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« on: July 17, 2014, 02:30:55 AM »
CHICAGO -- Roman Josi and Nashvilles dangerous defencemen did it all against the Chicago Blackhawks. That is why Pekka Rinne believes the blue-liners are the biggest key for a strong finish to the Predators disappointing season. Josi had three assists, and Ryan Ellis scored in the third period to lead the Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night. "If we win or lose, usually its the D-men," said Rinne, who made with 31 saves. "The talent we have on the back end, were pretty fortunate to have that kind of depth in the defence." Shea Weber also had his team-best 27th assist as Nashvilles defencemen combined for five points in the Predators third consecutive win. Weber also leads the team with 43 points, and Josi jumped into a tie with Patric Hornqvist for second on the team with 21 assists. "Thats the strength really of our group, our D-men," coach Barry Trotz said. "Theyre all young and talented. Were the youngest team in the league by three years on the blue line. The future is really bright for us there. Now weve got to work on trying to get those elite forwards like the Blackhawks have." It was the second straight loss for Chicago, which is struggling to keep up with the top contenders in the rugged Western Conference. The reigning Stanley Cup champions dropped to 10-8-7 in 2014. Jonathan Toews and Peter Regin scored for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 26 saves in his 200th NHL game. "Were putting ourself in tough situations by not starting well and getting away from our team game," Toews said. "Not much of an explanation, but we know we need better right now. We need to get out of this trend were in right now." Mike Fisher and Hornqvist also scored for Nashville, which has won two of three against Chicago this season. Ellis fourth goal of the season came right after the Predators killed a holding penalty on the defenceman that carried over into the third. He jumped out of the box, got a long pass from Josi and beat Crawford on a breakaway to make it 3-1 just 45 seconds into the period. "I was just fortunate enough to time it right," Ellis said. "Josi made a great play with a blocked shot then a tape-to-tape pass through the zone." Regins tip-in got the Blackhawks within one again at 11:28, but they were unable to tie it. Regins second goal with Chicago came after Toews sent a wide-open opportunity off the left post 4:40 into the third. Toews also had an open tip go wide with 36 seconds left. "We knew they were going to make a push," Josi said. "With that team theyve got a lot of skill, but Peks was great again." Chicago controlled the action at the start, but Nashville began to pressure Crawford midway through the first. Nick Spaling shot wide right on a prime opportunity with about 7 1/2 minutes left. Fisher put the Predators in front when he pushed a rebound over Crawfords left leg for his 17th goal at 15:33. Nashville used a big slap shot by Weber to open a 2-0 lead with 69 seconds left in the first. Crawford stopped the drive by the big defenceman, but Hornqvist swept in the rebound for his 13th. Crawford hopped up and slammed his stick down as the Predators celebrated Hornqvists first goal since March 4. "Tough to watch the last part of the first period," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought that was as bad as weve probably played for any stretch all year." The two-goal deficit seemed to wake up the Blackhawks for a bit. Toews stole the puck from Josi and passed it to Kris Versteeg, who passed it back to the captain for his 26th goal with 14 seconds remaining. Chicago carried the momentum into the second, but Rinne was there each time. He used his left pad to deny Patrick Sharp on a 1-on-1 opportunity, and he got some help from teammates when the Blackhawks had the puck in front during a power play at the end of the period. Crawford also used his glove to grab Craig Smiths shot with 5:46 left in the second. NOTES: Blackhawks F Marian Hossa (upper body) participated in the morning skate and is hoping to return Sunday at home against Detroit or Tuesday at Philadelphia. He has missed five games. ... Predators F Viktor Stalberg received a warm ovation when he was shown on the video board in the first period for helping Chicago win the Stanley Cup last season. Derek Cox Vikings Jersey . Less than 24 hours after posting their highest run total of the season, the Red Sox seek a sweep of a quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. John Randle Vikings Jersey . Marcus Hogberg stopped all 21 shots he faced in net for Sweden. Jake Paterson made 31 saves in net for Canada. Burakowsky opened the scoring for Sweden at the 2:37 mark of the second period. A backhand pass by Jacob de la Rose from behind the goal confused Paterson, leaving a wide-open net for Burakowsky. Kidd was honoured Tuesday after the Nets went 12-4 while playing all month without starting centre Kevin Garnett. He also won the award for January, joining Chicagos Tom Thibodeau as the only two-time winners in their first season since the league began giving monthly coaching awards in 1982-83. custom vikings jersey . - The Seattle Seahawks and kicker Steven Hauschka have agreed to terms on a new multi-year contract after the best season of his career. John Sullivan Vikings Jersey . The win keeps the Jets in the race for top spot in the Southeast, although the Panthers do have three games in hand. The teams conclude the season series April 3rd in Florid, and they still lead the season series 3-1-1. For now though, Winnipegs 20th home  win of the year, puts the Jets back into the top eight in the East.MONACO -- Tottenham was grouped with Anzhi Makhachkala and former champion Valencia was pitted against Swansea in Fridays draw for the group stage of the Europa League. Tottenhams group also includes Norwegian side Tromso, which was chosen as the replacement for Besiktas in Europes second-tier competition after the Turkish team was banned by UEFA for fixing its victory in a domestic cup final in 2011. In Group A, Swansea will take its growing contingent of Spanish players to face 2004 champion Valencia in its opening match. Europa League debutants Kuban Krasnodar and Saint Gallen are also in Group A. "Its a strong group, but we are Valencia and have big ambitions," Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic said. "If you want to win this tournament you have to look to beat everyone. We are confident." APOEL was also added to the draw after being picked as the lucky loser to replace Fenerbahce, which lost its appeal against a two-year competition ban for match-fixing on Wednesday. The Cypriot club was handed a tough group with Bordeaux, Eintracht Frankfurt and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Sevilla, which won the competition in 2006 and 2007, will face Estoril and Slovan Liberec as well as Freiburg, which had an impressive season in the Bundesliga last year. "Its a tough group, with big clubs such as Sevilla, but we are lookking forward to it," Freiburg president Fritz Keller said.dddddddddddd"Its great for our fans to have the chance to visit these places and watch Freiburg play abroad." Seven-time French champion Lyon was placed in a group with Real Betis, Guimaraes and Croatian side Rijeka. Wigan, the English second-division club which won the FA Cup last season, was grouped with Rubin Kazan, Maribor and Zulte Waregem. Shakhter Karagandy is the first team from Kazakhstan to participate in the group stage of a UEFA competition and was drawn with AZ Alkmaar, PAOK Thessaloniki and Maccabi Haifa, while newcomer Ludogorets Razgrad was grouped with PSV Eindhoven, Dinamo Zagreb and Chornomorets Odesa. "For us, any group would have been tough and exciting because it is our first appearance in a European club competition group stage," Shakhter Karagandy captain Andrey Finonchenko said. "We would have liked to have been drawn against such big sides as Lazio, Tottenham or Lyon, but it is going to be interesting. We will gain experience." Serie A clubs Fiorentina and Lazio have been handed relatively easy draws with the former facing Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Pacos Ferreira and Pandurii Targu Jiu, and the latter with Trabzonspor, Legia Warsaw and Apollon Limassol. The first matches take place on Sept. 19. ' ' '


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