Steven Stamkos won't play for Canada in Sochi

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Steven Stamkos won't play for Canada in Sochi

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos will not play for Canada in the Sochi Olympics.

Steve Yzerman, the Lightning's general manager and Team Canada's executive director, said Wednesday that doctors ruled out Stamkos because he hasn't recovered sufficiently from a broken right leg.

Stamkos underwent a CT scan and met with team officials Wednesday. He was injured Nov. 11 and had surgery to have a titanium rod inserted into the tibia.

"Today is obviously very disappointing for me," Stamkos said in a statement. "I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing. I know, in the best interest of my long term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to. I look forward to returning to the Lightning once cleared by the medical team."

The center will be evaluated again in two to three weeks.

"Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens," Yzerman said. "It was a pretty clear cut decision, no gray areas at all."

Stamkos has been practicing with the team and hoped to play Saturday night against Detroit, which is Tampa Bay's final game before the Olympic break. He had increased contact drills during practice this week.

In 17 games this season, he has 14 goals and nine assists.

Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh star and Canadian captain, was disappointed.

"It's tough to see. I think we all figured if there's anyone that's going to find a way back, it would be him," Crosby said, after scoring a goal and adding an assist in Pittsburgh's 5-1 win at Buffalo. "That being said, it's probably more difficult for him than anyone else. You feel for him, but we obviously have to move forward."

Crosby declined to suggest who he might favor as a candidate to replace Stamkos.

"With different guys in the mix, I think it's a good problem to have," Crosby said. "But nonetheless, I don't think it's an easy decision at all."

Among those in line to fill the roster spot are Stamkos' teammate, Martin St. Louis, and Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh's James Neal.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who will be coaching the U.S. team, said Neal would be a good choice.

"I don't know what they're looking for, there's not a better shot release and a pure goal-scorer than James," Bylsma said. "I know they have some other good players and some tough choices to make, but James would be one who I wouldn't want to see with the puck on his stick over there."

Neal has 19 goals and 24 assists this season.

AP Sports writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to this report.

Union see 4-game winning streak end in shutout loss to Real Salt Lake

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Union see 4-game winning streak end in shutout loss to Real Salt Lake

BOX SCORE

SANDY, Utah -- Joao Plata scored his first goal of the season and Real Salt Lake beat the Union, 1-0, on Saturday night to snap Philadelphia's club-record winning streak at four games.

Plata tapped in his goal in the 36th minute after quickly exchanging short passes twice with Jefferson Savarino. Tony Beltran got the play started by saving the ball just before it went over the goal line.

The Union (4-5-5) had a chance to tie it in stoppage time, but goalie Nick Rimando blocked Haris Medunjanin's belt-high free kick and Salt Lake (4-8-2) cleared it after a scramble in front of the net.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made seven saves.

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.