Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker and bullpen coach Dane Johnson looked on intently from behind the mound.Brook Jacoby, the Blue Jays hitting coach, was watching from behind the batting cage while third-base coach Luis Rivera watched from near the on-deck circle.It was one of the most scrutinized simulated throwing sessions in recent memory for the Toronto Blue Jays, which was understandable, given the subject in question was Roberto Osuna. “Threw a warmup before he went in, free and easy. “Might throw a little around tomorrow or Monday, just to make sure I’ll be 100 per cent on Tuesday. But, yeah, definitely no issues, no more pain in my neck or back, feeling great.”That’s good news for the Blue Jays, who can ill afford to be without their solid right-hander at the back end of the bullpen for an extended period of time.The 22-year-old has tallied 56 saves in the two years he has held the job for Toronto since breaking into the big leagues.‘He felt good, each and every one of [the pitches],” Walker said. Neck feels great, so it was very encouraging.”Walker said he kept a practised eye primarily on the action of Osuna’s throws and the freedom of his delivery.“His action looked like the same old Osuna and that’s really what I was concerned with and looking for,” Walker said. “And he certainly looked good today.”After Friday night’s marathon, a 10-8 Tampa Bay victory in which starter Francisco Liriano could not get out of the first inning for Toronto, manager John Gibbons was forced to use five members of his bullpen to get through the game.As a result, the Blue Jays made a roster move on Saturday to try to freshen up that group, selecting the contract of right-hander Casey Lawrence from Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.To make room on the 25-man roster, reliever Dominic Leone was sent down to Buffalo. The prized Toronto closer, on the disabled list since the beginning of the Major League Baseball season with a sore neck, threw from the mound here at Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon.The Blue Jays are to play the Tampa Bay Rays here Saturday night in the third game of their four-game set.It all went very smoothly – 24 pitches, to be precise – and afterward, both the player and the pitching coach said Osuna felt ready to go.That can’t happen until Tuesday, when Osuna is eligible to come off the DL, just in time to return to the lineup for Toronto’s regular-season home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.“I think I’ll be ready by Tuesday,” Osuna said after the throwing session.
I think it’s time for Canada to step up to the plate.”During his 2016 campaign for the CONCACAF presidency, Montagliani talked about a “collaborative strategy” to bring the 2026 World Cup to CONCACAF with Canada having already indicated it would put up its hand.Canada is coming off hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, deemed a success on and off the field. It has also hosted the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 2007 U-020 Men’s World Cup, and the 1997 U-16 Men’s World Cup (now a U-17 event)CONCACAF hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986 (both Mexico) and 1994 (U.S.).When 2026 comes round, there will have been 32 years and seven World Cups since the 1994 one held in the U.S. CONCACAF will argue its time has come.It will also no doubt make the case that a joint bid allows for more resources to host the expanded tournament.The FIFA Council has already agreed on a four-phase process for bidding for the 2026 tournament. It is expected to confirm the bid rules at its May 11 congress in Bahrain.A decision on the successful 2026 bidder is expected in May 2020.FIFA has already agreed that UEFA and Asian confederation members should not bid for 2026, given Russia is hosting in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.Canada has only ever qualified for one men’s World Cup — in 1986.Montagliani and CONCACAF officials were in Aruba on Saturday at the confederation’s annual congress. and Mexico.Soccer officials from the three countries have scheduled a news conference for Monday in New York where they will announce a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup, according to a source. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.Bidding for the 2026 tournament has long been part of Montagliani’s vision.“We’re the only G-8 nation to not host the World Cup,” Montagliani said in January 2014 in releasing the CSA’s 2014-18 strategic plan. with Europe (3), Asia (2), Africa (1) and South America (1) having served as host. Canadian Victor Montagliani has already earned his place at world soccer’s inner circle.Now the FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president is looking to help bring soccer biggest’s prize to Canada, U.S. ““We’ve hosted almost every other event … Press releases from CONCACAF and the soccer governing bodies promised a “historic announcement.”Talk of a joint CONCACAF bid for the next available World Cup has been in the air for months with Montagliani, the outgoing president of the Canadian Soccer Association, leading the way for the confederation that represents North and Central America and the Caribbean.The 2018 men’s World Cup is set for Russia with the 2022 tournament headed to Qatar.The 2026 tournament will be the first of the expanded format.The FIFA Council agreed in January to expand the current the 32-country tournament to 48 teams split into 16 groups of three.
If he were to win here, that would give him a remarkable run of finishes in his four Masters starts – 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 1st.Is it possible that Spieth already thinks he is the man to assume Palmer’s status as gallery favourite here? Or, at least, to use the possibility as a spur to performance?If he just wanted to make a point – “I’m at that level” – he’s made it. While in the process of winning his first Masters two years ago, Jordan Spieth appeared painfully ill at ease. Fowler has the photogenic pout.But the entire emotional weight of Augusta National will fall in line behind Spieth on Sunday. Spieth is in the midst of doing both. He certainly has the titles. Garcia has the sympathy. On Thursday, each of the thousands of spectators was given a white “Arnie’s Army” button. Not on the course, but anywhere off it.He mumbled. In time, Tiger Woods – who’s out injured and has taken pains to stay scarce – might step up to take it. On Saturday, he golfed in the aggressive, muscular fashion that made Palmer so beloved.By comparison, all the colleagues bunched up with him at the top of the leaderboard come off a bit stiff.Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia (having shaken off his Saturday-at-Augusta curse) are the co-leaders at six-under. Now all he has to do is win. Unless he’s got an old reel-to-reel in his den and a projectionist on staff, I’m having trouble believing Spieth has closely examined Palmer’s game.When Spieth was asked about his invoking of ghosts in a postmatch presser – Question No. There was a bit of bickering, and Spieth asked, “What would Arnie do?”The caddy, Michael Greller, told Spieth to go for it. Many of his answers to simple questions sounded as if they’d been work shopped in a bathroom mirror beforehand, and still needed a lot of punching up. Cue the trumpets.After his recent death, Palmer’s name is on all lips here this year, but this was a little hard to credit as a spontaneous outburst.It would have seemed less stage-managed if, upon finishing his round, Spieth had not rushed over to the CBS broadcast crew and said of the round, “You gotta play like Arnold Palmer out there.”When Palmer won his last Masters, Spieth was minus-29 years old. 1 – he was delighted.“I’m glad [the mic] picked that up.”He didn’t bother the charade of seeming surprised.A great deal of this week in Augusta has been devoted to an extended wake for Palmer, both the figurative father and favourite son of this course. Spieth is down in the third group at four-under with Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman.Rose has a major and so the pedigree. He did, magnificently. But you could sense that he wanted to unleash his inner Peyton Manning.Like America’s most telegenic former football player (a new member here at Augusta National), Spieth has a way of projecting confidence by speaking technically and at great length. He’s not yet ready for any spiritual role.It would seem that Spieth might like to accelerate the process a bit, and leapfrog the man in front. His caddy advised him to lay up. All of the aged members wandering around in their green jackets are wearing them, as are many of the fans.Left unspoken is the fact that there is now a man-sized hole to fill. It gives the impression of competence without ever risking saying something controversial.It’s also a remarkable sales technique, which is why so many guys on used-car lots want to talk to you about torque displacement instead of price.Apparently, all Spieth needed was a little press-conference blooding before the Manning-esque inner pitchman could be unleashed.That guy truly arrived on Saturday as the 23-year-old Texan put himself in the frame to win his second Masters in four attempts.On the 13th, Spieth was looking at an obstructed approach to the green through foliage. But Woods is currently stuck in a sort of golfing purgatory – no longer competitive at the very top level, but far from willing to let go. If his record wasn’t enough, his cunning invocation of Palmer will surely win over any holdouts.Some athletes manufacture their own legend; some allow their play to speak for them. Rickie Fowler is back in the frame at minus-five. He dithered.
Come next week there should be no issues.”Boucher also said he expected Marc Methot, who hasn’t played since March 23 due to a finger injury, to be ready sometime this week.Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators (44-27-10) as Craig Anderson made 18 saves.Mika Zibanejad scored the lone goal for New York (47-28-6) as Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 shots. “It just seemed like the perfect storm for a little bit. “I gave him a hard time after the first goal and he robbed me in the third.”The Senators opened the scoring at the three-minute mark as Hoffman beat Lundqvist from the top of the faceoff circle after the Senators had created a number of chances.Notes: Ottawa RW Chris Neil was a healthy scratch, as were C Colin White, C Chris DiDomenico and D Jyrki Jokipakka. We weren’t playing our best hockey, combined with injuries, combined with other teams coming on strong and bounces not going our way and it seemed like it might get away from us, but I think it kind of speaks of the resiliency in this room, the character in here and the depth.”The Senators remain without a number of players, including captain Erik Karlsson who missed his second straight game with a lower body injury, but said he would be ready for the start of the playoffs, but feels he will benefit from the rest.“It’s been a while since I rested during the regular season,” said Karlsson. “The guys did a great job handling things with all the injuries that we had. “I have a lot of respect for them coming out and playing hard.”The Senators’ post-season opponent remains unknown at this point, but they now have the luxury of resting players for Sunday’s final regular-season game against the New York Islanders. While the Rangers have had their playoff spot locked up for weeks it wasn’t until Thursday that the Senators clinched their ticket to the postseason. All Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher had to do was look at his players and he could see how determined they were.Ottawa clinched second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon. The Rangers have now lost back-to-back games and will wrap up the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.Rangers coach Alain Vigneault admitted his team, which was missing a number of players, had a hard time following the Senators speed and skill.“If I look at it from a positive aspect our goaltender got a lot of work so at the end of the day we’ve got one more game and then we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs.”Boucher tinkered with his lines and was so pleased with the results that he thought they could stay intact for the playoffs.One combination saw Pageau between Hoffman and Mark Stone, while Turris centred Clarke MacArthur and Ryan Dzingel. Ottawa has won three straight and is playing with a renewed confidence after having struggled through a stretch of five straight losses.“This last little stretch really tested everybody here,” said Mark Borowiecki. Brassard looked great between Alex Burrows and Viktor Stalberg.Pageau, who earned his 100th career point, tipped Borowiecki’s point shot into the net to make it 3-0 6:19 into the third period, delighting the 18,976 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre.Zibanejad broke Anderson’s shutout bid in the final minute of play, scoring on a wraparound goalThe Senators came out flying in the second period and were rewarded with a 2-0 lead as they outshot New York 16-5.Ottawa controlled the momentum throughout the period and took a 2-0 lead as Viktor Stalberg dropped a pass back to Brassard, who beat Lundqvist stick side.There was no denying Brassard’s relief as he scored his first in 11 games.“It always feels good to score, especially on Lundqvist,” said Brassard. New York’s Mika Zibanejad was making his first return to Ottawa since being traded for Derick Brassard in the summer. With an opportunity to lock down home ice Ottawa came out determined and was clearly the better team.“I saw (the players) eyes today and they had fire in their eyes today,” said Boucher.
He took care of the par 5s and then finished with a 20-foot birdie on the 17th and a 12-footer birdie on the 18th for a Saturday-best 67.Rose has a share of the 54-hole lead for the first time in a major. Fowler also has never felt better about his game or his chances.He didn’t do anything special except to birdie all the par 5s to offset a few miscues in his round of 71.“I don’t think anyone is going to put themselves far enough out front where they can cruise in,” Fowler said.Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., was 8 over after a 75.Perhaps the most daunting name at Augusta National was Spieth, who began this Masters with a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 15th hole of the opening round and was 10 shots out of the lead when he trudged off the course on Thursday.He went 29 straight holes without a bogey until a three-putt from below the ridge on the par-3 16th. He also pulled off a shot from the pine straw on the 13th by telling his caddie, “What would Arnie do?”It was his way of saying Arnold Palmer would go for it, and his way of letting Michael Greller know that Spieth was feeling it. He went wire-to-wire to win in 2015. I didn’t know going into my first one if I would have five chances in my life,” Spieth said. “So it’s awesome.”Spieth was tied with Ryan Moore (69) and Charley Hoffman, who led for much of the day until he put his tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th and made double bogey. That includes Garcia, who has had close calls in every major he has played except the Masters — until now.“It’s the kind of place that if you are trying to fight against it, it’s going to beat you down,” Garcia said. Just his luck, the ball bounced softly off the bank and stayed up, and from there the Spaniard hit a tough chip to tap-in range to turn potential bogey into a birdie.Rose was an afterthought, five shots behind, when his tee shot to a left pin on the par-3 12th dropped in 5 feet from the hole for the first of five birdies on the back nine. “Saturday’s gone and now Sunday’s coming — a very exciting Sunday,” Garcia said after making a 7-foot par putt on the final hole for a 2-under 70 to share the lead with Rose. By then, he already was squarely back in the mix with a few good bounces and his frightening touch on the greens. And he threw away a five-shot lead on the back nine last year for another runner-up finish.Here he is again.“Waking up and you have a chance to win your favourite tournament that you’ve dreamt of winning and competing in since you were a kid, and to be able to have your fourth opportunity now … Lee Westwood, a runner-up last year, also had a 68 and was five shots back.“It just the great players in front, and in conditions like this, it’s going to be hard because you’re going to have to make it happen,” Scott said.That’s the allure of Augusta National, and it’s never more appealing than when so many top players are right there with a chance. Jordan Spieth got his name high on those famous white leaderboards, the only spot he has ever occupied on the weekend at the Masters.Saturday had something for everyone at the Masters, including the promise of more to come. There are too many capable players. But at the end of the day, that’s part of the game.”And it’s a big part of Augusta National, which could prove to be the ultimate challenge. “You’re going to have to go out and play a good round of golf, and I think there’s going to be four or five guys pretty much with the same mindset tomorrow.”Rose and Garcia were at 6-under 210, and that one-shot lead they share was over Rickie Fowler, who has never been this close to the lead in a major going into the final round. Justin Rose had a back-nine charge so common at Augusta National. Too much can happen around this place.“A one-shot lead starting the day doesn’t mean much,” Rose said. Open title from Merion and an Olympic gold medal from Rio. “Just make sure we have a good chance coming into the last five or six holes, and see what happens.”Garcia, the most vexed player without a major in his generation, hung his head when a 4-iron from the first cut of rough on the par-5 13th came out soft and disappeared into the tributary of Rae’s Creek in front of the green. And when he surveyed the landscape, he’s not sure any of that matters.There is too much golf left. Hoffman battled for par on the last hole to stay just two shots behind.Only 10 players remained under par, all of them separated by five shots. He also has a U.S. Two holes later, he nearly holed a wedge from the 15th fairway.Spieth had a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play in his Masters debut in 2014 and was runner-up to Bubba Watson. He drilled a 5-iron into 30 feet and narrowly missed the eagle putt. That group included former Masters champions Adam Scott (69) and Charl Schwartzel (68). “So you’ve just got to roll with it and realize that sometimes you’re going to get good breaks, like has happened to me a few times this week, and sometimes you’re going to get not so good breaks. Sergio Garcia finally caught a good break in a major.
He then danced around Penguins defenceman Justin Schultz and beat Fleury for his 27th goal this year.The 27-year-old had two more great chances to score again later in the period, both denied by Fleury.Toronto, as one might expect in those circumstances, owned the action in the early-going — shot attempts favouring the Leafs 23-7 after the first.Things turned dicey for the Leafs though two minutes into the second when Andersen was bumped in the head by the hip of Penguins forward Tom Sestito. Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals on 30 shots.It’s quite the turnaround for Toronto, both from last season and from the time of the last playoff berth four years earlier.At about this time last year the club was wrapping up 30th place in the NHL which helped them land the best odds to pick Matthews first overall at the 2016 draft.Matthews became the first player in history to score four goals in his NHL debut, his rapid emergence, alongside a historic class of rookies, central to the Leafs leap up the standings.Beyond that, the Leafs have had Andersen deliver in his first year as a starter and others like Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner and Bozak enjoying career years.Kadri, Gardiner, Bozak, Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov are the only remaining members of the Leafs last playoff team in 2013. Boos rained down on Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer for six seasons, and hearing those jeers the 29-year-old flashed a big, wide grin.Before his goal was even announced the Leafs struck back with Kessel’s former linemate, van Riemsdyk, evening the score at one. The organization has been dramatically overhauled since with Brendan Shanahan taking over as president, Mike Babcock as head coach and Lou Lamoriello as general manager.The roster has been turned over almost entirely too with the club also sporting a new logo and uniforms this season.Tension was evident in the Air Canada Centre crowd early given the stakes for the hometown Leafs.It was a member of the last Leafs playoff squad in 2013 who opened the scoring, Kessel beating Andersen far blocker side for his 23rd goal of the season six minutes in. Setting up the goal, William Nylander set a new team rookie record with his 26th power-play point of the year.But whatever momentum Toronto gained was dashed when the Penguins scored on a power play of their own, Crosby notching his NHL-leading 44th goal of the year. McElhinney made the first save on Schultz, but couldn’t recover in time to stop Crosby, who was set up by Guentzel.Guentzel, who’s shined as a rookie for the Penguins, could have given Pittsburgh the lead early in the third, but missed with an open cage. Van Riemsdyk gained control of the puck by batting down Bozak’s pass with one hand on his stick as he crossed the blue line. He got lucky a little while later though, his innocent shot bouncing off a pair of Leafs defencemen before sliding through the pads of McElhinney for the 3-2 lead.Kapanen pulled the Leafs back even about 10 minutes later with his first NHL goal and point, depositing a nifty pass from Matt Hunwick.Brown then redirected a Gardiner shot to put Toronto in front, Matthews adding his 40th goal of the year into an empty net. The Toronto Maple Leafs are going back to the playoffs.Connor Brown scored the go-ahead goal with less than three minutes left in regulation as the Leafs clinched their first playoff berth since 2013 with a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Kasperi Kapanen and Auston Matthews also scored for the Leafs and Curtis McElhinney stepped in for an injured Frederik Andersen with 12 saves. Read more: With playoffs clinched, Toronto Maple Leafs arrive somewhere special way ahead of scheduleThe Leafs will play the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs if they pick up at least a point in their season finale against Columbus on Sunday.Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel all scored for Pittsburgh, which sat a number of regulars in advance of the postseason. Clutching his head, Andersen stayed down on the ice in obvious discomfort and after undergoing consultation with a team trainer, left the ice.Two weeks earlier, in a game against Buffalo, Andersen was bumped in the head by Sabres forward William Carrier and forced to sit out a start with an undisclosed injury.Sestito drew a penalty for goalie interference on the play, Bozak proceeding to put the Leafs ahead with the power play.
But the sky is obviously the limit for a young man whose .882 win percentage off a 15-2 campaign last year was highest in the game.As far as pitching coach Pete Walker is concerned, all Sanchez needs to do this season is stay the course.“I don’t think he really needs to do anything more than he did last year,” Walker said. It was a game featuring two of the rising young pitching talents in the American League – Aaron Sanchez of the Toronto Blue Jays and Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays.The two starters went at it, hammer and tong, deep into the game, a delight if you like your baseball long on pitching and short on scoring. Archer went 7.2 innings, allowing two earned runs off five Toronto hits while striking out eight.Although Sanchez is being utilized at the back end of the five-man Toronto rotation to start the season, it is by no means indicative of his value to the Blue Jays.By delaying his first start, the Blue Jays are just trying to monitor his workload for a coming season that is anticipated to be long and arduous.Whatever his placing in the rotation, Sanchez is considered the burgeoning ace of the staff, coming off a season where he led the American League with a 3.00 earned run average at the age of 23. And somehow it seemed fitting that neither pitcher would factor into the decision, having already departed by the time this one wound down on Saturday night at Tropicana Field, heads held high for jobs well done.In the end, it was the Rays who finally prevailed, earning a 3-2 win in 11 innings.And wouldn’t you know it, it was Casey Lawrence, just called up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day to help fortify Toronto’s tired bullpen, who found himself on the bump in the game’s most crucial moment.Entering in the bottom of the 11th, it didn’t start well for Lawrence, with Mallex Smith clubbing a lead-off double to right field for the Rays.Toronto manager John Gibbons then went to work, ordering back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases, which set up a forceout at home plate if it came to that.Lawrence got a big strikeout off Evan Longoria, but the game was finally won in inglorious fashion when he walked Brad Miller to force in the winning run.After the Blue Jays pretty much burned through their bullpen in Friday’s 10-8 victory by the Rays, the lengthy work by Sanchez was appreciated by Gibbons.Gibbons joked before the game that he might have to forfeit if Sanchez somehow had to be taken out early.Sanchez wound up pitching seven solid innings, allowing just one Tampa Bay run off four hits while striking out six. The run batted in was his fifth in the last two games, during which he has tallied three hits.Donaldson grounded through the middle off Archer in the eighth inning to score Russell Martin from third, providing Toronto with its first lead at 2-1.But the Rays, with Joe Biagini now on the mound for the Blue Jays, responded in their half of the frame, tying it up on a single by Steven Souza Jr. that brought home Evan Longoria from second. The last pitcher to lead his league in ERA at that tender age was Clayton Kershaw back in 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.Sanchez is a year older now and still developing his pitching repertoire – the Blue Jays are hoping to see a better changeup from him this season. “I think that can be an issue sometimes, when you do really well, you have some success, and all of a sudden you want to take it to the next level.“He led the American League in ERA so, I mean, what really more does he need to do from that standpoint?”Sanchez was matched up against Archer, a fine young pitcher in his own right.The two foes threw up zeros across the board over the first two innings before Sanchez blinked first in the third, surrendering an infield single to Derek Norris, a come-backer that deflected off the pitcher’s glove.Archer continued to befuddle the Blue Jays with a perfect game into the fifth inning, where it was broken up by Kendrys Morales, who singled sharply to right leading off.Sanchez found trouble in the fifth, with runners at first and third with just one out.Sanchez tried to sneak a curve past Corey Dickerson, but the batter took it straight up the middle into centre and scored Derek Norris from third to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.The Blue Jays drew even in the seventh, when Archer walked Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, the first two batters he faced in the inning.Archer recovered to get Morales to hit into a double play, which moved Bautista to third base.Bautista would then score on a seeing-eye ground ball by Troy Tulowitzki that found a hole through the left side, knotting the score at 1-1.After a slow start to the season, the Toronto shortstop’s offence is rounding into shape.
Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov were among their healthy scratches. Petr Mrazek stopped 27 shots for the Red Wings.A sold-out crowd was in a festive mood, without a doubt, a night before the Red Wings hosts their last hockey game on Sunday against New Jersey in the banner-filled arena they’ve called home since the 1979-80 season. The Red Wings’ postseason streak ended at 25, but they have plenty of motivation to win in their final weekend at Joe Louis Arena.Detroit’s Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin scored tiebreaking goals in the first and second periods, firing up the crowd as if a victory would matter in the standings. … They’ll move to a new facility, Little Caesars Arena, nearby next season.Even though Detroit is in last place in the Atlantic Division, there was a playoff-like atmosphere all night.Every fan seemed to be standing when the puck dropped in overtime and a collective sigh was heard when Detroit defenceman Mike Green turned the puck over near Mrazek. Hundreds of fans lingered in their seats and aisles after the game, some going down to the glass, to take pictures in what for many of them will be their last visit.NOTES: Montreal’s scratches also included Jordie Benn, Tomas Plekanec, Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov. A few Montreal players, including Shea Weber, are allowing injuries to heal more before facing the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom dropped a ceremonial puck and was joined in the arena by former Red Wings such as Tomas Holmstrom and Dino Ciccarelli.UP NEXTCanadiens: Host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round series.Red Wings: Host a game at Joe Louis Arena for the last time on Sunday against New Jersey. The Canadiens took advantage with Galchenyuk scoring off an assist from Nikita Nesterov.That didn’t send red-and-white clad spectators to the exit right away. Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu and Artturi Lehkonen scored game-tying goals in the second.Charlie Lindgren made 25 saves for the Canadiens. Alex Galchenyuk scored 1:42 into overtime, giving the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.The Atlantic Division-champion Canadiens, with nothing at stake, rested many players in their final game of the regular season.
Rinne had 34 stops for the Nashville (41-29-12).Winnipeg was 10-2-1 in its last 13 games.Winnipeg outshot the visitors 14-7 in the scoreless first period, with Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers leading both teams with four shots.Nashville had a two-man advantage for 1:12 midway through the second after penalties to Chris Thorburn and Dustin Byfuglien, but Hellebuyck made a couple good saves and his teammates blocked some shots.Back from missing one game with an injury, Ellis took advantage of a Bryan Little turnover to score his 16th goal of the season at 11:31 of the second. 29 and tied it 1-1 midway through the third period.Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for the Jets (40-35-7). Calgary also has 94 points and was playing San Jose later in the night, but the Flames hold the tie-breaker over the Predators and get the first wild-card berth.Defenceman Ryan Ellis scored a short-handed goal for Nashville in the second period.Winnipeg forward Kyle Connor, called up from the AHL Manitoba Moose April 3, was playing his first NHL game since Nov. The unassisted marker came with teammate Viktor Arvidsson in the penalty box for hooking.With under five minutes left in the second, Nashville unsuccessfully used a coaches challenge on a no-goal by Arvidsson.The Predators flipped the tables in shots on goals, ending the middle frame ahead 28-20.A Nashville turnover by Anthony Biletto at centre ice gave Adam Lowry the puck and he sent a pass to Connor for his second goal of the season at 10:47.Scheifele finished as Winnipeg’s leading scorer with 82 points in 79 games, including 32 goals. Winnipeg was already eliminated from the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons since relocating from Atlanta, but the seven-game win streak was a record for the Jets/Thrashers franchise.Nashville has 94 points and will hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. It was Wheeler’s 26th goal of the year. Captain Blake Wheeler scored a short-handed goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to lift the Winnipeg Jets to their seventh consecutive victory with a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.With Jets forward Joel Armia in the penalty box for tripping, centre Mark Scheifele carried the puck up the centre of the ice, waited for Wheeler to get near the net and then sent him a pass he used for a low backhand shot past goalie Pekka Rinne. Both were a career high for the four-year player.Wheeler ended on a season-high, eight-game point streak with four goals and seven assists.Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each finished with 61 points, with Johansen playing all 82 games and Arvidsson 80.
27 to bolster the Leafs’ fourth line and leadership group was a sign management decided the team was a playoff contender ahead of schedule.“We got better just in the few weeks I’ve been here,” Boyle said. “Being around everyone on a day-to-day basis is often an area where you have to be comfortable.“This is a close team. For Leaf veterans such as van Riemsdyk, 27, who’s been with the team since 2012, or even Morgan Rielly, who is in his fifth season at the age of 23, it’s been an enjoyable ride watching this young team, with eight rookies on the roster, quickly grasp what it takes to succeed in the NHL.“I think it’s pretty cool to see,” van Riemsdyk said. The Leafs said Sunday Andersen did not have any concussion symptoms and they hope he can start the playoffs for them. Rielly admitted there were times it was no fun reporting for work.“I think I’ve used that analogy before where you’re not in [the playoff race], you’re out of it, you haven’t won a game in two weeks, you’re going to practice and it can be tough mentally,” he said. In his rookie season, the Leafs were supposed to take the next step after finally becoming a playoff team only to drive off yet another cliff and precipitate the biggest housecleaning in franchise history.There were no bright spots in the next three years as Leafs president Brendan Shanahan stripped the team bare and started over. “They’ve done a good job. “But in the meantime, we got a game tonight.”Babcock showed much more excitement after Saturday’s big win over the defending Stanley Cup champions.“I’m proud of the guys; I’m excited for the guys,” he said. That is why, a few hours before a game last week, he was not interested in discussing any feeling of accomplishment.“I think, probably this summer, we’ll have a spiced rum by the lake and get a chance to do that,” he said. My dad and my brother have days where they don’t want to go into work either, but they do it.“So we did it. With Matthews and fellow flashy rookies Mitch Marner and William Nylander, along with Andersen, the new No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen. After a 2-4-3 run in October, the Leafs were never below .500 in any subsequent month, with February’s 5-5-4 mark their worst stretch.“The way these guys push each other and the way the coaching staff pushes the guys, it’s going to be hard not to get better and better,” said centre Brian Boyle, the second-oldest player on the team at 32. “But it’s all part of the grind. Backup Curtis McElhinney, who was superb in relief of Andersen on Saturday, got the Sunday start against his former team. There’s been moments where we’ve got a good thing going, we’re all committed to working towards the same goal and it’s a good feeling.”While playoff talk concerning the Leafs did not become serious until well after Christmas, a look back at their monthly record shows the potential was there much earlier. “You still need to do something with it, go out there and perform, but you could see early on the potential we had as a team.”
Somewhere special arrived Saturday night when the Maple Leafs clinched their first NHL playoff spot since 2013 and first postseason berth from a full 82-game schedule since 2004. “Earlier in the year we showed flashes of it, how we need to play. Fittingly, the key goals in the 5-3 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins came from the Leafs’ bumper crop of rookies: Kasperi Kapanen, who scored his first NHL goal at 14:30 of the third period to tie the score, Connor Brown with the winner almost three minutes later, capped by Auston Matthews with his 40 of the season into an empty net.The only downer was the loss of No. I told the coaches at the start of the year if we got in it was going to be [Sunday] in game 82. 1 goaltender, and holdovers including Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Rielly, the Leafs were expected to be much better.However, not many expected to see a playoff spot this fast. Then the worm turned for the youngsters, who began to apply the defensive lessons preached by head coach Mike Babcock and his assistants. No one will be surprised if Marner or Nylander are finalists behind Matthews.By December, the Leafs led the league in blown third-period leads. I thought it would be like this – you have to really crawl in at the end. We’re one game ahead of schedule.“But, to be honest with you, I didn’t know the kids could be this good.”Follow David Shoalts on Twitter: @dshoalts It’s a matter of doing it consistently and doing it the right way.”Rielly arrived in the wake of the Leafs’ awful collapse in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins in May, 2013. But he did not dress for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets. “So it’s not just year-to-year you get better. It’s a good thing to be a part of.”Even in a profession rife with obsessive characters, Babcock is a driven sort. We tried to get better.”Shanahan and general manager Lou Lamoriello shifted the rebuild job into a higher gear this season after the last-place finish in 2015-16 netted Matthews with the first overall draft pick. That, too, played into their success.“Guys are getting used to one another, guys are getting used to playing with each other,” Rielly said. The 15 overtime and shootout losses represent some of those blown leads but they are also an indication this team can be much better next season and beyond.Given the large number of players in their teens and early 20s, it is no surprise the Leafs quickly became a close-knit team this season. By Saturday, the Leafs had a 14-7-15 record in games in which they held the lead after two periods. Even in the long-ago days of oh, say last October, when the Toronto Maple Leafs were as likely to blow a third-period lead as to keep it, James van Riemsdyk still figured he and his teammates were headed somewhere special.“Through the first couple of games you could tell we had a lot of potential,” he said. His arrival near the trade deadline on Feb. He was hit on the head by Penguins forward Tom Sestito, a lumberjack on skates whose presence in the NHL is a complete mystery let alone on a team as skilled as the Penguins. But Matthews exploded out of the gate with four goals in his first NHL game and is now the leading contender for the NHL’s rookie-of-the-year award.
Ryan Miller made 32 stops.Tied 1-1 in the third period, Letestu redirected a McDavid feed on a four-minute power play past Miller for his 16th goal of the season at 3:04.McDavid’s assist extended his career-high point streak to 13 games (seven goals, 16 assists) – also now longest in the NHL this season.The 20-year-old superstar leads the league in scoring with 98 points (30 goals, 68 assists) and is primed to become the first player to win the Art Ross Trophy in his second season since Sidney Crosby in 2006-07.“It’s not weighing on my mind,” McDavid said if getting to 100 points mattered to him on a personal level. Lucic’s initial shot was stopped by Miller, but Pakarinen buried the rebound for his second.Edler got a consolation goal for Vancouver, his sixth, with 40.3 seconds left in regulation, but Edmonton held on.The Canucks, who will miss the playoffs for second straight spring and the third time in four years, are an NHL-worst 7-22-3 since Jan. Every day I will work to make our team the best it can be and others will decide what we are going to do.“We didn’t get the results we wanted, but I liked how the guys competed.”Edmonton opened the scoring 61 seconds into the second period when Eberle’s shot ramped up off Stecher’s stick and beat Miller upstairs on the shortside for his 17th.The Canucks got a power play late in the second and finally beat Talbot, who made his sixth straight start, after a couple of great chances.Daniel Sedin fed twin brother Henrik down low, and he in turn found Boeser at the side of the net with a no-look pass for the rookie’s fourth goal in eight games since joining the Canucks before the Oilers responded in the third.“We’ve gotten better as the season’s went along,” said Eberle. 20.“It’s hard not to think about that,” Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said of his job security. 18, an embarrassing run that set a new franchise-low for consecutive games without a victory at home previously set during the team’s inaugural 1970-71 season.Just 2-12-2 over their last 16 games overall, the club’s last victory in regulation in Vancouver came all the way back on Jan. … The bruising forward swatted Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher away like an annoying fly on a partial breakaway after coming out of the box. It’s a sacrifice Mark Letestu would happily make again.The Oilers forward lost a tooth on a high stick before returning to score the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play in the third period as Edmonton defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Saturday to clinch at least second place in the Pacific Division. 25, a run that has seen them tumble to 29th in the overall standings.Vancouver has lost seven in a row in regulation, and 12 straight at Rogers Arena (0-9-3) dating back to an overtime victory on Feb. Desjardins said he would leave it up to Miller whether he started or if Richard Bachman got the nod. “We knew what we could do and what we were capable of.”Jordan Eberle and Iiro Pakarinen also scored for Edmonton (46-26-9), which got 29 saves from Cam Talbot in his league-leading 73rd start of the season.Brock Boeser and Alexander Edler replied for Vancouver (30-42-9). “I think we’re playing our best hockey right now, which is what you want to do going into the playoffs.”Note: Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said after the game backup goalie Laurent Brossoit will start Sunday. “It’s more important the team gets 100 points than an individual.”After Letestu gave his team the lead, Edmonton put things away with 9:20 left in the third moments after killing a penalty to Milan Lucic. “As we win, as we continue to reach these different levels, there are new possibilities.”After missing the playoffs the last 10 miserable seasons, Edmonton’s 101 points marks the first time the franchise has cracked the century mark since earning 106 in 1986-87.“We believed in ourselves in the locker-room,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “But the one thing you do as a coach is coach. I can’t control that. “I’ll always trade teeth for goals,” said Letestu.Having secured home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with the victory, the Oilers can finish first in the Pacific if they beat the Canucks in Sunday’s regular-season finale and the Anaheim Ducks lose to the Los Angeles Kings in regulation.“There wasn’t a lot of people that predicted that coming into the year,” said Letestu.
Still there were positives for coach Damian McGrath’s team, which climbed another rung to ninth place in the World Series overall standings. Hong Kong marked the third event in a row that the Canadians made the elite Cup quarter-finals.And it was a historic weekend for Hirayama, who came into his 50th career World Series tournament tied with Phil Mack for the all-time Canada point record at 973. Jerry Tuwai set up the second Nasoko try with an eye-popping behind-the-head pass while Mocenacagi capped a trademark fluid end-to-end Fijian attack.Canada trailed 15-0 at halftime to Argentina but pulled ahead with 19 straight second-half points on tries by Hirayama, Harry Jones and Hammond before Sabato retrieved his own chip over the Canadian defence to score the deciding try on the final play of the game.Fiji downed Australia 33-23 in semifinal play before disposing the Blitzboks.Still rebuilding after several senior players and coach Ben Ryan left after winning the Olympic gold medal, Fiji ended its lean run this season in spectacular fashion by claiming the Hong Kong title for the third year in a row.Running its opponents ragged with a combination of power, pace and improvisation, Fiji opened up a 10-0 at halftime of the final after tries from Mocenacagi and Mesulame Kunavula. “At the start of this tournament, I told the boys let’s not think about the three-peat, let’s chase it like we’re gunning for our first Hong Kong title.”The relief was evident too for new coach Gareth Baber, though the Welshman said the result would not reduce the expectations on Fiji to keep winning.“There’s always huge expectations on. The are the world champions and the Olympic champions for a reason,” he said. when they blew a 17-point lead before beating the American 29-24 in extra time but were unable to raise their game in the final.“We knew playing against Fiji in the final in Hong Kong that they were always going to up their performance by 10 to 15 per cent and that’s what they did,” South African coach Neil Powell said.“That’s not an excuse. The 29-year-old from Richmond, B.C., now has 1,006 points to stand 18th on the world all-time list.Canada led Fiji 12-5 in the quarter-final but then gave up 24 straight points.Canada started poorly as the Pacific Islanders won the ball on their own kickoff and Vatemo Ravouvou sliced through the Canadian defence for a try within the first 30 seconds.Canada responded with a Luke McCloskey try, taking advantage of a Fijian penalty after a well-worked attack. Nathan Hirayama became the first Canadian to reach the 1,000-point plateau in rugby sevens as Canada tied for seventh Sunday at the Hong Kong Sevens.Olympic champion Fiji won the famed tournament for a record 17th time, beating Series leader South Africa 22-0 in a lopsided final.The Fijians started the day by dispatching Canada 29-12 in the Cup quarter-finals, its 44th win in 46 meetings between the two. “Ben did a fantastic job and now I have to try and pick up that baton and move it on.“And even though we’ve got Olympians in there, they’re still humble enough to know they can still add to their skill set.”For South Africa, the long wait for its first Hong Kong title goes on after the Blitzboks finished runners-up for the fourth time.They almost came unstuck in the semifinals against the U.S. We needed to absorb that pressure and not make mistakes … A disputed try by Lucas Hammond, dragging two Fijian tacklers with him into the base of the goalpost, gave Canada a 12-5 lead.But a converted try on the ensuing restart by Kalione Nasoko, running over a Canadian tackler en route to the goal-line, ended the half at 12-12.Fiji starved Canada of possession in the second half and went ahead on tries by Ravouvou, Nasoko and Sevuloni Mocenacagi. It then put the result beyond doubt with two tries from Nasoko in the second half.“There’s been a lot of pressure,” said Fiji captain Oseo Kolinisau. so credit to Fiji, they played better than us and deserved to win.”Australia, beaten 33-12 by Fiji in the semifinals, defeated the U.S. Canada, which went 2-1-0 in pool play, then exited in a 20-19 loss to Argentina on a last-second try by Franco Sabato. 26-19 to win the third-place playoff, its best result of the season.The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit heads to Singapore next.Spain will join the tour next season after beating Germany in the final of the Hong Kong qualifying tournament.
I thought our girls, their spirit was excellent today. The Germans rebounded to dispatch Canada 2-0 in the semifinal.“These kind of teams prepare us for where we want to go and a 2-1 result against the world’s No. The 21-year-old from Whitby, Ont., earning her third cap, bent over and covered her face in horror after the ball rolled through her into the goal.Canada pulled even late in stylish fashion after a beautiful Janine Beckie cross from the right flank eluded three German defenders and found Rose who beat diving German goalkeeper Almuth Schult with her left-footed shot to the far corner.Beckie made space for herself prior to the cross, allowing a pass to run through her legs to Sophie Schmidt who sent the ball back to the Houston Dash forward for the well-aimed cross.It was the sixth goal in 26 appearances for the 18-year-old Rose.Herdman said the decision to pull Sheridan at halftime was “performance-related.”“You’ve got feel for her,” he said. They just couldn’t hold out.”Deanne Rose scored in the 39th minute for fifth-ranked Canada, which probably deserved a better fate on a warm sunny afternoon before an announced crowd of 10,023.Disaster struck early for Canada when Sheridan whiffed on a left-footed clearance attempt from a backpass. “It was really tough to (play two) Tier 1 teams in a couple of days so if it came out with even the draw, I would have been really really happy with that result.“But to lose on a set play and a bit of a flukey goal, it makes it a little bit more difficult I think for all of us to take. 1 is obviously not good enough for us,” said Beckie, who scored the winning goal against No. But John Herdman’s side came within four minutes of holding Germany to a tie.Linda Dallman’s 86th-minute goal gave the Olympic champions a 2-1 win over Canada in a women’s soccer friendly Sunday. Germany’s deciding goal came off a corner. 6 Sweden. The lone win – by a 2-1 margin – came in Olympic group play last summer. A big learning from this,” he said. Facing the best team in the world on two days rest proved to be too much for Canada. They battled right until the end. “You have one of those (mistakes) in a 20-year career usually. “And I think that’s a big statement.“There’s a lot of players in that locker-room very disappointed that we walk away with a loss in this game when we competed. That’s the one, she doesn’t have to think about that one any more.”Herdman said his team would have had a lot more energy if it had not played just days earlier.“I’m pretty comfortable with that performance, not the result,” he said.Canada’s record against Germany dropped to 1-14-0. But a resident performance against a fresh German team. Hopefully for Kailen, it’s out of the way now. And (showed) we can play with the world’s best.”Adriana Leon came on in the second half for her first appearance for Canada since the 2015 World Cup.Herdman also sent on Nichelle Prince, Lindsay Agnew, Marie Levasseur and Shannon Woeller in the second half. Woeller, a defender who plays her club football for FF USV Jena in Germany, was a late call-up to replace the injured Rebecca Quinn.It was Woeller’s 17th cap and her first in five years. The Canadians, who won bronze at last summer’s Games in Brazil, were coming off a 1-0 victory over Rio runner-up Sweden on Thursday. Stephanie Labbe, who had replaced Kailen Sheridan at the start of the second half, cleared the ball with a punch but it went straight to Dallman, whose left-footed shot went through two players and beat the Canadian ‘keeper.Herdman, while disappointed, saw positives.“I’m just really happy with the girls today.
Trying to pitch through it this early isn’t a smart move.”
The move should not come as a huge surprise after watching Howell struggle in his last outing on Friday, where the Rays emerged with a 10-8 victory. I know to pay attention to those things now that I’m getting older,” he said.After Sunday’s game, the Blue Jays will return to Toronto for their season home opener Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.It is expected that closer Roberto Osuna, who has been on the DL since the start of the season with a sore neck, will be added back to the roster for that game. Toronto Blue Jays’ reliever J.P. “I’ve had shoulder surgery before in 2010. It’s nothing like that. He failed to record an out and was saddled with the loss after allowing a pair of earned runs.The 33-year-old, who was signed in the off-season to a one-year deal worth $3-million, said the shoulder was bothering him during that outing.“Yeah, but I’ve pitched through it (before) and done well, but this is too tight and a little bit more … Howell has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder stiffness.Toronto recalled right hander Dominic Leone from Triple-A Buffalo and he was in uniform for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.“It’s a stiffness thing going on,” Howell said. It’s one of those things where if I wait a couple of days I’ll benefit a large amount.
He played 38 minutes, and then begged the NBA not to give the Raptors the sleepy-start schedule again next Saturday.“It’s a difference for us, but at the end of the day we’re still professionals, we’ve got to out there and do our job,” he said. “Tonight it seemed like it took a little longer to get going but we got going, we got a win and whatever comes at that time we’ll be ready to play.”Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis sat out again for the Knicks, who had already lost Derrick Rose to knee surgery and Joakim Noah to an NBA suspension.TIP-INSRaptors: Toronto finished 14-2 against the Atlantic Division for the second straight season. The Toronto Raptors know they are headed for another wake-up call, no matter how much they would like to sleep in.They’ve had the noon start on the opening day of the NBA playoffs the last few years and expect it again. “When the other team puts more pressure we have to learn how we have to improve our defence and offence at that point of the game.”The three victories have come since Lowry returned after right wrist surgery sidelined him for 18 games. So while playing some no-name Knicks on Sunday might not get them ready for the calibre of competition, at least it provided a glimpse of the timing. They are a great team, a playoff team and that’s how we learned today,” Hernangomez said. Courtney Lee, the only player from the Knicks’ expected starting five still playing, scored 14 points.DEMAR 2KDeRozan shot 11 for 15 from the field and became the second player in franchise history with a 2,000-point season. So was Stephon Marbury, the New York native who played for the Knicks during a turbulent stretch from 2003-08 and has gone on to a successful career in China.UP NEXTRaptors: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 110-97 victory over New York.“We’ve got to get our bodies and minds ready and I told the guys remember how this felt, (who) had a tough time getting going because that’s probably going to be the game we have,” coach Dwane Casey said.The Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter to reach 50 victories for the second straight season. He now has 2,020 points.Vince Carter scored 2,107 in 1999-00 and 2,070 in 2000-01.GOOD GUARDSMarkelle Fultz from the University of Washington, expected to be one of the top picks in the draft, was at the game. DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points and the Raptors overcame a slow start to wrap up at least the No. The Raptors are 61-14 against their divisional foes over the last four seasons.Knicks: Coach Jeff Hornacek seemed to think Porzingis (sore lower back) would play Wednesday in the season finale and wasn’t sure about Anthony (sore left knee). The Cavaliers have won all three meetings after beating the Raptors in six games in last year’s conference finals.Knicks: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday in their season finale. But Toronto broke it open behind the 3-point line and won its third straight.“I think they picked it up defensively and they put more pressure on us. … They can still finish second if they beat Cleveland in their regular-season finale and Boston loses its final two.Kyle Lowry had 17 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, who swept the Knicks for the first time since 2009-10 in a strong follow-up to their franchise-record 56-win finish last season.“A lot of teams don’t get the opportunity just to win 50 games,” DeRozan said. “For us to do it back-to-back years just shows the process and the progress that we made over the years.”Rookie Willy Hernangomez tied his career high with 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who despite playing without most of their top players trailed only 76-75 after three.