Kenyans shine with strong wins at Boston Marathon

Geoffrey Kirui and Edna Kiplagat produced a Kenyan sweep at the Boston Marathon, winning the men’s and women’s races on Monday by conquering the race’s hilly final miles to establish their dominance.Kirui finished in two hours nine minutes and 37 seconds after holding off a challenge by American Galen Rupp in the race’s final stretch down Boylston Street, the site of the deadly 2013 bombing attack. the first thing in my mind was that could have been my daughter,” said Keflezighi.Tens of thousands of people packed the streets for Boston’s largest sporting event, held on the Patriots Day holiday, which commemorates the start of the American Revolution. Japan’s Suguru Osako finished third among the men.Security was high along the course, which begins in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and passes through Boston’s suburbs to the finish line, where a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers on April 15, 2013 set off two homemade bombs, killing three people and injuring more than 200.Meb Keflezighi, who in 2014 became the first American to win the race in over three decades, finished 13th in his final Boston Marathon.Keflezighi, who plans to retire from racing after the New York City marathon in November, stopped after his victory to touch the hand of Bill Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was the youngest person to die in the bombing.“In 2013, I was a spectator just like the three victims and when I saw the 8-year-old … Kirui repeatedly tested Rupp in the closing miles, with the American Olympic bronze medalist eventually unable to match the Kenyan’s pace.“He put in several surges and I was able to cover a few of them,” Rupp told reporters after the race.Kiplagat, a 38-year-old mother of two whose resume includes marathon wins in London, Moscow, New York and Daegu, ran alone for the final miles of the race and finished in 2:21:52, almost a minute ahead of Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo.The Kenyan maintained her comfortable lead despite briefly stopping in the final miles when she realized she had grabbed a rival’s water bottle from an aid station and went back to return it.“I had to put back something which was not mine,” Kiplagat told reporters. “I was afraid, because you know, if you miss water it can affect you.”American Jordan Hasay set a record for an American women’s debut marathon, coming in third in 2:23:00.

Ibaka sits out practice with sprained ankle, but expected to play in Game 2

I played through it.” “It’s getting better, better than two days ago” Ibaka said. things can be changed. “But I’ve been there before, this is not the first time I’ve sprained an ankle… Had they played Monday, he believes he’d likely have to sit.“Tough, it would be tough. Tomorrow I can be 100 per cent.“It happened to me before against Memphis. “Actually I woke up today a lot better, I’m walking perfect, so hopefully tomorrow I’m going to wake up and feel more better and be ready to go.”Ibaka rolled his ankle after coming down on the foot of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the third quarter, but remained in the game, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.Ibaka is fortunate the Raptors had two days between games. Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka says it would be “tough” to play if Game 2 of the opening round of the playoffs was Monday.Ibaka sat out practice Sunday and Monday after spraining his left ankle in Toronto’s 97-83 loss to Milwaukee in Game 1 on Saturday night.Ibaka believes he’ll be ready to play Tuesday, when the Raptors host the Bucks in Game 2. Don’t really think (I could play),” he said.

Bayern Munich will need to turn the tide at Bernabeu

“It won’t be easy, we’re the underdogs.”Bayern’s chances will be boosted by the probable return of forward Robert Lewandowski, who has recovered from a right-shoulder injury that left him out of the first leg.“Lewandowski’s presence will help us,” Ancelotti said. We need to play a very complete match.”Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals for Madrid in the come-from-behind win in the first leg, becoming the first player to reach 100 goals in European competition. Madrid defeated city rival Atletico Madrid in the final both in 2014 and 2016.Only two teams have reversed a first-leg home loss in Champions League history – when Inter Milan eliminated Bayern in 2011 and Ajax got past Panathinaikos in 1996.Bayern had been the dominant home team in the Champions League until last week’s loss ended its run of 16 consecutive home wins.“We come with a disadvantage but we are still alive,” said Bayern’s Xavi Alonso, who used to play for Madrid. “We’ll not gamble. “He’s an important player who scores a lot of goals for us and he gives us more confidence.”Madrid had most of its regular starters available for the loss to Celta in the Copa del Rey quarter-final, where it couldn’t come back after conceding two goals on counterattacks in the second half. Madrid was eventually eliminated 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw in Vigo.“We will need to have a great game and be very strong,” Zidane said. “We will need to play with intensity, with courage, with personality. The rest were 17 wins and five draws.“To try to win here we have to do the perfect game,” Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday. He is three short of the 100-goal mark in the Champions League.The Portuguese forward was among the Madrid players rested by Zidane in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Sporting Gijon in the Spanish league, a result that kept Los Blancos ahead of Barcelona in the standings.Madrid forward Gareth Bale will not play on Tuesday because of a right-leg injury. The first leg is already in the past and we know the difficulties Bayern can create.”Madrid is trying to become the first team to defend the title since the competition’s new format was created in 1992. Madrid’s only loss in 23 games at the Santiago Bernabeu was in January, when Celta Vigo won 2-1 in the Copa del Rey. If Bayern Munich is to have any chance of a sixth straight semi-final appearance in the Champions League it will have to do something that only one team has achieved this season – defeat Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.Even a 1-0 victory on Tuesday will not be enough after a 2-1 first-leg, quarter-final loss in Munich. We will need to use all our quality.”In the Champions League, the defending European champions have been unbeaten at home in 12 consecutive matches, winning nine of the past 10.“Our fans always give us a plus, especially in games like this one,” manager Zinedine Zidane said.Bayern has managed only two wins in 12 matches against Madrid at the Bernabeu.“We’ll go there and try to turn the tide,” Bayern defender Philipp Lahm said. Defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane also have been ruled out because of injuries.Bayern teammates Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng had been nursing injuries, but should be available to play, while Javi Martinez is out because of suspension. “Hopefully we have corrected the mistakes that we made in the first leg.

Canadiens’ ageless wonder Markov making mark on playoffs

79 hasn’t been too shabby. It’s a level of depth the Rangers are finding problematic.It is instructive Markov has played the fourth-most minutes in the playoffs – not bad for an old guy with ruined knees – and has yet to register an official hit.That takes some doing in a series in which the statisticians are giving them out like rally towels (the teams have combined for league-leading 299 in three games).“How many hits did [Hall of Fame defenceman] Nick Lidstrom ever have?” Pacioretty said.It’s a lofty comparison, but in many ways it’s apt.Markov may not have any points yet in the series, but his influence is all over it, at both ends of the rink; Weber is mashing people, Markov is pulling tactical strings.When they are on the ice, the Habs have controlled 57 per cent of the even-strength shot attempts and just under 70 per cent of the scoring chances, according to Corsica Hockey, a stats website.In Game 3, the Rangers simply couldn’t get to the net. It was the third period at Madison Square Garden and Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty could hear a familiar Russian-inflected voice barking at him from back on the blueline.“Radu [Habs forward Alex Radulov] was F2 on that play, so he was up the ice and I think it was [New York Rangers forward Rick] Nash who was in behind,” Pacioretty explained after a team chalk talk and video session in Manhattan. On one rare occasion where they did late in the game, agitator and resident jokester Steve Ott gently caressed New York forward Mats Zuccarello’s curls after a whistle. “He’s one of those dynamic players where no situation is ever overwhelming, he never panics.”That sangfroid has helped Markov cope with the Rangers forwards’ superior speed. He assisted on the overtime goal in Game 2 before scoring the winner himself in Game 3, and New York’s J.T. But look a few feet to his left and you’ll notice No. The heavy workload may yet catch up with his aging body, but for now Julien is more than happy to ride his top pair.Unlike the Rangers, who typically distribute their ice time evenly, the Habs have a clear-cut top four – Weber, Markov, Petry, Benn – and mix in the third pairing here and there.That Julien can enjoy a certain measure of flexibility in his combinations, as Benn, Davidson and Alexei Emelin are comfortable playing on either the right or the left, is a function of the sterling play of his top pair.Weber’s play has been exemplary. “It’s little stuff most people don’t notice at all, but [Markov] saw the whole play before it happened, he’s the guy directing traffic out there.”On a team that boasts Team Canada fixture Shea Weber on the blueline, it’s hard to argue anyone else is a more crucial cog in the defensive machine.So let’s just say Markov is the kind of complementary piece most coaches can only dream of.Weber’s game has taken off since coach Claude Julien elevated the savvy and stylish Russian to the top defensive pair on Feb. Miller has the bruises to show what happens if you tick him off.Markov has merely been essential.His vision and passing ability are a perfect complement to Weber’s punishing approach, and his quiet, efficient presence on the top pair allows Julien to slot the left-shot Jordie Benn with righty Jeff Petry on the second pair.That knocks Nathan Beaulieu, a gifted but inconsistent puck mover, to the third pairing with playoff rookie Brandon Davidson. 25 for a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.Against the Rangers, Weber has been a monster. Zuccarello was deeply unimpressed and replied with a hefty cross-check, but the Habs thought it was hilarious.From a pure numbers standpoint, Petry and Benn’s underlying numbers are among the best in the playoffs.Still, the latter said he often finds himself watching Weber and Markov in practice and in games.Markov is a man of few words, although Benn, who arrived at the trade deadline, has discovered a funny, mischievous teammate behind closed doors.On the ice, he sets an obvious example.“Just so consistent, and [Markov] always manages to be in the right place at the right time,” said Benn, who was a healthy scratch for the Dallas Stars in the postseason a year ago but has emerged as perhaps the Habs’ most unsung contributor. The man shepherding the defence and moving Pacioretty into the proper position in the waning states of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final – the Habs won, and hold a 2-1 series lead – was 38-year-old Andrei Markov, the General.“We end up scoring when Radu cuts off a pass, but it could have gone the other way,” Pacioretty continued.

No answers for Toronto Raptors’ slow starts

[But] it’s taxing. “Hell no,” he laughed, when queried. “Like even today, people are here earlier, working hard to get ready for tomorrow and then when it comes to the game, those kind of things happen.“Even for myself, sometimes I ask myself why.”Ibaka, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1, sat out Monday’s practice with a sprained ankle suffered Saturday night. “But I knew people who did.”)Slow starts was a theme of Monday’s post-practice session with the media. The Raptors have looked at the stats, the rotations, the match-ups, the various groups of players on the court.“We’ve done everything and there is no consistent statistic or number or group,” Casey said. “One thing, Kyle’s mind works at 1,000 miles per hour.“Once he settles down, he’s going to figure it out … when to make the right pass, when to take the shot, when to be aggressive. He also has no answer.“Honestly, I don’t know why because what I saw from guys, every time before the game, everybody is ready, everybody is motivated,” Ibaka said. “It’s just kind of been our DNA. “I’ve always said it’s a hard way to live.“I like it because it means we do have fight, but let’s start that fight in the first quarter. Whether it’s in spurts, being aggressive scoring, or whether it’s in spurts getting everybody involved, he going to mellow down, calm down, and get that part of it together.”The series shifts to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday. Slow starts and hard finishes.”Casey compared it to his days as an assistant in Dallas, where Josh Howard was one of the Mavericks’ best first-quarter players and Dirk Nowitzki was a notoriously slow starter.“Some guys it takes a little longer to get their bones going and bodies moving,” he said. “It’s fortunate and unfortunate.“It’s fortunate that we do have the grit and the grime to fight back, but sometimes it jumps up and bites you in the behind.”DeRozan, who led Toronto with 27 points – 12 more points than he’d ever scored in an opening game of the first round – said the Raptors need to play with a sense of urgency they didn’t show in Saturday’s stunning 97-83 loss.“It’s something that we can’t feel our way into,” DeRozan said. It’s not a great way to live, to be always fighting back, scratching, coming back.”Casey said the team has studied its first-quarter conundrum. Whether it’s rebounding from a loss or rallying from a slow start, the Raptors have traditionally been good when playing from behind.“That’s our biggest mystery,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who turned 60 on Monday. Lowry responded the next morning by saying he’ll have to be more aggressive and “force more shots” come Game 2.“It’s just him figuring it out,” DeRozan said. “We can’t wait for a team to hit us, whatever it may be.“We’ve got to have an automatic start and get out as soon as that ball goes up.”Serge Ibaka, who was acquired by the Raptors in a deal with Orlando at February’s trade deadline, has seen the tendency for slow starts in the two months he’s been in Toronto. The Toronto Raptors led the NBA this season in comeback victories, but nobody has an explanation for the team’s slow starts.“You ever have an old [Buick] Regal?” DeMar DeRozan said. It’s something that we have to be better with.”

Trailing 1-0 to Milwaukee in their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series, the Raptors will look to hit the ground running when they host the Bucks in what DeRozan called a must-win Game 2 on Tuesday.(DeRozan never owned a Regal. It’s hard on your body. We’ve had it in stretches but we’ve lived by being down and coming back. But he said he should be good to go Tuesday.DeRozan was also asked about his backcourt mate Kyle Lowry, who had just four points on Saturday. “You’ve got to start it up and sit there for a while before you pull off and you go on a little road trip.“But once you get going, your car feels like a 2016 Lexus or something. I don’t know. I think that’s just kind of our problem.

Oilers goalie Cam Talbot having ‘best year’ of his life – on and off the ice

When the Swedish star was injured in 2014-15, Talbot took over for 21 games and helped the Rangers make the playoffs.The day after the Oilers selected Connor McDavid in the 2015 NHL draft, they acquired Talbot for that year’s 62nd, 79th and 184th picks. In his last year, he won 12 and ranked fifth in the NCAA in save percentage.It was enough to attract the attention of the New York Rangers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in April, 2010. Now, the Oilers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, even if the twins are keeping him up at night.“It must be a track meet around the house,” said Todd McLellan, the Oilers’ coach.Talbot would not trade it for anything.“Personally and professionally, it has been the best year of my life,” he said.“I am taking things day by day.” Fans line up at Rogers Place to take pictures with a giant Cam bobblehead. That’s the kind of year it has been for Edmonton’s goalie. He makes a save, and calms down the bench.”The Talbot twins – Landon Thomas and Sloane Colleen – will be six months old on Wednesday. 18, Cam Talbot made 31 saves to help the Edmonton Oilers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. He needed a scholarship to help pay for university. He started a league-high 73 games, and tied for first with 42 wins, a franchise record.Not even the birth of his first son and daughter could distract him.“I have been very impressed with the way he has taken care of his family and his whole body all season,” said Oscar Klefbom, the Oilers’ defenceman. Her brother was one of his best friends on the team. “When things go wrong, he isn’t scrambling. “For me to be the guy for a team that is in the Stanley Cup [playoffs] is very humbling.”After McDavid, Talbot has become the Oilers’ most popular player. “He is a real professional.”In three playoff games against the San Jose Sharks, Talbot has stopped all but three of 83 shots. When it came time for college, little interest was shown in him. Perhaps Robin Kovacs, Sergey Zborovskiy and Adam Huska will become great players; if not, for Edmonton, it was a steal.“When I with the Rangers, I dreamed of getting a chance to be a starting goalie in the NHL,” Talbot said Sunday night after stopping 23 shots in the Oilers’ 1-0 win over the Sharks. Personalities are beginning to emerge. Around 6 the next morning, he and his wife, Kelly, were en route to the hospital for the birth of their twins. With a .918 save percentage over more than 100 games, he is easily the most proficient in Oilers history, a rich one that includes Hall-of-Famer Grant Fuhr. She is the real MVP this year.”Cam and Kelly met when they were attending the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The cesarean section was planned months earlier, on an off day for the team.The next night at Rogers Place, Talbot wore his babies’ yellow hospital bands around his right wrist and made 34 saves as the Oilers beat the Blues 3-1. He enters Tuesday night’s game at the SAP Center with back-to-back shutouts against last season’s Stanley Cup finalists. I am just one part of the puzzle.”At 29, Talbot has become one of the sport’s elite goaltenders. His family was not well off. “The rest is history.”Growing up in Caledonia, Ont., Talbot was a decent hockey player but never a great one. He has nine shutouts this year, including these past two in the postseason.“Cam always looks calm in there,” said Jordan Eberle, the Oilers right wing. “In the middle of the night one cries, and the other wakes up. When one has a toy, the other tries to get it.“It’s tiring,” Talbot said. On Oct. This group is a confident group right now. Now, the roles are reversed. He and Kelly own a rescue dog, a mixed breed named Winnie.He is on a heck of a run. Then he put together a season worthy of consideration for a Vézina Trophy. After three seasons in the minor leagues, he became Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He received an offer from Alabama-Huntsville, one of only two southern schools in the United States playing NCAA Division 1 hockey.He won three games in his first two seasons. It seems never ending.“On game days, my wife takes them in the other room to feed them so that I can rest. Initially, Landon was the screamer. He has won their hearts with his play, his twins and with his kindness.Several times this year, he donated his $1,000 player-of-the-month prize to the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society. In October came the twins. He is the hardest-working in the NHL. Last summer, he was the starting goalie when Team Canada won a gold medal at the IIHF world championship. “I feel pretty good. Nobody who has worn an Edmonton jersey for any length of time comes close. The Oilers have a 2-1 lead, with the best-of-seven quarter-final series returning to Edmonton on Thursday night.“I try to just go about my business and not think about how big all of this is,” Talbot said Monday after the Oilers skated for a half-hour to stretch their legs. They hit it off, but Cam tread cautiously at first.“Eventually, I got her brother’s blessing,” he said.

Leafs overcome emotions at home to take 2-1 series lead over Capitals

“We don’t want to be too wired up either,” he said.The fans did start the game roaring and the Leafs did appear to be the victims of their own emotions. They had the deer-in-the-headlights look for the first time in the series and were caught standing around too often.First, defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, playing in his first NHL playoff game after missing eight days with a suspected concussion, somehow got lost in the Leafs zone with the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Ovechkin line on the ice. Their line keyed the Leaf comeback, with Matthews scoring once and setting up Nylander’s goal that tied the score in regulation time.The Capitals had no business letting this game get away from them. Both Kevin Shattenkirk and Orpik went after Leafs winger Zach Hyman behind the Caps net. Tyler Bozak scored the winning goal at 1:37 of overtime on a power play to send 19,841 fans at the Air Canada Centre into ecstasy, not to mention many thousands more watching on the big screen next door in Maple Leaf Square. “Obviously we want to hear our fans roaring but we’re playing a very strong team in the Capitals, so we’ve got to be very disciplined in what we do on the ice. But Kuznetsov scored early in the second and Washington seemingly had a stranglehold on the game again.Even worse, a little more than a minute later, Martin succumbed to that emotion and was suckered into a double-minor penalty for roughing by Capitals agitator Tom Wilson, who was also flagged. This allowed Backstrom to step into a huge opening and rip a shot past goaltender Frederik Andersen.It was the first time in the series the Capitals scored the first goal. Forget Evgeny Kuznetsov putting one off the post and crossbar late in the third period, the Caps had two-goal leads twice and squandered a five-on-three power play.At the same time, the Leafs may have started the game in a fog but got better as it went on. But the Capitals, who cruised to first place overall in the regular season, are falling into their history of playoff flops.It was also a coming-out party for Leafs rookie sensations Auston Matthews and William Nylander. But that did not last long.Successive body checks by Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, the latter on Ovechkin, got both the crowd and the Leafs back into the game. By the third period, they were taking the play to the bigger, more-experienced visitors, albeit punctuated by the odd heart-stopping Caps chance.Before the game, some of the Leafs talked about the importance of not letting the emotions of playing in front of their own fans for the first time in the playoffs get the best of them.“Yeah, as a team I think we have to be careful,” Leafs winger Matt Martin said before the game. But Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick also drew a minor and the Caps had a five-on-three advantage for two minutes.This is where the Leafs gathered themselves, and the Caps squandered several scoring chances, to turn the game around. The Leafs now have a 2-1 lead in the first-round NHL playoff series that no one predicted. The Caps were playing the way they had not for too much of the first two games, using their size to push the Leafs around and working their transition game much faster to get the puck out of their own zone.For their part, the Leafs spent too much time complaining to the referees and not enough time hitting and skating. The Leafs killed the penalty and eight minutes later cut the lead when Kadri bounced a shot off Caps defenceman Brooks Orpik’s rear end and into the net.The killer for Washington came with 40 seconds left in the period. Hyman managed to get the puck to Matthews, who relayed it to Nylander in front. He had all the time he needed to put in his own rebound for his first playoff goal to tie the score and ignite the crowd. Resiliency, thy name is the Toronto Maple Leafs.Once again, the Leafs used their speed to wriggle out of a stranglehold by the Washington Capitals and win another overtime game, this time 4-3 on Monday night. We can feed off the energy in the building, use our fans to our advantage, but if you’re not dialled in and you’re letting the emotions get the best of you, we’ll make some mistakes.”While Matthews poo-pooed the idea – “No, I don’t think that is really the case, we’ll just play hockey” – Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, like Martin, saw the potential problem. A few minutes later, Ovechkin fired one of his patented rockets from the top of the faceoff circle and it was 2-0 for the Capitals before the game was five minutes old.This silenced the crowd and pretty much squelched the Leafs, too. Within seconds, Matthews established himself as a star presence with a great shift that ended when the puck bounced off defenceman Nate Schmidt’s face and landed in front of Matthews in front of the Caps’ net and he had his first NHL playoff goal at 14:08.Escaping to the second period with the Capitals only up 2-1 was a big break for the Leafs.

Ryan redeemed in overtime, gives Senators series lead over Bruins

The Senators, after coughing up a three-goal lead in the second period, put all those bad memories behind them. Game 4 of the series is in Boston’s TD Garden on Wednesday.It was the Senators’ turn to play fast and loose with the lead after taking the Bruins to school and leading by three goals before four minutes had elapsed in the second period.Perhaps scared stiff by the drubbing, the Bruins responded and scored three times before the end of the period to knot the score 3-3 heading into the final frame.The third period was a rollicking affair with great scoring chances at both ends, but the score remained deadlocked.Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson made a great glove save off a tough shot by Kevan Miller. “I just tried to get it up 18 inches and I got lucky that I did.”The Senators have now taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven-game Eastern Conference quarter-final. The crowd kind of willed them into it.” The event capped an exciting weekend of sports in the New England city that also included an NBA postseason game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls and a weekend home stand for the Boston Red Sox.And Monday was the Patriots’ Day holiday in Massachusetts and before the hockey game came the 121st Boston Marathon, with close to 30,000 participants pounding the pavement.But the spandex set eventually disappeared, to be replaced that night by the city’s hard-core hockey fans, who haven’t had an NHL playoff game at which to vent their excitement since 2014, the last time the Bruins played a home playoff date.The fans were already in fine form before the teams hit the ice, whooping it up when the maniacal laugh of Ozzy Osbourne erupted from the PA system, signalling the start of heavy metal anthem Crazy Train.Neither team had scored a goal in the opening period in either of the first two games, but the Senators quickly halted that anomaly.Hoffman broke in behind a sleeping Boston defence for a breakaway and scored at the seven minute 15-second mark, using his long reach on a deke to slide the puck past Rask.Less than 30 seconds after that, Derick Brassard took advantage of a sloppy Boston clearing attempt, banging home the puck while stationed on Rusk’s doorstep for a 2-0 Ottawa lead.Ottawa outshot Boston 10-3 in the period.More trouble was to follow Boston into the second period, in which Hoffman potted his second, on the power play, his shot from the blue line sailing into the upper half of the net through heavy traffic to bring the score to 3-0.Even Bobby Orr, the beloved former Bruin great who was among those in attendance, must have had trouble digesting what was unfolding at ice level.But the Bruins battled back, and quickly.First it was Noel Acciari, playing in his first playoff game for Boston, deflecting a shot past Anderson.Then, just 42 seconds later, a horrible gaffe by Ottawa’s Ryan all but gift-wrapped Boston’s second goal.Ryan lost control of the puck just inside the Ottawa blue line and then fell as David Backes quickly closed ranks.Backes scooped up the loose puck and broke in all alone on Anderson to score and cut the Ottawa lead to 3-2.And the Bruins were not done yet.While on the power play, David Pastrnak wired home a shot to the short side of the net that tied the score at 3-3. “But it’s too bad we fell short.”In the first game of the playoff last week in Ottawa, it was the Senators who could not hang on to a 1-0 lead heading into the third period, in which the Bruins scored twice to take a 2-1 win.And in Saturday’s second encounter, it was the Bruins who coughed up a two-goal lead in the third period that allowed the Senators to skate off with a 4-3 overtime win.Ryan said he has no explanation for the big game swings providing the dominant story of the series so far.“I thought the last game we used the crowd’s energy incredibly well,” Ryan said. “I was in tight and I know Tuk [Rask] is really, really, really good at taking the bottom of the net away,” Ryan said of his winner, that came at the 5:43 mark of the overtime frame. Bobby Ryan proved the hero, redirecting a cross-ice feed from Kyle Turris on the power play, with the puck drifting past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask to give the Senators their second consecutive overtime win of the series, 4-3. At the other end, Rask was fortunate when a blast by Mike Hoffman, seeking his third goal of the game, rang off the iron.“Even though we fell down 3-0, we still battled back and showed some character,” Rask said. There is something troublesome about having a lead and trying to hold it in this opening NHL playoff tussle between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins.But the only score that matters to both teams is the one on the scoreboard after the final whistle sounds and, in that regard, the Ottawa Senators are breathing a little easier. “And then [Monday night] I thought they did.

Predators beat Chicago 3-2, push Hawks to brink of elimination

… He scored the 50th post-season goal of his career with a wrister from the right circle at 11:15 of the second, taking advantage of Marcus Kruger standing in front of Rinne.Forsberg started the rally. The Predators won Games 4 and 6 versus San Jose in the second round last year. 1 seed.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs, Senators take lead in series; elimination looms for Flames, HawksBut the Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cup titles in the past seven years, now trail 0-3 for the first time since the 2011 quarterfinals. Blackhawks forward Richard Panik argued the puck went off the netting, but the play was called a good goal after a review.Then Forsberg tied it up at 14:08 with a wrister off Ryan Ellis’ shot from the point. … Kane became the fourth Chicago player with 50 career goals, joining Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and Stan Mikita. Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane each scored the first goals this series for the Western Conference’s No. Kevin Fiala scored on a backhander 16:44 into overtime, and the Nashville Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory early Tuesday morning in Game 3 of the first-round series.Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period to force overtime. Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, even with his franchise playoff scoreless streak ending early in the second period at 141 minutes, 5 seconds. He scored on a wrister hitting the puck in the air past Crawford, who was caught having turned around in the crease, at 4:24. Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith skated in his 125th career post-season game. He beat Rinne glove-side off an assist from Marcus Kruger. The goal also snapped a scoreless skid for Chicago that spanned 177:45 back to their first-round loss to St. Officials also reviewed for Arvidsson interfering with Crawford outside the crease before ruling another good goal.NOTES: This is Nashville’s third straight overtime win at home in the playoffs. Crawford also got a toe on a shot from Fiala in the slot with 6:00 left.Then James Neal found Fiala with a pass, and he beat Crawford to send fans home shortly after midnight local time.The Predators brought out the star power with country singer Carrie Underwood, married to Nashville captain Mike Fisher, to sing the national anthem. This was Kane’s 126th playoff game. They lost that series in seven games to Vancouver.Fiala finally converted on his third chance in overtime. Crawford got a glove on a puck nearly midway through the extra period off Fiala’s shot from the high slot. Louis last post-season.Then the Blackhawks quickly made it a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal by Kane. Five catfish also were tossed onto the ice before the puck dropped and combined with a late start for a very loud standing-room only crowd of 17,204.Nashville wound up outshooting Chicago 49-36.Rinne’s shutout streak ended when Rasmussen scored the first post-season goal of his career 65 seconds into the second period.

Ducks douse Flames in OT, take stranglehold on series

It looked like a sure thing. They were shell-shocked.Once the Flames were back on their heels, they were sitting ducks for an Anaheim team that responded to a mid-game goaltending change with poise and assurance.The Flames needed a victory badly to get back in the series. Bennett’s goal ended Gibson’s night and brought Bernier into the game.Until late afternoon, there were lots of tickets available on the secondary market, presumably a product of the recession that continues to grip the city. With the Ducks on the ropes, coach Randy Carlyle shuffled his lines and conjured up a unit that featured Perry, Rickard Rakell and Nate Thompson, an unlikely trio that keyed the comeback.To say the Flames were dazed and confused afterward would be an accurate assessment. Versteeg made the Ducks pay on that, sneaking down from the right point, the puck arriving on his stick before Gibson could get over to cover the far goalpost.The Flames spoke about the hockey gods – and how they failed to smile on them much in the first two games of the series – but they were out in full force on that right-place, right-time play.Calgary held an 8-1 edge in shots at that point, but Anaheim managed a pushback before the period ended, Ritchie cashing in the rebound of Antoine Vermette’s shot to make it 2-1 Calgary at the end of a bone-jarring opening period.Stone and Bennett extended Calgary’s lead to 4-1, before the collapse started and put their season squarely on the ropes. Theodore scored again – a long seeing-eyed shot from the point – to square the game 4-4 with 4:21 to go in regulation – and setting the stage for the overtime heroics.For Calgary, Sean Monahan, Kris Versteeg and Sam Bennett scored power-play goals, while Stone chipped in with one at even strength. The Flames opened up 2-0 and 4-1 leads early. Gibson gave up four goals on 16 shots, before giving way to Bernier, who provided shutout goaltending the rest of the way.Shea Theodore’s first of two goals came with 49 seconds to go in the second period and started the Anaheim comeback in relatively innocent fashion.Theodore’s goal came on a muff by goaltender Brian Elliott, who might have been distracted by an un-penalized exchange at the Flames’ bench involving Perry, who traded punches with players seated on the bench. Thompson’s eye-level tip of a point shot by Hampus Lindholm was right on the edge of being illegal via a high stick.But a video review upheld the call on the ice, which put the Flames even further back on their heels. Instead, they are down 3-0 in the best-of-seven Pacific Division semi-final, with Anaheim in a position to sweep the series in Game 4, scheduled for Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.Jonathan Bernier picked up the victory in relief, after Carlyle gave starter John Gibson the hook just before the halfway point of the game. It was looking easy. Jakob Silfverberg rattled a shot off the crossbar with four seconds to go in the period that could have made it closer still.The roof caved in on the Flames midway through the third when the Ducks, down by two, received a goal from Thompson with 8:46 to get it to 4-3. Everything was going their way – until it wasn’t.Corey Perry’s seeing-eye shot from the right boards caromed in off the pants of Flames’ defenceman Michael Stone at 1:30 of the first overtime period to cap an impressive four-goal rally by Anaheim, which skated off with a 5-4 victory over a discouraged and disconsolate group of Flames’ players, left to ponder what just happened – to their season and to their playoff chances.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs, Senators take lead in series; elimination looms for Flames, HawksIt was the first time in franchise history that the Ducks came from three goals down to win a playoff game. After losing twice in Anaheim, thanks to undisciplined play and some bad luck, the Flames were back on home ice Monday night, where they’ve traditionally managed a little more pushback against the big bad Ducks. But by puck drop, the building was filled to capacity, most spectators clothed in the team’s signature red jersey, some wearing bracelets on their wrists that flashed a red light, creating a neat, eerie effect.Whether it was the supportive homegrown crowd, or simply coach Glen Gulutzan’s message about better starts sinking in, the Flames got on the board first. Twenty-three seconds after Ducks’ Nick Ritchie was sent off for interference, Monahan scored his third goal of the series, converting a Troy Brouwer centring pass with a quick shot from the top of the crease that eluded Gibson.The Ducks survived a holding call against Korbinian Holzer but couldn’t kill off a goaltender interference penalty to Hampus Lindholm moments later. They made the Ducks pay for a steady parade to the penalty box by scoring three times with the man advantage. For the better part of 50 minutes, the Calgary Flames had the third game of their playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks well under control.

Kelly: With Leafs in playoffs, fans have zero expectations

In the best possible sense, the Leafs aren’t thinking at all at the moment. “We have the best goalie in the league, we have a solid group of guys on the defensive side, all four lines can play well. It’s difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. The process is working; the Leafs cannot lose (even if they end up losing); and that dropping down to eighth seed the day before the playoffs started was a gift so divine we must assume the heavens parted over the Air Canada Centre as it happened, allowing a single shaft of light to fall upon the House Where Hockey Goes to Die.Because Washington had to – had to, had to, had to – win this first round. Everybody got “Tyler Bozak,” because they all won 4-3.Three games into this thing, with Toronto leading the series 2-1, a few things have become clear. Somehow, Toronto had convinced itself that tradition and expectation can act like a sixth man on the ice – that it’s some sort of advantage whenever people want it to be. Fans there have passed beyond disappointment into cynical despair.When the Capitals lost last year, a local rag ran a satirical piece proposing a fill-in-the-blanks season-ending story for use in all situations. The terrible thing about doubt is that as soon as you stop to consider it, you are – ipso facto – doubting.What are Toronto players talking about? If they were feeling swamped before this thing started, they are now forehead-deep in sticky uncertainty.In its weird way, Washington as a sports town is Toronto’s American doppelganger. Like magic.Evidently, it hasn’t been. The Capitals know it, too. There will be no need of them this time around.Even if the Leafs lose this thing, no one will succumb to frustrated rage, or demand the coach should be fired, or give a lot of non-nautical thought to “changing course.”For the first time in forever, nothing beyond decent effort is expected from the local hockey club. Up a game, there are still no expectations.Which is exactly why they might win. Which would be all the times that matter.After blowing two two-goal leads and a five-on-three second-period power play on Monday night, the Capitals are doing it again.It’s happening so quickly, you can imagine the whole Washington team writhing around on the locker-room floor between periods, horror-movie-style, as their regular-season Jekyll transforms into postseason Hyde.Meanwhile, the Leafs are sitting across the hall listening to all the screaming going on in the visitor’s dressing room, drawing their overtime pool picks out of a helmet. When the Washington Capitals had their traditional playoff humiliation last year, Alex Ovechkin was asked to put it all in perspective.The Russian star seems to enjoy his role of as a graduate of the Conan the Barbarian School of Public Speaking – skimpy with the verbs and adverbs; then really hitting the nouns. The usual nonsense about believing in your teammates, taking your chances and 110-per-cent effort. Every successive time, it gets exponentially heavier.Eventually, you end up like Washington on Tuesday night, wound up like a rubber-band ball, taking a penalty a few seconds before the end of third, and knowing in your rapidly blackening professional heart that this is not going your way.It’s just a look they have. Our therapist keeps asking about it.But the city’s pitchforks remain stored in backyard sheds. Customarily, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not judged on their place in the standings, their personnel or their quality, but on their Toronto Maple Leafsness.The usual local calculus is that the team isn’t very good, but owes it to the city to be much, much better in any case. You can see it.”Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs, Senators take lead in series; elimination looms for Flames, HawksExcept for those times you can’t. Expectation is a millstone around the neck of any team that has experienced it firsthand and failed to follow through. According to many leading hockey scientists, Toronto’s habit of putting its mouth an inch from the Leafs’ ear and shrieking, “Try harder, stupid!” is not an effective spur to performance.Ask the Capitals about that right now. They’re busy doing.In any other year over the last 50, this would not have been possible. For instance: “Another promising (SPORT) season came to a premature end last night as (WASHINGTON SPORTS FRANCHISE) fell to the (TEAM WITH A WORSE REGULAR SEASON RECORD) eliminating them from the playoffs.”To which not-so-long-ago Toronto might reply, “At least you’re making the playoffs.”Present-day Toronto still knows how they feel. All Toronto had to do was show up on time and not put a dozen goals into their own net or run over anyone with a Zamboni.We can spend all day breaking down the minutiae of tactics – and if this keeps up, all terrestrial TV and radio will soon be dedicated to that exercise – but the only meaningful factor at play is pressure.Every last ounce of it has been laid across the Capitals’ shoulders. By the time we get around to Game 4 on Wednesday, Washington is going to come out looking like a group of skating hunchbacks.When asked to discuss Cartesian epistemology and the difference between certainty and doubt (possibly not in those exact words) after Monday’s game, Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen told reporters, “Until we change the narrative, that’s going to be the question.”Whenever a hockey player begins philosophizing in public, or starts using words like “narrative,” you know he is not in a good headspace. We’ve been there before. But when he cares to be, Ovechkin can be very conversant in his second language. “Every year, lots of expectations, lots of great players, but something missing,” he said.

MLSE’s marketing team helps Leafs and Raptors build the playoff buzz

We are constantly trying to move the needle with our marketing, to be best in class and the organization that everyone is trying to emulate.”Hosford’s department came into the spotlight in 2014 when a plucky Raptors team made its first run to the playoffs since 2008, and it worked with ad agency Sid Lee to launch the We The North campaign, based on the idea of being an outsider, the NBA’s only team outside the United States. To replace him, Hosford was able to land one of Sid Lee’s best, Dustin Rideout.Unique Raptors handout playoff T-shirts are back again this year, with different graffiti-style artwork for each game. She and her department are always willing to take risks.”One of Hosford’s key employees on the We The North campaign – David Freeman – was whisked away to work for the Cleveland Browns. “No one else is doing that. She works in tandem with team presidents Brendan Shanahan, Masai Ujiri and Bill Manning on how the clubs should be branded and portrayed, and what fans should experience at the games.“Interestingly, all three want their teams presented similarly; never with one star player singled out but always about the team, and that’s why we always have a couple of players or a bunch in ads,” said Hosford. “Everything you see is their vision of what the presidents want the fans to see about their teams, and it’s my job to bring it to life.“In the past, we didn’t have that same level of collaboration with the teams, but that all changed in recent years. They were placed throughout the stadium seats in a plaid pattern.Some fans appreciated the quirky originality, while others puzzled over the shirts. It resonated with the players, became the stuff of banners and hashtags and was imitated by others in the sports world. At last Saturday’s Game 1 between the Raptors and Bucks, fans got red or black shirts featuring a fist clenching a handful of net twine. As marketers, we share best practices around the league, and the Leafs are consistently in the top tier of ideas we draw from.”Hosford’s staff has generated several unique ideas, including riffing on St. They brought such tremendous creativity.”Not every idea has worked out as serendipitously as We The North or Stand Witness. He watched from all vantage points in the arena and then questioned the players about how it felt on their chest as they skated; he then gave that feedback to Hosford.The re-branded Raptors logo leaked early two years ago, preventing MLSE from launching it the way they wanted to. Patrick’s Day by wearing throwback jerseys of the team’s predecessor franchise, the St. Last year, the shirts featured everything from furious snowballs to angry beavers and were arranged in the stadium in complex patterns like a Canadian flag or YYZ, the code for Toronto’s Pearson Airport. It hasn’t hurt to have teams that have surprised, delighted and won.“We all feel fortunate to work in Toronto with such a passionate fan base,” said Shanahan. “They booked world-class talent, and they were able to integrate basketball with Canada’s rich landscape. “Shannon talked to me about how the Leafs were being built and how we see ourselves – from the perspectives of me, the players, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock, and then we took ideas to Sid Lee. For the first time since 2002, the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs are in the playoffs at the same time. The edgy spot ended with images of the team’s current youngsters and the 100 flipped to 001, foreshadowing an intriguing start to the next century.Even with top overall pick Auston Matthews in the mix, most assumed this was a rebuilding season. Who knew the campaign would come to fit the squad so well – a rookie-heavy squad which would make the playoffs?“It’s tough to create an ad or a campaign that the players can say, ‘Yes, this is who we aspire to be,’ and that also resonates with the fans,” said Shanahan. In the 2007 NBA playoffs, MLSE put a red playoff shirt on every fan’s seat, only to discover that the visiting New Jersey Nets would wear red that night.MLSE has won several Clio Sports awards in recent years for excellence in sports marketing. Pats.Think back to Toronto’s wintry 2016 NBA All-Star weekend and the luxurious 40,000-square-foot heated tent that MLSE built near the CN Tower, complete with stylish winter decor, dining and concerts by Gwen Stefani, Usher and Flo Rida. We don’t copy anybody, we never look at anybody. There was the re-branding of the iconic Leafs logo, for which they locked down the Air Canada Centre one night early in the design phase so Shanahan could watch two players skate around on the ice with the new insignia on. At the wheel is Shannon Hosford, who oversees the seasoned marketing department at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which has handled everything from playoff T-shirts to rally towels, TV commercials to logo re-brands, Drake nights to the Leafs’ Centennial season, and the wildly popular “We The North” and “Stand Witness” campaigns.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs, Senators take lead in series; elimination looms for Flames, HawksHosford has climbed the ranks in her 17 years at MLSE and is now the senior vice-president of marketing and fan experience. Few in the industry manage a portfolio this big – a team of 150 employees who juggle nearly everything fan-facing for the Raptors, Leafs and Toronto FC. The concept of Stand Witness was a great one.”Shanahan has worked closely with Hosford on many initiatives. “Being bold and willing to make statements can be risky, especially when you don’t know how a season will turn out, but that’s something I’ve always admired about MLSE. Instead of becoming the city’s next great sports hero, Defoe spent an unspectacular, injury-plagued season with TFC, which instead prompted punchlines like, “It’s a bloody big bust.”There have been other misfires. The Leafs launch went much more according to plan, debuting with the team’s newest players.Shanahan was involved in choosing a new anthem singer – 15-year-old Martina Luis-Ortiz. Shannon is able to take the learnings from one league and apply them across others. When Toronto FC signed English striker Jermain Defoe in 2014, MLSE and Sid Lee delivered clever ads that screamed, “It’s a bloody big deal,” with Brits spitting out their drinks at news of the Tottenham star heading to Toronto. The campaign had kicked off with a TV commercial from Sid Lee to open the season, in which an elderly Leafs fan remembers the Leafs over the decades, from Stanley Cups to heartbreaks, even the low years that made fans want to chuck a television through a window. “When you have a fan base that is passionate about your team’s history, present and future, it makes your job easier, but Shannon never takes that for granted. It made Hosford one of five finalists for Strategy’s 2014 Marketer of the Year award.“Many of the things Shannon and her team do are so distinct – things they do in Jurassic Park, the way they put out playoff T-shirts in special patterns in the arena, and the Toronto Huskies uniforms along with a Huskies court,” said Ujiri. Their shared home is swathed in a carefully balanced mix of splashy decor for both teams, while the square outside juggles massive viewing parties for whichever club is playing at the moment.Some walls, doors and elevators at the Air Canada Centre are plastered in the trendy red-and-black buffalo plaid of the Raptors’ post-season campaign, with hollering images of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. It gave the team and its fans an identity and war cry, and made Toronto a pillar of cool. In the past, there was a belief that, ‘Oh, Leafs fans won’t like us to mix up the music, or they might not get into games like Raptors fans do, or they won’t sing along,’” said Hosford. She’s always looking for ways to reach new fans.” They brought in new in-game hosts and tapped Anton Wright, the long-time head of Raptors game operations, to come up with fresh ideas for the fan experience at Leafs games.“Brendan challenged us to challenge the status quo. Opinions on social media ranged from “mad wack” to “looks like someone snatched a handful of DeMarre Carroll’s hair” to “ugliest shirts in the league.”For the Leafs’ first post-season home game Monday against the Capitals, fans were given 001 rally towels, a nod to Stand Witness. It was a hot ticket for VIPs and some 15,000 NBA fans, and it left lasting impressions across the league.“They really brought their We The North campaign to life with that experiential destination,” said Kelly Flatow, the NBA’s senior vice-president of events. “We decided to challenge those old beliefs, and we found Leafs fans really embraced the changes and the atmosphere has really improved.”They made special efforts to celebrate the Leafs’ centennial season, from an eye-popping opening night to inducting four former greats to Legends Row.“In Toronto, you are promoting a team to a very knowledgeable and savvy fan-base, and that can be tricky,” said Susan Cohig, the NHL’s senior vice-president of integrated marketing. Staging duelling playoff runs is a sports marketer’s dream. Others are decked in iconic blue with the digits 001 to signify the culmination of the first 100 years of Maple Leafs hockey and an exciting start to the next.