Penguins, Sharks climbing in Stanley Cup odds

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(OddsShark.com) — Powered by a four-game winning streak that has lifted them back into the playoff picture, the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the rise on the odds to win the Stanley Cup at 20/1 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com

The Penguins opened their campaign on a tear, winning 10 of their first 15 contests, to maintain strong 14/1 odds. However, after failing to record back-to-back wins over a month-long stretch starting in late November, the Penguins dropped out of the playoff hunt with their Stanley Cup futures tumbling to 33/1.

Pittsburgh continued to struggle with consistency over the holidays, particularly on the road where they have just one win in their past five games, but have seen their dormant offense come to life of late, averaging 4.3 goals per game over their past 10 victories ahead of their visit to Tampa Bay for Friday night’s matchup at Amalie Arena.

The San Jose Sharks have also been gaining ground on the Stanley Cup odds, rising to 28/1 on the strength of an 8-3 run that has featured just one loss in regulation according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

The Sharks’ hot streak has lifted them into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division standings, but the club has yet to face its toughest test of the season. San Jose plays 12 of their next 17 matchups on the road, a brutal stretch that might determine their postseason fate.

Conversely, with just one victory in their past nine outings, the Minnesota Wild have fallen out of the Western Conference Wild Card hunt and their Stanley Cup odds have tumbled to 25/1 after peaking at 16/1 in mid-December.

The Montreal Canadiens also continue their freefall, both in the Eastern Conference standings and at the sportsbooks.

The Habs emerged as early-season favorites, peaking at 7/1 after winning nine straight out of the gate. But with just five wins in their past 25, potting more than two markers in a game just five times during their swoon, Montreal has tumbled to a distant 33/1.

The Eastern-leading Washington Capitals maintain their perch atop the Stanley Cup odds coming out of All-Star Weekend, pegged at 17/4, followed by the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks at 5/1, and the Los Angeles Kings at 15/2.

Despite picking up just four wins in their past 12 games the Dallas Stars hold steady at 12/1 odds, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit alongside the surprising Florida Panthers at a strong 14/1 odds.

Former head of USA Triathlon takes helm of Iditarod

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — As the new head of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Rob Urbach will have to overcome dwindling sponsorships, dog deaths, a recent dog-doping scandal and animal rights protests.

With all that drama, it seems fitting Urbach became hooked on the sport thanks to soap opera actress Susan Lucci.

Lucci, who starred on “All My Children,” and Urbach struck up a conversation on a 1999 flight to Anchorage, where she was taking part in the Iditarod’s ceremonial start and he was going skiing.

Urbach acknowledges the challenges for the Iditarod, but he says he’s faced significant tests in his previous roles, including as CEO of USA Triathlon.

He says there’s an opportunity to put out some fires for the Iditarod, while also protecting the race for the next 50 years.

Auburn gymnast walks down wedding aisle after serious injury

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FAIRHOPE, Ala. (AP) A gymnast who suffered a severe leg injury accomplished her goal of walking down the aisle at her wedding.

The Advocate reports Auburn University graduate Samantha Cerio shared photos on Instagram Monday of the ceremony in Fairhope.

The gymnast dislocated both knees and tore ligaments in both legs during a competition in April. After having surgery, she said she wanted to recover enough in time to walk down the aisle at the ceremony.

Cerio used crutches to cross the stage at her graduation in May. She earned a degree in aerospace engineering.

Cerio walked down the aisle free of crutches to marry fiance Trey Wood.