Ryan Howard: 'Let's Go Celebrate with the People!'

Ryan Howard: 'Let's Go Celebrate with the People!'

CITIZENS BANK PARK -- The Phillies clubhouse was a naturally chaotic place after they clinched their fifth straight NL East crown on Saturday night.

Michael Martinez was running around spraying everyone in sight. Beat writers were dodging champagne as best they could while trying to get that one great quote. Jimmy Rollins was sneak-attacking Ben Francisco who was minding his own business quietly away from the action. Photographers were jumping into the thick of it to get the perfect shot. Clubhouse attendants were asking Cliff Lee to pose for a photo. New guy Justin De Fratus was saying "I just got here today," seemingly in awe of his first day with the big league club.

Amid the madness there seems to be a routine that develops among the players. Guys spray the hell out of each other, wincing every time at the ice-cold liquid covering their heads and soaking their brand new NL East Champions t-shirts.

But once the two players get each other real good and they're both dripping wet, they hug it out and congratulate each other on the big accomplishment that they both worked incredibly hard to achieve.

There are some real genuine moments amongst the mayhem.

My favorite of the night was after Ryan Howard finished explaining to reporters that he's done this celebration thing once or twice so he knows the regular swimming goggles won't cut it. The Big Piece "came correct" last night and was donning ski goggles that provide much more coverage, he says.

Howard finished his brief chat with reporters and shouted to nobody in particular, "Let's go celebrate with the people!"

He repeated it multiple times until he got the attention of catcher Brian Schneider and closer Ryan Madson who followed him down the tunnel, leading the way towards the field. But not before Howard stockpiled some ammo by fitting a couple of Bud Light Pounders in his pockets for the trip back out to the diamond. Big Piece has big pockets.

I followed him and his teammates out of the clubhouse and onto the field, where they were greeted with great applause from the fans who stayed long after the game was over just to share in the moment.

As you can hear in the video, Schneider says to Madson, "Hey, should we shoot the fans?" before unloading the bubbly on those above the Phillies dugout. And as you can see, my camera took a direct hit.

It was worth it, of course, and seeing Howard want to share the achievement with the people that pack Citizens Bank Park every night was a nice touch.

Ryan Howard photo by pompomflipflop

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).