Blackhawks

Illini still winless in Big Ten play after Ohio State romp

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Illini still winless in Big Ten play after Ohio State romp

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The combination of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller was more than enough for No. 6 Ohio State.
Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns and Miller burnished his Heisman credentials by passing for two scores and running for another in the Buckeyes' 52-22 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) maintained the upper hand in the Leaders Division heading into a bye week. They have games remaining at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and against rival Michigan at home a week later.
Miller carried 18 times for 73 yards, and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards.
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Illini (2-7, 0-5) and their 11th consecutive Big Ten loss.
Little went right for the Illini and first-year coach Tim Beckman, a former assistant to Ohio State's Urban Meyer when Meyer was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2001-2002.
Beckman was also a former Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel, forced out in the wake of a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that ultimately led to Meyer taking over the Buckeyes last November.
After racing to quick touchdowns with short drives while outscoring the visitors 24-0 in the second quarter, the Buckeyes stretched their lead to 38-6 in the third quarter by taking their time, going 73 yards on 11 plays, capped by Miller's 2-yard scramble.
Miller tossed TD passes of 51 yards to Rod Smith and 37 yards to wide receiver Corey Brown.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, dogged all day by Ohio State's aggressive front line, completed 19 of 34 passes for just 91 yards with one interception. He also led the Illini in rushing with 15 carries for 36 yards. But there wasn't much else going on for the Illini, who finished with only 170 total yards.
Ahead 7-6 after a quarter, they blew the game open with four scoring drives.
Drew Basil's 31-yard field goal made it 10-6 before a short Illinois punt gave the Buckeyes decent field position at their 36. Five plays later, Hyde's second short TD run of the day made it 17-6.
Illinois, which settled for Nick Immekus field goals after first downs at the Ohio State 29- and 10-yard lines in the first quarter, wasn't able to get anything going on offense as Scheelhaase was continually harassed and forced to run wide before picking his options.
After another punt, Miller's pass was nearly intercepted before Hyde gained 10 yards. Miller then rolled right and then looked back to the left sideline where backup running back Rod Smith was several yards behind safety Supo Sanni. Smith pulled in the pass to complete the 51-yard score.
An 18-yard punt and a penalty put the Buckeyes right back in control at midfield. On consecutive plays, Miller juked and spun for 11 yards, Hyde picked up 11, Miller found tight end Nick Vannett for 14 yards, Miller scrambled for 11 more and Hyde then collected his third score of the day on a sweep around right end.
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Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.