loose puck from the high slot. Khudobin makes the save but allows a rebound to the right of the cage. Comeau is is there but Jordan ties him up enough to prevent a clean shot.
1:20: On a delayed penalty, Bortuzzo has a wrister from the right circle rejected by Khudobin.
1:13: Liles is called for slashing Crosby as he cut down the slot with the puck. That's two minutes. Crosby, Maatta, Malkin, Hornqvist and Kunitz take the ice.
0:31: A wrister by Maatta from the left half wall is rejected by Khudobin.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1.
-Even if they gave up the first goal, Penguins looked miles better tonight than they ever did last night. They were far more assertive in how they wanted to dictate the pace of play. They were in charge of things for most of the first period.
-Bortuzzo had a very hit or miss period. His goal was spectacular but he looked pretty bad while trying to defend Skinner on a breakaway.
-The choice of using Maatta to replace Letang on the first power play unit instead of Ehrhoff or Martin is curious.
-The Penguins have a 14-10 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 22-19 lead in attempted shots.
-Kunitz leads the game with three shots.
-Dwyer, Staal and Skinne each lead the Hurricanes with two shots.
-Maatta leads the game with 9:13 of ice time.
-Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 7:05 of ice time.
-The Hurricanes have a 12-7 lead in faceoffs (63 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 8 (50 percent).
-Rask is 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Bortuzzo leads the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will start the period with 48 seconds of power-play time on fresh ice. Crosby, Malkin, Maatta, Hornqvist and Kunitz take the ice.
19:20: Kunitz tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Khudobin fights it out.
19:15: Malkin grips and rips a wrister from the left circle out of play.
18:19: Big save. Off a steal at the Carolina blue line, Spaling deals a feed to the slot for Hornqvist above the crease. Hornqvist directs the puck on net and Khudboin kicks it out.
17:03: A cross-ice pass by Nestrasil from the right wing is blocked by Martin.
16:06: Dwyer tries to drive up the slot. Ehrhoff appears to hooking him a bit and both players go tumbling to the ice. No call.
15:29: Gleason rips a wrister from the right point. Greiss knocks it dead and smothers the rebound.
14:31: Malkin is nabbed for hooking Tlusty in the offensive zone. That's two minutes. Sutter, Adams, Maatta and Ehrhoff take the ice.
14:25: Jordan rips a wrister from the high slot. Greiss gets a piece of it.
14:17: Short-handed, Sutter races up the left wing and rips a wrister to the far side. Khudobin is able to trap the puck with his glove hand against his left leg and freezes play.
13:54: A wrister by Nash from the left circle is blocked.
13:41: Lindholm tries to sweep a puck into the net from the left of the cage. Greiss fights it off.
13:34: Skinner rips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss says no.
13:30: Off a feed from Jordan, Liles cranks a one-timer from the right half wall. Greiss punches it away.
12:51: A one-timer by Liles from the right point hits something and pops up into the air.
12:42: Skinner snaps off a wrister from the right circle which Martin blocks.
12:27: As Malkin's minor expires, Jordan pounds a slapper from the right point. Greiss says no.
12:16: A slapper by Sekera from the right point is denied by Greiss.
11:04: Off a neutral zone turnover by Malkin, Nash rips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss snags it.
10:54: Comeau drives in off the right wing and attacks the net. He tries to jam in a forheand shot through Khudobin's five hole but no dice. Jay Harrison is called for delay of game after he knocked the net off its moorings. Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist and Maatta take the ice.
9:47: Sutter slithers his way up the right wing and sneaks a crossing feed to Downie on the backdoor of the slot. Downie fans on the shot and fails to get a clean shot off.
8:54: The Harrison minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins.
8:40: Wow. Tlusty pushes the puck up the right wing on a partial two-on-one with Staal against Scuderi. Tlusty is able to backhand a pass by a sliding Scuderi to Staal int he left circle. Staal snaps off a shot. Greiss reads the play and eats up the shot. HUGE save.
8:27: The Hurricanes get a power play as Crosby is called for hooking Staal near the Penguins' net. It's a legit call by the book but it's a bit ticky tack. Sutter, Adams, Maatta and Ehrhoff take the ice.
8:21: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Liles wires a one-timer from above the righ circle. Greiss is able to eat it up.
7:19: Staal snaps off a pass from the right circle to Tlusty in the slot. Tlusty re-directs it on net. Greiss punches it away with his blocker.
7:25: Staal roars off the right half wall and rips a wrister wide to the far side.
7:21: A slapper by Liles is blocked out of play by Sutter.
7:15: Off another offensive zone faceoff win, Rask cranks a one-timer from the right circle. Greiss punches it away.
6:33: A re-direction by Rask from the slot is kicked out by Greiss.
6:27: The Crosby minor is killed. The Hurricanes put a lot of rubber on net but Greiss was sharp.
5:52: Off a feed from Malkin, Comeau snaps off a wrister from the right wing which is blocked by Sekera.
5:27: A wrister by Kunitz from the left wing corner is denied.
3:53: Picking up a loose puck in his own zone, Megna zips up the right wing and rips a wrister on net. Khudobin eats it up.
3:43: Maatta chops a slapper from the right point. Khudobin eats it up despite traffic.
2:51: Another penalty for the Penguins. Comeau is nabbed for boarding Hainsey. Adams, EHrhoff, Maatta and Sutter take the ice.
1:51: A wrister by Rask from the left point is blocked wide.
1:45: Lindholm is called for cross checking Ehrhoff while battling for position in front of the Penguins' net. We'll see four-on-four play for 55 seconds.
1:22: A one-timer by Bortuzzo from the right point is blocked in front.
0:49: As Comeau's minor expires, Crosby laves a drop pass for Ehrhoff chops a slapper from the right circle. Khudobin gloves it.
0:39: Hornqvist tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Khudobin kicks it out.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Hurricanes 1.
-That period really turned into a special teams battle.
-The Penguins' power play really looks out of sorts without Letang. We wonder why Maatta was selected instead of Martin or Ehrhoff to replace Letang on the first unit.
-Greiss really was the Penguins' most important player that period. He saw a lot of quality shots and turned away all of them.
-Not that the bar has been set all that high, but this has been Megna's best game thus far this season.
-The Penguins have a 25-24 lead in shots on net.
-The Hurricanes have a 44-37 lead in attempted shots.
-Kunitz leads the game with five shots.
-Liles leads the Hurricanes with four shots.
-The Hurricanes are controlling faceoffs, 31-16 (66 percent).
-Staal is 9 for 10 (90 percent).
-Crosby is 7 for 16 (44 percent).
-Martin leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Sekera leads the Hurricanes with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have a brief power play to start the period on fresh ice.
19:44: Lindholm's minor expires.
19:20: Off a turnover in the defensive zone by the Hurricanes, Crosby rips a wrister from the right circle. Khudobin fights it off. He collects his own rebound in the right wing corner and deals to Hornqvist who booms a one-timer from the right circle. Khudobin says no.
17:05: Maatta chops a slapper from the right point. Khudobin fights it off.
17:03: Comeau backhands a puck from the right circle. Khudobin kicks it out.
16:06: Nestrasil tries to jam a backhander in from the right of the cage. Ward fights it off.
15:44: On a rare offensive chance from the fourth line, Sill deals a pass from behind the cage to Adams in the right circle. Adams pumps a wrister which Khudobin eats up.
15:16: Dwyer tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Greiss keeps it out.
14:13: Downie golfs a slapper from the right point. Khudobin punches it away.
13:26: Off a faceoff win in the left circle of the Penguins' zone, Tlusty chops shot from the left circle it hits the side of the cage and rest on the back of the net. The red light goes off and play is halted. Officials rule no goal.
12:43: Using Maatta as a screen, Staal releases a tricky wrister from above the left circle. Greiss punches it away.
11:01: Comeau swipes a one-timer from the center point. Khudobin kicks it out.
9:28: Sekera snaps off a wrister from from the right point. Downie blocks it.
9:11: A tricky wrister by Sutter from the right wing is punched away by Khudobin.
7:34: Ehrhoff chops a slapper from the right point. It hits a stick and deflects out of play.
7:16: Off a feed from behind the cage, Gerbe deals a feed to Nash to the right of the crease. Nash eats it up.
5:52: Nestrasil rips a wrister from the right circle. It misses the cage completely.
5:26: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Sekera booms a slapper from the right point. It gets blocked.
4:47: Crosby deals a feed from the right point to the slot. Hornqvist chops a one-timer which goes wide.
4:33: Christian Ehrhoff gets ont he board with his first goal of the season. As the Hurricanes make a lien change, he lugs the puck up from the Penguins zone, goes wide tot he right wing against Faulk and backhands a puck on net. Khudobin makes the initial save but allows a rebound. Faulk doesn't really make much of a play on the rebound and allows Ehrhoff to chop at the puck which ends up fluttering over Khudobin's glove on the near side. Maatta gets the only assists. Penguins 3, Hurricanes 1.
4:10: Play is halted as a scrum develops near the Carolina bench. Comeau and Gerbe are in the middle of it and each player gets roughing minors. We'll see four-on-four play for two minutes.
3:20: Liles booms a slapper from the right point. Greiss fights it off.
3:04: Skinner gets a look in the left circle and lifts a wrister which Greiss gets a piece of.
2:48: Bortuzzo plants skinner into the left wing boards at the Penguins' blue line.
2:33: Liles rips a wrister from the left circle wide to the far side.
2:12: Sekera dances around Maatta in the slot and goes backhand on net. Greiss holds it out.
1:31: Hornqvist rips a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
1:29: A last gasp for the Hurricanes as Spaling is called for goaltending interference. The Hurricanes call time out to get organized. Khudobin is pulled for an extra attacker. Sutter, Crosby, Suceri and Martin take the ice.
1:24: A slapper by Faulk from the left point is off the mark.
1:02: A wrister by Staal from the right circle is denied.
0:55: Skinner chops a slapper fro the right circle. Greiss says no.
0:16: Staal rips a wrister from the left wing wide of the cage.
0:12: The Hurricanes pull within a goal. Rask controls the goal at the center point and chucks it at the cage. It hits something and changed direction and beats Greiss on the glove hand side. Staal gets credit for the goal. Rask and Faulk get assists. Penguins 3-2.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Hurricanes 2.
-First things first. There was an update on Kris Letang:
Coach Mike Johnston calls Letang injury "minor." Says he was hurt one shift AFTER Tlusty fell on him Friday.— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) November 30, 2014
-This was a pretty gutsy win by the Penguins. They were down four of their regular players in Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Marcel Goc and Kris Letang, got a good challenge from a team which beat them the night before and scraped out a tight one-goal win on the road.
-The impressive thing about this win was the sources of offense for the Penguins. In addition to Chris Kunitz snapping a goal-scoring slump, the Penguins got their first and winning goal from defensemen. Robert Bortuzzo made amends for an early penalty by catching the Hurricanes napping on a line change and used his underrated skating ability to rip a pretty shot for a goal. Then Christian Ehrhoff scored his first goal of the season under similiar circumstances by using his skating ability to create his own offense.
-Without Letang, the Penguins got major contributions from others on their blue line.
-Thomas Greiss was the Penguins' best player in this game. He was under attack throughout the night, particularly during the second period and kicked out nearly everything thrown on net. This might have been his best game of the season.
-Overall, the Penguins just looked more confident and composed than they did 24 hours prior. The Hurricanes didn't dictate the game nearly as much as they did Friday and as a result, the Penguins were able to lead for most of the contest.
-One area where Letang was clearly missed was the Penguins' power play. That group just didnt' look the same without him. It was a very disorganized effort for the Penguins with the man advantage.
-Olli Maatta is clearly a very talented player who can do just about anything on the ice. But given the veteran acumen of Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff, we wonder why they weren't used on the first power play unit instead of Maatta.
-They only got one goal combined, but the top two lines seemed to generate a fair amount of chemistry. Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist had their thing going on while Blake Comeau seemed to gel pretty well with Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz.
-It would be a stretch to say Nick Spaling had much going on with the first line. He's a fair player but he's being asked to play above his skillset.
-The Penguins penalty kill also missed Letang. It allowed two goals on six chances and would have allowed more if Greiss wasn't as sharp as he was.
-Andrew Ebbett didn't make much of an impact in his season debut. He had 11 shifts totaling 6:24 of ice time and was 1 for 4 in faceoffs. But hey, he got an assist.
-The Hurricanes didn't play a bad game. They played fairly similar to how they looked Friday. They just weren't nearly as effective. The Penguins found ways to get through the neutral zone with much more speed tonight and operated in the offensive zone quite a bit.
-We're not sure how much can be attributed to Goc's absence but the Penguins struggled badly in the faceoff circle.
-Nathan Gerbe isn't going to get any Christmas cards from the Penguins. They had enough of him over the span of 48 hours.
-Justin Faulk and Andrei Sekera weren't nearly as effective in limiting the Penguins' better players as they were Friday night. They took a step back.
-Anton Khudobin could have been better. The goals he allowed to Ehrhoff and Bortuzzo were preventable.
-The Hurricanes found a useful player in Andrej Nestrasil when they claimed him off waivers from the Red Wings earlier this month.
-The Hurricanes had a 34-33 lead in shots on net.
-The Hurricanes had a 52-49 command in attempted shots.
-John-Michael Liles led the game with six shots.
-Kunitz led the Penguins with five shots.
-Faulk led the game with 25:04 of ice time.
-Maatta led the Penguins with 24:49 of ice time.
-The Hurricanes dominated faceoffs, 42-23 (65 percent).
-Riley Nash was 11 for 18 (61 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 8 for 20 (40 percent).
-Martin led the game with four blocked shots.
-Sekera led the Hurricanes with two blocked shots.
-Martin (95 points) moved past Paul Baxter and Wally Boyer (94 each) for 89th place on the franchise's career scoring list.
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — We're just about an hour from kickoff here between Pitt and Miami here at Sun Life Stadium. The equation for Pitt is pretty simple: win and make a bowl game, or lose and see the 2014 season come to an end. Here are a few pre-game notes to get you started...
- Of course, the biggest question is the status of running back James Conner, who left last week's 30-7 win against Syracuse in the second quarter with a hip injury. Conner is here and going through warmups with the Panthers, but a team spokesman was non-committal about his availability saying it's still a "wait and see" type of situation. It wouldn't surprise me to see Conner try and give it a go, but it also sounds like he's still definitely affected by the injury. Going to have to wait and see until game time.
- In terms of injuries, the following players did not make the trip for Pitt today: WR Manasseh Garner, DT Darryl Render, DT Tyrique Jarrett, TE Scott Orndoff. That leaves Pitt with K.K. Mosley-Smith and Justin Moody along the defensive line with LaQuentin Smith and Jeremiah Taleni as backups.
- Here's a link to my preview story from today's Post-Gazette about the do-or-die nature of today's game for Pitt.