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Islanders beat Penguins as power play delivers

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Oliver Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each scored power-play goals and rookie Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves as the Islanders finished a strong February with a 2-0 win over the visiting Penguins on Sunday night.

The Islanders went 8-2-2 during February, with all four losses coming against the Penguins — who they were playing for sixth time in the month. The Islanders remained the only team in the league without a regulation loss at home, with a 7-0-2 mark at Nassau Coliseum.

The 25-year-old Sorokin made his fifth start for the Islanders and recorded his second win, both shutouts. His first victory was Feb. 16 at Buffalo. It was the first time the Penguins were shut out in 20 games this season.

Wahlstrom put the Islanders ahead at 19:20 of the first with his third goal of the season, blasting a one-timer over the left shoulder of Casey DeSmith on the power play.

Wahlstrom, the Islanders’ 2018 first-round pick, has become a lineup mainstay in recent weeks. The 6-foot-2 right wing extended his points streak to four games with the goal, while Nick Leddy’s assist was his eighth in the last eight games. Leddy leads the Islanders with 13 assists. Josh Bailey also assisted.

The Islanders outshot the Penguins 9-2 in the opening period.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Jean-Gabriel Pageau celebrates his goal during the second period.
Robert Sabo

Pageau made it 2-0 at 14:56 of the second with his ninth goal, also on the power-play. Wahlstrom and Bailey assisted. Pageau is tied with Islanders captain Anders Lee for the team lead in goals.

The Islanders held a 16-8 shots advantage in the second period, while the Penguins outshot them 10-4 in the third.

DeSmith started for the Penguins for the first time since defeating the Islanders 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 11 at Nassau Coliseum. DeSmith made 27 saves.

The contest was played with the same crisp playoff-quality pace as Saturday’s game which the Penguins won 4-3 on an overtime goal by high-scoring defenseman Kris Letang.

The Penguins beat the Islanders twice at home this month. The teams meet twice more in Pittsburgh in late March during this abbreviated 56-game season in which teams in the eight-team East are playing divisional opponents eight times.

Despite the loss Sunday, the Penguins are 7-2-3 in their last 11 games against the Islanders.

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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