Thur Night—Cincinnati over MIAMI

CAROLINA over Atlanta
SEATTLE over Tampa Bay
OAKLAND over Philadelphia
New Orleans over NY JETS
Tennessee over ST.LOUIS
San Diego over WASHINGTON
Kansas City over BUFFALO
Baltimore over CLEVELAND
NEW ENGLAND over Pittsburgh

Sun Night—Indianapolis over HOUSTON

DALLAS over Minnesota
Mon Night—GREEN BAY over Bears

Toews hat trick, and two more by Shaw allow Hawks to rally past Ottawa 6-5

Jonathan Toews had three goals and an assist, Corey Crawford made 14 saves in relief of an ineffective Nikolai Khabibulin and the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 6-5 on Tuesday night. Andrew Shaw scored twice and Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks, who trailed 4-2 with 8:46 left in the second period. It was Hossa’s 100th goal with the Hawks and No. 439 for his career.The Senators scored three times in a span of four shots in the second, but were unable to hold off the suddenly high-scoring Blackhawks. Kyle Turris and Milan Michalek each had a goal and an assist in Ottawa’s fourth loss in five games. Toews sparked the rally when he tested former Hawk Craig Anderson with 5 1/2 minutes left in the second, and his first attempt popped over the goal. The captain then skated to the back of the net and slammed in a wraparound for his fifth goal of the season. The Blackhawks kept coming in the third period, and Toews tied it at 4 when he finished off a perfect pass from Johnny Oduya at 1:20. He completed his third career hat trick when he pushed a rebound into an empty net midway through the period for a 5-4 Hawk lead. Shaw and Ottawa’s Zack Smith exchanged goals down the stretch, and the Blackhawks held on for their second victory in as many nights. The defending Stanley Cup champions beat Minnesota 5-1 on Monday. Clarke MacArthur had two assists for the Senators, and Anderson finished with 34 saves. MacArthur missed Ottawa’s previous game with what the team called a minor injury.Ottawa appeared to be in control after one dizzying stretch in the second. MacArthur sparked the scoring spree when he charged toward the net from the right side, setting up Turris’ power-play score from in-close that gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead at 6:51. Hossa responded 50 seconds later, converting a nice pass from Toews, but Senators were just getting started against the ineffective Khabibulin.Joe Corvo‘s long slap shot whistled by teammate Bobby Ryan and into the net for his first goal of the season. Then Mika Zibanejad skated past sliding Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and beat Khabibulin to make it 4-2 at 11:14.That was enough for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who replaced Khabibulin with regular starter Crawford. Khabibulin made 18 saves and has allowed 10 goals while facing 47 shots in his past two games. Crawford’s entry prompted a big cheer from the crowd, and the Blackhawks seemed to feed off the switch.Sharp had two assists and Toews extended his points streak to five games. Toews has five goals and four assists during the stretch.

NOTES—Michal Handzus was among the Blackhawks’ scratches, and Quenneville said he probably would remain out through this weekend. The 36-year-old Handzus hasn’t played since a 6-5 overtime loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. … The Blackhawks will visit President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday to celebrate their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons. “I think it will be one more reflection of a pretty special year for us all,” Quenneville said. … The Hawks have one power-play goal in each of the past six games.

Bad second quarter dooms Bulls who lose opener to Heat 107-95

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

MIAMI—The Bulls perfect Pre Season record now means nothing. Miami got their rings before the game, then a challenge as it was winding down. The Heat responded to both. Shane Battier went 4 for 4 from 3-point range, including a critical one from the right corner with 1:33 remaining, and the Heat wasted most of what was a 25-point lead before holding off Derrick Rose and the Bulls 107-95 on Tuesday night in the season-opener for both teams. LeBron James scored 17 points for Miami, which got its 2013 NBA championship rings in a pregame ceremony. The Heat trailed 9-2 early, then outscored the Bulls 52-24 over the remainder of the first half. Rose finished with 12 points in 34 minutes in his first game since a serious knee injury in April 2012. Carlos Boozer had 31 points and seven rebounds for the Bulls, who got within eight points in the final minutes.But Battier’s right-corner 3 — a staple for the Heat — snuffed out the comeback, and Miami wasn’t in trouble again. Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Battier finished with 14 and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each had 13 for Miami, which had seven players score in double figures.Ray Allen and Norris Cole each scored 11 for Miami.Rose shot 4 for 15 for the Bulls. By halftime, Miami was rolling, up 54-33 — putting the game on pace for a 108-66 final, which would have exactly matched the score of the game in 2006 when the Bulls came into Miami and spoiled the Heat franchise’s first ring night. Not this time, though the Bulls made it plenty interesting down the stretch. A layup by Butler with 5:34 left got the Bulls within 15, and after he missed the ensuing free throw, the rebound made its way to Kirk Hinrich — who made a 3-pointer that cut Miami’s lead to 91-79. Hinrich fouled out on the ensuing Miami possession, and Rose checked back in with 5:14 left after spending the entire fourth quarter to that point on the bench. Wade scored seconds later, the Heat followed that with a stop, and James simply overpowered Luol Deng in the post on the next trip to restore the 16-point lead. But again, the Bulls weren’t done, cutting the lead to 95-87 on a drive by Boozer with 2:47 left. They would get no closer, and Miami held on despite giving up 37 points in the final quarter. Rose’s start was promising early, with two early drives for impressive scores. The Bulls led 15-10 when Rose checked out for the first time with 3:36 left in the opening quarter. When he returned, the lead was gone for good. The Heat outscored the Bulls 13-3 in Rose’s first stint on the bench, turning a five-point lead into a five-point deficit, and by then the Heat were off and running. Over a 4-minute stretch of the second quarter, everything changed. Rose’s surgically repaired knee might be fine, but in the basketball vernacular, Cole broke the ankles of the 2011 NBA MVP — starting a run that turned what was a tight game into a romp. Cole faked out Rose on the dribble, causing the Bulls’ star to tumble over, and the Heat reserve connected on an 18-foot jumper that sent the Miami bench leaping from its seats.That began the 17-0 run. The Bulls missed nine straight shots, Rose getting blocked by Bosh on one, and the Heat went to work. Miami shot 7 for 10 during the burst, which was capped by a driving layup by James with 4:23 left, and suddenly the Heat led 41-20. It was a runaway, and became a grind-it-out win.

NOTES—Since the Heat entered the league, reigning NBA champions are 21-5 in their opening game of the ensuing season. … The Heat visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. The Bulls next game is Thursday, the home opener at United Center against the New York Knicks. … Going back to last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, Miami has won five straight games over the Bulls. … James is 31 points shy of 25,000 for his career, if including regular-season and playoff games. He would be the 28th player in NBA history to reach that milestone.


Hawks rebound from bad Saturday game, beat Wild(this time)5-1

ST. PAUL—Patrick Sharp finally scored, Nick Leddy jump-started his team’s stagnant special teams with a power-play goal and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 on Monday night.Corey Crawford made 29 saves, and Sheldon Brookbank, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad all scored to give the Blackhawks just their third game of more than three goals in 12 contests this season.After giving up 11 goals while losing their previous two games, the Blackhawks played tougher defense, were more disciplined and paid the Wild back for their 5-3 win Saturday in Chicago.Jason Pominville had a goal for the Wild, his third in two games to tie it at 1 midway through the second period, but Niklas Backstrom never found his footing in the net. After making 33 saves against the Blackhawks two days before, his first start following a seven-game absence because of a lower-body injury, Backstrom stopped 23 shots.Marian Hossa caught Backstrom looking the wrong way behind the net and fed Sharp for a snap shot from just outside the crease over Backstrom’s opposite shoulder late in the first period. This was just Sharp’s second goal of the season. He was quiet last season, too, returning from injury to find his rhythm in the playoffs and help the Blackhawks win their second Stanley Cup championship in four years.Late in the second period, Backstrom turned aside Leddy’s shot, but Kane beat him to the rebound and circled the puck around to the other side where Brookbank was waiting for a slap shot. Backstrom collided with rookie defenseman Matthew Dumba as he was trying to climb up and reposition himself in the crease.Then in the third period, Saad scooted past Dumba on a rush to draw Ryan Suter over in coverage. Saad then pivoted to flick a perfect drop pass to Kane, who skated in front of Dumba to tap in an easy goal and give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead.The Hawk power play has been only so-so. Leddy’s goal was a positive step for that unit. But penalty kill has been a bigger early season problem for the Blackhawks, who entered the night last in the NHL with a success rate of only 72.2 percent. They were perfect, though, in this one against the Wild who lost in regulation at home for the first time in seven games, falling to 4-1-2 this month. They gave up four goals in standard 5-on-5 situations, more than one-third of their league-best total this season. They have allowed 11 in 13 games.

NOTES—Brandon Pirri, moved up to center on the second line, had two assists for the Blackhawks. … Mikael Granlund assisted on Pominville’s goal for his team-high eighth of the season. … The Wild were again without two of their top three defensemen, Keith Ballard (seven straight games, upper body) and Jonas Brodin (three straight games, broken cheekbone). … Hossa has 21 points in 24 career games against the Wild. … The Wild wore their new white jerseys at home for the first time.

Hawks flat again, lose to Wild 5-3

This time, Niklas Backstrom made it through warm-ups without any injuries.It was the start of one nice night for the goalie and the Minnesota Wild. Backstrom made 33 saves in his first win of the season and the Wild defeated the Blackhawks 5-3 on Saturday in a rematch of their first-round playoff series.

“I think I just play every game the same,” Backstrom said. “You try to go out there and play your best. Be at your best for your team and your teammates when they need you. I think that’s the way I’m looking at it.”

But this one was quite a turnaround from the playoffs, when Backstrom was scratched from Game 1 here at the United Center after he hurt his leg reaching for a puck during warm-ups. That was it for Backstrom for the series, and the Hawks eliminated Minnesota in five games on the way to their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons.

“It’s a new season, it’s a new team,” said Backstrom, dismissing any talk about the postseason meeting. “So there’s no reason to sit around, we try to learn this year.”

Jason Pominville had two goals in his 600th career game as Minnesota earned its third consecutive win. Zach Parise, Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine also scored for the Wild, and Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund had two assists apiece.Bryan Bickell scored for the fourth consecutive game for the Blackhawks, who had recorded at least one point in each of their past seven games. Patrick Kane added his team-best sixth goal in the third period.

“It’s nice scoring, but most importantly, it’s nice to score when you’re winning,” Bickell said. “Tonight was a rough game for the team, defensively and offensively.”

The Hawks committed five of the 12 penalties in the game and went 1 for 7 on the power play. It has allowed 11 goals in the past two games.

“It’s two games in a row we gave up five goals and more,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s one thing that people are talking about us not scoring as much, but sometimes you don’t need to score than many to win if you’re playing smart defensively.”

Backstrom was terrific in his first start since he strained his right knee during a 3-2 loss at Nashville on Oct. 8. He came off the bench when Josh Harding suffered an injury Thursday night and stopped all seven shots that he faced during the third period of a 3-1 home win against Carolina. The 35-year-old Backstrom was particularly hard on Patrick Sharp, turning him away on one strong rush in the first, and making another nice stop on the forward during a Blackhawks power play in the second. He also made a couple of saves on Marian Hossa.Parise had a power-play rebound goal in the first and Brodziak made it 2-0 when he tipped Marco Scandella’s long shot past Corey Crawford just 63 seconds into the second period. The Blackhawks looked as if they had their first score when Jeremy Morin’s shot went off Backstrom’s left shoulder, popped into the air and trickled over the line following a scrum in front of the net. But the goal was waived off when a long replay review showed Andrew Shaw made contact with the puck with his stick while it was over the crossbar. Bickell’s wrist shot through Backstrom’s legs cut it to 2-1 at 13:46, but Granlund set up Pominville with 2:18 to go in the period. Granlund then turned Nick Leddy’s turnover into another Pominville goal at 9:18 of the third, giving Minnesota a 4-1 lead.Marcus Kruger scored his first goal of the season with 30 seconds left, but that was it for the Blackhawks in their second straight loss. Crawford finished with 20 saves.

NOTES—The Blackhawks and Wild play again in Minnesota on Monday night. … Sharp finished with seven shots on goal. … Blackhawks C Michal Handzus sat out with an injury. The 36-year-old forward has a goal and two assists in nine games this season. … Handzus, F Ben Smith and D Sheldon Brookbank were all scratched for the Hawks. … In addition to Harding, Ds Keith Ballard and Jonas Brodin were scratched for the Wild.

Irish blow out Air Force 45-10, Navy next

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.—Tommy Rees showed no signs of a strained neck that knocked him out a week ago, throwing a career-high five touchdown passes to help Notre Dame rout Air Force 45-10 on Saturday.The senior was on target all day, completing 17 of 22 passes for 284 yards as the Fighting Irish (6-2) won their third straight. Rees now has 54 career TD passes and moves past Ron Powlus for third place in team history.Rees was back on the field a week after leaving the game with a neck ailment in the second half of a win over USC. Rees was solid all week in practice and sensational on Saturday as he picked apart the secondary of the Falcons (1-7), who dropped their seventh straight game.The resourceful Rees spread the ball around as he tossed TD strikes to Corey Robinson, the son of former NBA star David Robinson, William Fuller, Ben Koyack, TJ Jones and Chris Brown. It was the first time in school history the Irish have had five different receivers catch a TD pass.So efficient was Rees that he was given the fourth quarter off, replaced by backup Andrew Hendrix with the game well in hand.Nate Romine started for Karson Roberts at quarterback for the Falcons, becoming the fourth different signal caller the team has used this season. Romine was fourth-string out of fall camp, but moved up the depth chart due to injuries and an academic ineligibility. Roberts suffered a concussion two weeks ago against San Diego State, but recently returned to practice. He entered the game in the fourth quarter in relief of Romine.At times, Romine effectively ran the triple-option attack of Air Force, gashing Notre Dame’s defense for big gains. But the Falcons fumbled the ball away twice inside Notre Dame territory, thwarting promising drives with the game still close.The loss ended any chance of Air Force becoming bowl eligible for a seventh straight season under coach Troy Calhoun.Air Force scored first when Colton Huntsman took a pitch from Romine and scrambled in from 10 yards out. Notre Dame answered right back, with Rees finding Robinson and then Fuller to give the Irish a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. It was the first career TD reception for both Robinson and Fuller.Right before halftime, the Falcons had a chance to slice into the lead, but Anthony LaCoste fumbled inside the red zone and KeiVarae Russell recovered the ball to preserve a 24-10 lead.On the opening drive to start the second half, Romine led the Falcons down the field only to lose the ball as he scrambled away from pressure. Jaylon Smith scooped it up and raced 62 yards for what appeared to be a score, but officials ruled it an incomplete pass and blew the play dead. After a brief review, the call was reversed to a fumble, though, with Notre Dame getting the ball at the 38.It didn’t take long for Rees to capitalize as he found Jones for his fourth TD of the game, matching the total he had against Air Force on Oct. 8, 2011, and again on Oct. 30, 2010, versus Tulsa.He set a new personal-best on the next drive with a 30-yard pass to Brown in the corner of the end zone.Rees is the fourth Notre Dame quarterback to throw 50 or more TDs, joining Powlus (52), Jimmy Clausen (60) and Brady Quinn (95).This also was the 20th win of Rees’ career, tying him with Joe Theismann and John Lujack for ninth most for a starting QB in Notre Dame history.

Illini Big Ten(‘losing’)streak at 17 as Spartans wreck Homecoming 42-3.

CHAMPAIGN—“I.L.L.”….no I.N.I, just ILL. The Big Ten futility comtinues as Connor Cook threw for three touchdowns and Michigan State’s defense locked down Illinois Saturday on the way to a 42-3 win.Cook finished 15-of-16 for 208 yards, setting a Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) record for passing efficiency just a week after he was grilled for failing to move the ball against Purdue. Tailback Jeremy Langford had 104 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns for the Spartans.The Michigan State defense came into the game ranked first in the nation in total defense at 228 yards a game, and looked even better Saturday, holding Illinois to just 128. That included 25 yards on the ground.Illinois had been scoring 35.3 points a game.Almost half of Illinois’ offense came on the game’s opening drive, a 12-play, 53-yarder that ended with a field goal and a 3-0 lead that pumped a little optimism into a homecoming day crowd.That optimism quickly turned to familiar booos! If all you saw was the final score, you might not believe Michigan State didn’t take over at that moment. But the Spartans let Illinois hang around, taking their time before finally grinding them down.The backbreaker came slowly, agonizingly, over a little under nine minutes of the second quarter.What looked like it was about to be an Illinois lead turned into a big 11-point edge for the Spartans. And, no surprise, their defense triggered it.Michigan State stopped the Illini twice from its own 1-yard line midway through the quarter, stuffing running back Josh Ferguson and then, on fourth down with the homecoming crowd at its loudest, tight end Jon Davis just short of the goal line.The Spartans took over at the 1 with 8:17 left in the quarter and ground their way oh-so slowly upfield.More than eight minutes later, Cook faced a third-and-25 at the Illinois 29 after a pair of sacks. Rolling to his right to avoid more pressure, Cook slung the ball toward the front corner of the end zone where wide receiver Bennie Fowler waited behind a pair of Illinois defensive backs. One of them, freshman cornerback Jaylen Dunlap, slapped the ball up in the air and then appeared to tip it again before it looped up and over the goal line and into the hands of Fowler, falling backward for the touchdown.Fifteen plays, 99 long yards and 8:08 of clock time gone.Michigan State was suddenly up 14-3 with nine seconds left in the half. And an Illini team that started sharp had to wonder how the heck it happened.Worse, Michigan State got the football again on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, and didn’t waste time widening the gap.Cook found tight end Josiah Price just outside the Illini end zone and ducked in for a 13-yard touchdown with 10:07 left in the third quarter.Up 21-3, the Spartans were coasting.The Illini had to think hard about the ways things might have been different.The two shots from the Michigan State 1 when the deficit was just 7-3 hurt.Just as bad, the Illini settled for the field goal on the game’s opening drive when a 13-yard Jon Davis touchdown catch from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was called back because of a holding penalty on center Alex Hill. Davis appeared furious when he heard the referee’s call, punching the air in front of him in disgust.And Illinois handed the Spartans their first points. Wide receiver Ryan Lankford was hit hard by Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun as he tried to pitch to Martize Barr on a double reverse. The other Spartans defensive end, Marcus Bush, recovered the ball at the Illinois 23.Four plays later, Langford punched the ball in from the Illinois 1-yard line for the first of his touchdowns and a 7-3 lead.Early in the fourth quarter, Andrew Maxwell and Tyler O’Connor relieved Cook early in the fourth quarter. Cook roamed the sideline the final 15 minutes with his helmet off, exchanging smiles and backslaps with Langford, Fowler and the other Spartans starters who’d been pulled.Illinois’ Big Ten losing streak reached 17 games, with a road trip to Penn State on the schedule next Saturday. The last Illini win the in the conference came more than two years ago, 41-20 over Indiana on Oct. 8, 2011.

Eastern Michigan, latest victom for NIU 59-20

DE KALB—This one was over before the team busses unloaded in the parking lot.OK, it was REALLY over once the scjedule was released. Jordan Lynch threw four touchdown passes and caught another as No. 23 Northern Illinois reached its best start as a major program with a 59-20 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.The Huskies (8-0, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) never trailed on the way to a season-high in points and second-highest total offense (658 yards).The Eagles (1-7, 0-4) lost their seventh straight.Lynch, the nation’s No. 7 rusher entering Saturday, also ran for a touchdown while rushing 18 times for 99 yards. He was 16-of-20 passing for 223 yards while tying a career high with four TD passes in less than three quarters.Tommylee Lewis had eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Da’Ron Brown caught three passes for 28 yards and two scores.What could hurt NIU when the BCS bid comes out, is strength of schedule. The MAC is mostly awful this year,and one of the Big Ten teams the Huskies beat, Purdue, is also horrible.

NU skid hits 0-4 in Big Ten with OT loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY—C.J. Fiedorowicz caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock in overtime to give Iowa a 17-10 win over Northwestern Saturday.The Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2 Big 10) nearly blew another lead in the second half. Northwestern (4-4, 0-4) dropped its fourth straight game, all in the Big Ten. Rudock completed 19-of-27 passes for 169 yards – none bigger than the third-down pass to Fiedorowicz in overtime. Rudock rolled to his right and lofted a pass to his big tight end in the left corner of the end zone. Northwestern’s Kain Colter was sacked on the final play of the game to seal the win for Iowa. The Hawkeyes snapped a two-game losing skid.Both teams made mistakes on key opportunities late in the fourth quarter.Rudock threw an interception in the final minute. NU running back Mike Trumpy mishandled an option pitch from Colter with three minutes left.

Bulls end Pre Season 8-0, Hoah and Hinrich still out.

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Derrick Rose scored 15 points and the Bulls ended the preseason with a 94-89 win Friday over the Denver Nuggets.Rose and the Bulls, who were without Joakim Noah (groin) and Kirk Hinrich (concussion), went 8-0 and completed their first perfect preseason of at least eight games since 1992.Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 24 points and Luol Deng added 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who fell behind 48-29 with 2:16 left in the first half on a JaVale McGee basket.The Bulls took its first lead at 60-58 on a Deng 3-pointer with 4:26 remaining in the third and took the lead for good on a Boozer layup with 1:50 left.Anthony Randolph and McGee each had 15 points for Denver, which lost four straight to end the preseason at 2-5. Former Bulls guard Nate Robinson missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 18.1 seconds left.Ty Lawson left the game with left groin tightness and scored 11 points in 16 minutes.The Nuggets open Wednesday in Sacramento against the Kings. Noah and  Hinrich both remain questionable for Tuesday night’s Regular Season Opener at Miami.