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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In both of Ryan Miller's starts with the St. Louis Blues, they've faced two-goal deficits. Both times, they've rallied to win.
 
Though they're still learning what type of player Miller can be, it took no time at all to pick up on the calming influence projected from the man in net.
 
"His disposition and the way he carries himself has a professionalism to it that I think over time just rubs off on everybody," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Coaches, players - from the time he comes into the building, the way he carries himself has a positive effect on everybody."
 
Alexander Steen got the go-ahead goal early in the third period in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Miller, who got a huge ovation during player introductions, made sure it stood up in his first home start since the Blues acquired him from Buffalo.
 
"I don't think it was just another game," Miller said. "My sports psychologist will probably get mad at me for saying it's just another game.
 
"It was special. It's nice to get the win at home."
 
T.J. Oshie's short-handed goal tied it in the second period and he assisted on Steen's 29th of the season for the Central Division leaders. Patrik Berglund started the comeback with his third goal in two games and Vladimir Tarasenko's empty-net score cinched it with a half-minute to go.
 
Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson gave Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, a St. Louis native and former Blue, an early cushion against an opponent that's had to come from behind in all four games since the Olympic break.
 
"I would have liked to have done a little better," Bishop said. "It's one of those things where it's nice to play in front of family and friends, and it would have been nice to get the W."
 
Miller made his second career appearance in St. Louis and faced just 17 shots against a team playing on the road for the eighth time in 10 games. He made a nice glove save on Martin St. Louis with just under two minutes to play.
 
The Blues also rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Phoenix 4-2 on Sunday. They're 19-4-2 against the Eastern Conference, including 11-0-1 at home.
 
Tampa Bay is 3-7 in its last 10 games and was 1-3 on a four-game trip.
 
"We had multiple-goal leads in three of the four games and we led in every single game, but if you're going to sit here and take 16 shots in one game, 17 shots in another game, 21 shots in another game and expect to win games, it's not going to happen," coach Jon Cooper said. "Unacceptable."
 
Oshie slipped past St. Louis in front of the net and then beat Bishop with a backhander for the Blues' third short-handed goal of the season at the midpoint of David Backes' minor slashing penalty. Backes dropped his gloves preparing to fight after trading hacks with Hedman. But Hedman backed off and the Blues captain was cordoned off by a linesman before skating off in anger.
 
Backes threw his helmet down the corridor on his way to the locker room, and didn't play the rest of the period while getting medical attention from a blow to the jaw.
 
"He might have me by 30 pounds and I've had my nose fixed before, but at that point in the game I was trying to get a little bit of a spark and try to get the guys going," Backes said. "I don't really want to take a two-minute penalty there, but to get a short-handed goal on that sort of penalty makes you feel a little bit better."
 
Killorn capitalized on a giveaway by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the St. Louis zone for his 15th goal. Johnson scored on a power play for his 18th of the season and first in eight games with Brenden Morrow off for high-sticking at 14:49.
 
Notes: The Lightning play the next six games at home starting with Thursday against Buffalo. ... Tampa Bay C Valtteri Filppula returned after missing four games with a non-displaced right ankle fracture and played 22 minutes with one shot. ... Steen earned his 200th career assist on Oshie's short-handed goal. ... The Blues are 23-5-3 at home but fell about a thousand shy of a sellout. ... The Blues have scored three or more goals in their last 10 meetings against Tampa Bay, going 8-2.
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 23:27
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MIAMI (AP) -- An hour after what he called the best regular-season game he's ever played, LeBron James simply explained why this performance was like none other.

The basketball, he said, felt small as a golf ball.

The basket, to him, looked as wide as the ocean.

Best player in the game. Best game of his career. James rewrote his record book Monday night, etched his name a few different times in Miami Heat annals as well, and let the NBA know in crystal-clear terms that his MVP award won't be ceded without a fight this season. He scored 61 points, setting career- and franchise-bests, as the Heat topped the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107.

"A surreal feeling for me right now," James said.

With good reason. He made 22 of his 33 field-goal tries, becoming just the third player in the past 25 years to take that many shots and make at least two-thirds of them, with only Alex English and Shaquille O'Neal on that list. James set a career-high for field goals made, plus Heat records for points in a quarter (25) and a half (37).

And of all his feats on Monday, the most impressive might have been how he started 8 for 8 from 3-point range.

"The man above has given me some unbelievable abilities to play the game of basketball," James said before the Heat flew to Houston for a game there Tuesday. "I just try to take advantage of it every night. I got the trust of my teammates and my coaching staff to go in there and let it go."

Glen Rice scored 56 to set the Heat record on April 15, 1995, against Orlando. James' previous career best had been 56 points, on March 20, 2005, for Cleveland against Toronto.

This outing was much better, James said. Not because 61 tops 56 - but because the night he scored 56, his Cavaliers lost.

"Phenomenal, amazing, stupendous ... he reminds me of me," Heat forward Chris Bosh said afterward in an overjoyed locker room.

James had 24 points at halftime, then added 25 in the third quarter. The record-breaker came with 5:46 left, when James spun through and around three defenders for a layup that fell as he tumbled to the court.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra walked into his postgame news conference with a confession: He nearly took James out after the third quarter.

He didn't. Good call.

"He was in a great groove, obviously," Spoelstra said.

Here's how good James was on this night: Al Jefferson finished with 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, making him just the fourth player in the past six seasons to put up a stat line like that.

No one noticed.

"You take away his 61 points," Jefferson said, "and we still had a fighting chance there at the end."

Yes, even the Bobcats were marveling at James. He was hitting from everywhere, even a 3-pointer from about 30 feet - Spoelstra joked it was from 40 - late in the third quarter, as the crowd roared and the Heat bench jumped with joy.

"Yeah, that was a designed play," Spoelstra deadpanned. "We've been working on that one for a while."

That was the moment, James said, when he knew he was in the midst of a special night.

"I felt pretty good in the first half but halftime can always kind of derail things and slow things up," James said. "But I was able to get things going once again in the third quarter and I knew it could be one of those nights."

Not "one of those nights."

Even for James, this was like no other.

"Once he sniffed 60, we knew he was going for it," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "And the amazing part is the efficiency. Good Lord. Sixty-one on 33 shots, that's Wilt Chamberlain-esque. That's pretty amazing. Incredible performance."

When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as "M-V-P" chants rained down.

"If he's going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there's nobody that's going to beat them," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Miami was without guard Dwyane Wade, who got a night off to rest. Spoelstra stressed there's been no setback for Wade, who has been on a knee-maintenance program throughout this season and is averaging 23.5 points on 62 percent shooting since the All-Star break.

Wade probably didn't mind sitting for this one. It gave him a courtside seat for the show.

James made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the quarter - he was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc at that point - and when Charlotte bit on his head fake from the top of the key, James coolly found Toney Douglas to set up another 3. A tip-in by James followed not long afterward and just like that, the lead was up to 83-63.

Charlotte scored the next six points, but any notion that the game was slipping from Miami's control was quickly extinguished.

James scored the next six himself, a pair of three-point plays to restore the 20-point edge and give him 43 points, already a season high.

All that was left to see was what he'd finish with.

The answer was history.

James has been asked plenty of times in recent weeks about the MVP race, especially with many prognosticators suggesting the trophy is likely headed to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

Might be time to reopen the thinking on that one.

"Every night I go on the floor I want to be the MVP, of this league, MVP of this team, MVP for me, myself and my family," James said. "I've set a high standard and I have to live by that."

On this night, he did. And more.

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Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:36
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Challenged for the first time under Major League Baseball's expanded replay system, umpires got it right.

The umps went 3 for 3 on Monday as MLB tried out the new format at three spring training games.

The first test came at 3:06 p.m. EST in Fort Myers, Fla., after first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki's throw pulled Jared Goedert off the bag in the sixth inning.

"I'm not too sure that you're not right here," Culbreth said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told him, "but since we haven't done it before, let's go take a look."

Culbreth answered: "OK. That's what it's for."

After 2 minutes, 34 seconds, replay umpire Brian O'Nora relayed his call by headset, confirming that Minnesota batter Chris Rahl was safe. During the wait, Rahl said he realized he perhaps was part of history.

"It's kind of funny. I was thinking, `Is this the first one?'" he said.

O'Nora made the final ruling from a satellite truck outside the stadium. During the regular season, umpires on the field will check with the replay booth in New York, where an MLB umpire will make the final call.

Later in the game, Culbreth rotated and took a turn in the truck, confirming another safe call at first base.

"I'm looking at this thing as, this is the future of the game. And I'm going to treat these games here the same way that I'm going to treat them during the regular season," Culbreth said.

In the eighth inning, Doug Bernier of the Twins was called safe on a close play at first. As Culbreth studied the replay, the ballpark sound system played a Rolling Stones song with the familiar lyric, "I can't get no satisfaction."

The call was confirmed, Bernier was safe.

Extra replay also was in place for two games in Arizona - the Los Angeles Angels vs. Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale and the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee in Phoenix.

Each team in the majors will have at least five exhibition games with the new system in place.

In January, owners approved the use of additional video replay to review most calls other than balls-and-strikes. Previously, umpires could only go to replay to review home runs and boundary calls.

Moments after the first replay call, Angels manager Mike Scioscia wasted little time in using his challenge.

In the top of the second, Luis Jimenez of the Angels tried to steal second. Catcher Bobby Wilson's throw was high but second base umpire Bill Miller ruled that Aaron Hill tagged the runner out.

Scioscia bounded out of the dugout and charged toward Miller to argue, just like managers always have done.

Instead, though, he chose to use his challenge. After two of the umpires made a quick visit to the Angels dugout to communicate with the replay umpire, the call was upheld.

"We weren't trying to make a mockery out of it," Scioscia said of using the challenge so soon. "We thought it was a pretty close play."

There was only one angle available with the limited camera work of a spring training telecast.

"If we have 15 angles of that," Scioscia said, "there's a possibility it gets reversed."

That review took 2:31.

Since he lost the challenge, Scioscia had no more.

"I don't think it's going to take much time in the logistics. That will smooth out," he said. "As far as the strategy of it, that's going to take a lot. It might be something you win, but you know you need that challenge to save the big play somewhere."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Arizona's Kirk Gibson did not use their challenge. Neither did Cubs manager Rick Renteria nor the Brewers' Ron Roenicke.

Gibson said he thought about contesting a close play when Paul Goldschmidt nearly beat out a grounder but said he decided it was 50-50 and not worth it.

"I think it's going to be a lot more complicated than we thought," Gibson said. "We had a lot of conversation during the game."

For the Angels-Diamondbacks game, the replay trailer was set up in the parking lot behind center field. Teams are allowed to have a person to watch the game on television and advise the managers via phone whether it would be worth it for the call to be challenged.

The Angels communicated via walkie talkie Monday but there will be a dedicated phone line for each team in the major league parks.

Under the new rules, each manager has one challenge. If the first challenge is successful, the manager gets a second. From the seventh inning on, if the manager is out of challenges, the umpire can decide to have the play reviewed.

Some critics of expanded replay worried that challenges would delay the game too much. Culbreth said he didn't think that would be a problem, and pointed at the benefits.

"It will work itself out. I think time really isn't going to be an issue in the end," he said. "And if it is, it's about getting the play right in the end, anyhow."

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:35
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Patrik Berglund scored twice during St. Louis' four-goal, third-period rally and the Blues beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 Sunday in goaltender Ryan Miller's debut.
 
Miller made 23 saves in his first game since being acquired by St. Louis in a five-player deal with Buffalo on Friday. In addition to posting a 284-186-57 record in 10-plus seasons, all with the Sabres, Miller entered the game 6-0-0 with a shutout and a 1.15 goals-against average in his career against Phoenix.
 
Kevin Shattenkirk and Magnus Paajarvi added goals for the Blues, who had been scoreless for a franchise record 187:44 before scoring three in a nine-plus minute span.
 
Jeff Halpern scored his 150th career goal and Paul Bissonnette added his first goal since Dec. 14 for the Coyotes, who have lost four straight and five of six.
 
Miller's St. Louis debut got off to a rocky start courtesy of an unlucky bounce less than three minutes into the game.
 
With a teammate skating down the slot, Bissonnette wristed a soft shot toward the net. St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman, seemingly anticipating a harder attempt, dropped to the ice for the block. But the puck ticked off the prone Jackman's left skate and bounced off Miller's right shoulder and into the net for the goal and a 1-0 Phoenix lead at 2:56 of the first.
 
Halpern made it 2-0 at 7:09 of the second, slipping behind Shattenkirk after the Blues defenseman cleared Bissonnette from the front of the crease and scoring off Yandle's pass from the left boards.
 
But momentum turned quickly in the third.
 
Berglund took a backhand pass from Jaden Schwartz and beat Mike Smith from the left of the net to pull St. Louis within 3-1 at 3:18 of the third, his first goal in 17 games.
 
Just over four minutes later, Paajarvi rifled a shot past Smith from the middle of the faceoff circle to tie the game with 12:26 to go.
 
Shattenkirk gave the Blues their first lead of the game with 7:14 left when he took a pass at the point, skated into the left faceoff circle and took advantage of a screen from T.J. Oshie to score his first goal since Jan. 21.
 
Berglund capped the scoring with an unassisted goal with 1:39 left, jumping on a loose puck after Yandle was apparently tripped between the circles in the St. Louis zone and skating the length of the ice before scoring on a sharp wrist shot.
 
Smith made 26 saves for the Coyotes.
 
NOTES: The Blues have won four straight in Phoenix. . Shattenkirk's goal was his first since Jan. 23. . Bissonnette set a career high with his seventh point of the season. . Ott, who had been the Sabres' captain before the trade, also was making his St. Louis debut. . St. Louis' power-play goal was its first in its past 28 chances. . Phoenix has surrendered the lead in five of its past 11 games.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 22:37
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Matt Holliday doubled in both at-bats and drove in two runs Sunday for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-1 win over the New York Mets.
 
Holliday didn't play in the Cardinals' spring training opener on Friday. He singled and walked in two plate appearances as the designated hitter Saturday.
 
"I feel good," said Holliday, who played left field for the first time this spring. "It's two days into spring training, so I don't put too much into it, but having good at-bats is always a positive. You just try to roll it into the next day."
 
Holliday's first double came off starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, who's competing for the fifth spot in the Mets' rotation.
 
"I gave up a run in the first inning today, but I think all my pitches are very good at this point of the year except for my slider. I think that needs a little bit more work," Matsuzaka said through a translator.
 
A 30-pitch first inning that included two walks kept Cardinals starter Michael Wacha from getting out of the second. He reached his pitch cap after retiring the first two batters of the second without allowing a run.
 
"I was happy with it," Wacha said. "Arm felt great. Body felt great. Command wasn't where I wanted it to be. Hopefully that will come along."
 
STARTING TIME
 
New York: Manager Terry Collins liked what he saw out of Matsuzaka's first spring start. Collins said the chase for the fifth spot in the starting rotation will likely come down to Matsuzaka or John Lannan.
 
Matsuzaka began last season in the Cleveland minor league system before being granted his release. He sidestepped a question about his willingness to play in the minors again, saying, "I'll think about that if that happens."
 
Cardinals: Wacha has impressed manager Mike Matheny with the way he's handled expectations.
 
"I think he's got a maturity to him, especially as young as he is, to handle that distraction. Because that can be a distraction," Matheny said.
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Mets: Shortstop Ruben Tejada was scratched from the lineup after he experienced a tight left hamstring during pregame workouts. Collins said Tejada was held out as a precaution. Tejada will not play in Monday's game against Atlanta, either.
 
Cardinals: Arm soreness slowed reliever Kevin Siegrist for a couple of days earlier this spring. The left-hander made his first Grapefruit League appearance on Sunday, allowing one hit in a scoreless ninth.
 
MR. MATCHUP
 
Randy Choate is the Cardinals' lefty specialist out of the bullpen, but early in spring he's facing both right-handed and left-handed hitters. Matheny said frequent lineup changes early in the spring make it difficult to play for matchups, so he would rather see Choate get his work regardless of the opposing hitter.
 
When minor league play begins, Choate may play in some of those games to get the desired lefty-lefty matchups, with Choate entering major league games later in the spring in situations that would mimic the regular season.
 
SPEED DEMON
 
Matheny said he's looking for offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos to be an offensive "menace." He wants Bourjos to grind out his at-bats and get on base, noting that the speedy Bourjos is in scoring position as soon as he gets on base. The Cardinals got him in the offseason trade that sent David Freese to the Angels.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 22:36
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jabari Brown scored 21 points and Missouri set season bests with 62 percent shooting and 19 assists to whip Mississippi State 85-66 on Saturday.
 
Jordan Clarkson had 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds and reserve Keanu Post added career bests of 14 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers (20-9, 8-8 SEC), who shook off a pair of losses at Georgia and Alabama. The school is 14-2 at home and reached 20 victories for the sixth straight season, dominating against an opponent that entered with an RPI of 223.
 
A trio of Missouri big men — Post, Torren Jones and Ryan Rosburg — combined to make all 13 shots. Missouri shot just 32 percent its last time out, losing by 15 at Georgia.
 
Fred Thomas matched his season best with 18 points for Mississippi State (13-16, 3-13), which has lost 11 in a row — eight of them by double digits. The Bulldogs had a season-best 10 3-pointers, four by Thomas and three by Jacoby Davis.
 
Brown had five points and Missouri had a pair of 3-pointers in a 15-0 run that put the game away at 68-41 with 11:12 to go. Mississippi State went almost 6 minutes without scoring before Davis' 3-pointer near the mid-point of the second half.
 
Clarkson went end-to-end twice, getting a layup and dunk, during an 11-2 run that gave Missouri its largest lead of the first half at 39-26 with 3:59 to go. Post's tip-in at the buzzer, allowed after video review, put the Tigers up 45-32 at the break.
 
Mississippi State played without leading scorer Craig Sword, who attended his grandmother's funeral in Alabama. Sword averages 13 points.
Saturday, 01 March 2014 19:41
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Once the shock and emotions of leaving Buffalo and the Sabres began to wear off, goalie Ryan Miller began looking forward to the challenge he and Steve Ott will face in living up to the St. Louis Blues' expectations.

Sabres no more, Miller and Ott are going from the NHL's worst team to a bona fide Stanley Cup contender after being traded to the Central Division-leading Blues (39-13-6) in a five-player, two-draft-pick deal Friday night.

"It's definitely humbling and flattering that they would make that kind of move and bring us in with the intention of giving them some help to push for a Stanley Cup," Miller said. "We're excited for the opportunity there. But also, it's about the responsibility we have to that organization to show up and get up to speed and compete as hard as we can to live up to the trade."

With his voice at times cracking with emotion, Miller spoke at a news conference during the first intermission of the Sabres' game against the San Jose Sharks. The deal was made about an hour before the game, and marks the first significant move since Tim Murray took over as general manager in January.

In exchange for trading away Miller and Ott, their captain, the Sabres acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick.

The Central Division-leading Blues shored up their goaltending in an attempt to avoid another disappointing playoff run after being eliminated by Los Angeles in successive seasons.

Miller was expendable in Buffalo because the 33-year-old was in the final year of his contract and the Sabres were concerned he'd have little interest re-signing with a team early into its rebuilding stage.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made the deal with a more short-term objective in mind.

"The deal was made on the here and now. We'll worry about the future after the season," Armstrong said during a telephone conference call. "Obviously, Ryan Miller's resume speaks for itself. It gives us a better chance for success."

Miller won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie in 2010, the year he was the Most Valuable Player of the Olympic tournament in Vancouver, and is Buffalo's franchise leader with 284 victories and 540 games. This season, he's 5-22-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He's 284-186-57 with a 2.60 GAA and .916 save percentage overall.

Armstrong noted the trouble the Blues had against the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick during the playoffs and believes Miller can make a difference.

Ott has credentials as a leader and provides the Blues a gritty two-way forward.

"He's an antagonistic player," Armstrong said about Ott. "He's a player that has that playoff pedigree."

Sabres coach Ted Nolan was set to start Miller on Friday night against San Jose, but the goalie and Ott did not take the ice for warm-ups and were scratched.

The Sabres acquired Ott from Dallas along with defenseman Adam Pardy in exchange for Derek Roy on July 2, 2012. Ott had 18 goals and 26 assists in 107 games for Buffalo.

Halak was in his fourth season with the Blues after spending his first four years with Montreal. He has a 24-9-4 record with a 2.23 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts this season.

Stewart has 15 goals and 11 assists in 58 games for the Blues this season, and 115 goals in a six seasons with Colorado and St. Louis.

The 19-year-old Carrier was the Blues' second-round pick in 2013.

Though aware he was on the trade block, Miller had difficulty coming to grips with leaving a team and a city, which he regarded as home for 12 years.

"I don't know if I'll make it through this, so let's keep it quick," Miller said, his voice already quaking. "I'm really going to miss this part of the world."

Ott had preferred to stay in Buffalo, but understood that he was likely to be traded by a team seeking to rebuild.

He was particularly excited to be joining the Blues with Miller.

"It's amazing. This guy right here is the best goalie in the world," Ott said. "He has been our best player, our MVP in Buffalo in a tough, tough season. To have that opportunity to go along with Ryan for myself, I know how great he is. Both of us want to live up to expectations."

Because the trade was so completed so close to game time, the Sabres had to scramble to find a backup to Jhonas Enroth.

They signed Ryan Vinz, a former high school goalie, who is employed as the director of hockey technology of the Sabres-backed HarborCenter facility, which is being constructed across the street from the team's arena. The complex will feature two rinks and a hockey academy. Vinz was a walk-on at Clarkson, but never played and wound becoming the school's video coordinator.

---

AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this report.

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Friday, 28 February 2014 20:02
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Jannik Hansen scored the game's only goal and Eddie Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Vancouver Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams Wednesday night.

The Canucks ended their losing streak at seven games while moving into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference. The Blues dropped their third straight decision to Vancouver this season.

Hansen broke a scoreless deadlock at 11:13 of the third period. He took a backhand stretch pass from Tom Sestito from deep in the Vancouver zone just past center ice, raced in on a breakaway and beat Jaroslav Halak with a high shot.

It was Hansen's first goal in just over a month, a span of eight games, after he last scored Jan. 26 against Phoenix.

The Canucks outshot the Blues 35-20, but Lack had no shortage of challenges. Vancouver was blanked on four power plays while St. Louis failed to score on three.

Lack drew the start after backstopping the Canucks to a pair of wins over St. Louis earlier this season.

The Canucks played with the added aggression coach John Tortorella has been seeking as they outshot the Blues 14-6 in the first period. But the hosts could not beat a steady Halak, who was relatively fresh after playing just two games for Slovakia in the Olympics.

Lack made some difficult saves, including one on a slap shot by Brendan Morrow with just under eight minutes left. The Canucks averted a dangerous chance when St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak slid the puck off the goal post and a few players crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings.

The Blues rallied early in the second period, prompting Tortorella to call a timeout. But Lack stopped Kevin Shattenkirk twice with the second chance coming on a power play.

The Vancouver goaltender also denied Blues captain David Backes on a one-timer during a delayed penalty and Alex Steen on a deflection, and got his pad on a shot by T.J. Oshie before defenseman Alex Edler blocked the puck as he attempted to put in the rebound.

After the save, fans chanted "Eddie! Eddie!"

Halak was sharp in the late going of the second as he thwarted Chris Higgins on a rebound and denied Daniel Sedin as he drove to the net and shot.

Notes: Olympians from both teams were honored in a pregame ceremony. Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo drew loud cheers from the crowd when they were saluted, along with Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis and goaltender Roberto Luongo, for helping Canada win the gold medal. ... Tortorella worked his first home game since receiving a six-game suspension for storming the Calgary Flames' dressing room area Jan. 18. ... Canucks captain Henrik Sedin returned to action after suffering an undisclosed injury before the Olympics. He missed the past two practices while tending to a personal matter in Sweden, but returned Wednesday in time for the game. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa returned after missing five games before the Olympic break with a foot injury. ... Vancouver center Ryan Kesler sat out with a hand injury suffered while playing for the U.S. in the Olympics. Canucks defensemen Chris Tanev (thumb) and Andrew Alberts (concussion) remained out. ... Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold missed the game due to an ankle injury. He was replaced by Carlo Colaiacovo.

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Thursday, 27 February 2014 06:56
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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 10:49
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Charles Mann can now see a bright side to Georgia's rough start to the season.
 
"We knew we were a great team," he said. "People didn't believe that, but we believed in each other and in the system. We wanted to come out and play hard just to win this year."
 
Mann scored 19 points, Marcus Thornton added 15 and Georgia won its second straight game with a 71-56 victory over Missouri on Tuesday night.
 
The Bulldogs (16-11, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) have won six of seven to strengthen their hold on third place in the league.
 
Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson each finished with 17 points for Missouri (19-9, 7-8 SEC).
 
The Tigers, coming off Saturday's dispirited loss at Alabama, might have hurt their chance of making a sixth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
 
"No, we're just trying to win," Brown said. "We're not trying to put extra pressure on ourselves. We've got to have faith in our team and each other."
 
Georgia, which went just 6-6 in nonconference play, began the SEC schedule by snapping Missouri's 26-game home winning streak on Jan. 8. Only No. 1 Florida and No. 17 Kentucky have performed better.
 
But Thornton said the Bulldogs aren't discussing their postseason prospects. They still have a lot of work to do to earn an NCAA bid.
 
Georgia closes the regular season with games at Arkansas, against Mississippi State and at LSU.
 
"We're not necessarily worried about that," Thornton said. "So focus on the next game and try to put ourselves in position to win."
 
Missouri dropped into a two-way tie for 10th place with Vanderbilt.
 
The Tigers' last lead came on Brown's layup midway through the first half. Missouri was outscored 16-6 over the final 9:12 before intermission.
 
Mann opened up the second half with a straightaway 3, and Juwan Parker's three-point play a couple of minutes later gave Georgia its first double-digit lead at 37-26.
 
Despite outrebounding the Bulldogs, Missouri struggled in nearly every other facet of the game, missing 15 of its first 16 attempts beyond the arc, getting outscored 38-18 in the paint and 11-2 on fast breaks.
 
"Shots weren't falling," Tigers coach Frank Haith said. "Georgia is a good defensive team, but I thought we had a lot of good looks."
 
Georgia's Kenny Gaines, coming off career-high 27 points at South Carolina, finished with 10 points.
 
The Tigers dropped to 2-6 in SEC road games. They finished 2-7 on the road in their first SEC season last year.
 
Missouri's defense has really struggled in the last two games. Georgia, which began the night with the SEC's worst field-goal shooting percentage in league games, shot 52.1 percent from the field.
 
The Tigers let Alabama shoot 54.7 percent last weekend — the Crimson Tide's highest percentage against a Division I team in five years.
 
Missouri's last three games are against Mississippi State and Texas A&M and at LSU. Haith isn't concerned about a lack of effort.
 
"I was happy with our guys," Haith said. "I thought they competed. Ryan Rosburg got 12 rebounds. We outrebounded them. I think we completed pretty hard tonight."
 
Georgia began the game averaging 28 free throws per game, but was 0 for 6 from the foul line in the first half. The Bulldogs missed the front end of three straight one-and-one chances before Nemanja Djurisic had two attempts hit hard off the rim.
 
Djurisic redeemed himself, though, by closing the first half with two 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater that made it 31-22.
 
"Yeah, I felt like we were right around there and then (Djurisic) hit those two 3s," Brown said. "That was kind of a momentum booster for them."
 
The Bulldogs finished the game 16 for 26 from the foul line.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:46
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