No-shows, including Tiger Woods, are no longer as big a problem in golf

1 in the world.If not them, there are plenty of others to carry the load. Open champion and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose.Most of that can be attributed to scheduling, and that’s particularly true for the other no-show. Five eligible players are not at the Dell Technologies Match Play this year, the highest number of dropouts in 16 years.Good luck finding someone at Austin Country Club who can name them all.No, Tiger Woods is not on that list.His name still comes up in just about every golf conversation. Not necessarily.The reason it’s easy to overlook the absences is the Tiger factor.Because no one alone dominates the spotlight, the focus shifts toward who is playing instead of who’s not. 1s – that when some players don’t show up, does anyone really notice?The absentees for this World Golf Championship are all quality players: British Open champion Henrik Stenson, former Masters champion Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and former U.S. That’s also true for Rose and Fowler. 1 player, who is trying to become the first to complete a sweep of the four World Golf Championships; Day and Rory McIlroy, the past two winners of this event; and Jordan Spieth, who played college golf at Texas before dropping out to embark on the best start to a PGA Tour career since Woods.There are enough big names nearly every week. Woods was making plenty of headlines Monday in New York to promote his book on the 1997 Masters (spoiler alert: He wins by 12). In his latest update from various media interviews, Woods said he hasn’t played a round since he shot 77 in Dubai and withdrew with back spasms, though he said he was trying every day to get ready to play because he loves the Masters and knows Augusta National.Those moments – Woods promoting his book, five no-shows at Match Play – illustrate the state of golf.There is no one who is close to moving the needle like Woods. He missed out on qualifying for the 64-man field at Match Play by 665 spots in the world ranking. Woods was eliminated on Friday afternoon of the inaugural year, and he was beaten in the first round in 2002, the year Kevin Sutherland won as the No. That’s been the case since the ’97 Masters.On the other hand, there are so many young stars – major champions, world No. 1 in the world. There’s no clear answer when he might play again. McIlroy missed the Honda Classic because he was recovering from a rib injury. That’s why defending champion Jason Day is not playing a practice round again this year.Is it a problem? He hasn’t played the past three weeks because he is commuting from Australia, where his wife is pregnant with their second child.Something has to give, and it shouldn’t be startling that it’s the Match Play.There are no guarantees in this most fickle format, which means a player can wind up playing seven matches over five days, which is taxing. Canadian Adam Hadwin is getting married Friday.Stenson liked the Match Play better when it was single elimination, not the round-robin group play for three rounds before 16 players move on to the weekend. Even so, a large part of his decision was based on his pre-Masters schedule. 3 in Australia and 38 eligible players chose not to travel Down Under for the chance at playing one match and going home. It’s been that way for much of the year.Golf really is in a good place, even if it no longer has Woods, the most celebrated athlete in the world that it enjoyed for so many years.For the PGA Tour, it’s a nice problem to have.The only two tournaments in which the stars were noticeably absent were the Honda Classic (none of the top six in the world was at PGA National) and the Valspar Championship (only two of the top 10 played). For the Match Play, that would be Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. Woods hasn’t been eligible the past three years because he hasn’t been playing much because of back surgeries. If he had played, that would have been enough to change the narrative.Any talk about no-shows will never stack up to the Match Play in 2001, when it began Jan. McIlroy won the year before to remind everyone he was No. That was a scheduling problem of a different variety.Another problem in the early days of Match Play, which dates to 1999, is the stars leaving early. 62 seed.Day won last year to reach No. All three were at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, the first one since Palmer died, and all prefer to play the week before the Masters at the Shell Houston Open.Scott also is playing Houston.

People should assume NHL will not send players to 2018 Olympics: Bettman

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time but we have been unable to quantify any benefit from it.” well we’re not going to pay for that.“If they don’t value our participation why are we going.”The NHL did not agree to go to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi until July, 2013. The next move, if there is one, will have to be made by the IOC or IIHF.“From our standpoint there may not be any next steps,” said Bettman.While NHL owners have dug in, the IOC and IIHF have both the players and sponsors in their corner applying pressure.Some players have said they will compete in the Olympics regardless of the NHL’s decision, while Japanese tire maker Bridgestone, which is both an IOC Top Sponsor and major NHL advertiser, is trying to help push a deal forward.“Just know there’s a lot of people interested in the same thing and seeing if there is a way to make it work,” Phil Pacsi, Bridgestone’s vice president of sports marketing, told Reuters.After participating in each of the last five Winter Games, Bettman said there has been no quantitative benefit to the NHL.That would be amplified at Pyeongchang, a non-hockey market where games would be televised early in the morning in North America during what would otherwise be a key part of the NHL’s regular season.“Remember, this is February, there is no baseball, no football, it is just us and basketball and we just disappear,” said Bettman. “We don’t get content for the NHL Network, we don’t get content for our social media platforms and“Why did we do it five times? “We were open to having discussions on a variety of things that might mitigate the damage to our season but that had no resonance.“As things stand now people should assume we are not going.”The NHL’s main issues with Olympic participation center on a need for it to shut down its season for 2-1/2 weeks, along with concerns about player injures.For handing over $3.5-billion in player contracts the NHL is seeking something akin to IOC Top Sponsor status that would allow the league to market the Winter Games on its platforms.The NHL has also said the IOC will have to backtrack and pay player insurance and transportation costs after saying it would no longer do so like it had for the five previous Winter Games.“We’re not negotiating publicly,” said Bettman. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Tuesday that with negotiations on Olympic participation at a standstill people should assume the league will not be sending its players to the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.The NHL last met with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation in early February but with no meetings on the horizon Bettman sounded a pessimistic tone. “The point is I was trying to emphasize the fact that this is terribly disruptive to our business and there seems to be no offsetting way to mitigate that disruption.“I’ve suggested why don’t you treat us like a top sponsor.“When the IOC comes to us and says, ‘by the way we know it cost $15 to $20-million to send your players between insurance, charter costs and accommodations for the players’ … “There are no negotiations ongoing,” Bettman told Reuters at the Sport Business Summit in New York.

Sebastian Giovinco back in training for Toronto FC after leg injury

“It was a contusion, something that we had to work through. “He’s good,” coach Greg Vanney said Tuesday after training. Given where he was with the contusion, having him go back and see the (Italian) doctor and get all of that stuff sort of under his belt last week was important to having him ready to train this week and to use these next couple of weeks as we build towards the home opener.“It’s good to have him back on the field now, pushing to get sharp and fit, and make sure all those things are behind us.”Toronto’s home opener is March 31 against Sporting Kansas City. Sebastian Giovinco was back at training with Toronto FC on Tuesday, seemingly as good as new.The star striker made a quick trip home to Italy last week, pushing up a regularly scheduled appointment after being helped off the field March 11 in Philadelphia with a painful charley horse.Giovinco did not make the trip to Vancouver for Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Whitecaps.

Figuring out life after being traded, Brian Boyle is Mr. Reliable for young Leafs

Purposefully or not, Boyle would get under his skin and he’s brought that edge, Martin said, and some skill to Toronto’s fourth line. “It gives you a role, it gives you an opportunity.”The change has allowed Babcock to ease competition for rookie centre Auston Matthews.Because Boyle’s line can – if needed – absorb secondary matchups after Nazem Kadri, Matthews is subsequently free to feast on third and fourth lines and re-emerge offensively following a slowdown in production.Martin has found Boyle to always be in proper position and able to make little, unnoticed plays that increase the unit’s effectiveness. It’s interesting.” In short, he’s made the unit palatable – even desirable in some instances – for head coach Mike Babcock.“He helps us a lot,” Soshnikov said.He and Martin were pleased in particular by how the line’s usage had changed with Boyle in tow.Babcock’s trust in the American pivot at both ends means the trio is suddenly free to match up against anyone, including Russian dynamo Nikita Kucherov last week and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews over the weekend. 27. “Even minor league deals, they’re not small deals for those guys. “We can match up against the good lines.”Martin noticed the change in Tampa when the unit wasn’t yanked off the ice when Kucherov hopped on for the Lightning.“That’s what we want to do,” Martin said. He’s tried to keep “breathing through it,” ensuring his family is okay while he keeps himself ready to play – physically and mentally.Lauren and Declan have bounced back and forth between Tampa and Toronto, and are visiting Toronto this week. They’ll head back shortly, though, and won’t be able to travel after that because of the pregnancy, meaning weeks, potentially, without family time for Boyle.“For every person that’s dealt, it’s just a flip upside-down in your life,” said Boyle, traded to the Leafs on Feb. It’s tough and it affects more than one person when you have a family. Brian Boyle peeks through a hole in the Air Canada Centre glass about 30 minutes before Monday’s opening faceoff against the Boston Bruins to say hello to a familiar face in still-unfamiliar terrain – his one-year-old son Declan.The biggest adjustment for the 32-year-old since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs late last month hasn’t been on the ice, but figuring out life off it. That didn’t happen (on purpose at least) earlier in the year when Ben Smith and rookie Frederik Gauthier ineffectively filled the ever-shifting centre spot.“I would say he makes our line more responsible,” Soshnikov said. Hemmed in at one point in the third period against Boston, Boyle stepped in the way of two Colin Miller point shots – the Leafs eventually pulling in front for their fifth win in the last seven games.Formerly of the New York Islanders, Martin saw lots of Boyle when he played for the New York Rangers (five seasons) and found him to be an irritating oppositional force. He’s taken more defensive draws than any Toronto player since the trade, but has struggled in that regard so far, successful on just 45.5 per cent of his total faceoffs and 45.2 per cent in the defensive zone.He has not fared particularly well just yet, either, in limited duty on the penalty kill.It’s evident Boyle is still just wrapping his head around the first mid-season trade of his NHL career. It’s required hero’s work from his wife Lauren, who is seven months pregnant and looking after Declan as he’s “running around in the airports and jumping on the luggage carousels and all that.”

“That’s probably the most difficult part, trying to make sure they’re okay,” Boyle said.If not entirely settled away from the rink, the veteran centre has been a comfortable addition on it, completely altering the deployment and effectiveness of a fourth line that also includes veteran Matt Martin and rookie Nikita Soshnikov. Enormous at six-foot-six and more than 240 pounds, Boyle helps the trio sustain a heavier, more effective presence in the offensive zone.Martin and Soshnikov have both seen their icetime tick up since Boyle came aboard and, if struggling generally in the 4-2 win over the Bruins, the line has improved considerably in terms of puck possession: Martin/Soshnikov/Smith: 44 per cent; Martin/Soshnikov/Gauthier: 50 per cent; Martin/Soshnikov/Boyle: 63 per cent.Boasting 100 games of playoff experience, including two trips to the Stanley Cup final, Boyle has made an impression with a vocal, calming presence on a mostly young Toronto squad.A large part of the Leafs’ draw to Boyle was that leadership, and security in the fourth-line centre spot, as well as his ability to win faceoffs.

Turris scores twice, Senators beat Bruins to end four-game skid

Kyle Turris scored twice and Craig Anderson made 33 saves as the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Tuesday night to end a four-game losing streak.Mike Hoffman had two assists for the Senators, who moved six points ahead of Boston for second place in the Atlantic Division with their first win since March 11. The Bruins opened the period with the man advantage after Dion Phaneuf was called for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the second following scrums among several players on the ice.Phaneuf made up for the mistake later in the third with an assist on Turris’ game-winner. Senators C Chris Kelly played his first game in Boston since breaking his leg on Nov. Anderson played his 499th career game. The Bruins were coming off a 4-2 loss at Toronto on Monday night and never recovered from a flat start back at home Tuesday.Tuukka Rask made 19 saves for Boston.The Bruins remained in playoff position, third in the division with nine games to play, but missed out on another chance to widen their lead over the pack of teams pushing for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.Both teams were physical all night, with several hits after the whistle and some more pushing and shoving after the final horn. The officials separated the players before the postgame scrum turned into anything more.After facing just eight shots in the first period, Anderson frustrated the Bruins with 18 saves in the second as the Senators held onto a 2-1 lead after two.Krug tied it 17 seconds into the third, taking the puck end-to-end and skating through a pair of Senators before beating Anderson for an unassisted power-play goal. Ottawa RW Mark Stone missed his sixth straight game with a leg injury but has resumed skating and is getting closer to returning, coach Guy Boucher said. … … … Tom Pyatt also scored for Ottawa, which never trailed and went up for good on Turris’ goal 4:04 into the third period.Torey Krug had a goal and an assist, and David Krejci also scored in Boston’s third straight defeat. Turris tipped a shot by Phaneuf and the puck changed direction again when it hit Boston captain Zdeno Chara on its way to the back of the net.Pyatt tipped in a shot by Cody Cici to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead 4:09 into the game.The Bruins tied it at 8:57 on a power-play goal by Krejci, who beat Anderson with a slap shot from the blue line with an assist from Krug.Turris scored a power-play goal 1:34 into the second period, putting the Senators back up 2-1 with Boston’s Adam McQuaid serving a tripping penalty.NOTES: The Senators return to Boston on April 6 for the fourth and final meeting of the regular season. Boston LW Tim Schaller (lower-body injury) missed his sixth consecutive game.UP NEXTSenators: Back home Thursday against Pittsburgh, then on the road for five straight.Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. 3, 2015, as a member of the Bruins, keeping him out for the rest of last season. …

Ovechkin shines as Capitals beat surging Flames

… “When he’s forechecking like he is right now and he’s hitting guys, it makes a big difference for the whole team.”In addition to a season-high 11 shots and a perfect setup on Oshie’s goal, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty and was feeling the puck all night. It’s with net presence,” said former St. Oshie is leading the Washington Capitals in goals, but Alex Ovechkin is again leading them into the playoffs.Ovechkin had a goal and two assists as the NHL-leading Capitals beat the surging Calgary Flames 4-2 Tuesday night and snapped goaltender Brian Elliott’s franchise-record winning streak at 11 games. Louis Blues teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who scored his first goal with the Capitals on the power play with 2.9 seconds left in the second period. Brouwer’s goal was his first point in six games against the Capitals.UP NEXTFlames: Look to get back on track when they visit the Nashville Predators on Thursday.Capitals: Host the Blue Jackets on Thursday in a matchup between two of the top three teams in the NHL. “I just have fun to play there.”Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for the Capitals, who improved to 39-7-5 when scoring first — and also scored last thanks to Ovechkin’s power-play goal with 2:51 remaining. … The defeat certainly doesn’t hang on Elliott, who tied Mike Vernon for the longest winning streak in franchise history before Washington was too much to handle.“Moose kept us in and we had a chance right at the end to get points out of that game,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. Only Hall of Famer Ken Dryden has more wins (193) in his first 300 games than Holtby (186). T.J. It took the top line skating circles around the Flames and generating quality scoring chances to beat Elliott, who kept his team in the game by stopping 36 shots.“That’s how you have to wear him down is with shots. I wouldn’t doubt him scoring every game for the rest of the season. “That’s what’s most disappointing, I think.”While the Flames continue their three-game road trip trying to move into one of the top three spots in the Pacific Division, the Capitals are trying to fend off the Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets for home-ice advantage and first place in the Metropolitan. My goal is to play good hockey and get wins. “Not really my focus to lead the team in goals. “We had many moments there where we could’ve just put our heads down and felt sorry for ourselves, but we just kept coming at him.”Playing his 300th career game, counterpart Braden Holtby celebrated his bobblehead night by making 29 saves for Washington, which reached 102 points and remained one ahead of the Metropolitan Division-rival Pittsburgh Penguins, who clinched a playoff spot by winning in Buffalo.Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer — whom the Capitals traded to the Blues for Oshie two summers ago — scored for the Flames in just their fifth loss in 22 games. ”NOTES: Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk served the first half of his two-game suspension for elbowing Kings D Drew Doughty in the face Sunday. Ovechkin has led Washington in goals every season of his career.“This guy can score a lot of goals,” Oshie said. More performances like this one from the top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Oshie will help that cause.“We try to do our best to be on the same page, our line, and you can see Backy feeling it, Osh feeling it,” said Ovechkin, who scored his 29th of the season and is on the verge of becoming the third player in NHL history with 30 or more goals in each of his first 12 seasons. While Oshie reaching 30 goals in a season for the first time in a contract year led Ovechkin to proclaim, “Ka-ching,” the Russian superstar was the best player on the ice with 11 shots in one of his most dominant performances in recent months.“If he’s got 11 shots every game, at least one is going to go in,” said linemate Nicklas Backstrom, whose three assists tied him with Connor McDavid for the league lead with 57.

Raptors fight back to end 11-game losing streak against Bulls

Both Chicago’s Robin Lopez and Toronto’s Serge Ibaka were ejected from the contest for fighting in the resulting melee that occurred late in the third quarter with the Bulls enjoying a 16-point lead.The altercation lifted Toronto out of its stupor as the club engineered a stunning comeback to earn a raucous 122-120 overtime victory before an enthralled, sold-out gathering of 19,800 that lapped up every single second of the on-court mayhem.The Bulls carted a 94-79 lead into the fourth quarter, where their ultimate success against Toronto seemed almost assured.But the Raptors, spurred on by the third-quarter fisticuffs, fought back bravely and a DeMar DeRozan daring drive late in the fourth quarter knotted the score at 113-113 and sent the game into a five-minute overtime session.There the Raptors were able to prevail with once again DeRozan setting the stage, first hitting a 16-foot jumper that lifted Toronto in front 117-115 with just more than a minute to go.It was too much for Chicago to overcome.DeRozan was a one-man wrecking crew in the contest, going off for a game-high 42 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds. The shot missed, but Patrick Patterson was there to clean up at the boards for an easy put back that put Toronto in front by four with 44.7 seconds remaining.It was a stunning turnaround in a game the Raptors appeared destined to lose.After Butler canned a three-point shot in the latter stages of the third quarter that moved the Bulls in front 88-72, Lopez and Ibaka had some sort of disagreement beneath the Chicago basket.A crowd quickly formed, but that did not prevent Lopez from reaching over and trying to land a round-house right to the head of Ibaka. Nothing like a little bloodletting to get the blood boiling.After getting pushed around for most of three quarters by the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Raptors engaged in a bit of fisticuffs with the visitors, who were taking aim on their 12th consecutive NBA victory against the home side. Jimmy Butler responded with 37 for the Bulls while also adding 10 rebounds.After a defensive stop it was DeRozan again, bulling his way toward the basket for another try. And when Paul Zipser did the same from beyond the three-point arch Chicago’s lead had grown to 16 at 49-33.Toronto yanked up its socks a bit after that and a real long three from DeRozan with 2.5 seconds left on the clock cut Chicago’s lead to a more palatable 59-54 by the half.Any momentum Toronto might have taken from DeRozan’s three fizzled out quickly in the combative third quarter, in which Chicago continued to land their shots from long range to jack their lead back up. Ibaka responded in kind and the dance was full on at that point.It did not end there.Shortly after Chicago forward Nikola Mirotic and Jamaal Magloire, an assistant coach for the Raptors and former NBA centre, got into a shoving match on the court near the Raptors bench.After the officials went to the scorer’s bench to watch the replays and figure out who did what to whom, the decision was made to hand both Lopez and Ibaka with fighting technical fouls, which come with automatic game ejections.The fighting misdemeanours will also catch the attention of the league office which could levy fines not exceeding $50,000 (U.S.) against both players and perhaps hand down suspensions.Double technical fouls were also assessed to Mirotic and Magloire for their role in the melee.Although the Bulls are in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season, they have always managed to bring their A-game whenever they’ve played the Raptors of late.The Bulls came into the game having won their past 11 encounters against the Raptors, a rather bewildering streak that had its beginnings back in 2014.The fast start that the Raptors wanted Tuesday night against Chicago didn’t really materialize as the Bulls, after leading by as many as nine points, would settle for a 31-27 lead.Shooting at a 68.8 per cent (11-of-16) clip, as the Bulls did that opening frame, will usually get the job done.The Bulls would push their lead back up to 10 at 41-31 early in the second after a couple back-to-back wide-open three-pointers by Bobby Portis and then Denzel Valentine.The Raptors’ lack of perimeter defence continued to haunt them.Portis launched a 20-foot pull-up jumper with nary a hand in his face that lovingly fell through the bucket.

Mantha scores overtime winner as Red Wings top Canadiens

“He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to earn that point.“He definitely deserves better. “Our shots were from the outside.“They were doing a good job of clearing the rebounds and keeping us on the outside, so it was tough. “I did a good job of moving my feet and putting shots on net. “I guess third time was a charm.”It was a battle of backup goaltenders with Jimmy Howard coming out on top of Al Montoya with shots even at 36-36 in the game.Montoya was particularly sharp while making a skate save on Andreas Athanasiou early in overtime.“I thought Monty was awesome tonight,” said Montreal coach Claude Julien. He certainly deserved a win the way he played.”The Red Wings led 1-0 for 56 minutes until Lehkonen tied the game at 17:31 of the third frame. We should have scored more goals to help him out. Collecting the puck in his own zone, the Finnish rookie skated in and, using Niklas Kronwall as a screen, fired a wrist shot from the slot inside a post for his 13th of the season.The Red Wings, coming off a 2-1 loss to Buffalo on Monday night, had Howard in goal for the fourth time since his March 10 return from a nearly three-month injury layoff.All the action in the opening period happened in the first 53 seconds.Montreal defenceman Nathan Beaulieu was sent off for interference 39 seconds in and Detroit’s power play, one of the league’s worst, needed only 14 seconds to score as Abdelkader took the rebound of Kronwall’s point shot and lifted it over Montoya.The Canadiens worked hard the rest of the way but couldn’t get through a tight Detroit defence.“We just couldn’t penetrate inside the dots,” said Julien. Anthony Mantha has been struggling of late but he came up big for the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.The burly winger scored at 4:10 of overtime to lift the Red Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens with his first goal since March 4 and only his second since Feb. 12.“It feels really good,” said the Montreal-area native. Their goaltender played well but we didn’t make it as hard on him as we should have or could have. “The last few games were a little harder, but I had to battle through it. That’s on us.”The Canadiens lost for the first time in seven games that went into overtime or a shootout since Julien took over from Michel Therrien as coach on Feb. 14.Montoya got the start because Carey Price played back-to-back games on the weekend against Ottawa.Steve Ott returned to the Montreal lineup against his former team, replacing rookie Michael McCarron. It’s the little details that I was doing earlier in the season.”Mantha, a healthy scratch for two games two weeks ago, scored his 15th of the season on a wrist shot from close range to give the Red Wings (29-32-11) their third win in four games.Justin Abdelkader scored in the first period for Detroit while Artturi Lehkonen tied it for Montreal (41-23-9) with 2:29 left in the third.“In the overtime I had two shots on net, both on the glove side, and the goalie got me twice so when I came into the slot I wanted to try it again,” said Mantha.

Wheeler, Scheifele lead Jets past Flyers for third straight win

Winnipeg even had a power play during that span after Giroux was called for tripping at 3:54 but the Jets could not get the puck on the net.The scoreless first period ended with the Jets having an 8-7 edge on shots on goal.Philadelphia had a power play heading into the second after Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey went to the penalty box for holding with six seconds left in the first.After Morrissey’s penalty expired, Wayne Simmonds took advantage of an off-balance Hutchinson and sent the puck out front to Weal for his fourth goal of the season at 4:28.Winnipeg tied it up on the power play minutes later when Wheeler’s blast from the point through traffic hit Perreault’s stick and went past Mason at 7:02. Jordan Weal also scored and Claude Giroux had a pair of assists for the Flyers (33-31-8). Mason stopped 30 shots for Philadelphia, which was playing its first game of a four-game road trip.Making his 16th start of the season, and his first since Jan. It was the eighth power-play goal Philadelphia has allowed in its past nine games.Wheeler scored his 22nd goal of the season 7:02 into the third period, then had the only assist on Scheifele’s goal.Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip Thursday in Los Angeles. Philadelphia visits Minnesota the same day. 16, Michael Hutchinson had 24 saves for the Jets (33-33-7).The last time Hutchinson chalked up a win as a starter was Dec. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and pair of assists as the Winnipeg Jets earned their third straight victory with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.Linemate Mathieu Perreault picked up a goal and one assist in the Jets’ second three-game win streak of the season.The teams were tied 1-1 until Wheeler put a high shot on Steve Mason’s glove side into the net at 7:02 of the third period. After a Flyers’ turnover in their own end, Scheifele scored his 29th goal of the season with another high shot over Mason’s glove at 13:51.Matt Read had a short-handed goal with two seconds left as the Flyers pulled Mason for the extra attacker. 22 in Vancouver, although he recorded the win after he came in for Connor Hellebuyck when the Jets beat Minnesota 5-4 last Sunday.The Jets had lost six consecutive games (0-4-2) to the Flyers heading into the match.It took 6:20 for the first shot on goal, by the Flyers.

Ibaka, Lopez get in fist fight during Raptors-Bulls game

“Here’s a team that kicked our butts the last 11 games.“I was disappointed the way we started the game and ecstatic about how we finished the game.”Casey said it is rare to see actual punches thrown in a basketball game when emotions get the better of players.“Not any more,” Casey said. “Something like that happens, the crowd got into it. “It’s too expensive. Our fans love things like that especially with it being a hockey city. But that’s ‘80s basketball, I guess.”To say nothing of the fact that the fight, coming as it did with Toronto trailing the Bulls 88-72 at the time, obviously provided the Raptors with the gas to rally after that and nip Chicago in five-minute overtime session.“Yeah, it got us going,” DeRozan said. So that’s what happened?”Lopez agreed that there was plenty of pushing and shoving that led up to the fracas that led to what he referred to as “a flashpoint.”Lopez was asked if he felt Ibaka started the altercation.“I don’t know about the whole confrontation, that’s what it felt like,” Lopez said. And I think we play better, I think, with our lineups.”While he was happy with the outcome, which halted an 11-game Chicago win streak against Toronto, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was not happy with how his team had played through most of the first three quarters.“We can’t come out and play like we did the first three quarters,” Casey said. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. That thing happened where you just start push each other, like always happens when there’s contact, and then he throws a punch.“You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I had to defend myself. Serge Ibaka has been contributing to the Toronto Raptors with his solid play at both ends of the basketball court since coming over in a trade deadline deal in February.On Tuesday night at a rollicking and rolling Air Canada Centre, he helped out with his fists and the end result, no matter how one feels about fighting in sports, certainly loomed large in Toronto’s unlikely 122-120 comeback overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls. We can go small ball. “It’s basketball. “It was one of them fun games,” said Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who should know after leading the Toronto attack with 42 points, one shy of his career high.“It sucks the little altercation, probably lose Serge for a couple of games. Believe me, Serge Ibaka doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body, he’s a competitor, so is Lopez.“I don’t think either one of them will go down as Rocky or anything like that. “Obviously I’m a biased party.”PJ Tucker, Toronto’s stocky power forward, said the fight was the turning point in the game for Toronto.“I pulled guys together right after that, (after) Serge just got thrown out,” Tucker said. This could be it. “We took Lopez out, which was huge, getting him out of the game. So they got a little excitement out of that and it got us going.”Ibaka, the Toronto forward, engaged Chicago centre Robin Lopez in a fight with just under four minutes left in the third quarter and the Bulls in complete control of the game.And unlike most angry altercations on the hardwood, which is mostly push and shove and posturing, this one actually featured punches.Lopez, a 7-footer, took the first swing in the melee that erupted after Jimmy Butler had drained a three-point shot that provided Chicago with a commanding 16-point lead.Ibaka had grabbed the ball after it fell through the netting and Lopez slapped it forcefully out of his grasp.It was the tipping point for the frustrated Raptors, who up until that point had played with drab indifference.Ibaka retuned Lopez’s challenge with a fisted volley of his own and quickly thereafter the players from both teams were milling about angrily on the floor.Both Ibaka and Lopez were handed fighting technical fouls and ejected from the game and are facing the possibility of an additional fine from the league, perhaps as high as $50,000, for their heated actions.Chicago forward Nikola Mirotic and Toronto assistant coach Jamaal Magloire were also handed technical for shoving one another on the court during the fracas.When asked what sparked the initial tussle, Ibaka said: “What happened is we were playing physical basketball and [Lopez] got frustrated,” Ibaka said. I told the guys, ‘This could be the change.

Canada locks up first place and playoff spot at world women’s curling

Canada has clinched first place after posting a pair of wins at the world women’s curling championship Wednesday.Ottawa’s Rachel Homan opened the day with a 6-4 win over Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, ensuring a berth in the Page 1-2 playoff game on Friday.Later in the day, the Canadians routed the Czech Republic 9-3 to improve to 9-0 and secure a first-place finish in the round robin. “But we also need to focus on everything that we’ve been doing like these past few games, to make sure we continue the same kind of game going forward.”Homan’s rink also includes vice-skip Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk. Canada will complete round-robin play against Italy and Denmark on Thursday before shifting focus to the playoffs.A win in Friday’s Page playoff will secure a spot in the final.“We’re going to try to rest as much as we can when we have the opportunity,” Homan said of the team’s approach to close out the round robin.

‘Stupid’ NHL divisional playoff format draws criticism

Louis how important momentum is – far more important than winning in the regular season.“It’s tough because if you have had the best season of any team in the regular season, you feel like you should get some sort of relief going into the playoffs,” said Shattenkirk, whose Blues finished first or second five times and never reached the Cup Final.Capitals veteran defenceman Brooks Orpik sees no use complaining because this is the format at least through 2018-19. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said there hasn’t been talk of altering the format and said, “You can’t constantly change the system based on the balance of power at any given time.”Columbus, in the playoffs for just the third time in franchise history, will take it no matter the format.“I don’t think we are in a position to start picking and choosing right now,” Kekalainen said. It doesn’t make sense.”The NHL adopted this format four years ago where the top three teams make it in each division and two wild cards from each conference, a throwback to 1981-82 to 1992-93 when the playoffs included four teams from each division needing to go through each other to advance. “It doesn’t work. Oshie feels the same way, but actually some paths to the Cup are easier than others. He’s a big reason Calgary will be back in the playoffs.“He’s just real dialed in,” first-year coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’re making the playoffs this year and we’re happy for that opportunity. It’s the time of year, I think, a competitive guy enjoys the most, this last little stretch and into the playoffs. From 1993-94 through 2013, the Eastern and Western Conferences teams were ranked 1-8 and re-seeded each round to reward regular-season success.The purpose of the change was to put more emphasis on intradivision rivalries, and it has – like the Capitals and Penguins meeting in the second round last spring. It’s not the first time a loaded division has caused consternation about this playoff format – ask teams in the Central Division – but the groans are getting louder now with no end in sight. There’s no easy way to win the Cup.”Capitals winger T.J. So Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford is fine with the format and isn’t even worried about his team winning the division to evade a brutal first-round matchup.“I don’t think it’s critical,” Rutherford said. Capitals coach Barry Trotz believes “that 2 (versus) 3 matchup could take a pretty big piece out of a team.”The Penguins took that path last year as the second seed in the Metropolitan and won the Stanley Cup. In a cruel twist of the NHL’s divisional playoff format, say goodbye to one of the three best teams in the league in the first round.“I don’t think it was designed for this,” Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. It’s the stupidest thing ever,” Capitals forward Daniel Winnik said. You’ve still got to beat them. “I think the incentive should be the higher team gets the easier path.”While the Rangers could end up facing Atlantic Division foes with fewer points, the Capitals, Penguins and Blue Jackets will beat each other up on the other side of the bracket. “But if you’re going to win in the end, you still need to play the best teams whether you face them in the first round or the third or fourth round. Newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk learned from his years in St. “Because you could end up playing another team that you don’t match up as well against or you could play another team that’s healthy and the team you avoided isn’t healthy.”Because of so much power at the top of the Metropolitan, Sidney Crosby said “You just expect everybody to win,” adding that it has helped push the Penguins to keep their game up down the stretch.That should help the Capitals, too, after they were able to cruise a year ago and didn’t have momentum in the playoffs. But we’ll let the teams that have been making it 10 years in a row complain about it.”Red-hot ElliottFlames goaltender Brian Elliott won 11 games in a row going into their game Tuesday in Washington with a 1.70 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in that span. Consider that the Metropolitan fourth-place New York Rangers will likely have more points than every team in the Atlantic Division and have an easier road to the East final because they would avoid the Capitals, Penguins and Blue Jackets.“It’s not a good system when your one wild-card team can cross over and they have kind of, if they perform, a clear path to get to the final,” Washington GM Brian MacLellan said. Subban and the Nashville Predators on Saturday night in a matchup of Western playoff teams. “I don’t think it was intended for this to happen.”The Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins could finish 1-2-3 in points, but because they all play in the Metropolitan Division, the second– and third-place teams will face off in the first round. So I think it’s the time of year where he feels real dialed in with his game.”Game of the weekNorris Trophy front-runner Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks visit 2013 Norris winner P.K. But that series and others also generate criticism and questions, including: Why should the Presidents’ Trophy winners face the team with the second-most points in the East before the conference final?“It’s something that’s so weird now with the playoff format, where you’ve got to play one of the best teams in the league in the first round,” Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “It’s stupid. “He’s real confident.