National Sports Briefs
LAS VEGAS ó When Richard Petty Motorsports courted Marcos Ambrose last season, the Australian saw an opportunity to further his NASCAR development and partner with manufacturer Ford.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and Ambrose certainly had second thoughts when financial issues nearly shut down RPM right about the time he began to string together some decent results with JTG Daugherty Racing. He kept his word, though, and was in RPM’s No. 9 Ford at Daytona.
“I took a chance and I really stuck my neck out to see if I had what it took,” Ambrose said of his move to RPM.
But the launch with his new team hardly produced the results he had hoped for through the first two weeks: Ambrose was 37th at Daytona, 16th at Phoenix and came to Las Vegas Motor Speedway ranked 27th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
It put the pressure on Ambrose to step up and turn things around, which he did by qualifying second for today’s race. He briefly held the pole until he was bumped by Matt Kenseth, who set a track record with the fifth pole of his 12-year career.
In all, Fords swept the first four qualifying spots, as Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle qualified third and fourth.
All four cars are powered by Roush Yates Engines, which is off to an incredible start to the season. The top three finishers at the Daytona 500 were powered by Roush Yates, and Edwards won the pole last week at Phoenix.
SANTIAGO, Chile ó The United States is one victory from a showdown with Spain in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
Twins Bob and Mike Bryan put the Americans ahead of Chile 2-1 in the first round Saturday by winning 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Andy Roddick, playing Davis Cup for the first time since 2009, will be in position to clinch the best-of-five series when he faces Paul Capdeville in the first match today.
WASHINGTON ó Those optimistic about the NFL’s labor talks with the players’ union will point to the sides’ decision to push back the bargaining deadline by a week and think, as Commissioner Roger Goodell put it:
“The fact that we’re continuing this dialogue is a positive sign.”
And those who are pessimistic about where this all eventually is headed will recognize that, as league lead negotiator Jeff Pash described it:
“We’ve got very serious issues. We’ve got significant differences.”
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ó After making consecutive birdies, Honda Classic leader Rory Sabbatini stood in the rough along the sixth fairway, complaining to a PGA Tour official about a delay in play.
The strange interruption could have halted Sabbatini’s momentum. Instead, after a long wait he hit an iron 200 yards to 10 feet of the pin, one of his better shots among the 66 Saturday that gave him a cushy lead.
Sabbatini will enter the final round at 9-under 201, five shots ahead of Jerry Kelly and 2009 winner Y.E. Yang.
Sabres 5, Flyers 3
PHILADELPHIA ó Jason Pominville snapped a tie game in the third period after Buffalo scored three times in the second, and the Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on Saturday.
The Eastern Conference-leading Flyers have lost three straight for the first time since Nov. 26-Dec. 1.
Penguins 3, Bruins 2, OT
BOSTON ó Dustin Jeffrey scored his second goal of the game 1:52 into overtime and Pittsburgh snapped Bostonís winning streak at seven.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots, and Jordan Staal also scored for Pittsburgh, which had won only one of the previous seven ó including four overtime losses.
David Krejci got the Bruins even at 2 when he scored with 33 seconds left in regulation while Boston goalie Tim Thomas was pulled for an extra skater.
Islanders 5, Blues 2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. ó Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored two rare goals, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau both had a goal and an assist in the first period, and New York sent sinking St. Louis to its fourth straight loss.
MacDonald, who entered his 100th NHL game with only three career goals, scored his third in two games. Each goal Saturday gave the Islanders a three-goal lead.
Al Montoya made 21 saves, giving up Andy McDonaldís 14th of the season 3:26 into the third period that made it 3-1 and Chris Stewartís power-play tally that brought the Blues within 4-2 with 9:42 remaining.
Rookie Michael Grabner put this one away with 7:35 left, netting his 26th.
St. Louis is 1-7 in its last eight games, falling to 13th in the West and well out of the playoff chase.
1:Coyotes 5, Red Wings 4, SO
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) ó Radim Vrbataís shootout goal completed Phoenixís late comeback against Detroit.
Down 4-1 in the final period, the Coyotes got goals from Kyle Turris and Ray Whitney to get within one by the middle of the frame. Martin Hanzal tied it with 1:57 left in regulation.
After Turris was stopped by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the shootout, Vrbata put a backhander in behind him to win it.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped Pavel Datsyuk in the tiebreaker, and attempts by Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi to extend the shootout hit the post.
Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak and stretched Detroitís skid to three games (0-1-2). The Red Wings went 2-1-2 on a five-game road trip.
1:Canucks 3, Kings 1
LOS ANGELES (AP) ó Daniel Sedin scored the tiebreaking goal with 8:24 to play, Roberto Luongo made 21 saves, and Vancouver opened a five-game road trip with a gritty victory over Los Angeles.
Jannik Hansen scored in the first period and Alexandre Burrows added an empty-net goal for the Canucks, who have stayed on top of the NHL standings despite alternating wins and losses for a full month.
Jonathan Quick stopped 33 shots, and Dustin Penner scored his first goal for the Kings, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 18 games.
1:Canadiens 4, Lightning 2
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) ó Max Pacioretty scored two goals and Carey Price made 43 saves to lead Montreal over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Montreal has won four consecutive games, including three on the road, and the sixth-place Canadiens are only two points behind Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Southeast Division-leading Lightning have lost three in a row.
Price stopped all but three of the 116 shots he faced during a three-game road sweep of Southeast opponents Atlanta, Florida and Tampa Bay.
The Canadiens went up 2-0 when Hal Gill and David Desharnais beat Dwayne Roloson 3:14 apart in the first period.
1:Thrashers 4, Panthers 3, OT
ATLANTA (AP) ó Andrew Ladd netted his second goal of the game in overtime, and Blake Wheeler also scored twice for Atlanta in a win over Florida.
Sergei Samsonov, Stephen Weiss and David Booth scored for the Panthers, who have dropped four straight and are winless in 17 of 22.
Florida came in ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring, and Atlanta had only seven goals in the previous five games. Then the teams combined for four third-period goals.
Dustin Byfuglien assisted on all four of Atlantaís goals, giving the All-Star defenseman 31 this season. On the winning goal, he passed from the right circle across the slot to Ladd, whose 25th goal was a tip-in to Tomas Vokounís glove side.
1:Blackhawks 5, Maple Leafs 3
TORONTO (AP) ó Jonathan Toews scored a goal to extend his point streak to nine games, and Chicago won its eighth straight game, beating Toronto.
Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell also scored for Chicago. The defending Stanley Cup champions took a 3-0 lead in the first period, a night after a 5-2 home victory over Carolina.
Joffrey Lupul, Joey Crabb and Luke Schenn had goals for Toronto, 10-3-4 since the All-Star break. The Maple Leafs had earned at least a point in nine straight games.
The Associated Press