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Blackhawks topple Blues 4-2

Sunday, 06 April 2014 19:24 Published in Sports
 
CHICAGO (AP) -- Rookie Jeremy Morin scored and set up Patrick Sharp's go-ahead goal in the second period, and the injury-depleted Chicago Blackhawks held on to defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday afternoon for their third straight win.
 
The Blackhawks ground out the victory despite skating without injured star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the third game. Forward Brandon Saad was a last-minute scratch.
 
Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith also scored for Chicago, which closed to one point behind Colorado for second place in the Central Division and home ice in the first round of the playoffs. The Blackhawks have three games left. The Avalanche, who host Pittsburgh on Sunday night, have five games left.
 
Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka connected for St. Louis, which lost its second straight and remained two points behind idle Boston for the NHL's overall point lead and race for the Presidents' Trophy.
 
Both the Blues and Bruins have four games remaining.
 
Chicago's Corey Crawford made 21 saves and St. Louis' Brian Elliott made 31.
 
The Blues skated without two of their top forwards, including leading goal scorer Alexander Steen who missed his third game with an upper-body injury. Vladimir Tarasenko has been sidelined since mid-March with a hand injury.
 
The Blues, who were shut out by Colorado on Saturday, have scored two goals or fewer in eight of their past 10 games.
 
Toews, Chicago's captain, sat out his third game with an upper-body injury suffered last Sunday when he was drilled by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik.
 
Kane, who has resumed skating, missed his ninth with a lower-body injury suffered against the Blues on March 19.
 
Toews and Kane are expected to return for the start of the playoffs.
 
Chicago dominated territorially in the chippy first period and outshot the Blues 11-3, but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.
 
Schwartz's power-play goal at 1:57 of the first opened the scoring. After taking Brenden Morrow's pass, Schwartz fired from the left circle, but his shot hit traffic in front of the net and bounded back to him. His second shot got through the screen and beat Crawford low.
 
Crawford made a pad save on Patrik Berglund's short-handed breakaway attempt midway through the first.
 
Elliott stopped several prime Chicago chances in the final minutes of the first as Chicago turned up the pressure. With 1:30 to go, he blocked a point-blank short-handed shot by Marian Hossa, who rocketed in alone past Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
 
Morin tied it at 1 at 8:34 of the second, when he drove to the net and pushed in a rebound of Bryan Bickell's shot. Bickell had picked off a pass at center ice before cruising back into the Blues' zone and firing from the left circle.
 
Sharp put Chicago ahead 2-1 with 27 seconds left in the second when he completed a 2-on-1 break with Morin. Morin carried the puck down the right side, then passed to Sharp who fired a shot past Elliott's stick side from the left circle.
 
Kruger made it 3-1 just 56 seconds into the third. Elliott got a piece of Joakim Nordstrom's shot from the right wing, but the puck trickled to the left goal post. Kruger punched it in.
 
Sobotka cut it to 3-2 with 2:02 left when his flipping shot from the left wing knuckled under Crawford's glove. Smith scored into an empty-net with 3.3 seconds left.
 
NOTES: Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya sat out his third game with a lower-body injury. Healthy scratches for Chicago were D David Rundblad and forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Matt Carey. ... Blues scratches were defensemen Ian Cole and Jordan Leopold and F Dmitrij Jaskin.

Cardinals strike early, down Pirates 6-1

Saturday, 05 April 2014 23:08 Published in Sports
 
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Yadier Molina hit his second homer of the season, Jhonny Peralta added a late two-run shot and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Saturday night.
 
Molina finished 2 for 4 and his solo homer in the sixth gave the Cardinals plenty of cushion as they bounced back from a 12-2 loss on Friday night by jumping on Pittsburgh ace Francisco Liriano (0-1) early.
 
St. Louis used a three-run first inning to put the Pirates in an early hole then held on as Joe Kelly (1-0) wiggled his way out of trouble. The right-hander worked 5 1-3 innings, walking four and striking out four in his first start of the season.
 
The Pirates left 11 runners on base, including seven in the first four innings.
 
Liriano, who struck out 10 in six innings on opening day against the Cubs, settled down after early trouble. The left-hander gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out four.
 
It wasn't exactly a repeat of the last time Liriano faced St. Louis, when he held the Cardinals in check in Game 3 of the NL division series to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. The Cardinals rallied to take the series in five, though six months later it appears the clubs that finished one-two in the NL Central remain evenly matched. The teams have now split the last 26 meetings.
 
The Cardinals didn't give Liriano time to settle in on a brisk night at PNC Park.
 
Matt Carpenter led off with a single. Peralta walked and Matt Holliday followed with an RBI single to right. Peralta scored on a sacrifice fly by Allen Craig, with Holliday scoring on a perfectly placed single to left by Matt Adams.
 
The Pirates had their chances to get back in it against Kelly. They loaded the bases in the third but managed only a single run when Kelly walked Russell Martin.
 
Pittsburgh had two on with two outs in the fourth and two one with one out in the sixth against Kelly but couldn't come through. St. Louis reliever Carlos Martinez replaced Kelly and retired Starling Marte and Travis Snider on groundouts to end the threat.
 
The Cardinals' bullpen didn't give up a hit in 3 2-3 innings of work.
 
Molina provided insurance with a homer to right and Peralta's second home run with the Cardinals slipped inside the left field foul pole against Pittsburgh reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the ninth.
 
NOTES: Marte went 1 for 5 and has reached base in each of his 17 career games against St. Louis. ... St. Louis reliever Jason Motte, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, participated in a simulated game in Florida on Saturday. Manager Mike Matheny said the team doesn't have a pre-determined role set for Motte, who saved 42 games in 2012 before the injury. ... The series concludes on Sunday when Adam Wainwright (1-0, 0.00) is set to go for St. Louis against Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00), who pitched two innings of relief in a loss to the Cubs on Thursday.

Varlamov, Avalanche blank Blues 4-0

Saturday, 05 April 2014 23:08 Published in Sports
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Semyon Varlamov tied the franchise single-season record for goalie wins held by Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy and Paul Stastny had another big game in his hometown in a penalty-filled 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
 
Stastny had a goal and two assists and Nathan Mackinnon had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which has won six in a row and has 106 points, third-most in franchise history. Roy became the fifth coach in NHL history to win 50 games in his first season.
 
Varlamov made 31 saves for his second shutout of the season and NHL-leading 40th win, matching Roy's total in 2000-01. The Avalanche reached 50 wins for the second time in franchise history and tied the franchise mark with 24 road victories.
 
The Blues fell two points behind Boston, which beat the Flyers 5-2, for first place overall. They've been dependent on goalie Ryan Miller with Vladimir Tarasenko out since mid-March with a hand injury and Alexander Steen also sidelined, and scored two or fewer goals for the seventh time in 10 games.
 
There were several scrums and frustration boiled over for the Blues late in the third. Ryan O'Reilly scored his 27th goal on a power play with a two-man advantage after St. Louis captain David Backes and Barret Jackman both received 10-minute misconducts.
 
The Blues had 91 minutes in penalties in the third and finished the game with seven players on the bench.
 
St. Louis has been shut out on home ice for the first two times all season in the past three games, counting a 1-0 shootout win over Philadelphia on Tuesday.
 
Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis, has 29 points in 24 career games against the Blues. He has two goals and six assists in a seven-game point streak.
 
The first five games in Colorado's win streak were decided by one goal, two in overtime and two by shootouts. The first three goals against St. Louis came on rebounds.
 
For the third straight Blues game, the first period was scoreless. A scrum at the end of the period led to a double-minor penalty on St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka that helped the Avalanche get rolling.
 
Stastny scored his 22nd goal on a power play at 1:14 of the second and MacKinnon had a wide open net at 6:20, a little more than a minute after Blues coach Ken Hitchcock called timeout.
 
Nick Holden made it 3-0 at 10:25 after a lengthy review because he kicked the puck, but replays indicated the Blues' Steve Ott's stick touched the puck before it crossed the goal line.
 
Notes: The last coach to win 50 games in his debut season since San Jose's Todd McLellan won 53 games in 2008-09. Tom Johnson won 57 games with Boston in 1970-71, Mike Keenan won 53 with Philadelphia in 1984-85 and Pat Burns won 53 in 1988-89. ... Steen (lower body) did not dress for the second straight game and may not play Sunday at Chicago.

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