Mitch's Sports Report: Bruins Cool Off Flames As Marchand Takes League Lead In Goals
In the NHL, the Boston Bruins went into the Calgary Saddledome last night looking to keep the high-flying Flames from setting a franchise record for most consecutive wins. Calgary was on a ten-game winning streak, but they'll have to start over as the Bruins came away with an impressive 5-2 victory.
Brad Marchand scored his league-leading 36th goal when former Bruin back up goalie Chad Johnson couldn't cleanly handle a high lob sent in from the blue line by Bruins defenseman Colin Miller. Marchand followed the play, pounced on the rebound, and back-handed the puck top shelf to bolster his case for MVP this year, moving a head of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby in the goal-scoring race.
The Bruins were fortunate that Johnson was in net for Calgary, since a big part of the Flame's recent win streak has been the play of their number one netminder Brian Elliot, who was out last night with the flu. But the Bruins were playing their back-up as well, Anton Khudobin giving Tuukla Rask the night off, and Khudobin got the win making 21 saves, despite letting in one he'd like to have back, a long wrist shot from center ice by former Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton. That softie tied the game at two, but the Bruins went ahead for good when David Backes, who had left the game in the first period with a leg injury, having to be helped off the ice, returned in the second and converted a wicked wrist shot over the glove of Johnson for the eventual game winner.
David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston and Matt Beleskey, scoreless in his last 22 games, finally got one when he finished off a two on none rush taking a feed from Ryan Spooner, who was playing his first game since suffering a concussion.
This was a big win for Boston, pushing them to a five point lead over both the NY Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Atlantic. The Isles and Lightning are battling for the final wild card playoff berth, and if you're more optimistic, the B's are now also just three points behind the Ottawa Senators for second place in the division. No rest for Boston on their western Canada road trip. They skate against more familiar faces tonight when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton, a revitalized team featuring the league's overall points leader in Connor McDavid, and old friend Milan Lucic.
One other note, since I've been informed recently that there a number of Philadelphia Flyers fans in Vermont (go figure). The Flyers are a long shot for the playoffs at this point but any Flyers fan will tell you they always love beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, and last night they shut out Crosby and company 4-0. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds scored career goal number 200 in the win.
To the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are getting healthy at just the right time, about three weeks before the playoffs start. Last night they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-104 in Boston behind 27 points from Isaiah Thomas and 20 from Al Hordford, who also pulled down 9 rebounds. Defensive specialist Avery Bradley is back from injury, as is Amir Johnson, and the Celtics are looking to make some noise in the post-season.
In the World Baseball Classic, Team USA got a big come from behind win over Venezuela yesterday, Eric Hosmer's 8th inning go-ahead home run the difference in a 4-2 win.
In girl's high school basketball playoffs, Lyndon Institute will play for the division two state championship after a 34-27 win over Fair Haven at Barre Auditorium last night. Shaylan Mosher had a game high 15-points for the Vikings, and in division four, West Rutland ran away with their semi-final, defeating Craftsbury 61-33. Brooke Raiche led all scorers with 22 points, and put herself in the record books, passing Kate Lincoln as the all-time leading scorer in the school's history.
Tonight at Patrick Gymnasium, two division one semi-finals that were postponed due to the nor'easter Tuesday will tip off tonight. Number two Champlain Valley takes on number three Mount Anthony at 6 p.m., and in the late game the top-seeded St. Johnsbury girls will face number five BFA-St. Albans.
And tonight, far from Patrick Gymnasium, but not far from the hopes of the Catamount fan base, the UVM men's basketball team will try to upset Purdue in round one of the NCAA tournament. The Cats are seeded 13th in the midwest regional, while the Boilermakers are the four seed. Tip off is at 7:27 tonight and coming up later this morning at 8:44 I'll have a look back at UVM's win over Albany in the America East championship Saturday that got them the automatic bid to the Big Dance, and I'll speak with sports correspondent Andy Gardiner about the Purdue team UVM will take on tonight.