Stalberg hot,Hawks beat Jackets 4-1

Even when they aren’t at their best, the Blackhawks find a way to win — and Viktor Stalberg made sure of that.Stalberg scored two goals, Corey Crawford made 37 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1.Marian Hossa added a goal and an assist, and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, who are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games and lead the NHL with 50 points.Stalberg has scored goals in three straight games and has four goals and three assists during a four-game points streak. Both of his two-goal games this season have been against Columbus, and the 6-foot-3, 25-year-old forward was the most visible player on the ice against Columbus.Stalberg, acquired in a trade from Toronto in June 2010, seems to be finding himself in his second season with the Hawks.Crawford lost a bid for his first shutout this season when Columbus defenseman and former Hawk James Wisniewski scored at 3:09 of the third period. Crawford was sharp, especially early on, in his second straight start following a string of six consecutive starts by backup Ray Emery.Steve Mason blocked 18 shots for Columbus, which lost its fifth straight and has yet to win in regulation on the road this season. The Blue Jackets, who outplayed the Blackhawks in spurts, have a league-worst 22 points. Hossa extended his points streak to eight games and has five goals and nine assists during the stretch. Sharp has points in 11 of his last 12 games, with nine goals and six assists in that span.Hossa and Sharp, who rank among the NHL’s top scorers, exploited Columbus’ coverage breakdowns.Columbus outshot the sluggish Hawks 13-5 in the scoreless first period.The Blackhawks failed to convert two power plays early in the first, managing just one shot on each advantage. Then the Blue Jackets took charge and created several close-in chances against Crawford, including one by R.J. Umberger when he skated in alone following a turnover.The Hawks got rolling in the second and led 3-0 after 40 minutes.Sharp opened the scoring at 4:48 with a pinpoint deflection of Hossa’s feed to complete a give-and-go.After Sharp dished the puck to Hossa on the left wing boards, Sharp drove to the net against Columbus defenseman Marc Methot. Although Sharp appeared to be covered, Hossa managed to bank the puck off the blade of Sharp’s stick and past Mason.Stalberg made it 2-0 at 8:13, capping a flashy individual effort. He carried the puck into the Columbus zone on the right wing, then turned and retreated up the boards. He turned again, drove to the net and fired his own rebound past Mason.Stalberg got his second goal on a screened shot from the left circle with 4:12 left in the second to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-0. He ripped a one-timer through traffic after taking a pass from Dave Bolland.Wisniewski made it 3-1 at 3:09 of the third, shoveling in a shot from the slot after taking a feed from Derek MacKenzie, who had corralled a rebound of Mark Letestu’s shot.Crawford made a couple of tough saves in a few shaky minutes by the Blackhawks following Wisniewski’s goal.Hossa’s power-play goal completed the scoring with 4:15 left. He connected from the edge of the crease after taking a pass from Bolland.

NOTES—Dan Carcillo sat out his fifth game with an upper-body injury, believed to be a concussion. He skated on Monday for the first time in 10 days….. Marcus Kruger returned after missing one game after taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland in a game last week….The Blackhawks recalled C Brandon Pirri from Rockford of the AHL on Monday to take Kruger’s roster spot. Pirri has been shuttling between the Hawks and Rockford

Bulls play another stinker in Oakland, lose to Warriors 99-91

OAKLAND—Golden State’s mercurial guard had better get used to it at this rate.Curry rolled his surgically repaired ankle and limped off the court for the second time in seven days. This time the pain was a little easier to take.Curry had 21 points and 10 assists, and played stifling defense on Derrick Rose most of the night to lead the Warriors to a 99-91 victory over the Bulls on Monday.Monta Ellis added 26 points and seven assists, David Lee had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Dominic McGuire made three free throws in the final 47 seconds to seal the win.Rose had a poor shooting night and finished with 13 points. It was similar to a year ago when the Warriors, playing at home, held Rose to a quiet 14 points and 10 assists and beat the Bulls 101-90.Ellis drew the assignment against Rose in that game. This time it was almost exclusively Curry, who followed Rose closely throughout the night and prevented the league’s reigning MVP from getting settled in.A day after making a series of late-game breakdowns against Chris Paul and the Clippers in a 105-86 loss, the Warriors built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and held on.Rose went 4 of 17 from the floor and missed badly on a pair of 3-pointers in the final moments, including an airball with 25 seconds left.Luol Deng, whose block of Kobe Bryant as time expired sealed a season-opening 88-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls. They trailed by as much as 19 before making a late surge to get within 96-91 with 36 seconds remaining. The Bulls, who is in the midst of a season-opening, four-game road trip, has lost nine of its last 10 games in Oakland. Ellis, held to 15 in the season-opening loss to the Clippers, got the Warriors going with 13 points in the first quarter but it was Curry who provided the biggest lift.He scored 12 straight points and drove past three Bulls defenders in the key to cap a 16-5 run and give Golden State a 46-27 lead. Curry also shadowed Rose and helped hold him to seven points in the first half.Rose, who hit the game-winner in the Bulls 88-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, took only three shots in the first quarter when the Bulls committed eight turnovers.The Warriors increased their lead to 17 after three before the Bulls made their late push to get within 93-85 with 1:44 left.Kyle Korver made a pair of 3-pointers in a 14-second span to pull hit team within 96-91 but the Bulls couldn’t get closer.

NOTES—The Bulls 14 first-half turnovers equaled its total from the previous night…..It was the first time in 10 years the Warriors have opened the season with games on consecutive nights. Golden State also plays its next two at Oracle Arena…..The sellout crowd included New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who grew up 30 miles north of Oakland, Raiders owner Mark Davis and San Francisco 49ers running back Anthony Dixon.

Over and Out for the Bears who drop 5th straight 35-21 to Green Bay

GREEN BAY—With the first five-touchdown game of his NFL career, Aaron Rodgers ensured that the Green Bay Packers‘ playoff road will go through Lambeau Field. He also made sure the Bears will be spending the playoffs at home,not that they had any chance of making the Playoff anyway. Rodgers broke a close game wide open by leading three quick scoring drives in the second half, and the Packers beat the Bears 35-21 on Sunday night. Rodgers noted that he once threw six touchdowns in junior college — also in a rivalry game — but acknowledged this one was a little bit bigger. With the win, the Packers (14-1) nailed down the No. 1 seed in the NFC and claimed another round of bragging rights in the NFL’s most storied rivalry by knocking the Bears out of the playoff chase. Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson, another two to James Jones, and found tight end Jermichael Finley for a score. Rodgers was 21 of 29 for 283 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions when backup Matt Flynn took over for Rodgers with 7:54 left in the game. Rodgers surpassed Lynn Dickey’s single-season franchise record of 4,458 yards passing with one game left, although it’s unclear how much Rodgers will play in the Packers’ finale against Detroit. The loss eliminated the Bears (7-8) from playoff contention and put the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. Third-string running back Kahlil Bell rushed for 121 yards for the Bears, who trailed by only four early in the third quarter. But Rodgers drove the Packers for touchdowns on their next three possessions to put the game out of reach. McCarthy said the team’s run defense will be examined after the big performance by Bell, but added that the final score told the story.The Bears came into Sunday on a four-game losing streak and beset by injuries. But the Bears were able to stay in the game with solid defense and tough running by Bell, who started because of injuries to Matt Forte and Marion Barber. Rodgers’ second-half fireworks proved to be too much.The victory was the Packers’ fourth over the Bears in 2011. Green Bay also beat the Bears in the 2010 regular-season finale, the NFC Championship game, and at Soldier Field on Sept. 25.With the Bears trailing 14-3 at halftime, quarterback Josh McCown found Earl Bennett wide open for a 49-yard gain to set up first-and-goal on the 1. Bell fumbled just short of the goal line on the next play but offensive lineman Edwin Williams recovered the ball for a touchdown. With the Packers nursing a four-point lead, and the Lambeau Field crowd nervously quiet early in the third quarter, Rodgers answered by dropping deep and throwing a rainbow pass to Nelson, who blew through the secondary and hauled in the ball for a 55-yard touchdown.Rodgers then showed his running ability on the Packers’ next possession, juking his way between Bears linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs on a scramble. Rodgers finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown toss to Jones, giving the Packers a commanding 28-10 lead.Packers safety Charlie Peprah came up with an interception, and Rodgers found Nelson for another score to give Green Bay a 35-10 lead. McCown finally answered with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis — then drew the ire of the Lambeau crowd by scrambling for a two-point conversion and spiking the ball over the goalpost with his team trailing 35-18. Rodgers’ offensive feats came behind a patchwork offensive line, as the Packers were without three of their top four tackles.Chad Clifton returned to practice this week after sitting out since October because of hamstring and back injuries, but isn’t ready to play. Bryan Bulaga was inactive Sunday because of a left knee sprain, and backup Derek Sherrod is out for the season with a broken right leg.Green Bay also was missing wide receiver Greg Jennings, because of a sprained left knee, and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett because of a concussion.The Bears have lost five straight games since losing quarterback Jay Cutler to a broken right thumb in a Nov. 20 victory over San Diego. The Bears were 7-3 after that win, but came into Sunday’s game barely alive in the playoff chase. The Bears started McCown on Sunday after backup Caleb Hanie struggled to fill in for Cutler. McCown’s most recent start came with the Oakland Raiders in 2007, and he was out of the NFL last season. To make matters worse for the Bears’ offense, Barber was inactive because of a calf injury. The Bears already were without Forte, who missed his third straight game because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

NOTES—Sunday’s attendance was 70,574, the team’s 300th consecutive sellout, including the playoffs….Lance Louis left the game in the first half because of an illness…..Packers RB James Starks bruised an ankle.

DOWN,DOWN,DOWN,,,LAKERS GOIN’ DOWN–Rose shot wins it late

LOS ANGELES—Derrick Rose scored 22 points and hit a short go-ahead jumper with 4.8 seconds to play, and the Bulls rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final four minutes for a 88-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.Luol Deng scored 21 points and blocked Kobe Bryant’s short shot right before the buzzer as the Bulls hung on for a thrilling finish to both clubs’ first-ever Christmas meeting.Bryant scored 28 points and committed eight turnovers while playing with a torn wrist ligament for the Lakers, who nearly shook off their tumultuous preseason for a surprising win. Instead, Los Angeles was outscored 17-5 in the final 3:36.

Derrick Rose puts up the winning shot with 4.8 seconds left to give the Bulls the win. (AP)
Derrick Rose puts up the winning shot with 4.8 seconds left to give the Bulls the win. (AP)

SIU finishes last in Diamond Head Classic with ten point loss to Xavier

HONOLULU—Tu Holloway was feeling the Christmas spirit.Sporting green and white shoes with red laces, Holloway poured in 21 points to lead No. 14 Xavier to a 87-77 victory over Southern Illinois on Sunday in the seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic.Before a sparse, morning crowd on Christmas Day, the Musketeers snapped a three-game skid, winning for the first time since Dec. 10, when they beat Cincinnati in a game cut short in the closing seconds by brawling and mayhem on the court.It was the first three-game losing streak for Xavier since the 2007-08 season.Mark Lyons had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Musketeers (9-3). Andre Walker and Travis Taylor added 13 apiece for Xavier, which made 36 of 48 free throws. Walker also had 10 rebounds.The Salukis (3-8), losers of three in a row, were led by Dantiel Daniels with 22 points.SIU drew to 68-64 at 8:45 after a 3-point play by Daniels, but an 8-1 run gave the Musketeers a comfortable cushion. Holloway’s two free throws with a minute to go gave the Musketeers their largest lead, 83-69.Holloway finished 14 of 15 from the line. He took just six shots from the field, making three, including 1 of 2 3-pointers. He also had seven assists.The senior point guard, third-team AP All-American last season, said he was waiting for the perfect occasion to unveil the festive shoes.Daniels shot 7 of 8 from the field and made all eight free throws. He scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half.Mamadou Seck had 12 points with 10 rebounds, Kendal Brown-Surles hit three 3-pointers to finish with 12 points, and T.J. Lindsay added 11 for the Salukis.Xavier scored 17 points off 11 SIU turnovers. SIU shot 40 percent and made just 5 of 20 from behind the arc. The Musketeers led 42-36 at halftime. This was the second meeting between the schools and first since SIU beat Xavier in 1972. The Musketeers lost at home to Oral Roberts a week ago before dropping their first two games in Honolulu, against Long Beach State and Hawaii. The Salukis also lost earlier in the week to Kansas State and Clemson.

Hawks beat Montreal as Crawford returns with a ‘W’

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford returned to the lineup and got his game back in order.Crawford stopped 20 shots in his first game in more than two weeks as the Hawks beat the slumping Montreal Canadiens 5-1 Wednesday.Crawford hadn’t played since being pulled early in the second period of a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix on Dec. 5 after allowing three goals on 16 shots. Backup Ray Emery finished that game, then made six consecutive starts and won five straight before losing at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored 21 seconds apart midway through the second period to lead the Blackhawks. Viktor Stalberg scored midway through the third period, and Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell added late goals for the NHL-leading Blackhawks,who rebounded from the 3-2 loss to the Penguins the previous night, improving to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.Crawford, a Montreal native, got his groove back against the team he grew up watching.Crawford allowed a power-play goal to Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn early in the second that put the Canadiens ahead 1-0.The Blackhawks then started to take charge against Montreal, which lost its fourth straight — including the last three since interim coach Randy Cunneyworth replaced Jacques Martin last Saturday.And Crawford wasn’t beat again.Montreal backup Peter Budaj stopped 23 shots in his first start since Nov. 30. Carey Price had started the Canadiens’ previous nine contests.Budaj kept the game close until Stalberg made it 3-1 at 10:29 of the third.Some of the Canadiens players let their emotions show in the dressing room after the loss.Neither team sustained much offensive pressure in the scoreless first period. Chicago’s Duncan Keith hit the right post with a shot from the point midway through the frame.Kostitsyn’s power-play goal, on a deflection from just outside the crease, opened the scoring at 5:35 of the second. Kostitisyn tipped Tomas Plekanec’s low shot from the right circle upward, off Crawford’s shoulder and into the net.The Hawks took a 2-1 lead on goals scored on consecutive shots midway through the second.Brunette was credited with tying it at 1 with 8:24 left in the period as his centering pass to Toews struck Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban’s skate and deflected past Budaj.Sharp’s 18th goal made it 2-1 with 8:03 left. After skating into the Montreal zone on a 2-on-2 break, Sharp’s shot hit the stick of defenseman Chris Campoli, who had belly-flopped to the ice. The puck fluttered past Budaj on the glove side.Sharp has points in nine of his last 10 games, and eight goals and six assists in the span.Stalberg extended the lead to 3-1 midway through the third. After Subban turned the puck over to Bickell behind the Montreal net, Bickell fed it to Stalberg, who beat Budaj on a high shot from between the circles.Toews scored his 20th goal into an empty net with 1:17 left to make it 4-1. Bickell scored with 11.8 seconds left to complete the scoring.

NOTES—Marian Hossa had an assist to extend his point streak to seven games. He has four goals and eight assists in the span….Dan Carcillo sat out his fourth game with upper-body injury and was placed on IR on Wednesday….Marcus Kruger sat out after taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland in a game on Tuesday night. Both Carcillo and Kruger are believed to have post-concussion symptoms…..The Blackhawks recalled C Brandon Pirri from Rockford of the AHL on Wednesday to take Kruger’s roster spot….Montreal’s Brian Gionta (lower body) missed his sixth game and Scott Gomez (lower body) missed his 13th.. The game was the only regular-season contest between the Hawks and Montreal. The two “Original Six” teams have not played more than once in a season since 2001-02.

DePaul holds off Cal Poly, best start since 1999-2000

ROSEMONT—Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young scored 16 points apiece Wednesday night as DePaul beat Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo 63-58 for its fifth straight win and best start in 12 seasons.The Mustangs (8-4) had a chance to force overtime when they trailed 61-58, but reserve Dylan Royer missed a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left. Melvin was fouled on the subsequent rebound and hit two free throws to secure the victory.Jamee Crockett added 10 points for the Blue Demons (9-3).David Hanson paced Cal Poly with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Will Taylor and Amaurys Fermin each scored 11.DePaul last opened at 9-3 in 1999-2000. A victory would have given Cal Poly its best start in 18 seasons of Division I basketball.

CSU now 0-12 after Oregon State blow out

Devon Collier’s 19 points led five Oregon State players in double figures in a 92-66 victory over Chicago State on Wednesday night.Roberto Nelson scored 16 points and Jared Cunningham 15 for the Beavers (10-2) in their final nonconference game of the season.Ahmad Starks added 13 points and Angus Brandt 10, while Joe Burton had 11 rebounds.Lee Fisher and Jeremy Robinson had double-doubles for the Cougars (0-12). Fisher had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Robinson scored 13 points with 15 boards. Clarke Rosenberg added 14 points.Oregon State held a huge shooting edge, hitting 33 of 64 (51.6 percent) to Chicago State’s 22 of 74 (29.7 percent).The Beavers led 11-7 before a 14-2 run made it 25-9 with 10:55 left in the first half. Oregon State increased its advantage to 50-24 at intermission and was never threatened thereafter.

Rose gets new 5 year deal, Bulls win Pre Season finale 93-85 over Pacers

Carlos Boozer scored 24 points to lead the Bulls to a 93-85 win over the Indiana Pacers in a preseason game Tuesday night.Earlier in the day, NBA MVP Derrick Rose agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Bulls worth approximately $94 million. Rose had 12 points and nine assists.Richard Hamilton added 13 points and six assists in his Bulls debut. Hamilton was signed last week after accepting a buyout of his contract with the Detroit Pistons.Tyler Hansbrough had 24 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pacers. Paul George added 14 points and Danny Granger 12.The Bulls also beat the Pacers 95-86 in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Rose has agreed to a five-year, roughly $94 million contract extension, and the Bulls plan to make the formality official at a Wednesday news conference at the Berto Center.The extension is for about $10 million to $11 million more than Rose would have been eligible for under the previous collective bargaining agreement. A new rule that has been nicknamed the “Derrick Rose rule” rewards players who outperform their rookie scale contracts. Rose qualifies for one of the three stipulations as he became the youngest most valuable player in NBA history last season.The extension will begin in the 2012-13 season and can start at about $16 million in the first year.

Pens hold off Hawks 3-2

PITTSBURGH—Evgeni Malkin had three assists to move into a tie for the NHL scoring lead and the Pittsburgh Penguins snapped the Blackhawks’ five-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday. Malkin assisted on goals by Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Tyler Kennedy, giving him points in all six games since Penguins captain Sidney Crosby left the lineup again because of concussion symptoms. Malkin has six goals and nine assists in that stretch in which the Penguins lost three of the first four before Malkin had a hat trick in an 8-3 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg had third-period goals for the Hawks (21-9-4), which entered with the most points in the NHL. The Blackhawks had won five straight on the road.Coming off a career high-tying five-point game, Malkin matched the season high for assists he set Saturday. During a first-period power play, Malkin slid a deft pass to Kunitz to spring him into the Blackhawks’ zone. Kunitz beat goalie Ray Emery between the pads to score for the third straight game, netting his 12th of the season.The power play resulted from an instigating penalty given to John Scott, who reacted after Deryk Engelland led with his forearm in delivering a hit to Marcus Kruger’s head. Kruger played the remainder of the period but didn’t play after that. Engelland wasn’t penalized. Malkin set up Neal for his 19th of the season — 13th at home — 2:45 into the second. Neal has a six-game point streak. Defenseman Matt Niskanen assisted on each the game’s first two goals of the game to give him 100 career points and nine points in eight games. Kennedy made it 3-0 with 3:27 left in the second with his fourth of the season and first since Nov. 25 off a nifty setup from defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who played his first game since Nov. 3 due to a broken wrist.The Penguins were 11-0-2 when leading after two periods, but the Blackhawks had rallied for at least a point in five of 13 games they trailed heading into the third.The Hawks scored twice over the first 6:12 of the period, starting with Toews’ 19th just 49 seconds in. Toews and Neal moved one behind Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the league lead in goals.Stalberg had the first assist on the goal by Toews, and he scored his sixth of the season 5:23 later, the result of crisp passing by Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Hossa extended his point streak to six games. The Hawks dominated much of the third period, holding a 19-4 edge in shots. The Blackhawks had a 6-on-4 skating advantage for the final 1:29 after a tripping penalty to Neal — the third minor of the game assessed to him — and the pulling of Emery. But they couldn’t beat Marc-Andre Fleury, who moved into second in the NHL with his 17th win of the season and 201st of his career.

NOTES—Patrick Sharp had his career-best, nine-game point streak snapped. It was the longest in the NHL this season. … Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook played two days after being knocked out of a win over Calgary Flames on an illegal hit from behind by Rene Bourque. Bourque was suspended for two games. … Blackhawks LW Dan Carcillo sat out a third consecutive game because of an upper body injury. … Pittsburgh C Jordan Staal (lower-body) played for the first time in three games. … Malkin has at least two points in nine of his past 14 games. … Niskanen has a three-game point streak. … Toews leads the NHL with 23 road points. … The Hawks haven’t won in regulation in Pittsburgh since Feb. 22, 1997. … The Blackhawks fell to 10-3-4 in one-goal games.