Pens fall to Blackhawks, on four-game slide

Artemi Panarin

The Blackhawks scored four first-period goals against Marc-Andre Fleury

The Chicago Blackhawks sent the reeling Penguins to their fourth straight loss, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Crosby on knee

For the Penguins, the current run of 11 consecutive postseason berths matches a franchise record. They also made it from 1991-2001

With the Detroit Red Wings officially eliminated, the Penguins are now the owners of the NHL’s longest playoff streak, writes Bombulie.

Nick Bonino

Since the NHL went to its current playoff format, no Stanley Cup champion has won its division in the regular season

My column is on how the Penguins must overcome an NHL playoff system that doesn’t reward regular-season success.

Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel has one goal in his last 20 games

In the Penguins notebook, Bill West writes about how Phil Kessel is shy about shooting again.

IN BRADENTON

Steven Brault and Trevor Williams

Tyler Glasnow 5

Trevor Williams (right, above) and Tyler Glasnow (below) are competing for the final spot in the rotation

The Pirates sent Drew Hutchison to the minors, leaving Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams to vie for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Jared Hughes

Jared Hughes appeared in 11 Grapefruit League games (9 1⁄3 innings) and put up an 11.57 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP

The Pirates released reliever Jared Hughes, ending his six-year career with the club, Biertempfel writes.

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes that Gregory Polanco has a visa ‘glitch.’

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Sammie Coates

Sammie Coates emerged as a deep threat last season, catching 19 passes for 421 yards (22.2 average) through five games before injuries sidetracked his season

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expects fierce competition in the quest to find Antonio Brown’s sidekick, writes Joe Rutter.

Duquesne gets it right by hiring Akron’s Dambrot

Keith Dambrot

Keith Dambrot led Akron (27-9) to the Mid-American Conference regular-season championship this season

Duquesne looks to Keith Dambrot to energize its men’s basketball program, writes Jerry DiPaola and Chris Adamski.

Keith Dambrot 2

Texas coach Shaka Smart, on Keith Dambrot: ‘In Keith Dambrot, the Dukes are getting a proven winner and program builder. Keith has a phenomenal way with young people, and he’s a terrific teacher of the game. Keith is an absolute home run’

My column focuses on how Duquesne saved a disastrous coaching search and got it right with Dambrot.

IN THE NFL

NFL owners table the reduced overtime proposal, writes Joe Rutter.

Ben Roethlisberger AFC

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, on Roethlisberger’s retirement talk: ‘The older he gets, the more direct questions he gets in that regard. You guys ran with it. That is your right and responsibility. It’s not my responsibility to overreact to it’

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, QB Ben Roethlisberger haven’t talked retirement, writes Joe Rutter.

In the Steelers notebook, Rutter writes that the Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh and Cincinnati Bengals’ Marvin Lewis aren’t fooled by Roethlisberger retirement talk.

ON THE ICE

Mike Sullivan

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan’s message to his team: ‘We have enough’

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is teaching and preaching during final weeks of the season, writes Bill West.

Connor Sheary

Connor Sheary is fourth on the Penguins with 21 goals and 50 points

In the Penguins notebook, Jonathan Bombulie writes that Connor Sheary is set to play and others are getting closer.

Marc-Andre Fleury mask

Marc-Andre Fleury has been chosen as a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was nominated for the Masterton Trophy, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

IN BRADENTON

Tyler Webb

The Pirates plucked Tyler Webb off the New York Yankees Triple-A roster in December’s Rule 5 Draft

Pirates reliever Tyler Webb is stuck in tough spot as Rule 5 draft pick, writes Rob Biertempfel.

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes that Steven Brault has been optioned to Indianapolis. That leaves the Pirates with five right-handers in the starting rotation.

On the From the Cheap Seats blog, Biertempfel writes about Drew Hutchison’s sweet start and sour finish.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Red Sox 9, Pirates 2

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Chris Clark

Chris Clark: ‘I got known as one of those kids who was so indecisive with a lot of things. I’ve definitely grown up a lot since then. I’ve changed. I have a different mindset now than I did back in high school. It’s helped me grow so much as a person, as a man and, obviously, as a football player. I’m really happy that I found a place like Pitt I can call home’

After committing to three schools, Pitt tight end Chris Clark finally finds great fit, writes Jerry DiPaola.

Matt Flanagan

Matt Flanagan played in 33 games at Rutgers, recording 18 receptions for 145 yards, and scored all three of his touchdowns in 2015

Tight end Matt Flanagan to transfer from Rutgers to Pitt, writes Jerry DiPaola.

In the Pitt Locker Room blog, DiPaola writes about the linebackers.

Profile of a champion

RMU women's hockey celebrates CHA title

The Robert Morris women’s hockey title celebrates its CHA championship victory over Syracuse

Profile of a champion: Behind the scenes of Robert Morris women’s hockey team’s championship run, with story and photos by Chaz Palla.

Sidney crosby 5

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby responds to criticism of his stickwork, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Justin schultz 2

Six of the Penguins’ 11 power-play goals during KiLetang’s 15-game absence with an upper-body injury involved a point-earning contribution from Justin Schultz

Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz sparking the power-play unit, writes Bill West.

In Three Periods, Bombulie and West write that March is Bonino time again.

On the Chipped Ice blog, Bombulie writes about the injured players who skated Sunday.

ON CAMPUS

heather Lyke 3

Heather Lyke officially replaces Scott Barnes as the leader of Pitt’s 19-sport athletic program, becoming its first female AD at Pitt in 106 years

New Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke is ready to lead with passion and integrity, writes Jerry DiPaola.

IN BRADENTON

Chad Kuhl tags out Justin Turner

Chad Kuhl reaction

Chad Kuhl’s reaction to tagging out the Dodgers’ Justin Turner went viral

Fiery Chad Kuhl is ready to become a mainstay in the Pirates’ rotation, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Tyler Glasnow 4

Tyler Glasnow allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) and one walk with nine strikeouts Saturday against the Tigers

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes that Tyler Glasnow showed promise and command issues in his start.

On the From the Cheap Seats blog, Biertempfel writes more about Kuhl and the starting rotation.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Pirates 5, Twins 4

Why didn’t Duquesne see this coming?

Jim Ferry

Duquesne has been turned down by four candidates since firing Jim Ferry

Duquesne, you were warned.

A fourth coaching candidate has turned down Duquesne since it fired Jim Ferry. First, it was Monmouth’s King Rice. Then Vermont’s John Becker. Then Michigan State assistant Dane Fife. Now, Ball State’s James Whitford.

This is why you don’t fire a coach until you have his replacement in place.

This is why you don’t overestimate the attractiveness of your opening.

Or, for that matter, your conference.

The Atlantic-10 has lost some shine, as Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey did a U-turn after accepting the UMass job and decided just minutes before his introductory news conference to stay put. At the very least, Duquesne needs a facelift for Palumbo Center, which wasn’t built for basketball.

There was hope last night that Duquesne just might yet pull off a surprise.

Dambrot, you might remember, was the target of Duquesne’s last coaching search but he decided to stay at Akron. He has some family history with Duquesne and ties to Pittsburgh.

But, of course, that scenario might be too good to be true.

What makes matters worse is this: Duquesne appears to be losing its best player:

https://twitter.com/MrEightball_/status/845338703107166209

Lewis led the Dukes in scoring at 14 points a game, and was an A-10 All-Rookie pick. That’s a troubling sign, and one reason I pushed for Ferry to get another year. He started four underclassmen and a pair of freshman (forward Isiah Mike the other) were his top two players. The Dukes had a difficult season, but there was hope on the horizon.

Now, Duquesne can only hope its search finds someone willing to take the job.

ON THE ICE

Marc-Andre Fleury v Islanders

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 43 shots against the Islanders

John Tavares and Andres Lee

Islanders John Tavares and Andres Lee celebrate a second-period goal

The Penguins came up short on another shootout, losing the same way for the second consecutive night and third time in the last seven games, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called Sidney Crosby a ‘whiner’ and said the Penguins captain should be suspended for slashing Marc Methot.

On the Chipped Ice blog, JB asks, Do you have to care about shootouts? (Especially if they decide who wins the division title).

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Art Rooney II with Roger Goodell

Steelers president Art Rooney II talks with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell before the 2016 opener

Steelers president Art Rooney II is in favor of NFL games picking up the pace, writes Joe Rutter, who’s off to Arizona today for the NFL owners meetings.

IN BRADENTON

Andrew McCutchen medal

Andrew McCutchen wore his World Baseball Classic championship medal to spring training

In the Pirates notebook, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison reflect on their World Baseball Classic experience, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Pirates 4, Rays 0

What does Kang’s absence mean to Bucs’ lineup?

Jung Ho Kang

Reports out of South Korea say Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a visa

The Pirates already had ruled Jung Ho Kang out for the season opener. Now, with reports saying the South Korean third baseman has been denied a visa to enter the U.S. after his DUI conviction, there are questions about whether Kang will be able to play for the Pirates at all this season.

This is bad news for Kang and the Pirates, but not all that unexpected.

When it was revealed that this was Kang’s third DUI arrest, you had to fear the worst. This was supposed to be the season that Kang showed signs of stardom. Instead, the Pirates, for all of their efforts to help Kang, should have started to plan for a season without him.

The problem isn’t so much at third base, where David Freese started last season and Phil Gosselin can play — not to mention Josh Harrison — but in the middle of the batting order.

The Pirates desperately need to find a cleanup hitter to bat behind Andrew McCutchen, and Kang looked suit for that role when he hit 21 home runs and 62 RBI in 103 games last season. Perhaps Gregory Polanco, who batted .579 in World Baseball Classic after hitting .258 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI last season, can move into that role. But the No. 5 spot seems a better fit. Starling Marte has batted fourth, but had only nine homers and 46 RBI last season after going for 19 and 81 in 2015.

It appears to be too early to rush rookie Josh Bell , who projects to hit 12 homers and 56 RBI this season. One outside possibility is Jose Osuna, who is batting .429/.510/1.367 this spring, with five homers and 14 RBI in 42 at-bats. Of course, he could be this year’s Juan Nicasio, a spring-training sensation better suited for a smaller role.

Personally, I think the Pirates’ best lineup would feature Harrison batting leadoff, followed by Marte, McCutchen, Polanco, Bell, Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer. We can talk about what you think the batting order should be tonight on 93.7 The Fan, where I’m filling in on The Paul Zeise Show from 6-10 p.m. Call in at 412-928-9370.

Which brings us to the Trib’s top stories:

Adam Frazier shortstop

Adam Frazier

Alen Hanson sliding

Alen Hanson

The Pirates’ bench comes into focus after roster cuts, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Starling Marte grand slam

Starling Marte hits a grand slam against the Red Sox

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes that Starling Marte does not expect his ankle injury to be an issue for the regular season.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Red Sox 10, Pirates 7

ON THE ICE

Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson avoids a shot in front of the Ottawa goal

The Penguins remain between the Capitals and Blue Jackets after a shootout loss at Ottawa, writes Bill West.

Understatement:

In the Penguins notebook, West writes that not even busted teeth or a scoring race can break Sidney Crosby’s concentration.

On the Chipped Ice blog, West writes that the Penguins earned a point but are still treading water.

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Pitt kicker Alex Kessman can’t afford to miss the mark, writes Jerry DiPaola.

On the Pitt Locker Room blog, DiPaola writes that the Panthers’ linebackers have to perform inside and outside.

Ryan Lewis steals show with 40 at Pitt’s Pro Day

James Conner Pro Day

James Conner Pro Day 2

Running back James Conner gave himself an A-plus for his Pitt Pro Day performance

Pro day drew many NFL eyes for Pitt’s draft hopefuls, writes Jerry DiPaola.

Adam Bisnowaty Pro Day

In the Pitt Pro Day notebook, Jerry DiPaola writes that it was ‘just another day’ for Adam Bisnowaty.

Ryan Lewis Pro Day 40

My column focuses on how Ryan Lewis, with his father among the NFL scouts on their stopwatches, made some money when he ran the 40-yard dash in a flash.

ON THE ICE

Crosby Buffalo goal

Sidney Crosby’s goal in Buffalo jumps into his personal top 10, writes Jonathan Bombulie. And JB goes so far as to provide a top-10 list, with videos.

IN BRADENTON

Cervelli and Trevor Williams

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, on pitchers: ‘You’ve got to be their best friend’

The Pirates’ pitchers and catchers share a special bond, writes Rob Biertempfel.

IN MORGANTOWN

WVU's Jevon Carter and Tarik Phillip

West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and Tarik Phillip practice in preparation for the NCAA Sweet 16

No. 4 seed West Virginia basketball braces for the best of the West

Will Grier

Transfer Will Grier’s status leaves West Virginia’s QB situation in flux, writes David Statman.

Another Crosby goal for the career highlight reel

Sidney Crosby v Sabres

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored a goal against Buffalo that was a thing of beauty

Along with this, the Shootout Winner in the 2008 Winter Classic:

Of course, the Golden Goal in the Winter Olympics:

And the Statue Goal against the Islanders in the 2013 playoffs:

Oh, by the way, the Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1, to clinch a playoff berth.

The Penguins edged the Buffalo Sabres to keep the heat on for the Metro Division lead, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

In the Penguins notebook, Jonathan Bombulie writes that defenseman Frankie Corrado made his debut.

On the Chipped Ice blog, JB writes about the good and bad moments in the first period at Buffalo.

ON THE DIAMOND

I love this World Baseball Classic!

And I don’t care if you don’t.

BACK IN BRADENTON…

Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco rejoined the Pirates after an ‘intense’ World Baseball Classic, writes Rob Biertempfel.

John Jason at 3B

John Jaso played third base in the third inning Tuesday against the Tampa Rays

In the Pirates notebook, Rob Biertempfel writes that John Jaso spent a quiet day at third base.

Josh Osuna loses fly ball in sun

Jose Osuna lost a fly ball in the sun against the Rays

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Pirates 5, Rays 4

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Tyson Alualu

Tyson Alualu started 88 of 110 games and had 17 1⁄2 career sacks, including 2 1⁄2 last season

The Steelers signed free-agent defensive end Tyson Alualu, writes Joe Rutter.

Dwayne Hendrix

Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge on Dwayne Hendrix: ‘If he stays healthy, he has a chance to be a really productive guy for us’

New Pitt assistant Charlie Partridge begins the overhaul of the defensive line, writes Jerry DiPaola.

Pitt introduces a new leader in Heather Lyke

Heather Lyke 2

Heather Lyke was introduced as Pitt’s athletic director by Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

Pitt hired its first full-time female athletic director in Heather Lyke from Eastern Michigan, writes Jerry DiPaola.

My column is on how, finally, Pitt hires an AD we can Lyke.

On the Locker Room blog, Jerry DiPaola writes that Lyke made a surprise visit to spring drills.

Eastern Michigan grad Charlie Batch likes Pitt’s new AD hire, too, writes Jerry DiPaola.

ON THE ICE

Bryan Rust v Islanders

Bryan Rust rejoined practice Saturday but has yet to be cleared for contact

Out since Feb. 9, Penguins winger Bryan Rust is ready to resume contact and rejoin the lineup, writes Bill West.

In the Penguins notebook, Bill West writes that a playoff clinching is within reach at Buffalo.

Ray Searage wtih Jameson Taillon

Ray Searage: ‘Right from the first pitch, go attack. Attack, attack’

Pitching coach Ray Searage urges Pirates pitchers to work aggressively, get quick outs, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Jose Osuna 2

Jose Osuna is batting .417 and has hit safely in 14 of his 15 games this spring and leads the team in homers (five) and RBIs (14)

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes that Jose Osuna continues to make a positive impression.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Pirates 5, Rays 4

On From the Cheap Seats blog, Biertempfel writes about trying the hot corner.

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Knile Davis

Knile Davis has two career kickoff returns for touchdowns in the regular season and a career 26.8 average

Coty Sensabaugh

Tennessee’s fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Clemson, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh has made 29 starts in 72 career games, with two interceptions

The Steelers signed two free agents: Knile Davis and Coty Sensabaugh, writes Joe Rutter.

With a hat trick, Crosby moves into scoring lead

Crosby hat trick

Sidney Crosby now has an NHL-best 40 goals and 80 points, which is tied for the scoring lead

Sidney Crosby scored a hat trick to lead the Penguins over the Panthers, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Fleury save w Jagr

With Jaromir Jagr looming, Marc-Andre Fleury makes a kick save in his shutout of the Panthers

In the Penguins notebook, Bombulie writes that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury continues his post-trade-deadline tear.

On the Chipped Ice blog, Bombulie writes about the Crosby-Guentzel-Sheary line.

Three Periods: Phil Kessel’s experiment on left wing pays off, writes Bombulie and Bill West.

ON CAMPUS

Heather Lyke

Heather Lyke was athletic director at Eastern Michigan since 2013

Pitt will introduce Heather Lyke, formerly of Eastern Michigan, as its new athletic director at a 1 p.m. news conference today at Petersen Events Center, writes Jerry DiPaola. Lyke replaces Scott Barnes, who left for Oregon State.

Kevin Stallings 4

Kevin Stallings, on Scott Barnes leaving as Pitt AD: ‘I was concerned when Scott left. Certainly, a new AD may come in and not want me to be his basketball coach. That’s the thing you understand in this business: When your boss changes, sometimes your job can change. I’m very wide-eyed about that. You have to put on your big-boy pants and understand everything is not going to be perfect. In light of his leaving, it would be impossible for me to feel any more support.’

My Sunday column on Pitt men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings, who had a ‘memorable’ Selection Sunday and a whirlwind week after a tumultuous first season.

Brian O'Neill

After starting at right tackle last season, Brian O’Neill is at left tackle this spring

The Pitt offense is undergoing a major line change during spring drills, writes Jerry DiPaola.

IN BRADENTON

Alen Hanson

Alen Hanson threw out two Toronto Blue Jays runners from left field in the fourth inning on Sunday

Onetime hot Pirates prospect Alen Hanson says ‘it’s time’ to make major leagues, writes Rob Biertempfel.

tony Watson 3

Tony Watson gave up five runs on three hits, walked two and struck out one against Toronto on Sunday

In the Pirates notebook, Biertempfel writes about how closer Tony Watson’s tough spring continues.

Biertempfel’s breakdown: Pirates 11, Blue Jays 11

Pat Light 3

Pat Light was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis

The Pirates cut four pitchers from spring training, Biertempfel writes.

On the From the Cheap Seats blog, Biertempfel writes about the Pirates’ depth of quality arms.

John Jaso 3

Bill James’ research showed that John Jaso’s 45 walks created 16.2 runs for the Pirates last season, and his rate of .360 runs per walk was the highest in the majors

Biertempfel explains how John Jaso’s patience at the plate turns into production.

Crosby line small in size, puts up big in numbers

Crosby with Sheary

Jake Guentzel v Sabres

Sidney Crosby, Connor Sheary and Jake Guentzel have combined for seven goals, 19 points and 77 shots on goal in the Penguins’ past six games

Though small by NHL standards, Sidney Crosby’s line is putting up big numbers, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Oskar Sundqvist

Oskar Sundqvist played in three out of five games on the Penguins’ road trip

With Matt Cullen and Tom Sestito returning to the lineup, the Penguins sent Josh Archibald and Oskar Sundqvist back to the AHL.

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Alejandro Villanueva v Eagles

Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva finished fourth among NFL players by making $401,652.46 in performance-based pay

The NFL deemed the performances of Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and cornerback Ross Cockrell worthy of more cash, writes Joe Rutter.

Jordan Whitehead 2

Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead is back after missing four games last season with a broken right arm

In spring drills, Pitt’s defense is searching for a ‘certain swagger,’ writes Jerry DiPaola.

Pitt also received its first football commitment from the Class of 2018, a versatile tight end from Massachusetts, writes DiPaola.

ON THE HARDWOOD

Nathan Adrian

Nathan Adrian had 12 points and 10 rebounds for West Virginia in its 86-80 victory over Bucknell

West Virginia beat Bucknell to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Charlie Buscaglia 2

Robert Morris coach Charlie Buscaglia talks to his team at practice at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion

The Robert Morris women are not intimidated by Notre Dame, writes Eric Hansen.

IN BRADENTON

Antonio Bastardo 5

During his past two seasons, Antonio Bastardo has a 3.51 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 92 strikeouts and 58 hits allowed in 81 1⁄3 innings for the Pirates

Pirates reliever Antonio Bastardo is taking nothing for granted, writes Chris Adamski.

Tony Watson 2

Tony Watson is the Pirates’ third-oldest player and one of only three at Clint Hurdle’s first camp

In the Pirates notebook, closer Tony Watson graduates to senior status, writes Adamski.