Penguins edge Sharks
Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby’s hard wrist shot fooled the San Jose goalie for the only goal in the shootout as the Penguins downed the NHL Western Conference-leading Sharks 2-1 on Wednesday. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots to help Pittsburgh win for the third time during a four-game homestand. San Jose, coming off a 5-2 win at Boston on Tuesday in a matchup of the NHL top two teams, now has only one regulation win from its past five games. Bill Thomas scored for Pittsburgh. Joe Pavelski countered for San Jose. In New York, Washington’s Mike Green scored in his seventh straight game to tie the NHL record for a defenseman, but slumping New York snuck home 5-4 against the Capitals via a shootout. In other games it was Ducks 3, Flames 2, OT; Oilers 7, Canadiens 2; Coyotes 1, Stars 0; Blackhawks 3, Thrashers 1; Wild 3, Avalanche 2; Senators 3, Sabres 1 and Devils 4, Islanders 2.
All Blacks reject ‘bully’ tag
The New Zealand Rugby Union yesterday denied accusations of bullying Samoan players to be available for the All Blacks, telling reporters they “reject them utterly.” The allegation came from Irish mobile phone magnate Denis O’Brien, who said he had created a fund large enough to ensure Samoa’s top 40 players did not have to go off-shore. “I hate bullies and New Zealand bullies the islands,” O’Brien told Britain’s Daily Telegraph after a meeting with the Samoan prime minister, who claimed New Zealand was “pinching” his country’s best players by promising hefty salaries. New Zealand rugby chief executive Steve Tew rejected any suggestion of bullying or stealing players and said statistics made a mockery of the assertion that New Zealand rugby “pinched” Samoan players. From 2005 to 2007 nine Samoan-born players represented the All Blacks and one, Jerome Kaino, was from American Samoa. Of the Samoan squad for the 2007 World Cup, 12 players were born in New Zealand and six others spent the majority of their careers playing there.
Nadal wins at ABN Amro
Top-seeded Rafael Nadal rallied from a set down to beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and advance to the second round at the ABN Amro in Rotterdam on Wednesday. Bolelli broke the Australian Open champion at 2-2 and dominated much of the first set, but Nadal hit back in the second set, twice breaking the Italian and holding his nerve. Julien Benneteau of France upset third-seeded Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-2, and Mikhail Youzhny of Russia eliminated sixth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to the quarter-finals. Also on Wednesday, seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France beat local favorite Jesse Huta Galung 7-6 (4) 7-6 (4), and defending champion Michael Llodra defeated Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Del Potro, Blake advance
Second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro slipped into the second round of the ATP hardcourt tournament in San Jose on Wednesday, as third-seeded James Blake bulldozed his way through. Argentina’s del Potro edged Andrea Stoppini of Italy 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) in a match that couldn’t have been closer. Blake, in contrast, needed just 50 minutes to dispose of fellow American Vincent Spadea 6-3, 6-4. Blake served up 13 aces and won both of his break-point chances. Spadea, meanwhile, mustered only three aces against five double-faults.