Brenden Morrow who has really looked slow this series left practice today early and did not return. Jussi Jokinen centered the fourth line and also was on the second power play unit.
Here is how the Pens practiced today with the power play.
Power play one: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Neal and Kunitz
Power play two: Martin, Iginla, Kennedy, Dupuis and Jokinen
We all know tomorrow is another day so I will update this as we get more information tomorrow on the lines. They have played really well so far this series, but did not find the back of the net nearly enough in Sundays game so expect the Pens to come out flying on Wednesday whomever is out there.
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After what was a pretty Frustrating loss to Ottawa, the question must be raised, Where do they go from here?
The Penguins had a lead of 1-0 and played what might have been one of the strongest 59 and a half minute games they have played in some time. Their issue was the last 30 seconds of the game. After being granted a power play with a little over a minute remaining, the Pens kept the pedal down and played offense with Evgeni Malkin and his line on the ice. Then it happened. Everything they had been doing to that point defensively they stopped. It seemed like instead of playing, they became spectators and because of that the Senators would score a short-handed goal and take the game into overtime.
It would take until the 12:21 mark of the second overtime that the Penguins would drop the first game of the series as Colin Greening, who has been the Ottawa’s best player through the first 3 games would score.
Now on to the real questions, Where do the Pens go from here? I knew today would be a rough day on local Sports talk, but it was as if the Pens were down 2 games to 1. There were calls for Vokoun to be benched…as if he was the culprit. Dan Bylsma was also getting crushed for having what some callers called “the ticking time bomb” on the ice. The Caller was referring to Evgeni Malkin and how he chokes up pucks in all the wrong places.
Let us just say this. It was a loss and nothing more than that. If they treat it as any more than that it will in fact become a game that changes or defines this series. That is not what the Pens want. Tomas Vokoun was great all night. He faced 48 shots and only surrendered two goals and one legitimately was not his fault. The Penguins on the other hand hammered Craig Anderson, the goalie for Ottawa as they unloaded 50 shots on him and he stopped all but one. The Penguins got some great scoring chances from Malkin as he had one of his strongest games of the playoff season. That said, he was part of the problem in the final 30 seconds of regular time.
Kris Letang was also caught watching in that final 30 seconds. So much so he should have paid admission.
The Penguins and Senators will play again on Wednesday and we should expect to see Tomas Vokoun still in net as he has played well since he was inserted in the lineup. He does not deserve to be sat down. He has given up 5 fewer goals this playoff season than Marc Andre Fleury, not to mention he has played one more game than Fleury has. For those of you out there that think it is time to see Fleury…Think again. Look for Joe Vitale to return to the lineup on Wednesday as long as he is cleared to play. There was no report of an injury, but there is a good chance he was injured. We will post practice lines tomorrow as they come available.
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The Pittsburgh Pirates were coming off of an extra innings loss to the worst team in baseball looking for a win in the rubber match. The Bucs would get just enough offense and the Pitching was amazing. The final score today was 1-0 and the Pirates are once again eight games over .500.
Both pitchers took no hitters into the fifth inning. Jeff Locke gave up a hit in the top of the fifth, though that was it. In the bottom of the frame, Lucas Harrell gave up two hits. The first one was a laser beam home run from Pedro Alvarez to the Opposite field. That homer gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Michael McKenry would single directly after Pedro hit his home run, but the Pirates were not able to drive him in.
Photo by Julio Torres, Pedro Celebrates after Home Run
That would really be the only inning either team did much offensively. The Astros would finish with three hits while the Pirates would finish with just four. Jason Grilli would save his league leading 18th game and the Pirates would take yet another series.
The Pirates will now get a day off tomorrow as they will host the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday for the first of three games. The Pirate’s Wandy Rodriguez will take the mound against Matt Garza of the Cubs.
Photo by Julio Torres, Travis Snyder sliding into Home
The Pittsburgh Pirates struggled with the Lumber on Saturday night. AJ Burnett pitched well enough to win and handed his team a 2-1 lead through seven innings. The Pirates were not able to hold on and in extra innings, they would eventually give up a couple of runs and lose by the final score of 4-2.
It was one of those nights with the bats. The Pirates just did not hit many balls real hard. They had opportunities though as after AJ Burnett was finished pitching in the top of the seventh inning, the Bucs loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning only to not score. And when a team does not take advantage of opportunities like that, what happened in the top of the 8th inning tends to happen. They gave up a run to tie the game up and it was enough to take the game into extra innings.
The Pirates scored two runs tonight, the first came off of a double by Gaby Sanchez that knocked in Andrew McCutcheon. The Pirates would then add a second run with an infield single. The Astros would add a couple of runs late and their pitching staff would shut the Bucs down for the remainder of the game.
Brian Morris would give up a couple of runs in the top of the 11th inning on a fielders choice that would score the third run and then a single to score another to give the Astros a 4-2 lead and eventual win. It was only their 12th win of the season.
The Pirates will go out on Sunday trying to win the rubber match with the Astros. They will face Lucas Harrell while the Bucs will have Jeff Locke out there searching for his 4th vicory of the season.
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The Washington Wild Things, presented by Washington Financial, fell 6-5 to the Schaumburg Boomers in game two of a three game series Saturday night.
Washington led throughout the game until the eighth inning when Schaumburg rallied on a Dexter Price pinch hit single that lead the Boomers to the 6-5 victory.
The Washington Wild Things scored one run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Shain Stoner. Unfortunately, the Washington Wild Things weren’t able to take the lead back.
Jovan Rosa chalked up three RBI on two hits
Orlando Santos (0-1) was the game’s losing pitcher. He lasted just one-third of an inning, walked one, struck out none, and allowed three runs. Starter Shawn Sanford allowed only one run on two hits and struck out three in his five innings on the hill. Matt Phillips and Alfonso Yevoli combined for 2.2 innings.
The Wild Things and Boomers meet for the final game of this series Sunday when first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Washington will then visit the Rockford Aviators for a three game set starting Tuesday. The team returns to CONSOL Energy Park for their opening weekend Friday. Tickets, including a special picnic ticket, for the Memorial Day Weekend are available at the box office.
On tonight’s episode of the Sports Monger Golf Show, we will be discussing Tiger vs. Rory. We will look back at the Players Championship and we will then look ahead at the Byron Nelson. How about a discussion about the best feuds in golf…and yes, this includes Tiger and Sergio.
We will also do some News of the Weird and try to sneak in a few more topics if we have time.
The Pittsburgh Penguins would get off to a fast start as they would put two goals up in each of the first two periods that would lead them on the way to a 4-3 victory tonight against the Senators.
Sidney Crosby was the story tonight as he scored the Penguins first three goals. Tomas Vokoun did not have his best game, but he did not let the Senators get comfortable. Vokoun was able to get better throughout the game which has been what he does this season. This was a game that the Pens out played Ottawa in a big way on both sides of the ice. They out shot the Sens 42-22 and Ottawa really only had a few good opportunities.
The Penguins would get the scoring off to a start with a Sidney Crosby coast to coast play as he would serpentine through the Senators defense as if they were construction cones on the ice. He would finish the play off as he would bury a shot in the five hole of Anderson for a 1-0 lead. After the Senators tied the game up, Sid went back to work as he would play a puck off the back of Anderson to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.
The Penguins would carry that lead till the second period when they would add another goal by Sidney Crosby that once again had Anderson baffled. That goal would give the Penguins a 3-1 lead. After another goal by the Senators, Brenden Morrow would get a deflection that would give the Pens a 4-2 lead. going into 2nd intermission.
The Senators would add a goal in the third, but could not conjure up enough offense to tie the game up and with the Win, the Penguins would take a 2-0 lead in the series.
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It looked as though it was going to be a rough night at PNC Park. The Brewers were up 1-0 over the Pirates and would have been worse had Russell Martin not thrown out Aoki trying to steal and Ryan Braun being robbed of a double by Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates were able to hold down the fort and tie it at one in the fourth inning when Clint Barmes doubled in Pedro Alvarez. Then came the fifth, Travis Snider has had issues just missing home runs this season, he did not miss this time. Snider cracked a two run shot off Hiram Burgos to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead and they never looked back. Francisco Liriano was good as he went 5 and two thirds of an inning and struck out seven. Liriano received a nice ovation from the Pirate faithful as he was relieved by Justin Wilson. In the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates put the game away as Travis Snider, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Neil Walker each had an RBI single. The bullpen was perfect in three and one third innings of work. This marks the fourth time this season that the 24-17 Pirates have won the final three games of a four game set after dropping the first game. The Bucs resume action tomorrow as they face the Houston Astros at 7:05. Jordan Lyles will face off against Jeanmar Gomez, the Pirates’ “secret weapon.”
As I wrote earlier, the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to need a big day from Wandy Rodriguez if they were going to beat the Brewers tonight. That is exactly what they got as he pitched 7 innings giving up only one run. The Pirates on the other hand received a couple of big hits from Neil Walker that knocked in the Pirates three runs for a final score of 3-1.
Rodriguez and Gallardo were locked up in quite a pitching battle until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Pirates were able to load the bases and get a two run single by Neil Walker to take a 2-0 lead. Wandy would go out in the top of the seventh inning looking for a quick inning but would give up a huge home run, that would cut the lead in half 2-1. That would be all he would surrender for the game.
The Pirates would add another run in the bottom of the 8th inning on a Neil Walker ground out and error by Weeks; that would end up driving in a run to make it 3-1.
Melancon was once again not hittable in the 8th inning and Grilli mowed them down again the ninth inning for his 16th save of the season. The two of them are turning into quite a story this season. The Pirates are now 6 games over .500 with a 23-17 record.
Tomorrow night, the Pirates will get a second start from Francisco Liriano as he will face Hiram Burgos. Burgos is 1-1 with a 6.86 era where as Liriano is 1-0 with a 1.69 era in his one start.
Notes: The Pirates have homered in 14 of their last 18 games. Jose Tabata is batting over .400 in his last 8 starts and Starling Marte went 1-4 tonight but struck out 3 times.