Tennis star Serena Williams confirms she is pregnant

Serena Williams has not played since then, citing a knee injury.TECHNICALLY A DOUBLES MATCH?Fans and celebrities reacted with a mixture of awe and glee to Williams’ Snapchat post.“Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. 1 Hall of Famer Tracy Austin said on the Tennis Channel. 1 world ranking next week, set off a day of frenzied speculation with a short-lived selfie posted on social media – posing for a photo in a yellow one-piece swimsuit on Snapchat with the caption: “20 weeks.”

Tennis star Serena Williams appears to suggest she is pregnant (Reuters)

Williams deleted the photo shortly after it appeared and waited more than six hours to make any public comment, stoking debate among tennis fans about whether or not she was joking.“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” Los Angeles-based publicist Kelly Bush Novak said.Bush Novak told Reuters that Williams intended to sit out the remainder of the 2017 season and return next year.Williams, the world’s highest paid female athlete, announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last December.Days ago she seemed to quell speculation about impending motherhood with an Instagram post praising a newly published guidebook for new mothers by former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, adding in the caption: “One of these days I hope to apply this (but for now I’ll stick to my dog Chip).”If Williams is indeed 20 weeks into her term, that would mean she was approximately two months pregnant when she captured her record 23rd Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Open in January.Her victory over older sister Venus Williams broke a tie with Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles championships in the sport’s modern era. And did not drop ONE SET. but will she have enough motivation when she sees that little one?” former world No. Kim Clijsters of Belgium retired and had a child before coming back at age 26 and winning three Grand Slam titles as a mother.Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court also won Grand Slam titles after having children.Former No. Let that sink in,” wrote Twitter user @noelleharmony.“So Serena cheated,” Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, wrote on his Twitter account. 1 ranking in 2002 and has held that spot for more than six years in total.Sister Venus, 36, has won seven Grand Slam singles titles. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, missed most of the 2016 season to have a baby and is expected to return to the tour this summer.“We’ve seen some other mothers come back … James Pivarnik, a kinesiology professor at Michigan State University, said her muscular build could overcome some of the changes that usually impair performance.Other women have left the tour to have children and returned at a high level, although none has done so at Williams’ age. Tennis superstar Serena Williams is pregnant and taking maternity leave through the rest of 2017, expecting to give birth this fall, her spokeswoman said on Wednesday in an announcement that upended a sport the 35-year-old athlete has dominated for the past decade.The confirmation came hours after Williams, due to regain to the No. “She’s already done so much, does she need more?”For Williams, who commands nearly $29 million in salary and sponsorship earnings, becoming pregnant makes her all the more attractive to corporate sponsors, industry executives said.Williams is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles title and still dominates the tour at an age when most players have retired.Williams, who has played professionally for two decades, first gained the No. “Because that’s technically a doubles match.”The Women’s Tennis Association congratulated Williams on Twitter before deleting its post.Tennis’ U.S. governing body, the United States Tennis Association, wrote on Facebook, “Join us in congratulating the GOAT and her fiancé Alexis Ohanian on this incredible news!” referring to Williams with the acronym for “Greatest of All Time.”Researchers who study pregnancy in high-performing athletes said her training during pregnancy, the speed of her body’s recovery after giving birth and her will power are the keys to Williams returning to top-level play.

Raptors 905’s Jerry Stackhouse named D-League coach of the year

And I thought our guys that went down, Freddy and Siakam and those guys, did a great job of going down and playing.”Raptors 905 hosted the Maine Red Claws in Game 2 of the D-League Eastern Conference final Wednesday night, leading the best-of-three series 1-0.Stackhouse played 19 seasons in the NBA following a stellar collegiate career at North Carolina. Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse has been named the NBA D-League coach of the year.In his first season as head coach of the Toronto Raptors’ D-League affiliate, Stackhouse led Raptors 905 to its first Central Division title and a league-best 39-11 mark, including a league-record 21-4 road mark. Stackhouse also guided D-League defensive player of the year Edy Tavares and league all-star Axel Toupane to callups from other NBA teams.“He did a great job growing and developing that team,” Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday. Raptors 905 continued to improve with a 10-2 record in January and an 11-2 record in March.The Raptors used their D-League affiliate to provide valuable playing minutes for prospects Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Bruno Caboclo. Stackhouse received the only coach of the month award in team history after leading Raptors 905 to a 9-3 record in December. He joined the Raptors organization as an assistant coach in 2015. “I saw Tavares got defensive player of the year, that was huge.

Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl faces possible suspension for spearing

He was moved from the top line wing to a third-line centre role in Game 3.Draisaitl had just 20 penalty minutes in the regular season. The league says Draisaitl faces a hearing Wednesday for a possible suspension. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for spearing San Jose’s Chris Tierney.Draisaitl received a major penalty and game misconduct when he hit Tierney in the groin with his stick in the second period of Edmonton’s 7-0 loss Tuesday night. The series is tied at two games apiece with Game 5 on Thursday in Edmonton.Draisaitl was eighth in the league in scoring with 77 points in the regular season but has none in the playoffs.

Pressure is on for Toronto Raptors to neutralize the Greek Freak

After a tense start to their first-round playoff series with a spirited Milwaukee Bucks squad, P.J. Still there’s small things,” said Tucker, who finished with five points and five rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench Tuesday. He’s a great player. For me, it’s more of his leadership, being a point guard and making the wheels turn.“When he pushes the ball, he’s aggressive, attacking the rim, then it opens everything else up for everybody else when he’s pushing the ball up the floor, people have to respect him. “We want to slow him down. The Congolese power forward started slowly, scoring just three points in the first half, but finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win.Following Wednesday’s workout Ibaka said the ankle was feeling much better as he prepared to board a flight for Milwaukee. That’s something we’ve got to make sure we understand, and not let someone else have a big night.”Serge Ibaka battled through a left-ankle sprain in Game 2, which he suffered during the third quarter of Game 1 while stepping on Antetokounmpo’s foot. With the next two games in Milwaukee, the pressure will be on the Raptors to play closer to their potential and regain home-court advantage in the series.“Our energy has gotten up, we’re playing harder. That followed a frustrating 97-83 loss on Saturday that saw the Bucks dominate the fourth quarter as Toronto fell to 0-9 in first-round series-opening games. It’s a team effort. He’s making threes. “We haven’t been together in so long so we’re still figuring each other out, figuring it out how we’re playing together on the defensive end.“Once we get that figured out, I think we can take it up another couple notches.”Game 2 saw a bounce-back effort from all-star guard Kyle Lowry. We want to continue to take his numbers down as much as we can. It makes it a lot easier for everybody else.”Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to pace the Bucks in the series. “For me it’s not about if he scores or what he does in the box score. Tucker says he knows the Toronto Raptors can play at another level.The Raptors evened the best-of-seven NBA series at 1-1 with a 106-100 win Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre. It’s not one guy. The Athens-born Antetokounmpo had a game-high 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in Tuesday’s loss after finishing Saturday’s Game 1 victory with 28 points.The 22-year-old, known as the Greek Freak, started Game 2 slowly, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first quarter, but finished the first half with eight points, 10 rebounds and four assists.Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows his team isn’t going to be able to shut down Antetokounmpo completely, but will aim to neutralize him as the series moves to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for Games 3 and 4 beginning on Thursday.“You’re not going to stop a superstar this time of year,” Casey said. In Game 1, the 31-year-old scored just four points and missed all six of his three-point attempts.On Tuesday, Lowry finished with 22 points and five assists while going 2-for-5 from beyond the arc.“Everyone puts so much pressure on Kyle,” Tucker said.

Canadiens need slumping Pacioretty to rediscover scoring touch in a hurry

Right now, he’s doing whatever he can. (Pacioretty scored 24 of his 35 against also-rans, Sidney Crosby tallied 28 of his league-leading 44 on teams that are no longer playing.)The Rangers’ plan for Pacioretty is not especially subtle: stick rough-hewn right defenceman Dan Girardi in his face as much as possible, and have the equally rugged Ryan McDonagh pile in for support as needed.Girardi sent Pacioretty cartwheeling to the ice with a spectacular hit in the first period of the series opener, and the latter has mostly spent the series surrounded by two or three blue shirts. 67.Julien noted “this is a sport that has ups and downs … He wants to be better.”Pacioretty used almost exactly those words after Montreal’s 2-1 defeat in Game 4, in which he bore part of the blame for the deciding goal.The question is how.Goal scoring tends to be a streaky proposition and – shocker alert – it’s harder to do in the playoffs, where space is compressed as defenders raise their intensity.It’s no coincidence most of the NHL’s top scorers rack up a lot of their points against non-playoff teams in the regular season. I choose to support him and help him be better.”He plainly views it as his job to take the pressure off his captain.That involves defending him publicly, but also doing things such as flipping Andrew Shaw and Alex Radulov in a bid to give Pacioretty and Phillip Danault’s line a different look.More tinkering on the coaching staff’s part will surely follow. (For what it’s worth, Montreal is doing the same thing to New York’s 28-goal guy Chris Kreider, and using feisty winger Brendan Gallagher in the effort to tenderize McDonagh.)After Game 4, Pacioretty said the physical barrage by the Rangers – who lead the playoffs in hits – is just another challenge to overcome: “It’s up to us to fight through it.”Ironically, it’s a strategy not unlike what Julien deployed to nullify the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. All of a sudden people think, ‘Well, he hasn’t scored yet, let’s jump on Max Pacioretty,’ ” he said. “Max Pacioretty is a good captain. through ebbs and flows, we can choose to be who we want to be. More speed ought to do it and scoring early at home on Thursday might help, doubly so if the goal were to come from big No. That team was coached by Rangers boss Alain Vigneault.The great tactical question involves what Pacioretty and his teammates can do to thwart it. He is also tops among Habs forwards in generating scoring chances at even strength, according to Corsica Hockey, so the argument his shots are strictly low-percentage hope plays doesn’t seem to hold true.Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and resultsThe system appears to be working pretty well as designed, so how come he’s got zero goals and only one point?There are external factors to consider, such as the opponents trying to smother him.It’s not that Pacioretty is playing terribly, but when you’re captain of the Canadiens, the pressure is constant.And it only builds as the playoff spotlight intensifies.Precedent indicates it’s only a question of time before Pacioretty rediscovers his offensive touch – as he said this past weekend hockey is “all mental, all feel.”In his past two playoff appearances he had one goal through the first five games before breaking out (in 2015 he had one in his first nine, then four in his last seven).A big diesel takes longer to warm up than a zippy sports car.The problem: Time is not something Montreal has in abundant supply, with their best-of-seven series knotted at two games each.The 27-year-old Pacioretty has worked hard in recent seasons to modify his outlook – this is a player who is extremely hard on himself – and through the first week of the playoffs he has been unrelentingly sunny.“Everything is positive in the room right now,” he said before Game 3 in New York, suggesting the “good feelings” have made it easier for the Habs to recover from setbacks.The next 24 to 48 hours will be a stiff test for Pacioretty’s – and coach Claude Julien’s – doctrine of insistent positivity.On Wednesday, Julien felt moved to proffer a vigorous endorsement of his captain after the team met for a video session and meetings.“We’re jumping on a guy here that’s scored 30 goals every year. When sophisticated equipment falters the first step is to run a diagnostic check, so let’s delve into the data for the Montreal Canadiens’ finely tuned goal-scoring machine, Max Pacioretty.First off, the 35-goal man has 19 shots in four first-round playoff games against his boyhood favourites, the New York Rangers, which led the league going into Wednesday’s games.

Kelly: Sports is becoming disconnected from reality, and we’re all to blame

Brady is the athlete par excellence of his era – a wholesome backstory, a rise from obscurity, best-to-ever-play credentials and bland, approachable good looks, all adding up to an awesomely powerful branding machine. I suspect it might in the years to come, around the time we are deconstructing a moment in U.S. Why wouldn’t he be shooting casual acquaintances in between two-a-days?The inexplicability of Hernandez’s crimes and the opacity of his personality made him a poor subject for the traditional arc of the transgressive athlete – fall and redemption. Flying the banner of “let’s get back to normal,” sports trudges on regardless of events or their consequences.The unintended result of that decision is to begin turning Hernandez from a figure of derision into a tragic one. What his life and death point out is the hollowness in the centre of our popular culture.Hernandez mattered because he played football. Aaron Hernandez the person is the least important part of the equation. The New England Patriots are the emblematic U.S. history.Has there ever been a starker example of how primary and ultimately baffling a position sports are given in our culture than to light off a few confetti cannons for a team hours after one of its number, a high-profile murderer, has made himself global news via suicide? Why did he do it, who was to blame and what does it say about the rest of us?Nothing. That increased his Q Score. The conspiracy theories around his death are already flowering. Someone from accounting kills him or herself on Friday. However, because of our constant jonesing need for more and better media highs, even Hernandez’s lurid story couldn’t grip public attention for very long. Had he spent the rest of a long life in prison, Hernandez would have become the answer at a bar trivia night.But in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Hernandez, 27, hanged himself in his Massachusetts jail cell, according to corrections officials. His agent said there was “absolutely no chance” Hernandez took his own life and his family (understandably) wants an investigation.For some, Hernandez will become an anti-heroic outsider, the John Dillinger of the gridiron. He was a damaged man who had the good fortune to be born with an ability that just happens to be highly prized right now – catching a ball. Had he been really good at bringing up kids, doing math or connecting people (skills that actually matter), no one would care about any of this.Aaron Hernandez the New England Patriot is the key here. The company picnic is on the weekend. Shortly after Hernandez’s death was made public, Brady announced that he would be skipping the occasion to attend to “family matters.” In fairness, he has sponsors to think of.With their most valuable and photogenic product removed from the equation, the New England organization decided to go ahead with the visit.In order to make things more bizarre, Patriots’ doofus Rob Gronkowski crashed the daily White House press briefing.“Need some help?” he said to Sean Spicer, the administration’s secretary of foot-in-mouth affairs. democracy tittered in the background.America, you no longer watch Saturday Night Live. Whatever you tried to project onto Hernandez glanced off his sleepy demeanour. I’m envisioning John F. It’s the lifecycle of American celebrity.In the days to come, America will launch into its usual bout of performative soul searching. Once he screwed that up, football continued on. But you go ahead with the sack races because, hey, people have booked babysitters.It’s unthinkable in the real world. Does the proper response really seem to be trading a few zingers to lighten up the pre-nuclear gloom? There was no lesson to be learned here since none of it made any sort of sense. Kennedy doing knock-knock jokes on national TV in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis.Consider how this would go down in your own professional world. The timing of his suicide seemed portentous.In the afternoon, his former teammates were due to appear at the White House for the traditional feting of Super Bowl champions. Which, in itself, sums up the current mood in America.Down there, everybody’s killing everybody else for all sorts of stupid reasons. Our Running Man future grows ever closer.So, sure, why not a rock-star pro-footballer who’s just signed a $40-million (U.S.) contract and has a baby on the way? Then it emerged that Hernandez had a sideline in killing people who’d offended him in inconsequential ways. Not any you could easily see.He wasn’t articulate and evil – qualities that draw people. They’re broadcasting it on Facebook. You live in it.As ESPN’s senior conscience, anchor Bob Ley, pointed out angrily, the two events – Hernandez’s death and the Patriots’ photo-op – will now always be linked in the public imagination.Today, it may not seem to matter. sports franchise of the 21st century. Brady is the player every sports league would engineer in a homosapien hamster mill if such a thing were possible.Hernandez was a dim facsimile of Brady. There was no apparent darkness in him. The further we get from the havoc he wreaked on other people’s lives, the easier that is.Eventually, someone will make a downbeat feature film of his life, one that will attempt (and fail) to bring meaning to meaninglessness. From an entertainer to an outcast and then repurposed into entertainment again. He did not have the sort of upbringing that makes for bright feature copy; he played only three seasons; he was handsome in a threatening way.He was a good, if unremarkable, pro football player – the sort of human chum the NFL churns through. While the American experiment begins splitting at the seams, the Patriots’ relentless success reminds the country that hard work, nimble thinking and iffy morals can still be counted on to get you ahead.In time, this Patriots team will be remembered for two things: Tom Brady and Aaron Hernandez. But sports have become disconnected from the reality the rest of us inhabit. Spicer pretended to be surprised.“I think I got this, but thank you,” Spicer said, incorrectly, and then: “That was cool.” The watchdogs of U.S. And when he killed himself, football trod right over his corpse. He was sullen and casually cruel.

Swarming Sharks keep Oilers’ McDavid in check

From last fall to early spring, Connor McDavid hit the score sheet pretty much whenever he stepped on the ice for the Edmonton Oilers. Even when he is not around a rink, McDavid must be peering over his shoulder to see if Marc-Édouard Vlasic and Justin Braun are following him.Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and resultsThe San Jose defencemen are sticking to him like fly paper. It is mainly because the Sharks, especially in the past two games, have swarmed around him like a man on a life raft. With each game that he is held in check, tension rises. The game ended with fans chanting, “We want eight!” That is never a good sign.Counting himself among them, Milan Lucic said afterward that it is time for the Oilers’ key players to have an impact. Since then, nothing. He never failed to do one of those things more than two games in a row. 2. From then to now, he has played 33 games. The same is true in hockey.In San Jose this week, McDavid said it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t score as long as the Oilers win. Zack Kassian, who had seven goals during the regular season, scored the winners in Games 2 and 3 but was not a factor on Tuesday night. Mark Letestu is the oldest player lining up for Edmonton, and he is 32.Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s last great generational player before McDavid came along, had three goals and two assists in his first playoff series. More often, when he wasn’t scoring goals himself, he was helping teammates score. At 37, Joe Thornton is as old as Moses and rather resembles him. That could happen for the first time when the Oilers and San Jose Sharks meet Thursday night at Edmonton’s Rogers Place in Game 5 of their playoff series. If it happened to you or me on the street, police would be summoned. When the opportunity has been presented, Joe Pavelski has not hesitated to give McDavid a nudge or a sharp jab with his stick.The rude treatment is not unusual for young players, especially supremely gifted ones such as McDavid. He either led or was tied for the league lead in scoring every day this season from Nov. 22 on. 31 and Feb. Todd McLellan, the Edmonton coach, said that nobody on either team is likely to be near the top of the chart in playoff scoring after this series because of the tight checking.“There is not an inch of room out there,” Lucic said.The Sharks were roughed up in Game 2 in Edmonton and their coach, Peter DeBoer, shrugged it off.“It is big-boy hockey time,” Burns said.McDavid has 150 points in his first 131 games. He had 27 points over 16 leading into the third game of this best-of-seven series. Until now.Through 131 NHL games, the Oilers’ captain has never gone more than two without a point. Angst is not without merit. It is not because Edmonton’s young captain is playing so poorly. He had 100 points and won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion in his second season. Before that, he torched San Jose for five goals and five assists in seven games. When a baseball team’s sluggers suddenly can’t hit a lick in the World Series, things usually go south. On occasion, Brent Burns, the Sharks’ mountainous Norris Trophy candidate, has chipped in. Five other San Jose players are 32 or over. Players with such immense skills are unlikely to disappear for too long.“You never know when he’s going to break out, so every shift we’ve got to be on him,” Braun said.The Sharks aren’t easy. There is still no reason to think McDavid won’t. The great ones persevere, and produce. To a man, they are nearly four years older than the Oilers. So of course, he is Shark bait.He knows it, the Oilers know it, fans know it. In his first crack at the Stanley Cup, Wayne Gretzky had three points in three games.It is harder than it looks, especially for a young player. At this time of year in arenas across North America, it is described as playoff hockey.The last time McDavid went consecutive games without a point was Jan. It is unlikely Edmonton can win without him having much of a presence, especially without contributions from his teammates.Leon Draisaitl, who finished eighth in the NHL in scoring with 77 points, has all but disappeared. He is right. The 21-year-old German, without a point through four playoff games, got so frustrated during the Oilers’ 7-0 bushwhacking by San Jose on Tuesday night that he speared Chris Tierney in the groin and was subsequently kicked out.On Wednesday, the NHL fined Draisaitl $2,569.44 (U.S.), the maximum allowable under the collective agreement, for the spearing infraction.Patrick Maroon has four penalties and zero points through four games.

Toronto native delivers Capital punishment against Leafs

Also in with lots of jabs was right winger T.J. Even better.”Trotz promoted Wilson to the third line for Game 3 because he knows Wilson has some offensive ability and he needed to get some production out of that line. After James van Riemsdyk scored on a second-period power play to keep them close, the Leafs had a two-man advantage for almost two minutes to start the third but could not capitalize.“I thought we had some pretty good opportunities there,” Matthews said. “That’s what he brings.”Playing the Maple Leafs brings out the best in Wilson, who grew up as a fan of the team. But the visitors managed to escape, although they find it difficult to play with a lead against the Leafs.“I don’t know if difficult is the right word,” Oshie said. It was also the first two-goal game of Wilson’s NHL career in either the regular season or the playoffs.“When you’re a kid you always have big dreams,” Wilson said. But we were able to hold them off.”Every time the Caps get a decent lead, the Leafs give them fits. Then again, he played most of the season on the fourth line, where his job is more to agitate than score.“He’s Tom Wilson. That came a few minutes after the Caps had a goal waved off because of goaltender interference.But the Leafs weren’t quite finished. There’s a lot of guys that work hard to get to this level and if you get a chance to play an NHL game it’s special. It’s a huge privilege. He dove into the Capitals crease and swept the puck away from the goal line after Morgan Rielly managed to slide it under goaltender Braden Holtby.“Those plays kind of go into slow-mo,” Wilson said. Oshie, who scored two goals as well. “You’ve got to credit them with some pretty good structure there, but I think you’ve got a five-on-three, fresh ice, down by two goals, that’s the time you need to score.” I had time to jump in, make a save there.”Then Wilson joined centre Lars Eller on a two-man rush and finished it with his second goal of the playoffs at 13:41 to give the Caps a 3-1 lead.As if that wasn’t enough, Wilson came out on his next shift and knocked Rielly down from behind to create a scrum at the Leafs blue line and took off on another rush. “It’s just mentally everything has to get out [of the zone] and even if there’s a bounce here or there, you’ve still got to find a way to keep the puck out of your net, so it’s something we can definitely be better at."As in Game 3, the Capitals took a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old, with Oshie and Ovechkin providing the goals. Going into the game, Eller, Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly had a total of one assist between them in the series, so Connolly was dropped to the fourth line.Another similarity to Game 3 was a blown five-on-three power play, only this time the Leafs were the culprits. Everybody knows who Tom Wilson is,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said a few hours before the game. The chief assailant was Capitals forward Tom Wilson; yes, the same guy, a Toronto native even, who was the overtime hero in Game 1. “We were shooting a little bit more, getting guys to the net and I think that gave us some more chances.“You’ve got to tip your hat because [the Leafs] kept coming at the end there. The Capitals were the far better team for the first two periods but the Leafs made it interesting, to say the least, in the last one.“We had everyone going. A playoff game? “I could see it on [Holtby’s] pants and knew with the shape of the puck it’s going to fall down. “I was lucky enough to fulfill them. Head coach Mike Babcock pulled goaltender Frederik Andersen with three minutes to play in the third period and Tyler Bozak scored with 25.8 seconds to go, a goal that survived a coach’s challenge from the Capitals. We were putting pucks to the right areas,” Oshie said. It was almost like the Washington Capitals rewound Game 3.Almost.This time, instead of slowly falling apart from the second period on, they kept pounding the Toronto Maple Leafs. Zach Hyman scored his first NHL playoff goal 42 seconds after Ovechkin’s goal to keep the Leafs close, but then Wilson stepped in.Wilson, 23, started what may have been the best 2 1/2 minutes by any NHL player this season by saving a goal against his team. Wilson had 2 1/2 minutes from the ages in the first period that eventually allowed the Capitals to take a 5-4 win that tied the first-round NHL playoff series 2-2. This was the same Tom Wilson who scored all of seven goals in the regular season. Alexander Ovechkin had the other Washington goal. They managed to keep the Caps in sight in the second period, blew a five-on-three power play early in the third and made it close 12 minutes in when Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the playoffs.When Oshie scored his second goal of the game 59 seconds later, it looked like the Caps had the breathing room they needed. He has seven career goals against his hometown team, with three of them coming in this series. The best-of-seven series is headed back to Washington with all those Capitals doubters much quieter.Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and resultsWell, perhaps not all that quiet, as the Maple Leafs once again refused to follow the script. Wilson scored again to make it 4-1 for Washington.

Senators put Boston on the brink in tight-checking win

For the past couple of days, Guy Boucher steadfastly would not allow himself the luxury of looking ahead, wondering what it would feel like carting a 3-1 series lead against the Boston Bruins back home.Bad karma and all that, reasoned the ultracautious Ottawa Senators coach.Boucher no longer has to wonder as his Senators delivered their best overall performance of the postseason so far to earn a tight-checking 1-0 victory at TD Garden on Wednesday night to bring the Bruins to the brink of extinction from the Stanley Cup playoffs. “When I was in junior I had Johnny Bower for a day and that was the story.“The first time he ever came out, sliding at the guy and he was nervous and I was nervous. It doesn’t matter who you play, everybody has a chance against anybody.”A lot of the Senators’ success through the first three games can be traced to their ability to cap the offensive exploits of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, two of Boston’s top snipers over the course of the regular season.In the first three games of the playoffs, however, their contribution has amounted to one goal apiece, a factor that Boucher credits to what he described as Ottawa’s “pack mentality” on defence.“We haven’t really done anything different against them that we would do against Crosby or Ovechkin, McDavid and those guys,” he said. The poise, especially under pressure – he [Karlsson] was skating backwards with guys coming at him.“It was an all-world play.”Craig Anderson earned the shutout in the Ottawa net where he was not tested all that often but came up big when called on.With the win, the Senators have taken a 3-1 stranglehold over Boston in the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.The series now heads back to Ottawa where the Senators can wrap it up with a win in Game 5 on Friday night.In the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams that have gone up 3-1 have gone on to win the playoff about 90 per cent of the time.For two periods the two teams traded punches, but with no knockout blows. “Home ice doesn’t mean a thing. “We just developed some pride in our defensive games, trying to allow the least shots possible whoever we’ve played against.”The Senators expected the Bruins to come into Wednesday’s game a desperate warrior – and they were, carrying much of the play to Ottawa over the first half of the first period.Marchand had Boston’s best opportunity, breaking in all alone on Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who stonewalled the Bruins’ skater on the deke.Marchand was dangerous throughout the goalless opening frame, once sneaking in behind the Ottawa defence late with Anderson jumping out and laying himself out flat to make the save.Anderson was asked where that move came from?“Johnny Bower,” he said, providing the name of one of the game’s all-time great goaltenders. Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and resultsAnd it was Bobby Ryan who continued his postseason renaissance for the Senators, potting the winner at the 5-minute, 49-second mark of the third period that would ultimately crush the spirit of the Bruins.After Erik Karlsson sent a slap-pass toward the Boston net, Ryan had two whacks at the puck stationed just outside the crease before he was able to shovel it in behind Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask for the game’s first and only goal.For Ryan, who toiled through a dreadful, injury plagued regular season, it was his third goal of the postseason. “I waited just long enough to see it come in. The play for the most part was cautious and good scoring chances were at a premium as the game remained goalless heading into the third.The series as a whole has been tightly contested, with two of the first three games requiring overtime to determine a winner, including the Senators’ 4-3 win here on Monday.That was one of four NHL playoff games that day that required extra time.“It’s harder to get to bed, I can tell you that,” said Ottawa coach Boucher, adding there’s really no such thing any more in the modern NHL as a prohibitive playoff favourite.“Whether you finish first, second, third or whatever I’ve been saying it all year – just get in those playoffs,” Boucher said. I’m just glad it worked out.”Karlsson had Ottawa’s best chance, jumping up into the rush and finding himself face to face with Rask, the Boston goalie, who had to make a solid save on a tough chance.It marked the third time in four games of the series in which there has not been a first-period goal.The Bruins thought they’d finally broke through at the 10:30 mark of the second period when a shot from the blueline by Charlie McAvoy beat Anderson. The shot might have been tipped in front.Regardless, Ottawa challenged the play, noting that Noel Acciari was offside and, after a video review, the officials agreed and it was judged a non-goal, sending the partisan Bruins fans into a ranting fury.Anderson made 22 saves for the shutout. And for Karlsson, the superb Ottawa defenceman, he has now assisted on five of the 10 postseason goals the Senators have tallied in the series, series and his most recent helper was a thing of beauty.It was sort of a fake shot that manoeuvered Rask just enough out of position to provide the opening for Ryan to slip the puck home.“Yeah, I almost gave up on it too and just kind of went to the net,” Ryan said.

Blue Jays capitalize on early Boston errors to pick up third win

The left-hander gave up four hits and struck out six, including Mookie Betts, the Sox star outfielder who until that point had not gone down on strikes in 129 straight plate appearances dating to September, 2016.Liriano lowered his inflated earned-run average to 5.11 with his second strong start in a row, after a total meltdown in his 2017 debut in which he recorded only one out, resulting in the shortest start of his career.With Boston threatening in the sixth, Liriano was lifted in favour of right-hander Joe Biagini, who faced runners on first and second with one out. But Gibbons hinted that it could be Triple-A Buffalo right-handers Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence. A pair of back-to-back second-inning blunders by Boston’s corner defenders allowed Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin to reach base before Darwin Barney brought them both home with a single off Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. Happ and Aaron Sanchez, both of whom are on the 10-day disabled list. Kevin Pillar collected three singles, a night after he had three extra base hits, to extend his hitting streak to seven games.Francisco Liriano turned in a serviceable 5 1/3 innings on the mound in a winning effort. Sale, who has allowed three earned runs in 21 2/3 innings (three starts) this season, dominated Toronto in two starts last year.The left-hander pitched eight innings in each of those two games, allowing a total of three earned runs over 16 innings. Biagini escaped danger by inducing a double play from Red Sox cleanup man Hanley Ramirez to preserve the Jays’ three-run lead.Biagini, Jason Grilli and closer Roberto Osuna combined for 3 2/3 runless innings as the Blue Jays snapped a two-game losing skid.Porcello took the loss on the mound for Boston despite not surrendering an earned run. Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been saying it for the past week: His team just needs to catch a break to snap out of this slump they’re in.Mired in their worst start to a season in franchise history, the Blue Jays got a little help from their American League East rivals on Wednesday, capitalizing on a pair of early Boston Red Sox defensive errors to earn a 3-0 win at Rogers Centre. The competition won’t get any easier for the Blue Jays. The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched seven innings and gave up six hits for three runs with five strikeouts.While he was the losing pitcher, Porcello finally solved Jose Bautista, who had rocked the right-hander for four homers and 16 hits in 38 career at bats prior to Wednesday’s contest. He’ll be the last Jays starting pitcher to take the mound before a pair of call-ups get the ball for the opening two games of the team’s upcoming road series, which begins in Anaheim against the Angels on Friday.The club has not announced who will pitch in place of J.A. Ezequiel Carrera would single before the inning was over, cashing in Barney to further pad the Jays’ lead en route to their third win of the season. For his career, Sale owns a 2.25 earn-run average against the Blue Jays.Marco Estrada will make the start for Toronto. ET. Bautista was 0 for 4 on the night, striking out twice, to extend his hitless run to 12 at-bats.The two sides wrap up their series with a rubber match on Thursday afternoon at 12:37 pm. They’re set to face Chris Sale, the Sox prized off-season, acquisition.

Dubnyk gets shutout, Wild beat Blues 2-0 to avoid elimination

… Maybe that was a little more confidence to our side, because they had to chase the game.”Allen downplayed the sequence.“Just threw it on the boards like I usually do,” Allen said. He went to play the puck behind the net and passed it right to Coyle, who buried the open look at 16:50.“We’ll certainly take it, a fumble on his part,” Coyle said. … Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and results“Shutouts always feel good and I felt really good tonight,” Dubnyk said. “This is our Stanley Cup. Martin Hanzal also scored for Minnesota in the second. “Lucky they had a guy there. Wild C Erik Haula (upper body) was scratched and was replaced by Joel Eriksson Ek. They were on point, like we expected them to be. The Minnesota Wild got a break, and Charlie Coyle delivered.Coyle scored off a miscue by Jake Allen, Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves and the Wild stayed alive with a 2-0 win over the St. “I think we can play a lot better still than we played tonight. Not a big deal.”Hanzal beat Allen cleanly on the glove side to make it 2-0 with 3:19 left in the second period.Dubnyk made several big saves as the Blues stepped up their offensive push, outshooting the Wild 12-10 in the second frame after putting just four shots on goal in the first.“We were a step slow,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. It was the first time since Thanksgiving that Granlund and Koivu played on separate lines. “I think that was a little momentum to our side because we had the lead. “The decision-making was a little slower today. Another tight one. Louis still leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 heading into Game 5 at Minnesota on Saturday.“It’s only one game, they’ve still got a hell of an advantage three games to one,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It starts with Duby, he was outstanding, and the whole team was just fighting for every battle, every puck.”Allen kept the Blues in the game with a pad save on a point-blank attempt by Eric Staal midway through the third.Dubnyk said the Wild need to keep the same sense of urgency for Game 5.“We said coming into this game, we need to win one game and the only thing that matters is this one game,” Dubnyk said. It’s still going to be an uphill battle.”A costly mistake by Allen set up Minnesota’s first goal. “I felt that the guys did a really good job just allowing me to trust exactly what was going on in front of me, exactly what was open, what wasn’t, so I was able to square up to shots and hold onto rebounds.”Allen made 26 saves. “It was fortunate to go in and we’ll take it to kind of get us going right.”Coyle’s second of the playoffs gave Minnesota its first lead of the series after 214 minutes, 38 seconds.“We were shooting and we were going to the net the first three games but nothing went in,” Hanzal said. Tonight, we end up losing because of those details.”Dubnyk’s best save of the night came on a Joel Edmundson break early in the third period.“The whole team was great tonight,” Hanzal said. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night.Dubnyk’s second playoff shutout came almost two years to the day of his first, also against the Blues on April 20, 2015. And that’s going to be the same thing on Saturday, because if not, it’s over.”NOTES: Wild F Mikael Granlund played on a line with Coyle and Staal, while Mikko Koivu centred a line with Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise. He entered having stopping 114 of the Wild’s first 117 shots in the series.St. Koivu was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy.

Down in Flames: Ducks score early and Calgary swept away

Will Elliott’s playoff blip override a strong regular season? Louis Blues and came equipped with a modest $2.5-million annual salary on an expiring contract. It’s tough when you can’t go out and redeem yourself. We battled right to the bitter end. Hopefully, it’s a learning experience for all these guys going forward.“There are a lot of positives here. I’m definitely proud of them for how they finished that one.”Team captain Mark Giordano came to Elliott’s defence, saying: “The reason we’re here, to be honest, is because of the Moose [Elliott]. The Flames had the option of exploring an extension earlier, but elected to wait and see how Elliott fit the mix of their team. Ideally, the Flames want a young nucleus to evolve together and at some point, that will require them to feed a young goalie into the lineup. But we have nothing to be ashamed of. Presumably, Treliving will make every attempt to get Backlund signed to an extension when he becomes eligible to do so after July 1.But that’s all off-season business, to be conducted in the cold light of day. Moving forward, it’s a huge step, but obviously, right now and throughout the summer, getting swept four is going to sting.“But coming back next year, this is an exciting team to be on.”For Flames general manager Brad Treliving, the most challenging task will be sorting out next year’s goaltending picture. Personally, I fell in love with the game again, so it’s nice.”Special teams are supposed to matter in the playoffs, and Calgary’s power play was exceptional, usually a promising sign.Entering the game, the Flames were humming along at a 38.5-per-cent success rate with the man advantage and it clicked again versus the Ducks. Chad Johnson came on in relief and surrendered a second goal – to Anaheim’s Nate Thompson – only 68 seconds into his appearance and that was pretty much it.“As a goalie, you take pride on giving yourself and your team a chance to win every night," said Elliott. I think we have a great team. In addition, defenceman Ladislav Smid, who has been on long-term injury reserve and hasn’t played for two years, is also off the books once this season ends, wiping out a further $3.5-million obligation.Defencemen Michael Stone and Derek Engelland are also unrestricted free agents this summer, as is forward Kris Versteeg and there will be interest in bringing them back, depending upon their respective asking prices.A quartet of restricted free agents – Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Curtis Lazar and Alex Chiasson – will also need new contracts. Sean Monahan contributed a second-period goal, his fourth of the playoffs, with Ryan Kesler in the penalty box for hooking.But their six goals with the man advantage meant the Flames only managed to score three at even strength in four games, not enough to defeat the more experienced Ducks.The Flames players spoke Tuesday about playing the game with greater desperation, but nothing about the way they started Wednesday smacked of desperation.It was a listless beginning, more reminiscent of a 55th game of an endless season than an elimination game, with their season on the line.They also talked about getting a better goaltending performance. Presumably, sifting through the ashes of what went wrong against the Ducks consumed them far into the night. This was tough for everyone, but there are good young pieces here. Or will the Flames move on again, and comb the off-season goaltending market for yet another fresh face.Elliott was acquired last June from the St. Where Elliott finds a seat – or if he just lands back in Calgary – is their most vexing decision of the off-season.Johnson signed as a free agent last summer with his hometown team and had a four-week stretch to remember – from mid-November until mid-December – before falling into a more traditional back-up role. Just about everyone filing into the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night was wearing red at the start of the evening – and seeing red by the end.Playing in front of the 19,289 fans that constitute their ubiquitous Sea of Red, the Calgary Flames lost another close one, 3-1, to the Anaheim Ducks and thus became the first team eliminated from the 2017 NHL playoffs. The guys did a great job trying to come back. I mean, I didn’t give our guys a chance right off the bat.”Elliott acknowledged that the quick hook was "definitely a short leash. Mikael Backlund, who for much of the season, was their most valuable contributor, has one year left on a $3.575-million contract, at which point he will become an unrestricted free agent. I’m not saying I deserve a longer one after that. As a group, I thought we left everything out there – and just came up short.”Monahan, the best of the Flames’ forwards, was trying to think big-picture thoughts, noting that while the loss and the sweep hurt, “I really like our team. It was a great season by him. I feel bad. We had a lot of looks and they found ways of not letting us get that tying goal.”In the end, the Flames fell to a Ducks team that was on a roll heading into the playoffs (points in 14 consecutive games) and steamrolled their younger, more inexperienced opponents.Giordano gave the Ducks credit “for finding ways to win every game. Wednesday evening, with their season on the line, they fell flat. His season didn’t start well, featured a pretty sensational stretch in the second half and then finished on a down note, Elliott having just a so-so series against the Ducks.The presence of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights – who are expected to act as a goaltending broker for a number of teams – further complicates a summer where the annual game of goalie musical chairs was anticipated to break out. On a night when starting goaltender Brian Elliott didn’t last six minutes – he was given the hook by coach Glen Gulutzan after surrendering a weak goal to Patrick Eaves – the Ducks scored two early goals in a span of 68 seconds and made them stand up for the victory and a 4-0 series sweep in the best-of-seven Pacific Division semi-final.Stanley Cup Playoffs: The latest news and resultsThe Ducks will meet the winner of the series between the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks in the next round.Ryan Getzlaf clinched the victory for Anaheim with an empty-net goal with 6.7 seconds remaining.Six days after their postseason started, the Flames were done – eliminated by the combination of iffy goaltending and an inability to compete with the Ducks at even strength.“There are no words,” said Flames’ forward Kris Versteeg. It was tough to see that [Eaves goal] go in for sure, but we battled to get that one back for him. We just came up a little short again. Not this one. You’ve got to tip your hat to the other team sometimes. I know it goes down like that, but I’ve been swept before in the past and we deserved it. "That one, right off the bat, I still can’t explain how it goes under my pad there. They put it all out there. Last year’s 54th overall pick, Tyler Parsons of the London Knights, has already been signed to an entry-level contract, but his NHL time line remains several years down the road.On the plus side, the Flames will get some salary-cap relief because Dennis Wideman’s contract, worth $5.25-million annually and inherited from a previous regime, finally expires. Rookie Jon Gillies has long been projected as their future starter, though he has managed to get into just one NHL game – in the next-to-last-game of the regular season – since being drafted 75th overall in 2012.Gillies is 23, or roughly the same age as John Gibson, Matt Murray and Connor Hellybuyck, other young goalies getting a chance for prime-time NHL duty. “It wasn’t a four-game series. But when Eaves’s shot from the left faceoff circle trickled in under Elliott’s pad, his night was over.