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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Alexander Steen scored twice and Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves against his former team to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
 
St. Louis broke a two-game losing streak and improved to 14-3-2 at home.
 
Montreal has lost four of six.
 
Steen, who signed a three-year, $17.4 million extension earlier in the day, has 24 goals, tying his career high set in 2009-2010.
 
Halak improved to 4-0 against the Canadiens, who traded him to St. Louis on June 17, 2010. He is 17-6-2 this season.
 
Chris Stewart, Jaden Schwartz and Maxim Lapierre also scored for St. Louis. T.J. Oshie added two assists.
 
Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal, which began a season-high six-game road trip. It was his first goal in 12 games.
 
Steen started a three-goal outburst in the first period for the Blues with a short-handed goal at 4:20.
 
He scored again at 7:55 to make it 2-0 with his 24th goal. Steen is second in the league in goals behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who has 28.
 
Stewart capped the early blitz with his 10th goal of the season at 13:33. It was his fifth in as many games. The Blues had been outscored in 6-1 in the first period in their three previous games.
 
Montreal goalie Carey Price gave up three goals on the first eight shots and fell to 16-11-2.
 
Notes: Montreal C Daniel Briere was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Schwartz returned to the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. ... The Blues beat Montreal 4-1 in the teams' previous meeting in St. Louis on March 10, 2011. ... The Blues will play 12 of their next 13 games against Western Conference opponents. ... St. Louis LW Brenden Morrow picked up his 300th career assist on Stewart's first-period goal. ... Montreal D Alexei Emelin was on the ice for all three of the Blues' first-period goals. ... The Canadiens' previous win over St. Louis came on Jan. 4, 2007.
 
Thursday, 19 December 2013 23:10
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This is it, the final go-round for the BCS.

The much-maligned system for determining college football's national champion will be mothballed after this season, replaced by a four-team playoff next season.

As finales go, it's hard to argue too much about the final title-game participants. Florida State was the only major-conference team to finish undefeated and Auburn had the best resume of the one-loss teams.

That's the big one, but of course there are 34 other bowls, starting with four on Saturday, that will feature plenty of other good teams, star players and interesting match-ups.

To get you ready, we've got a rundown of what to look for:

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TOP GAMES

BCS National Championship, Florida State vs. Auburn, Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif. Duh.

Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Oklahoma, Jan. 2, New Orleans. Two storied programs that fell short of their national-title aspirations are still pretty good.

Orange Bowl, Ohio State vs. Clemson, Jan. 3, Miami. Teams that are a combined 45-5 since the start of last season and among the highest-scoring in college football.

Rose Bowl, Stanford vs. Michigan State, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif. If you like smash-mouth, defensive-minded football, this is your game.

AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Arizona vs. Boston College, Dec. 31, Shreveport, La. So what's so exciting about two 7-5 teams? Two All-American running backs going at each other: Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and BC's Andre Williams.

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TOP PLAYERS

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Won the Heisman Trophy, playing for a national championship. Not a bad freshman season.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama. There will be no three-peat as national champion, but he's been as good a college quarterback as we've seen in a while.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama. Collects tackles like baseball cards.

Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona. Second nationally in yards per game, runs like he's trying to punish defenders for daring to tackle him.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Last year's Heisman winner could be making his last hurrah in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Duke.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State. Arguably the most disruptive interior lineman in the country.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State. All-American can turn the simplest of routes into a score.

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SPONSORS

Food is king among bowl sponsors for the third straight season.

The 2013-14 bowl season includes seven bowls with food affiliations, from potatoes to pizza to wild wings.

Second on the list are financial companies with six and auto-related companies are third with five.

This year's bowl lineup also includes a helicopter company, a university, a defense contractor, a department store and a cause (Fight Hunger).

---

ODDS

The folks at Glantz-Culver have made Florida State a decided favorite over Auburn in the national championship game at 8 1-2 points.

In the other bowls, the biggest spread is the Fiesta Bowl, where Baylor is a 16 1-2-point favorite over Central Florida. Right behind is the Pinstripe Bowl, with Notre Dame giving away 15 1-2 points to Rutgers. Alabama also is a 15-point favorite over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Tightest odds? San Diego State and Buffalo are a pick `em in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and three other bowls - Cotton, New Orleans and Capital One - all have 1-point spreads.

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DISTANCES

Florida State and Auburn will have to make quite a road trip to play for the final BCS championship despite being about 200 miles apart.

The Seminoles will cover about 2,200 miles to get to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Tigers have a trip of roughly 2,100 miles to get there.

That's still not the longest road trip to a bowl. That distinction belongs to Boise State, which will travel about 2,800 miles to play Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl. Central Florida also has a long trip ahead of it before the Fiesta Bowl, needing to go over 2,100 miles to get from Orlando to Glendale, Ariz.

Tulane has the shortest trip, staying in New Orleans for its bowl, but its opponent, Louisiana-Lafayette, doesn't exactly have to go far, traveling about 130 miles for the New Orleans Bowl. Rutgers has a short trip over about 45 minutes across the Hudson River - depending on traffic - for the Pinstripe Bowl against Notre Dame and Maryland should be able to get to the Military Bowl in Annapolis in about a half hour. North Texas has a similar drive to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

---

NUMBERS

2-Female officials (Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka) working the Fight Hunger Bowl, a first for an FBS game.

13-Years since UNLV played in a bowl game. The Rebels will face North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

56-Years since Rice had won an outright conference title before taking the Conference USA championship this season.

624.5-Yards of offense per game by Baylor, most in the nation this season by over 50 yards and second-most all-time to the 624.9 by Houston in 1989.

4,866-Passing yards by Fresno State's Derek Carr, which led the nation.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 07:29
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NEW YORK (AP) -- While the New York Yankees set another salary record, the Houston Astros had the lowest average in the major leagues in 14 years and the attention of the players' union.

The overall big league average rose 5.4 percent this season to a record $3.39 million, according to the annual report released Wednesday by the Major League Baseball Players Association. The increase was the steepest since 2006.

In the economy at large, civilian compensation is increasing at an annual rate of 1.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average U.S. wage in 2012 was $42,498, according to the Social Security Administration.

The Yankees had the highest average for the 15th consecutive season at $8.17 million, breaking the mark of $7.66 million when they won the World Series in 2009. The Los Angeles Dodgers were second at $7.82 million.

Houston's average of $549,603 was the smallest since the 1999 Kansas City Royals at $534,460. The Miami Marlins were 29th at $830,069, down from $3.77 million in 2012, when they ranked 10th.

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement requires a team to use revenue-sharing money it receives "in an effort to improve its performance on the field." The Marlins had been required to raise player payroll annually from 2010-12 under an agreement between MLB and the union.

However, the issue is being dealt with under a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that gradually eliminates the 15 teams in the largest markets from receiving revenue sharing, and the Astros are 15th. Under that provision, those clubs forfeited 25 percent of the money this year, half in 2014, 75 percent the following year and all in 2016.

"We are watching both clubs closely, but were already aware what their 2013 spending would be and that there wasn't enough there to move beyond acknowledging as much," new union head Tony Clark said in an email to The Associated Press. "With Houston a big factor is their impending `market disqualification.' For Miami, they actually have a long-range plan that suggests they will make the considerations necessary to be compliant.

"That said, both clubs are being monitored, and MLB recognizes that there is a potential for a dispute if the clubs do not move in the right direction."

World Series champion Boston was fourth at $5.46 million, just behind Detroit at $5.53 million. St. Louis, which won the NL pennant, was 10th at $3.75 million.

Tampa Bay had the lowest ranking among the 10 playoff teams and was 24th at $2.13 million.

Among regulars at positions, designated hitters took over from first basemen for the highest average at $10.5 million. First basemen were next at $6.5 million, followed by starting pitchers at $6.3 million, second basemen at $5.8 million, outfielders at $5.6 million, third basemen at $5.2 million, shortstops at $4.5 million, catchers at $4.4 million and relief pitchers at $2.2 million,

Figures are based on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists, with 940 players averaging $3,386,212. Major League Baseball, which uses slightly different methods, calculated its average at $3,320,089, an increase of 6.9 percent.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 07:27
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joe Pavelski scored the first of three straight goals by San Jose, and Antti Niemi stopped 20 shots to lead the Sharks to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
 
San Jose completed a season sweep of the Blues, winning all three games by a combined 16-7. St. Louis has lost two in a row after winning eight of 11.
 
Matt Irwin, Brent Burns and Marty Havlat added goals for the Sharks, who led 3-0 after 22 minutes. Niemi improved to 18-6-6.
 
Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester scored second-period goals for the Blues.
 
The Sharks jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Pavelski and Irwin in a span of 2:56. Both came from close range on rebounds of missed shots that caromed off the end boards.
 
Pavelski scored his 13th after a miss by Havlat, and Irwin jumped on a misfire from Justin Braun for his first of the season.
 
St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak gave up three goals on the first 12 shots he faced and fell to 16-6-2.
 
The Blues climbed to 3-2 on Bouwmeester's goal with 24.2 seconds left in the second period. Havlat pounced on a rebound with 11:41 left in the game to make it 4-2.
 
San Jose won the earlier meetings 6-2 and 6-3.
 
NOTES: San Jose has outscored its opponents 44-15 in the first period this season. .... Blues coach Ken Hitchcock celebrated his 62nd birthday. ... St. Louis C David Backes missed his first game since Jan. 25, 2010, a string of 274 successive regular-season appearances. He sustained an upper-body injury in a collision with Ottawa C Colin Greening on Monday. Backes, who has 16 goals and 14 assists in 32 games, is expected to be out at least a week. ... The Blues were also without LWs Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka, who missed the game with upper-body injuries. Backes, Schwartz and Sobotka have combined for 29 goals and 38 assists. ... The Sharks are 0 for 16 on the power play over their last seven road games.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 22:40
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Mizzou landed another prize for the football team's 2014 recruiting class.
 
Saint Louis University High School standout Raymond Wingo will be a Tiger next year. Wingo was a two-way player in high school, getting playing time at Cornerback, Running Back, and Wide Receiver. Wingo just won the state title in the 100 meter dash.
 
His older brother Ronnie Wingo is currently a member of the Buffalo Bills.
 
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 16:29
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OTTAWA (AP) -- Cody Ceci scored his first NHL goal in overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Monday.
 
Ceci recovered a clearing attempt by the Blues and sent a wrist shot toward the St. Louis goal that beat Brian Elliott at 3:59 of the extra period.
 
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Bobby Ryan scored in regulation for the Senators, who picked up points for the fifth time in their past six games.
 
Chris Stewart had both goals for the Blues and both came late in the second period and both were set up by Derek Roy.
 
Roy also took a hooking penalty in overtime, but the Senators were unable to take advantage.
 
Ryan scored a highlight-reel goal on a pass from Kyle Turris, who put the puck on Ryan's tape from 40 feet away to right in front of the St. Louis goal.
 
Ryan cut in front, went to his backhand and beat Elliott to tie the game 2-2. It was also the only goal of the third period and sent the game to overtime.
 
Goaltending played a key role throughout the game as Elliott dueled with Ottawa's Robin Lehner. Each made some big saves, especially through the first two periods.
 
Pageau beat Elliott early in the game as he found the back of the net over the Blues goalie's glove. Ryan set up the play from behind the net, finding Pageau in the slot.
 
That goal at 3:57 of the first stood up as the only goal until just 3:10 remained in the second when Stewart scored his first of two goals.
 
Roy made a long breakout pass to Stewart, who slid a backhand along the ice and through the legs of Lehner at the end of a breakaway.
 
With just 13 seconds remaining in the second, Brendan Morrow's miscue led to Stewart's go-ahead goal.
 
While behind the net, Morrow fanned on a pass attempt out front but the puck went directly to Roy at the side of the goal. Roy's no-look backhand pass was met with no hesitation as Stewart delivered a one-timer to the far side past Lehner for a 2-1 St. Louis lead.
 
Notes: Coming into Monday's game the Senators were 1-9-2 against the Western Conference while the Blues were 11-2-0 against the Eastern Conference. ... Scratches for the Senators were defensemen Marc Methot and Eric Gryba along with forward Matt Kassian. The Blues sat forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka plus defenseman Ian Cole. ... Senators coach Paul MacLean was drafted by the Blues in 1978. He was traded to Winnipeg before returning to St. Louis to play his final two seasons. MacLean played 115 games for the Blues and had 40 goals and 44 assists.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 00:05
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The Cardinals have made another move to improve their hitting against left-handed pitching.

 

The team announced they have signed infielder Mark Ellis to a one-year deal. Ellis has spent more than 11 seasons in the majors. Last year, Ellis was with the Dodgers and hit .270 with 48 RBI.

 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Monday, 16 December 2013 17:00
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- David Backes scored 22 seconds into overtime on a breakaway and the St. Louis Blues rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 Saturday night.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Chris Stewart tied it with 6:27 remaining in regulation for St. Louis, which entered tied for the fewest regulation losses in the league with six and have now won three straight and four of five. Brenden Morrow added two assists and Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves for the Blues.

On the winner, Columbus lost the puck at its blue line. Backes took it, fended off Fedor Tyutin on a delayed penalty call then deked Mike McKenna and calmly scored with a high shot.

Tyutin, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen scored for Columbus, which came out flying to take a 3-1 lead after the first period. It was a tough loss for the Blue Jackets, who had won four of five, jelling around their backup goalies with last season's Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovksy on the shelf.

Third stringer and St. Louis native McKenna was back in net for the second straight game, making his first start since 2010 while playing for New Jersey, which was also against the Blues. On Thursday, in a 4-2 win at the New York Rangers, he stopped 17 of 18 shots in relief of an injured Curtis McElhinney.

But in this one, the Blue Jackets and McKenna couldn't hold down the fort.

Trailing 3-2 to start the third period, St. Louis pulled even after Nick Foligno and Mark Letestu couldn't convert on breakaway chances. Seconds after Letestu fired high into the glass, a puck bouncing through traffic found Stewart down low and he wasted no time converting his seventh at 13:33.

Tarasenko staked St. Louis to the early lead. Catching a fortuitous carom off Blue Jackets' Dalton Prout and with McKenna leaning toward the initial play, he scored from the slot at 4:10 of the first on the Blues' second shot.

Columbus answered with three goals in just under five minutes.

Blake Comeau powered his way around Kevin Shattenkirk and slid a short pass to near the crease where Anisimov chipped home his ninth at 8:49. Tyutin followed two minutes later with a blast from the point for his third after a hard Blue Jackets' forecheck led to a St. Louis turnover.

Then things heated up after the whistle with Columbus on the power play. Matt Calvert fought Ian Cole near the Blues goal while Barret Jackman and Folingo squared off. Cole took an extra roughing penalty giving the Blue Jackets a two-man advantage. Johansen cashed in 8 seconds later at the left dot, taking Brandon Dubinsky's feed across the circles, and firing the puck past Halak for his team-leading 12th goal.

St. Louis pressed the issue early in the second period but McKenna made several nice saves, including one with his leg pad on Vladimir Sobotka.

Tarasenko finally broke through for St. Louis, notching his second and 11th of the season, snapping a screened shot from the left circle on the power play at 8:33.

The teams had a combined eight minor penalties in the period with St. Louis whistled for five of them. Halak stoned Foligno from point-blank range late in the period with the Blue Jackets on another two-man advantage.

NOTES: Columbus coach Todd Richards said injured F Marian Gaborik (sprained knee) and D James Wisniewski (upper body) may return next week. RW Nathan Horton continues to progress in his rehab after having shoulder surgery in July. ... The Blue Jackets added Jeremy Smith to their roster on emergency recall from their AHL affiliate to be McKenna's back up. ... McKenna, who played for St. Louis' AHL affiliate last season, has played in 19 games in the NHL with New Jersey, Tampa Bay and Columbus, going 5-9-2. His father is an off-ice official and scorer for the Blues. ... Johansen extended his career-high points streak to eight games, totaling four goals and six assists. ... St. Louis improved to 11-3 versus the Eastern Conference this season. ... The Blue Jackets had won four in a row at home.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Monday, 16 December 2013 05:46
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — After scoring 80 points in wins against West Virginia and UCLA, No. 24 Missouri struggled to maintain any momentum Sunday after an eight-day break for final exams.
 
"When you win ballgames at a high level, you can't be turning the ball over, trying to get the ball inbounds," coach Frank Haith said. "And that's an area where we had some mishaps."
 
Indeed, the Tigers looked rusty at times in their 66-60 win against Western Michigan. They were clinging to a 47-45 lead with 10:46 remaining before Tony Criswell's jumper two minutes later capped a 9-0 run as Missouri (10-0) pulled away.
 
Jabari Brown led the team with 15 points, while Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross both added 12, but the Tigers registered their lowest scoring output of the season.
 
The Tigers made 50 percent of their shots (23 of 46), but only scored two points during a seven-minute stretch in the first half before Clarkson, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer (20.2 points per game), hit one of two free throws with 3:47 before the break.
 
Missouri also committed nine turnovers and yielded five offensive rebounds in the first half to Western Michigan, which trailed 31-22 after 20 minutes despite shooting 9 of 34.
 
"I don't feel like we needed as much a lift offensively as we did energy," said Criswell, who finished with 10 points off the bench.
 
St. Louis native David Brown led Western Michigan (5-4) with 18 points and Shayne Whittington added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Brown leads the Mid-American Conference with 20.1 points per game, but has only totaled 44 points in his last three games on 28 percent shooting.
 
Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins said his team got away from its identity in a 51-35 loss at Northwestern on Dec. 7, but was more comfortable with the Broncos' effort at Missouri.
 
"The Northwestern game we just weren't aggressive," he said. "We were just completely out of sync. In this game, I felt like the kids were ready and we were aggressive but we just missed shots."
 
Western Michigan made 24.4 percent of its shots in its last game after a combined 55.5 percent performance against Cornell and Oakland in their previous two contests. The team finished at 30 percent (21 of 70) overall Sunday after only making 2 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half.
 
The Broncos started the second half on an 11-4 run to pull within 35-33, but couldn't quite catch Missouri. They fell to 3-2 all-time against teams currently in the SEC, but haven't defeated an SEC opponent since beating Auburn on Dec. 17, 2002.
 
"It would have been beneficial for everybody if we would have hit shots in the first half so we wouldn't have so much pressure on us in the second half," said Whittington, who recorded his fifth double-double of the season and leads the MAC with 11 rebounds per game.
 
Missouri's defense continued its strong start to the season. The team has yet to allow an opponent to shoot better than 44.3 percent from the field this season, and only Hawaii has topped 71 points.
 
"It's good for us to have those type of games where we have to scrap it out to get it done," Haith said.
 
Missouri stretched its NCAA-best homecourt winning streak to 25 games and has won 80 straight games against nonconference opponents at Mizzou Arena dating to the 2005-06 opener.
 
Missouri now waits another six days to play its next game, the annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis against Illinois.
Monday, 16 December 2013 07:49
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