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By: Hallie Stickels

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Friday, 25-Mar-2011 08:31 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Penguins beat punchless Flyers in shootout

There was nothing wrong with the Flyers' goaltending on Thursday night.

The same could not be said about their lethargic offense

With the victory, the Penguins inched to within four points of the Flyers in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers, who went beyond regulation for the fifth time in six games, have a game in hand.

Afterward, defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros were critical of the team's lackluster performance.

Meszaros, who had eight hits and three blocked shots, said the Penguins "outskated us, outbattled us, outshot us. They did everything better than us in our building, so that was embarrassing. . . . We can't have those kind of games this close to the playoffs."

Timonen called it "a problem" that the Flyers were so stale in a game that could have put considerable distance between themselves and the Penguins.

In their previous game, Tuesday's 5-4 shootout loss to shorthanded Washington, the Flyers controlled most of the action but were beaten because of poor goaltending. The Capitals were missing injured stars Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green.

On Thursday, against a Pittsburgh team that was missing marquee players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Flyers got superb goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky (30 saves), but allowed the Penguins to spend most of the night in the home team's end.

"Bob was great. He got us a point," Timonen said.

Timonen said he was disappointed because the Flyers had controlled the previous game against the Capitals.

"We were all over that team, and I was hoping we were going to play the same way tonight and get two points," he said. "I'm a little worried about the game and how we played because it was a big game - and if you can't get fired up for these games, it's a problem."

Added Timonen: "It looked like we weren't ready to play tonight, and that was the result."

The Flyers equaled a season low with 20 shots. They didn't get a third-period shot until 6 minutes, 31 seconds remained, and they didn't manage a shot in a Pittsburgh-dominated overtime.

In the shootout, Danny Briere was the only Flyer to score in four shots.

"It was just a bad effort," Timonen said. "We were lucky to get one point out of it, and, to be honest, we have to get back to work tomorrow."

The Flyers power play was abysmal, managing a total of two shots in its six minutes with a man advantage.

"Luckily we had Bob keep us in the game. He was unbelievable," Meszaros said.

After former Flyer Arron Asham went to the penalty box for cross-checking early in the third period, it was the Penguins who had the best scoring opportunity. But Bobrovsky, following a Claude Giroux turnover, stopped Max Talbot on a shorthanded breakaway with about 16 minutes left.

Bobrovsky was good but also fortunate. Pittsburgh clanged shots off iron in the first seven-plus minutes of the third period. With 2:39 left, he robbed James Neal from in close to keep the game tied.

The Flyers have picked up points in each of their last eight games, going 4-0-4. They have been in four consecutive shootouts for the first time ever, going 1-3. They have played past regulation in five of their last six games, but captain Mike Richards didn't want to use that as an excuse for the team's looking tired in the third period and overtime.

"Some nights you just don't have your legs," said Richards, who scored the Flyers' lone goal to give his team a 1-0 lead late in the first period. "We can't use that as an excuse. We have to find a way and will it through the game. I thought we could have done a better job than that tonight and played more physical."


Monday, 7-Mar-2011 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Lakers rout NBA-best Spurs for 7th straight win

Kobe Bryant agreed it might have been the Lakers' best game so far.

It technically wasn't the worst for the San Antonio Spurs, though it often looked that way.

The Lakers may not catch the NBA's winningest team for the No. 1 seed in time for the playoffs, but they handed the Spurs a blunt reminder that the Western Conference is still theirs to surrender, beating San Antonio 99-83 in a blowout Sunday.

Bryant, who finished with 26 points, didn't make much of it.

"I don't think it's that big of a message that we sent today," he said.

It was the seventh straight victory for the Lakers, who are playing as well as any point this season. Coach Phil Jackson concedes that San Antonio's 6 1/2-game lead in the West may be too big to overcome with 18 games left. But the Lakers still made a few marks.

One is emphatically ending San Antonio's franchise-record home winning streak at 22 games. Another is beating the Spurs for the first time in three tries, including last month's stunning loss in Los Angeles when Antonio McDyess tipped in the game-winner at the buzzer.

Bryant, for his part, didn't show any excitement in winning this round.

"Why should I be?" he said.

Instead, Bryant sought to keep the lopsided win in perspective.

"We know we're capable of having games like this and San Antonio knows we're capable of having games like this," he said. "It just as easily could go the other way around."

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 14 points. He was their only starter in double figures; Tim Duncan scored two points and Manu Ginobili scored six.

Two days after San Antonio humiliated LeBron James and Miami in a 30-point blowout, the Spurs took their own lumps. The NBA's sixth-highest scoring team mustered just 37 points in the first half - matching a season low - and shot 36 percent from the floor.

And it could've been worse. The Lakers led by as many as 32 in third quarter before the Spurs threw in the towel and emptied their bench.

"They hit us in the mouth from the beginning and by the time we realized it, it was the ninth round and we were down on the scorecard," Spurs guard Gary Neal said.

Pau Gasol scored 21 points and Andrew Bynum had 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who can match their longest win streak of the season with a victory at Atlanta on Tuesday.

It's part of arguably the toughest stretch this season for the Lakers, who are still out to prove they're the NBA's best despite trailing the Spurs all season. The Lakers will also play at Miami and at Dallas before coming home to face Orlando on March 14.

By the time the Magic leave Los Angeles, the Lakers will have faced four of the NBA's top seven teams in a span of eight days.

Jackson called it the best the Lakers have played all season against this caliber opponent.

"We need to be at our peak later on," Gasol said. "Not right now."

The last Spurs loss at the AT&T Center had been to Dallas on Nov. 26. But that 103-94 defeat wasn't anything like this.

Bryant finished 12 for 25 and had seven rebounds. His only blemish was a technical foul in the second quarter after getting tangled up with Ginobili, leading to a brief exchange of stares and words.

Ron Artest rushed between the two and pulled Bryant away. It was Bryant's 14th technical foul this season, though he stands at 12 after having two rescinded. The NBA issues a one-game suspension after 16 technical fouls.

The last time the Spurs and Lakers met was in Los Angeles on Feb. 3, when the Spurs won 89-88 on McDyess' tip-in as time expired. Jackson had his video staff pull that clip before this one and remind his team of a game Jackson said they should've won.

It apparently worked.

Neal scored 15 points and George Hill added 14 for the Spurs.

"Nobody expects to be losing by more than 20 in the first quarter," Ginobili said. "But the way the game presented itself, they were making every shot. We couldn't make layups, 3s, free throws, anything."

San Antonio's most lopsided defeat this season was a 24-point loss at New Orleans on Jan. 22.

Derek Fisher scored eight points and remained in the starting lineup after being listed as probable going into the game because of a strained right elbow.

Notes: Bryant is 13 points shy of surpassing Moses Malone for sixth on the NBA's career scoring list. ... McDyess played in his 999th career game. The 15-year veteran can hit 1,000 if he plays Wednesday against Detroit. ... The Lakers in town made for a rare courtside celebrity sighting in San Antonio: late-night host George Lopez.


Thursday, 6-Jan-2011 01:26 Email | Share | | Bookmark
U.K. Panel Questions Readiness To Fix Spill

LONDON—In a new report, U.K. lawmakers raised serious doubts about whether the oil industry was prepared to tackle a North Sea oil spill similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but stopped short of recommending a moratorium on drilling akin to that imposed in the U.S.

Instead, the U.K. Parliament's Energy and Climate Change Committee called on the government and regulators to compel oil companies to improve their spill-response plans, raise the liability limit for spill costs and install extra fail-safe equipment on rigs.

While the committee didn't directly investigate the causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it was critical of BP PLC executive Mark Bly's report on the tragedy, particularly his conclusion that the design of the Macondo well played no part in the rupture. "We urge the government not to rely extensively on the Bly Report, given the controversy surrounding the responsibility for the incident and the design of the Macondo well," it said.

BP said it hadn't seen the report yet and couldn't comment.

Major changes to drilling regulations could have a significant impact on the U.K. because its main deep-water area, west of the Shetland Islands, is thought to be home to the bulk of the country's undeveloped oil and gas resources. For this reason, "a moratorium on deep-water drilling off the west coast of Shetland would undermine the U.K.'s energy security and isn't necessary," said Tim Yeo, the Conservative member of Parliament who is chairman of the committee, in a statement accompanying the report.

The majority of U.K. wells drilled in the North Sea have been in shallow areas, but as resources have dwindled there companies have pushed into deeper and more hostile waters in search of new fields. BP, Chevron Corp. and France's Total SA have been searching for oil and gas west of Shetland in water depths of between about 600 and 1,600 meters2,000 feet and 5,250 feet.

The Deepwater Horizon was drilling in about 1,500 meters 5,000 feet of water when it exploded in April, killing 11 men and spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

U.K. lawmakers criticized oil companies' readiness for a similar incident in the North Sea. "The offshore oil and gas industry is responding to disasters, rather than anticipating worst-case scenarios and planning for high-consequence, low-probability events," the committee report said.

In particular, existing oil-spill plans for the area west of Shetland were inadequate, the panel said. "There are serious doubts about the ability of oil spill response equipment to function in the harsh environment of the open Atlantic in the West of Shetland," it said. "We recommend that the government ensures that any capping, containment and cleanup systems are designed to take full account of the harsh and challenging environment."

Current industry provisions for the cost of any cleanup are also lacking, it said. Given the high price tab for the Gulf of Mexico spill, the cap of $250 million set out under the Offshore Pollution Liability Association is too low and the rules as to what kinds of damage are covered by this fund are too vague, it said.

The committee's third big recommendation was that an extra precaution be added to the piece of equipment that was the last line of defense against the accident that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon—the blowout preventer. A set of blind shear rams, two large pieces of metal within the blowout preventer that were supposed to close the drill pipe on the Deepwater Horizon, failed to operate, allowing oil and gas to flow freely from the well head and into the Gulf of Mexico for three months.

"Blowout preventers on the U.K. continental shelf should have two [sets of] blind shear rams," the committee said. There was only one set of blind shear rams, the current industry standard, in the blowout preventer on the Macondo well in the Gulf.

The committee rejected moves from the European Commission to regulate drilling in U.K. waters. It also said there was no need for the U.K. to follow the U.S. in a fundamental overhaul of its regulatory regime.


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