Sunday, March 23, 2014

In the 'Zona Sports Chowdah Update- Arizona Iced B's, Bruins Rally Late for 12th Straight Win; Thunder Down Under, Dodgers and Diamondbacks Open Up 2014 MLB Season at Sydney Cricket Grounds

Ross D Franklin- AP

NHL- Less than 24 hours after getting their 11th straight win in Colorado [a 2-0 shutout with their backup goalie, no less- NANESB!] the Boston Bruins made their way to Arizona to take on the Phoenix Coyotes for the second time in 8 days.

Although the Coyotes started out aggressively, Patrice Bergeron drew first blood with a goal just 3:25 into the first period. However, with less than four minutes to go, Coyotes Captain Shane Doan got the equalizer to tie the game up at 1-1. Also in the final 30 seconds of the first, Boston's Matt Bartkowski was sent to the sin bin for tripping. Although the Coyotes weren't able to do anything in the dying seconds of the first, most of that penalty would carry over to the second period where Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson would put the Coyotes on top 2-1.

This was actually the first time in seven games that the Bruins had trailed, but just 3:48 into the 3rd period, Jarome Iginla would get the equalizer to make it a 2-2 game. After twelve minutes of quick, intense and at times chippy play where it looked as though the contest would be heading for overtime, Shawn Thornton put Boston back on top with 3:18 left in regulation. Shortly after the go-ahead goal, the Coyotes pulled netminder Mike Smith for an extra attacker- however, Iginla was able to corral the puck out by the blue line and shot it for a back-breaking empty net goal with 30 seconds to go in regulation.

Boston goes on to win its 12th straight in game- this time before a standing-room only crowd of nearly 17,500 at Glendale's arena. Iginla has now scored 10 goals in the Bruin's last nine games while Tukka Rask stopped 31 of 33 shots faced in Glendale. By way of comparison, Mike Smith had faced 27 shots on goal and turned aside 24. The win gives Boston sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead [the 103 points is currently tied with St Louis for the best in the NHL- NANESB!]. The Bruins are now two wind shy of tying a franchise record of 14 straight wins that was set during the 1929-1930 season.

After Saturday's contest in the Grand Canyon state, the Bruins will travel back to Boston for a Monday night prime time matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. Puck is scheduled to drop and the game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.

Mark Kolbe- Getty

MLB- As the Bruins and Coyotes were going head-to-head, some 7800 miles away the MLB season was getting underway Down Under. As in previous seasons, MLB had decided to start the regular season overseas while most teams were still winding down Spring Training. This time around, the season got underway as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks went head-to-head in Australia at the Sydney Cricket ground over the weekend. The 48,000 seat cricket venue was painstakingly converted to a ballpark for the MLB's downunder opener.

The Dodgers took Friday's Game 1 by a final of 3-1. It looked as though they were on their way to an easy sweep of the two game series after getting out to a 7-0 lead against Arizona, but the Diamondbacks got on the board in the bottom of the 8th with an RBI single from offseason pickup Mark Trumbo to make it 7-1. With one out in the bottom of the 9th and runners on second and third, Martin Prado cut the lead to make it 7-3 Dodgers. Not wanting to take any more chances, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought start Paul Maholm into the game to get the final two outs and kill the Arizona rally. However, after striking out Miguel Montero, Mattingly brought in reliever Kenley Jansen, who immediately offered up a booming homer to Trumbo to pull the Diamondbacks to within two runs. However, Jansen would then strike out Martin Prado to end the ballgame, giving the Dodgers a sweep of the Sydney series.

The Dodgers will resume regular season play next weekend- this time on the same continent- as they face the San Diego Padres at PETCo Park in San Diego on Sunday, March 30th. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.

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