GROBBER’S WEEK 11 NFL PICKS

AFC GAMES:
CLEVELAND over Houston
SAN DIEGO over Oakland

NFC GAMES:
Atlanta over CAROLINA
WASHINGTON over Tampa Bay
San Francisco over NY GIANTS

INTER-CONF GAMES:
KANSAS CITY over Seattle
NEW ORLEANS over Cincinnati
Denver over ST.LOUIS

THURSDAY NIGHT:MIAMI over Buffalo

SUNDAY NIGHT:New England over INDIANAPOLIS

MONDAY NIGHT:Pittsburgh over TENNESSEE

NFC NORTH GAMES:
Detroit over ARIZONA
GREEN BAY over Philadelphia
BEARS over Minnesota

HOME TEAMS in ALL CAPS.

LAST WEEK: 11-2
Through TEN WEEKS:
LES 99-51-1, ADAM HARRIS 94-56-1, ZACH WITHERS 89-61-1, KEVIN DZIEPAK 91-59-1

Hawks edge Lightning on shootout on Kane winner

Patrick Kane skated in on Ben Bishop and showed off some fancy footwork as he approached the 6-foot-7 goalie. Bishop knew what was coming, and was still too late to stop it.Oh-so-close is just the norm when the Blackhawks play the Tampa Bay Lightning.Kane beat Bishop with a well-placed backhander in the shootout, and the Hawks stopped the Lightning’s six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night. Kane’s 32nd career goal in the tiebreaker was enough for Corey Crawford, who denied each of Tampa Bay’s three shooters.

”Crow’s so good in the shootout, if one of us was able to get one, we’re going to have a good chance to win or extend it,” Kane said. ”It was a good feeling, for sure.”

Crawford stopped Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov before Kane scored high on Bishop’s glove side. Crawford then denied Steven Stamkos to seal the win.Bishop said he watched Kane use a similar move in a 5-4 shootout victory at Ottawa on Oct. 30. Kane was unsuccessful on that night, but managed to put this one in the net.

‘I had a feeling he might try it and he did and I got a piece of it and it went in,” said Bishop, who made 37 saves in regulation and overtime.

The Hawks won for the third time in four games. The Blackhawks had lost their last five games against the Lightning, with four of the defeats coming in a shootout or overtime.Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, who have won consecutive home games after dropping three in a row at the United Center.

”I think we’ve been pretty consistent,” said Crawford, who had 25 saves before the shootout. ”We’ve had some tough games, some tough losses, but I think we’re getting better and better every game.”

The Lightning were coming off a 4-3 shootout victory at Detroit on Sunday. Cedric Paquette scored in the first, and Kucherov had Tampa Bay’s other goal in the third.The tight matchup of contenders got more physical as the game wore on, and it took a toll on the players.Tampa Bay center Tyler Johnson, who leads the team with 13 assists, departed after he was cross-checked in the back by defenseman Brent Seabrook in the third. Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya also left in the final period with an apparent right leg injury.There was no update on Johnson or Oduya after the game.Kruger gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead when he tipped Niklas Hjalmarsson’s long slap shot by Bishop 1:18 into the third. But the Lightning tied it at 2 when Stamkos made a nice pass through the crease to set up Kucherov’s sixth goal at 9:53.Bishop stopped Jonathan Toews on a 4-on-4 breakaway with 8:20 left in regulation, and Crawford made a pair of saves on Callahan in overtime.

”He’s sharp, he’s handling the puck well around the net, he’s handling rebounds, he’s very alert, very aware,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, praising Crawford’s effort. ”In the shootout, he was outstanding. Give him credit for his preparation.”

The Blackhawks put a ton of pressure on Bishop right from the start, and the goalie kept the Lightning in the game with a series of outstanding saves. It was reminiscent of his previous start in the United Center, when he made 37 stops to help Tampa Bay rally for a 3-2 shootout victory last October.The Blackhawks outshot Tampa Bay 19-6 in the first, but the Lightning’s second short-handed goal of the season was enough for a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Paquette finished off a slow-developing 2-on-1 with Ondrej Palat, sliding a shot through Crawford’s legs for his fourth goal at 4:35.The Blackhawks’ pressure paid off in the second when Richards followed his own shot for his third goal at 9:13. He has six points in his last seven games after a slow start in his first season with the Hawks.

NOTES—The game marked exactly one year since Stamkos broke his right leg in a 3-0 loss at Boston. Stamkos leads the team with 10 goals this season. … It was the fourth short-handed goal allowed by the Blackhawks in 16 games this season. … Tampa Bay scratched C Alex Killorn, RW Brett Connolly and D Mark Barberio. … Blackhawks D Michal Rozsival played for the first time since a 3-2 loss at Toronto on Nov. 1. D David Rundblad joined injured forwards Patrick Sharp and Daniel Carcillo on the scratch list. … It was the 500th career game for Toews.

Rose back, Bulls beat Pistons

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Derrick Rose said everything he wanted to say about his health on the court.Rose had 24 points and seven assists in his return to the lineup, and the balanced Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 102-91 on Monday night.

”In the first half, I thought he set the tone for us,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”And certainly the way he finished was great.”

Rose was 9 for 20 from the field in a season-high 32 minutes after being sidelined by sprained ankles. The 2011 NBA MVP had missed four of the previous five games after he was injured in a 114-108 overtime loss to Cleveland on Oct. 31.Rose departed before the media was allowed in the locker room, leaving his teammates to discuss his best performance of the young season.

”He was confident out there and he was just playing his style of basketball, which was good for us because he’s so fast and he’s getting out in transition, getting guys layups and dunks,” said Jimmy Butler, who finished with 19 points. ”Then he’s stepping up and making big shots. It’s always a plus to have him on your team.”

Pau Gasol had 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Joakim Noah finished with 13 points, 14 boards and six assists. The Bulls outrebounded the Pistons 49-46 after they had lost the battle on the glass in the previous six games, rankling the hard-nosed Thibodeau.Josh Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which was coming off a 97-96 home loss to Utah on Sunday. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 10 boards, and reserve D.J. Augustin scored 16.

”The second half was a positive for us by and large,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”But when you give away the first half and then play better, but still come up short, I can’t accept it. You have to play to win.”

Pistons center Andre Drummond, who began the game in a jersey that had his name misspelled on the back, grabbed 12 rebounds, but was 0 for 5 from the field and finished with two points.The Pistons trailed by as many as 19, but Kyle Singler had a layup and Augustin made a long jumper to trim the lead to 90-88 with 2:43 remaining.Gasol responded with a clutch jumper and Smith missed a 3-pointer on the other end for Detroit. Rose then came down and found Butler for a 3, making it 95-88 with 1:56 left.Rose also hit a key jumper and two foul shots to help the Bulls hold on down the stretch.Detroit dropped the opener of a four-game trip to fall to 0-3 on the road this season. Brandon Jennings had 11 points and eight assists, but also committed four turnovers.

”It’s the little things we have to get better at,” Monroe said. ”We have to pay attention to details defensively.”

Rose had his best play of the night in the final seconds of the first half, when he faked a cross-court pass in midair, and then fired underneath to Noah for a layup. The flashy move was reminiscent of Rose’s MVP season and helped the Bulls to a 60-44 lead at the break.Thibodeau used a starting lineup of Rose and Butler in the backcourt, Gasol and Mike Dunleavy at forward and Noah at center for the first time this season.

”It was great to have everyone,” Gasol said. ”A full roster available and healthy. I hope we can keep it that way.”

NOTES—Augustin played almost 21 minutes in his first game in the United Center since he signed a free-agent deal with the Pistons in July. Augustin averaged 14.9 points in 61 games with the Bulls after he was cut by Toronto last December. ”He saved us last year,” Thibodeau said. ”He had an incredible year.”…..Tony Snell did not play on his 23rd birthday. … The Bulls have won 16 of their last 17 home games against the Pistons.

Bears pitiful again, this time lose in Green Bay 55-14 as sinking ship collapses

GREEN BAY—This was yet another abortion of classic proportion, a disgrace, and it shows how you can make an argument that THIS Bears team is the worst ever, worse than the 1969 1-13 team, and 1997 Bears who started out 0-7 and 1-10.

Aaron Rodgers had a record-setting night for the Green Bay Packers. The Bears’ season is quickly turning into a nightmare.Rodgers threw six touchdown passes to tie the franchise game record and match the NFL record for a half, and the Packers routed the reeling Bears 55-14 on Sunday night.Rodgers was 18 of 27 for 315 yards, throwing touchdown passes of 73 and 40 yards to Jordy Nelson to help the Packers (6-3) open a 42-0 halftime lead.Rodgers tied the team touchdown pass record that he shared with Matt Flynn and matched the NFL mark for a half set by Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica in 1969.The 190th meeting of the NFL’s oldest rivalry turned into an old-fashioned blowout and Rodgers watched most of the second half from the sideline in knit cap.

”We just kind of got things going our way,” Rodgers said. ”The line did a good job of giving me time to extend plays. If you extend plays, you look down the field and there’s Jordy Nelson. He made some nice catches.”

A night full of milestones included Rodgers’ 16th scoring pass of 70 yards or more to break the record he shared with Denver’s Peyton Manning and Rodgers’ predecessor in Green Bay, Brett Favre. Rodgers looked just fine two weeks after tweaking his left hamstring in a loss to New Orleans.The 55 points tied a Packers record at Lambeau Field.Both teams were coming off byes. The down time didn’t help the Bears, who have lost five of six to drop to 3-6.Their defense has fallen completely apart.Two weeks after giving up 38 points in the first half in a 51-23 loss to the Patriots, the Bears set a dubious franchise record by giving up 42 points in a half.Embattled quarterback Jay Cutler was on his way to having another night to forget at Lambeau Field with two first-half turnovers. He has thrown 12 interceptions in four career games in Titletown.Cutler was 22 of 37 for 272 yards. His performance surely won’t ease the withering criticism the quarterback has faced back home in Chicago.Rodgers could seemingly do no wrong.He connected with tight end Andrew Quarless on a 4-yard scoring strike with 3:53 left in the quarter for a 14-0 lead.But the misery was only just beginning for the Bear secondary.Rodgers found Nelson for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 12:17 left in the second quarter. A screen pass to Eddie Lacy on Green Bay’s next possession turned into another catch-and-run for a 56-yard score and a five-touchdown lead.About the only thing that went wrong for the Packers was when Cobb fumbled near the goal line after a 4-yard catch. The Bears recovered in the end zone – but even that play went awry for the Bears after Kyle Fuller was whistled for unnecessary roughness.Nelson had six receptions for 152 yards, while Cobb had 72 yards on four catches. He caught a touchdown for the sixth straight game.Star pass rushers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers each had sacks. Peppers forced a fumble on his sack against his former team that he recovered at the Bears 32, setting up another score.The Packers’ league-worst run defense also held Matt Forte to 54 yards on 17 carries. Matthews relished this performance after the defense had an embarrassing second-half letdown in the 44-23 loss to the Saints.

”So much emphasis is put on it,” Matthews said about improving defensively. ”When we stopped their run and the way our offense was going, it was game over.”

The Bears finally snapped the shutout when Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 7:44 left in the third quarter.Marshall left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury.

Hawks strike early, hold off Sharks 5-2

Trevor van Riemsdyk planned to give the puck to his dad. For Sunday night at least, the goal belonged to him.Van Riemsdyk and fellow defensemen Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored in the first period, leading the Blackhawks to a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.There was some question whether van Riemsdyk’s first goal should have been awarded to Kris Versteeg, who was part of a scrum in front of San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi.

”I shot it and didn’t even know if it was mine or not. I hit something kinda halfway through and saw a bunch of our guys in front,” van Riemsdyk said. ”I thought it might have gone off one of them and found out it was mine. It was pretty special.”

Bryan Bickell added a big goal in the third as the Blackhawks stopped a three-game home losing streak. Corey Crawford made 32 saves, including a nice stop on Patrick Marleau with the Hawks nursing a one-goal lead with 7:30 left.Joe Pavelski had two goals for San Jose, which was coming off a 5-3 victory at Dallas on Saturday night. The Sharks’ seven-game road trip continues on Tuesday night at Florida.

”We didn’t play well in the first period. We didn’t do anything right and fell behind 3-0,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. ”It’s tough to come back against a team like that.”

The Sharks trailed 3-2 after two periods and had a chance to tie the game when David Rundblad was sent off for holding at 9:06 of the third. But the Blackhawks killed off the penalty, and Bickell put it away with his second goal of the season with 3:42 remaining.Jonathan Toews added an empty-netter with 1:57 left. The captain also had an assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal.

”They’re a good hockey team, but I thought we settled down in the third and after that kill there I thought we were much better,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Niemi finished with 32 stops for San Jose.The scoring spree in the first started when Toews sent a faceoff back to van Riemsdyk, who blasted a slap shot by a screened Niemi 8 minutes into the game.Seabrook extended the lead to 2-0 at 14:10 when he scored on a one-timer off a pass from Brad Richards. With the sellout crowd of 21,489 still celebrating Seabrook’s third goal, Hjalmarsson used a nicely placed wrist shot to record his first goal of the season at 14:34.It was the first time three defensemen scored in a single period for the Blackhawks since Frantisek Kucera, Igor Kravchuk and Steve Smith scored in the third period of an 8-1 victory over Edmonton on Nov. 27, 1992.The fast start also came with Quenneville trying a couple of new defensive pairings. The 23-year-old van Riemsdyk played with two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, and Seabrook, who struggled in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Washington, was alongside Rundblad.San Jose bounced back quickly after Hjalmarsson’s goal. Pavelski had a nice redirection on Justin Braun’s slap shot, trimming the lead to 3-1 at 15:32, and the Sharks outplayed the Blackhawks for much of the second period.San Jose center Joe Thornton was shaken up after Andrew Shaw hit him on his nose with his stick in the second period. But Thornton got his revenge after Shaw was sent off for high sticking, making a nice pass through the crease to set up Pavelski’s seventh goal of the season at 4:51.

NOTES—Daniel Carcillo is skating on his own and could return during the Blackhawks’ six-game road trip from Nov. 20-29. He was injured in the third period of Hawks 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 25. … San Jose scratched Fs John Scott and Tye McGinn and D Matt Irwin. … Carcillo, F Patrick Sharp (lower body) and D Michal Rozsival were the scratches for the Hawks. … James van Riemsdyk, Trevor’s brother, also scored Saturday night in Toronto’s 5-3 victory at Ottawa.

Bulls suck for three quarters, rally falls short against Celtics

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Emergency starter Evan Turner scored 19 points, one of five starters in double figures, to lead the short-handed Boston Celtics to a 106-101 triumph over the Bulls on Saturday night.The Celtics took control in the final six minutes of the second period, which they closed on a 27-8 run to take a 56-41 lead into the half. Avery Bradley scored nine and Turner added six more in the decisive stretch. Led by Bradley, who had 11 points, all five starters scored at least eight in the first half.Reserve Aaron Brooks led the Bulls with 26 points, while Pau Gasol added 19. Kelly Olynk finished with 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Celtics.Boston won for only the second time in its last 10 trips to the United Center. The Bulls fell for the second time in seven games this season.The teams played without injured All-Star point guards Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. Rondo and rookie guard Marcus Smart sat out for the Celtics, while Rose was sidelined for the second straight game and fourth in the last five.Boston took a 12-2 lead at the outset, as the Bulls misfired on 10 of their first 11 field goal attempts. After a time-out, Gasol sparked a comeback, as the Bulls connected on 10 of its final 13 shots in the period to take a 25-20 lead.But the Bulls couldn’t sustain the momentum. When Tyler Zeller scored off Bradley’s lob pass midway through the third quarter, the Celtics took a 36-35 lead that wasn’t threatened until the final minute.After Brooks hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to pull the Bulls within 99-96, Olynk split a pair of free throws. Brooks connected on a shot, but Turner, Olynk and Jeff Green answered with two free throws apiece in the final 17 seconds to seal the victory.

NOTES—Celtics: Turner filled in for Rondo, who remained in Boston to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Rondo could be available against Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. Smart is expected to miss two-to-three weeks because of a sprained left ankle and bone bruise, which he suffered in a victory against Indiana on Friday night. ”(Smart) feels better, but it’s going to take a couple weeks to get back,” head coach Brad Stevens said. ”And that’s hopeful, because sometimes those high ankle sprains are much more difficult than that.”

Bulls: Rose sat out with sprains in both ankles. Veteran Kirk Hinrich started in his place again. ”Just out,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose’s status. ”He’s not ready to go yet. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

NU falls 10-9 to Michigan after turning down OT

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—De’Veon Smith ran for a career-high 121 yards and a touchdown, and Michigan beat Northwestern 10-9 Saturday after the Wildcats’ Trevor Siemian slipped attempting a two-point conversion at the end of the game. Siemian had just connected with Tony Jones in the left corner of the end zone on a 3-yard pass to make it a one-point game with three seconds left. Rather than try for the tie, Northwestern went for the win. That plan backfired when Siemian slipped while dropping back as Michigan’s Frank Clark closed in on him. That capped another wild finish between these teams, with Michigan once again prevailing. The Wolverines (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) won in overtime two years ago and pulled out a triple-OT thriller last year after the field goal unit sprinted onto the field for the tying kick at the end of regulation. This time, they gave their fading bowl hopes a boost and handed Northwestern (3-6, 2-4) its fourth straight loss in a game that was almost comical for all its missed chances. Michigan finally grabbed a 7-0 lead on Smith’s 3-yard run midway through the third quarter and eventually escaped with a much needed victory. The Wolverines still have to win one of their two remaining games to become bowl eligible and end a difficult season on a more positive note. Athletic director David Brandon recently resigned and coach Brady Hoke’s future is in question. But for now, the focus is on getting to a bowl. Considering the finale is at Ohio State on Nov. 29, the Wolverines can’t afford a letdown against Maryland in two weeks. Against Northwestern, they got two sacks from Mario Ojemudia and five in all by the defense. Smith eclipsed his previous high of 115 yards against Appalachian State in the opener to lead Michigan on a day when Devin Gardner threw for 105 yards and two interceptions. Siemian threw for 268 yards and a touchdown but got picked off twice as Northwestern continued its freefall. After numerous missed opportunities by both sides, Michigan finally broke through midway through the third, taking a 7-0 lead on Smith’s 3-yard touchdown plunge. That came after Northwestern’s Tony Jones fumbled a punt and Jehu Chesson recovered at the 21. The Wildcats had a chance later in the third when Ibraheim Campbell returned an interception 79 yards to the 15. But two plays for a loss and then an intentional grounding by Siemian put the ball on the 43 and Northwestern out of field goal range. The Wildcats finally scored on a 21-yard field goal by Jack Mitchell with 7:26 left in the game, capping 95-yard drive. But Michigan’s Matt Wile kicked a 37-yarder to make it 10-3 with 3:10 left.

ASU takes big lead, holds off Irish

TEMPE—What appeared to be a program-defining win in the first half had turned on Arizona State. The Sun Devils were on their heels, a 31-point lead down to three with a few minutes left, another spirit-crushing loss seemingly on the way.But something changed in the Sun Devils. They didn’t back down from the challenge. They rose up, finding a way to pull out the kind of victory that had eluded them.Regaining composure after Notre Dame’s furious second-half rally, No. 11 Arizona State scored three late touchdowns and bolstered its playoff hopes with a 55-31 victory over the eighth-ranked Irish on Saturday.

”You’re not going to be great without facing adversity,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. ”But I sure wish it was easier.”

Since he arrived in the desert three years ago, Graham has told his players that to be in the national championship conversation, they would have to win games like this. The Sun Devils had struggled to come through in the big moments, often in disastrous fashion.Playing in one of the biggest home games in program history, Arizona State (8-1, No. 9 CFP) appeared to be headed toward a dominating victory, harassing Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson into three turnovers in a 4-minute span in the first half.Spurred by the momentum-swinging plays, including Damarious Randall’s 59-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Sun Devils raced to a 34-3 lead against one of the nation’s premier programs.But before they could celebrate, Notre Dame charged back.With Golson leading the way, the Irish (7-2, No. 10 CFP) picked apart Arizona State’s defense, scoring three straight second-half touchdowns, the last a 25-yard touchdown pass from Golson to Amir Carlisle that made it 34-31 with 6 1/2 minutes left.The Sun Devils fought back.Taylor Kelly threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 4-yarder to Demario Richard. Lloyd Carrington came up with Arizona State’s second interception for a touchdown, turning a bobbled pass into a 58-yard score.Kelly capped it with a 2-yard scoring run around the right end.If it wasn’t the biggest win in Sun Devils’ history, it’s right up there.It certainly boosts their playoff chances.

”Getting a win on a national stage like that is big for this program,” said Kelly, who threw for 224 yards.

With two losses, Notre Dame is all but out of the playoff conversation.The Irish can point to turnovers for their demise.Golson threw for 446 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but, as has been the case over the past six games, had a hard time holding onto the ball.He had three turnovers in a four-minute span of the first half, allowing Arizona State to race out to a 24-3 lead by the first minute of the second quarter.Golson opened the third quarter by throwing his career-high third interception, this one in the end zone. The final interception, by Carrington, wasn’t his fault – Corey Robinson bobbled it right into the defensive back’s hands – but it surely ended Notre Dame’s hopes of a comeback.Golson also lost a fumble, giving him 17 turnovers in six games. Holder Hunter Smith added to Notre Dame’s problems, dropping a fourth-quarter snap on a short field goal.

”It’s all on me, really,” said Golson, who was sacked seven times. ”You play with fire as much as I did today you are going to get burned eventually.”

With all that was on the line in this game, students began camping out for tickets Monday and fans jammed the stadium, creating a playoff-like atmosphere in the desert.And it was like a playoff for the playoffs: Win and bolster your resume for the final rankings on Dec. 7, lose and start angling for a lower-tier bowl.After losing to Notre Dame 37-34 last season in Texas, the Sun Devils appeared to be on their way to a rout in the rematch, jumping out to a 21-point lead with the help of two turnovers in 12 seconds.Jaelen Strong scored after one on a dazzling one-handed catch and Richard had a 1-yard TD run after another.Randall completed the turnover trio with his interception return for a touchdown, helping the Sun Devils to a 34-10 halftime lead.

”This game was set up for our offense to win the game,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ”We put our defense in such a bad situation today.”

Once the second half got going, so did the Irish.Cam McDaniel scored a pair of 1-yard runs and Carlisle was left wide open for his touchdown catch, pulling the Irish within 34-31.

Hawks blow two goal lead, fall to Caps 3-2

After finding ways to lose the past two weeks, the Washington Capitals turned the tables on a tough opponent.Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, and Joel Ward scored in a 4:52 span late in the second period, and Washington rallied to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 Friday night, ending a five-game losing streak.Braden Holtby made 38 saves for the Capitals, who were 0-4-1 since winning at Calgary on Oct. 25.Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith scored for the Hawks, who led 2-0, but then came unglued after Burakovsky scored with just under 5 minutes left in the second.

”Chicago is a very good hockey team and they made us look pretty normal,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ”But we were resilient.

”Holts was good in net and we got some timely goals, finally. Back-to-back-to-back.”

And for the first time since their last victory, the Capitals allowed fewer than four goals.For the Blackhawks, that turn was in the wrong direction.

”I thought we played a perfect 35 minutes, then basically shot ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes,” Joel Quenneville said. ”A couple of plays that are totally unacceptable.”

Corey Crawford made 21 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of four and are 3-6-0 in their last nine.The Blackhawks played their first game without forward Patrick Sharp, who is expected to miss a month after injuring his right knee Tuesday at Montreal. Sharp led the Hawks last season with 34 goals and 44 assists.Washington star Alex Ovechkin was held without a point after having two assists on Tuesday to become the leading scorer in franchise history.The Blackhawks dominated as the first period progressed. Saad opened the scoring with 2:48 left in the period on the Hawks 15th shot to complete a 2-on-1 break with Marian Hossa.After taking Hossa’s cross-ice pass, Saad fired a low one-timer that struck the inside of Holtby’s left pad and slid into the net.Ovechkin was penalized for an illegal hit to the head of Niklas Hjalmarsson with 16 seconds left in the first, and Keith scored on the power play 56 seconds into the second to make it 2-0. He swooped into the right circle and fired in a rebound through traffic.The Capitals then connected three times late in the period to take the lead. The last two goals came 42 seconds apart in the final minute.

”We were doing a lot of things right, had a 2-0 lead and nothing serious and giving up nothing,” Quenneville said. ”Then we make a bad decision and it’s in our net. And it’s in our net. And it’s in out net.”

Burakovsky cut it to 2-1 with 4:57 left to complete a 2-on-1 with former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer. After faking a pass, he closed in and fired a perfect shot over Crawford’s left shoulder and just under the crossbar.

”We got an unbelievable goal by (Burakovsky) there to get us going,” Ward said. ”That transitioned for a couple of other guys to chip in.”

The Blackhawks were scrambling in their zone following a failed clearing attempt, and Johansson tied it at 2 with 47 seconds remaining in the period on a low shot from right circle that ticked in off the stick of Brent Seabrook.Ward’s goalmouth deflection of Matt Niskanen‘s shot from the point with 5 seconds left in the frame put Washington ahead.The Blackhawks didn’t regroup and didn’t sustain consistent pressure until late in the third. Holtby made an sharp save on Kris Versteeg‘s shot from the left circle with about 90 seconds left.

NOTES—Washington C Brooks Laich returned after missing seven games with an injured shoulder. … The Blackhawks recalled F Peter Regin from Rockford of the AHL to fill Sharp’s roster spot. Also still out for the Hawks is F Daniel Carcillo (lower body), who missed his seventh game. … The Capitals and Blackhawks meet again in the NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park on Jan. 1. To promote the outdoor game, the two teams wore Winter Classic stocking caps in Friday’s warm-ups.

Bulls avoid embarressment, excape with 3 point decision over winless Sixers

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

PHILADELPHIA—Mike Dunleavy had a hot hand and his unselfish teammates kept feeding him.Dunleavy scored 12 of his season-high 27 points in the decisive third quarter and the Bulls held off a late Philadelphia rally in a 118-115 victory over the 76ers on Friday night.Jimmy Butler added 23 points and Pau Gasol chipped in 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, whose 4-0 road start is their best since going 6-0 on the road to start the 1996-97 season. The Bulls’ Derrick Rose missed his third game in the last four after aggravating his sprained ankles in Wednesday’s 95-86 win over Milwaukee when the former MVP had 13 points and seven assists in 31 minutes. He is day-to-day.Dunleavy made 4 of 6 field goals, including 3 of 4 3-pointers in the third period.

”Our guys did a good job of recognizing he was going well,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”That’s what I like about our team; it’s a very unselfish team.”

Dunleavy said playing with this group is enjoyable.

”It’s great when you have a bunch of unselfish guys, focused on sharing the ball and whatever it takes to win,” he said. ”It’s what every player wants.”

Tony Wroten led four Sixers in double-figures with a career-high 31 points. Philadelphia fell to 0-6 – their worst start to the season since losing their first 15 in 1972-73 when they set an NBA mark for futility by finishing 9-73.The Bulls led by as many as 18 points after halftime. But the Sixers used a late 13-3 run to close within 116-115 with five seconds left when Chris Johnson made a 3-pointer after Kirk Hinrich missed two free throws on the Bulls previous possession. Hinrich followed Johnson’s 3 by making a pair of free throws to put his team ahead by three with 2.1 seconds left. Johnson’s shot from 43 feet that would have tied it at the buzzer wasn’t close.Coach Brett Brown appreciated his team’s resilience, as the Sixers continue to field a team more intent on setting up their future rather than winning in the present.

”We ask our guys often, `What would you want other teams to say about you?”’ Brown said. ”We want respect. We want to work hard. We want to have a tenacity and a spirit that reflects the city and reflects a bunch of young guys.”

Philadelphia rookie Nerlens Noel sat out after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday’s 91-89 loss to Orlando. Henry Sims started in place of Noel and had 16 points and eight rebounds. Hollis Thompson also set a career-high with 21 points and Luc Mbah a Moute had 16 points and 11 boards for the Sixers.Dunleavy’s 3-pointer from the left wing capped a 14-5 Bulls spurt over the first 3:53 of the third quarter that gave the visitors their largest lead to that point, 71-62. The Bulls ultimately outscored the Sixers 35-19 in the third quarter to take a decisive 92-76 advantage into the final period.It didn’t look like it would be close until Philadelphia’s late surge.

”We found a way to win,” Thibodeau said. ”And at the end of the day that’s what you have to do, keep finding a way to scratch out wins.”

Dunleavy shot 9-for-15 from the field, including 5-for-8 from the arc.The Sixers led by as many as nine points in the first half that ended with the teams tied at 57. Wroten led Philadelphia at the break with 14 points.Joakim Noah returned to the lineup for the Bulls after missing the last two games with flu-like symptoms, finishing with five points and nine rebounds.