Cubs in wait-and-see mode with Kerry Wood

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Cubs in wait-and-see mode with Kerry Wood

MIAMI Kerry Wood was said to be feeling some relief after Wednesdays cortisone shot into his right shoulder. The Cubs hope it accelerates his timetable and clears him for the weekend.

If Woods shoulder doesnt respond by Friday its been bothering him off and on since the beginning of spring training the Cubs will have to consider putting him on the disabled list and bringing up another arm from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, the Cubs know they will have to monitor Woods situation and manage his workload.

You have the concerns, manager Dale Sveum said. Theres a track record there. So like we talked about earlier about using him: When he gets up, he gets in the game.

Well see what happens when the weather gets better (if hell be) throwing back-to-back days. Itll still be an every-other-day thing until we know that hes feeling great and hes really strong.

In the meantime, the Cubs will lean on rookie Rafael Dolis as a setup guy, and hope left-hander James Russell grows into higher-leverage situations.

You try to mix and match a little bit from numbers if it comes up that way, Sveum said. (With Dolis, well) try to get him out there more and more and more and see if his stuff gets better with him being a little more tired.

A lot of times, (pitchers) with those kinds of sinkers are better when theyre keeping the ball at 92, 93 mph than they are at 95 or 97. The ball will flatten out a little bit.

The Cubs bullpen entered Wednesday with the worst ERA in the National League (5.72). Theyre in wait-and-see mode with Wood, and some young pitchers who are going to have to step up in his absence.

Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night.

The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 and are one point within the Minnesota Wild, whose bye ends on Monday night. Duncan Keith recorded a secondary assist for his 500th career point. Scott Darling, starting for Corey Crawford (illness), stopped 30 of 32 shots.

The Blackhawks got off to a 2-0 start in the first 12 minutes of the game, thanks to Jonathan Toews' 16th goal of the season and Kane's power-play goal. But the Blues kept chipping away and forced a tie game by the end of the second period.

But the second line, which hasn't been quite as productive lately, got in on the act late in the third. Panarin threw a perfect feed to Anisimov, who scored his 22nd of the season with 5:20 remaining in regulation.

Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining.

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

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USA TODAY

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

Illinois' last-ditch effort to reach the NCAA tournament is still alive.

The Illini won for the third straight time and the fourth time in their last five games Sunday night, using a monstrous second half to fly past the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a 73-57 score in Lincoln.

Illinois started the Big Ten season 3-8, but with this recent surge it's up to 7-9 and with two regular-season games remaining has at the very least given itself a much better position in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and perhaps has played itself into a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Defense has been the driving force throughout this recent stretch, and Sunday was no different, with Nebraska scoring just 57 points, the second straight game in which Illinois has held its opponent under 60 points.

But offense told the story Sunday, with the Illini catching fire in the second half and shooting the lights out at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Illinois shot 59.1 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, including a stellar 8-for-13 from 3-point range. The Illini outscored the Huskers by a 43-29 margin after halftime.

All in all, Illinois shot 48.1 percent on the night and 13-for-26 from behind the 3-point line. The Illini's 73-point output was their highest since Jan. 25.

Malcolm Hill had a game-high 19 points and moved past Cory Bradford for fifth place on the program's all-time scoring list. Tracy Abrams joined Hill in double figures with 13 points. Hill and Abrams each hit four 3-pointers. Maverick Morgan scored 12 points.

Tai Webster scored 17 points for Nebraska, the only Husker in double figures on a poor offensive night. The team shot 37.5 percent from the field and went just 4-for-15 from 3-point range.

Illinois still seems like a bit of a longshot to make the NCAA tournament given its 17-12 overall record and the weakness of the Big Ten this season. But things are getting real late in the season. This surge could very well help the Illini end their three-year tournament drought and could do big things for head coach John Groce, who has had his job status talked about all season long.

Illinois' final two regular-season bouts come this week against Michigan State and at Rutgers.