Pappa's hat trick propels Fire to victory

Pappa's hat trick propels Fire to victory

Wednesday, Sept 28, 2011Posted: 11:05 p.m.

Associated Press

Box Score

SANDY, UTAH (AP) Marco Pappa scored three goals to lift the Chicago Fire to a rare road victory with a 3-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

A record setting crowd of 20,762 at Rio Tinto Stadium watched as Pappa brought Chicago (7-8-15) only its second road win of the season. The loss spoiled the return of midfielder Javier Morales, who entered the match as a sub in the 60th minute. It was the first action for Morales since suffering a gruesome ankle injury in May.

Things turned sour for Salt Lake (15-9-6) in a matter of a couple minutes early in the first half.

Chicago seized a quick 1-0 lead on a goal from Pappa in the 9th minute. The Fire midfielder volleyed a solid left-footer over the top of the RSL defense and zipped the ball past the shoulder of Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

RSL barely had a chance to regroup from the early goal when team captain Kyle Beckerman was shown a red card and ejected from the match in the 11th minute. Beckerman earned the ejection after a hard foul on Daniel Paladini and will also sit out his team's next match against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

Salt Lake attacked furiously through the remainder of the first half, trying to erase the one-goal advantage. It nearly happened when Alvaro Saborio slipped behind Chicago's backline in the 28th minute and latched onto a through ball fed to him from Andy Williams. Saborio had an open shot, but he sent the ball wide of the left post to keep RSL scoreless.

No other potential goal materialized for Salt Lake before halftime. RSL was held without a shot on goal during the first half.

Pappa struck again in the 36th minute to make it 2-0 for the Fire. Pavel Pardo flicked it ahead to him on the right side of the penalty area and Pappa curled a shot inside the left post.

He finally completed his hat trick in the 75th minute when he put an unassisted goal inside the left post to give the Fire a 3-0 advantage.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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