Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
The Associated Press
February 26, 2016
FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2016, file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong throws in the bullpen during a spring training baseball workout, in Bradenton, Fla. Vogelsong hopes his second act with the Pirates goes better than his first. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- There was no excited buzz around Pittsburgh in December when the Pirates signed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.
There were plenty of anxious murmurs, though, and manager Clint Hurdle heard them.
''I've heard a lot of, 'Man, you should've gone out and gotten somebody better,''' Hurdle said.
The doubters don't bother Vogelsong.
''Some people might think I came back just to ride out my career,'' Vogelsong said. ''That's not the case. I expect to have a great season and continue my career as long as I can.''
Vogelsong, who will turn 39 in July, went 9-11 with a 4.67 ERA with the San Francisco Giants in 2015. He wasn't able to hold onto a starting spot and ended up making a third of his 33 appearances as a reliever.
With a hole to fill at the back of their rotation, the Pirates signed Vogelsong for $2 million. The one-year deal includes up to $3 million in performance bonuses.
''We believe he's still got the skills to perform at a very functional level,'' Hurdle said. ''He's got an edge and a hunger to his game that's real. That's something we like to use for his good and for the collective good of the club.''
The right-hander arrived at training camp last week carrying the same equipment bag he used in 2006, the final year of Vogelsong's first stint with the Pirates.
''I've come to realize that you don't close doors,'' Vogelsong said. ''Did I ever think I'd ever come back here? Honestly, no. But when the opportunity was there, I was really excited about it.''
Vogelsong had a bumpy ride with the Pirates early in his career. He blew out his elbow after his second start in 2001. While pitching in the minors in 2003, he developed Bell's palsy, which causes temporary paralysis of the face.
He made it back to the majors in 2004, but pitched poorly for some awful Pirates teams. After collecting just 10 wins in 103 appearances, Vogelsong was released after the 2006 season.
Vogelsong pitched three seasons in Japan, then got a minor league contract back in the United States. He returned in 2011 to the Giants, who had drafted him 13 years earlier and notched 13 victories. In 2012, Vogelsong helped the Giants win the World Series.
Being exiled to the bullpen last year signaled that Vogelsong's run with San Francisco was over. He hopes to rejuvenate his career by working with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, whom he first met while in the Pirates' farm system more than a decade ago.
''Ray's track record with turning some guys around is amazing,'' Vogelsong said.
Pirates catcher Chris Stewart crossed paths with Vogelsong in 2011, when they were with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. What struck Stewart the most about Vogelsong was his work ethic.
''He was never not ready for a situation,'' Stewart said. ''I think he's still got that same mind set. Maybe we'll make a few tweaks physically to get him back to where he was before. He's determined to do whatever he needs to do to win. He's confident out there.''
NOTES: Jameson Taillon will start for the Black team in Monday's intrasquad scrimmage. Taillon, who missed the past two years due to elbow and hernia surgeries, will work two innings. Tyler Glasnow, the top-rated prospect in the Pirates' farm system, will pitch the first two innings for the Gold team.
By Dan Scifo
February 27, 2016
Pittsburgh Penguins' Chris Kunitz (14) is checked by Winnipeg Jets' Adam Pardy (2) before he can get off a shot on a rebound off Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson (34) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Evgeni Malkin's return to the lineup brought out the best in linemate Carl Hagelin.
Hagelin scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed Malkin back from injury with a 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
''He's obviously one of the best players in the league, so he's going to open up a lot of room,'' Hagelin said. ''When he's on his game, the other team has to pay so much attention to him.''
That was good news for Hagelin. He scored his sixth and seventh of the season for Pittsburgh and Scott Wilson added a third-period goal.
Defenseman Kris Letang scored his 10th of the season for the Penguins, who had Malkin back in the lineup after the 2012 NHL MVP missed 10 games with a lower-body injury. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for his 25th win.
''I thought overall the game (Malkin's) line played was pretty solid,'' Penguins' coach Mike Sullivan said. ''They're a threat every time they're on the ice and I think when those three guys play together their speed is evident.''
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The Penguins won their 15th straight home game against Winnipeg, the NHL's second-longest streak against any opponent. The Jets haven't won in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27, 2006, when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
Blake Wheeler scored his 18th of the season for the Jets, who have lost six of their last eight games.
Penguins' center Nick Bonino also returned for the first time since Jan. 12 after missing 17 games with a hand injury.
Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves for Winnipeg.
''We came out and we battled hard,'' Hutchinson said. ''We just kind of kept coming and kind of took it to them for a little bit. The puck just wasn't going in the net.''
Wilson tipped Derrick Pouliot's point shot behind Hutchinson for his fourth goal in five games, giving the Penguins a two-goal lead 5:19 into the third period. Hagelin made it a 4-1 game later in the period on a one-timer from Phil Kessel. It was his second of the game and third with Pittsburgh since he was acquired Jan. 16 from Anaheim.
''I think it was important for us to get that 3-1 goal,'' Hagelin said. ''It was key and it definitely kind of put them away.''
Pittsburgh went 5-4-1 without its leading scorer Malkin. When he was injured, he was tied for ninth in league scoring, second in power-play points and tied for seventh in goals. Pittsburgh struggled on the power play without him, going 1-for-24. The Penguins were eighth in the league, converting at a 20 percent success rate with Malkin in the lineup.
''(Malkin), I thought was really strong,'' Sullivan said. ''I think his conditioning will only get better as he gets his timing back and gets back into game mode.''
The Jets were without a pair of 17-goal scorers after former captain Andrew Ladd was traded to the Blackhawks on Thursday and Bryan Little was recently lost for the season with a fractured vertebrae.
Marko Dano played his first game with Winnipeg on Saturday. The Jets acquired the 2013 first-rounder and two draft picks from the Blackhawks along with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison. Dano, who played 48 NHL games with Columbus and Chicago, finished a minus-2 with three shots in 13:50 of ice time on Saturday.
The teams played a scoreless opening period, but Pittsburgh quickly broke the deadlock with two goals in the first minute of the second.
Letang scored 28 seconds into the period with a slap shot over Hutchinson's glove off the rush. Hagelin tipped Ian Cole's shot from the point past Hutchinson 23 seconds later.
The Penguins looked to score another but Hutchinson denied Sidney Crosby's partial open-net opportunity with a diving, desperation stick save.
''I had saucers when I looked over and saw Crosby with a wide-open net,'' Hutchinson said. ''I just kind of threw my stick and hoped for the best and I was fortunate that it hit off my stick and didn't go in.''
NOTES: The Penguins signed D Olli Maatta to a six-year contract extension on Friday that will keep the 21-year-old in Pittsburgh through the 2021-22 season. ... Penguins F Conor Sheary left Saturday's game in the second period with an undisclosed injury and did not return. ... Pittsburgh scratched forwards Kevin Porter, Sergei Plotnikov and recently recalled defenseman Steve Oleksy. Winnipeg was without Paul Postma and Matt Halischuk. ... Pittsburgh will play five games in the next seven days beginning Monday at home against Arizona. ... The Jets will play five home games in eight days beginning Tuesday against Florida.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Monday, February 22, 2016
February 21, 2016
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) skates away from Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (15) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are a far better team when play-making defenseman Kris Letang keeps his emotions in check.
A day after losing his cool in a 4-2 loss against Tampa Bay, Letang showed patience in overcoming the Sabres' aggressive forecheck by setting up three goals in a 4-3 win at Buffalo on Sunday.
''He's such a good player when he plays the game the right way and when he has control over his emotions,'' coach Mike Sullivan said.
''He's a competitive guy. He really cares. That's why he's emotional. But obviously, he's got to channel it the right way. And I though he did that.''
Letang poked holes in the Sabres defense in helping the Penguins build a 4-1 lead and beat Buffalo for the eighth straight time.
He set up Scott Wilson's go-ahead goal with a pass that found the rookie forward wide open to the right of the net early in the second period. Letang's no-look pass from the right point set up Phil Kessel to make it 3-1.
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And before it was over, Letang had a hand in Matt Cullen's short-handed breakaway goal midway through the third period.
Letang bounced back from a loss to Tampa Bay in which he was penalized three times, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for playing with Lightning forward Cedric Paquette's stick.
''It was good to respond to that and have a good game, especially after yesterday,'' Letang said.
Patric Hornqvist also scored in a game the Penguins never trailed. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots in returning after missing a game due to illness.
Pittsburgh improved to 9-3-1 in its past 13, and moved three points ahead of ninth-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference.
The Sabres had a 3-0-1 streak snapped and received even more bad news following the game. Coach Dan Byslma announced that top-line center Ryan O'Reilly will miss three to four weeks with a lower body injury.
Bylsma didn't reveal the exact nature of the injury after O'Reilly was hurt in a 4-0 win at Columbus on Friday.
''He's you're No. 1 guy, and that's something you can't replace,'' Bylsma said.
O'Reilly was Buffalo's lone All-Star game selection and leads the team with 49 points (17 goals and 32 assists) and the Sabres forwards in averaging nearly 22 minutes of ice time.
Buffalo failed to build off a first period in which it outshot the Penguins 15-6. And the Sabres began to unravel in the second period, during which the Penguins took control by scoring twice and outshooting Buffalo 16-6.
The Penguins haven't lost to the Sabres since a 4-2 defeat on April 23, 2013. And they've won six straight games at Buffalo.
Wilson is providing the Penguins a boost, especially with Evgeni Malkin missing his ninth game with a lower body injury.
After failing to score in his first 13 games, Wilson has a goal in each of his past three, including a game-winner in a 6-3 victory over Detroit on Thursday.
''He seems to have a lot of confidence right now,'' Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of Wilson. ''He got that first one under his belt, so I think being able to build off that, he knows where to be. The puck kind of finds him around the net.''
Wilson was parked at the right post, when Letang fed him a pass through the middle. After settling the puck, Wilson snapped a shot just under goalie Robin Lehner's glove.
Lehner, coming off a 38-save shutout performance, blamed himself for allowing Cullen's goal in the third period. Lehner closed his pads to stop Cullen's shot, but the puck still managed to dribble through.
Gionta responded 13 seconds later to cut the Penguins lead to 4-2.
NOTES: Crosby earned the secondary assist to give him a point in 27 of 30 games against Buffalo, and increase his total to 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists). ... The Penguins recalled goalie Matt Murray from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Murray served as the backup, replacing Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed four goals on 20 shots against Tampa Bay. ... Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said D Ben Lovejoy will undergo further evaluations Monday after sustaining an upper body injury against Tampa Bay.