Smoak two-run homer powers Blue Jays to 4-1 win over Rays

left the game after he was hit in the left hand by a Biagini pitch in the seventh inning. He’s recognizing them better,” Gibbons said. Roberto Osuna received a much-needed confidence boost on Saturday. The first baseman has 12 RBIs this season, second only to Kendrys Morales (14).“It’s always been swing at strikes and take the balls, but I feel like I’m a little more relaxed right now at the plate,” Smoak said of his hitting strategy. All he had to do was get back to his four-seam fastball to get it.The Blue Jays closer, who had struggled through recent outings, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to cement Toronto’s 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.Osuna said he had been trying to incorporate more of his two-seam fastball into his arsenal early in the year. We’re counting on him and he’s off to a good start.”Matt Andriese (1-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and struck out four through seven innings. It was the catcher’s fourth RBI of the season and his first to come via something other than a solo home run.Liriano left the game in the sixth with two on and nobody out following a walk to Rickie Weeks Jr. Initial X-rays were negative. It’s a long season.”Manager John Gibbons has liked what he’s seen from Smoak, who didn’t play much in the second half of last season with Edwin Encarnacion manning first base full-time.“I see him laying off those breaking balls. … “And we had a conversation and[(Martin] told me, ‘You’ve been having a lot of success the past two years with the four-seamer so I don’t think you need anything else.’“Just the four-seam, locate the fastball, and that’s what we did today.”Osuna lowered his earned-run average from 7.50 to 6.43 while picking up his second save of the year.“A lot more confidence for me,” he said with a smile. “We tried to work a little different in the beginning, throw more two-seam, breaking stuff. The play at the plate was a close one — Bautista had rifled an on-target throw from right field to Martin, who swiped at Beckham as he crossed home. It was my decision,” Osuna said. Beckham was initially called out but a video review confirmed he beat the tag.Martin drove in Smoak with a long double to centre field for a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. And relievers Joe Biagini and Joe Smith kept the Rays scoreless through the sixth, seventh and eighth.Smoak, who came into the game as one of Toronto’s better hitters, went 3 for 3 to raise his average to .274. “Hopefully I can keep pitching like this.”Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer and Martin drove in a run with a double for the Blue Jays (7-17), who can win their first series of the year with a victory Sunday.Francisco Liriano (2-2) allowed a run on four hits while walking four and striking out six through five-plus innings. Biagini got two strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning.“I’ve said many times, as tough as things have been – and they’ve been real tough – [the bullpen] competes, they play to win, they don’t get down on things which can be a hard battle,” Gibbons said.“We think good things are on their way, we really do.”Bautista led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a Morales groundout and scored on Smoak’s homer.Attendance was 42,419 and included Toronto Maple Leafs star and Calder Trophy finalist Auston Matthews, clad in a denim jacket, grey Blue Jays cap and sunglasses.NOTES: Steven Souza Jr. But a chat with catcher Russell Martin convinced him to change that approach. and a Chris Coghlan fielding error that allowed Corey Dickerson to reach. He also walked three batters and was charged with one balk.Jesus Sucre had the lone RBI for the Rays (12-13).Jose Bautista gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an error to shortstop Tim Beckham, who threw a Morales ground ball wide of first base while trying to make the out.Sucre’s RBI-single scored Beckham to tie the game in the second. “It’s in there, Smoaky does some good things for us. “That’s always the key to have success, now just gotta keep it going. The team said he had a left hand contusion.

Pageau scores four, including winner, as Senators beat Rangers in double OT to lead series 2-0

Andy!”New York went ahead just past the halfway point when forward Chris Kreider spun with the puck along the left boards and fired what appeared to be a soft shot toward the Ottawa goal. Somehow, the puck found its way past a screened Anderson for Kreider’s first of the postseason.The Rangers went up 3-1 courtesy of another dreadful Ottawa power play when lanky Rick Nash sent Derek Stepan down the right side, and Stepan beat Anderson with a wrist shot to the glove side. His “upper body” injury is not believed to be head related.The game proved totally unpredictable in the third period. The Ottawa Senators, led by the 24-year-old local-born-and-raised Pageau, staged a truly remarkable third-period comeback to force the New York Rangers to overtime. Overtime loomed.“You just never know,” Anderson said.Less than 23 minutes later, everyone did know. But not, at least not yet, in 2017.Unless, of course, you were a member of the family and were celebrating Saturday’s remarkable four-goal performance by undersized centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, known as the “Honey Badger” by his teammates for his utter fearlessness on the ice. Overtime goal. We got lucky.”The Senators could hardly have asked for a better setting in which to play this Saturday afternoon contest. It must have been a nightmare for head coach/controller Guy Boucher to watch his players miscue, fumble pucks and even fall down with no one around them.Fortunately for the Senators, the Rangers also had mental cramps, the worst coming with defenseman Dan Girardi, usually the definition of dependent, blindly swatted a puck across to the far boards, where little Ottawa’s Pageau picked up the gift, skated in and fired a hard wrist shot past Lundqvist on the short side. Again they sputtered badly, managing not a single shot on Lundqvist.The Rangers, however, did get a shot on Ottawa’s Craig Anderson when, shorthanded, winger Jesper Fast picked up a puck that had been fumbled at the New York blueline by Ottawa’s Mark Stone. “We dug ourselves a hole and we found our way out of it. They were down two goals three different times, yet somehow came back to win and take a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series. An “ugly day” that required “ugly goals,” Boucher conceded.The afternoon match was at times crazy, at many times sloppy, a few times dreadful and just as many times exciting, especially in the chaotic, scrambling overtime periods. An unassisted goal, and Pageau’s second of the postseason.If Lundquist’s goaltending had been the story of Game 1 – even in a 2-1 loss – this was not this day. Game 3 will be Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.In a repeat of Game 6 against the Boston Bruins, the Senators again began a match with three straight power plays. Less than two minutes in, a point shot by Ottawa’s Phaneuf slapped off the backboards and rebounded out between Lundqvist’s legs to the stick of Stone, who simply popped the puck into the net for his second of the playoffs.Shortly after, Skjel scored his second of the game and fourth of the playoffs on a wrist shot that somehow found its way under Anderson to restore the Rangers’ two-goal lead.It seemed the end was nigh, lacking only a buzzer to confirm matters.But then, with barely three minutes left, Pageau tipped a long Zack Smith shot past Lundqvist to bring the Senators within one.With a minute and a half left, Boucher gambled and pulled Anderson for the extra attacker. The Senators could barely muster a few shots on goal, let alone threaten, with the man advantage. Ottawa gained the New York zone, captain Erik Karlsson sent the puck across to Kyle Turris and Turris one-timed a slapshot that, again, Pageau tipped into the net.Hats rained down onto the ice. Miller on a rebound. “I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”For the Senators, it marked the fifth time in the postseason that a game went beyond regulation time – a total of seven extra periods of hockey in only eight matches.It was not great hockey. It took two extra periods before Ottawa could claim a 6-5 victory after Pageau broke down the left side and, at 2:54 of the second extra period, beat New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist high to the glove side.“Four goals – that’s absolutely sick,” said Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher. Early in the second period, he stole a sure goal from Oscar Lindberg on what appeared to be a simple tap-in.Then, during a Rangers power play, he stopped what appeared to be an even better chance by J.T. Challenged by 43 shots in Game 1, he faced but 34 shots in this match, even with the extra playing time.As for Anderson, who faced 48 shots, he was at times as sensational as Lundqvist had been in the opening match. “Tying goal. Fast raced down the ice, threaded a perfect pass over to Michael Grabner and Grabner had an empty net in which to deposit his third goal of the playoffs.“I made a terrible play,” Stone confessed.It would be a kindness to describe Ottawa’s play in the opening frame as sloppy. Andy! Lundqvist stopped the puck but the rebound was left sitting for Ottawa defenceman Marc Methot to punch in, for his first goal of the playoffs.Another two minutes and New York was up 4-2 when a Brady Skjel shot from the point slipped behind a heavily-screened Anderson.Ottawa’s Clarke MacArthur, who missed virtually all of the previous two seasons with concussion symptoms, left the game in the second period and did not return. It couldn’t happen to a better person.”“A special moment,” said the little centre. The Senators had somehow won and J-P Pageau, the local kid, was now the local hero.“He definitely was a big man today,” Boucher said. Apart from the extra time, the game was, strangely enough, played more like a carefree exhibition preseason game than a Stanley Cup playoff game, with the players seemingly uncertain, the goalies equal times brilliant and flawed.“It probably wasn’t the best executed game,” said Ottawa defenceman Dion Phaneuf, in an understatement. It was Stepan’s second goal of the playoffs.Less than a minute later, with the teams playing four skaters aside, speedy Mike Hoffman carried the puck down the ice and tried to force himself into Lundqvist’s crease. There is a saying in hockey that “all great games end 6-5.”It was said during the 1972 Summit Series and said again during the 1987 Canada Cup. The frustrated Miller skated to the boards and hammered his stick on the glass while the crowd chanted “Andy! Already up one game to none in their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Rangers, they had a military jet flyover to welcome them, a coach spreading fake news to inspire them – that they were the underdogs, that every available expert had predicted a four-game sweep by the Rangers – and, finally, a pumped, sellout crowd to cheer their every move.But what they truly could have used was a few fewer power plays.The Rangers scored two – repeat, two – shorthanded goals.

Sunderland relegated from Premier League after a decade

These are difficulties which we have been unable to overcome and we are paying the price for that now.”Short expressed “sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration.” Little wonder when the club also recorded a loss of £33-million ($43-million U.S.) in the last financial year, with a debt of £110-million.“We need to improve, both on and off the field,” Short said, “and despite the bitter disappointment of today, there is a strong determination to do so throughout the club.”Sunderland is stranded at the bottom of the standings, an impossible 13 points adrift of safety, and fans vented their frustration at David Moyes, demanding the manager’s firing.“I hoped it would never come around at any time but I’m disappointed for the supporters, disappointed that we couldn’t give them more,” the former Manchester United and Everton manager said. Southampton is ninth.WEST BROM 0, LEICESTER 1Jamie Vardy extended his hot scoring streak as the champions moved closer to safety with only their second away win of a dismal title defence.Midtable Leicester moved nine points clear of the bottom three with four matches remaining. But it’s an unforgiving league and small margins decide every game.”Here’s a look at Saturday’s other games:SOUTHAMPTON 0, HULL 0Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic saved a late penalty kick from Dusan Tadic to boost his team’s survival hopes.Marco Silva has now guided Hull to 21 points from his 15 league games since taking charge, with the team one place and three points above the relegation zone. It lifted Burnley above Palace and eight points clear of danger.STOKE 0, WEST HAM 0Goalkeeper Jack Butland achieved his first clean sheet in his second game back from injury in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.West Ham is eight points above the drop zone with three games remaining, while Stoke is a point better off. No late escapes this year, Sunderland is leaving the Premier League.The northeast club is returning to the second tier after a decade in world soccer’s richest league.Relegation was confirmed with four games remaining in the season after a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday.American owner Ellis Short doesn’t mask the problems engulfing the club, saying “significant work” is now required to secure an instant return to the Premier League. “They come here in their thousands week in, week out. “The Premier League is unforgiving. With the money spent, the managers coming into the league, it’s such a competitive league as you saw today on the pitch.“There was very little between the teams today but we managed to nick a big win for us. It’s such a good standard this year. “I acknowledge that during my ownership mistakes have been made, particularly in the area of player recruitment, and as a result we have found ourselves struggling to survive in recent seasons,” Short said. I’m just sorry that we weren’t able to do a better job.”A job like Bournemouth, which has effectively secured a third season in the Premier League thanks to Josh King’s 88th-minute goal.“Look at the size of the clubs we are competing against week in, week out,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. “We had massive disruption during the summer transfer window and an unprecedented number of injuries throughout the season. Vardy struck in the 43rd minute at the Hawthorns for his eighth goal in 12 matches since Craig Shakespeare replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager for the rest of the season.Tony Pulis’s eighth-placed team has lost four in a row.CRYSTAL PALACE 0, BURNLEY 2Burnley’s relegation fears were eased with its first away win of the Premier League season secured by goals from Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray. They travel in their thousands as well.“I know that cash isn’t easy up this part, so I appreciate every penny they put into the club by watching the team, so my thoughts are with them.

Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

… He replaced Scott Wilson. Holtby has a 2.62 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in eight games in these playoffs, a far cry from his career post-season brilliance.But Grubauer couldn’t rescue the Capitals, allowing a power-play goal to Kessel on the second shot he faced 2:19 with Shattenkirk in the penalty box for putting the puck over the glass. Teams that have lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home are 18-69 (21.7 per cent) all time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … The goals by Matt Cullen (short-handed), Kessel and Guentzel weren’t all Holtby’s fault because of miscues and odd-man rushes, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winner didn’t make the timely save his team needed.Grubauer allowed goals to Kessel and Evgeni Malkin early in the third, but the Penguins continued to pour it on and got an empty-netter from Guentzel in the final minute. Cullen blocked Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot from the point, blew around Washington’s big trade-deadline acquisition and slid the puck between Holtby’s legs for the short-handed goal 1:15 into the second even as T.J. They dominated territorially and tested Fleury but couldn’t crack him as the teams went through another first period without a goal.Complaining of no power plays in Game 1, the Capitals did nothing with their two first-period chances and gave up the first goal on the third early in the second. Backstrom’s rebound goal 3:44 into the third period cut the Penguins’ lead to 4-2, but Malkin tipped a shot by Ian Cole past Grubauer at 5:31 on a play that was called goaltender interference on the ice and reversed on a successful coach’s challenge by Mike Sullivan.Grubauer allowed two goals on nine shots.NOTES: LW Carl Hagelin returned to the Penguins’ lineup after being out since March 10 with a lower-body injury. … Washington D Karl Alzner remained out with an upper-body injury, though coach Barry Trotz said Alzner was close. Three-plus minutes later, Crosby went down to block Justin Williams’ shot, slid the puck go Guentzel while still on his belly to jumpstart the 2-on-1 and the rookie from Omaha, Nebraska beat Holtby clean to make it 3-1 Pittsburgh.That marked the end of Holtby’s night after two periods as the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner was again not at his best as Fleury stole the show. Oshie hooked him from behind.When Backstrom won a puck battle in the corner, Niskanen answered right back 54 seconds later with a power-play goal to tie it.Then the quick-strike Penguins were at it again.Crosby’s between-the-legs move made Alex Ovechkin, Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov converge on him, leaving Kessel wide open for a snipe from the faceoff circle at 13:04. Pittsburgh RW Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot by John Carlson and did not return. It was his playoff-leading seventh goal.After outshooting the Penguins 35-21 in their Game 1 loss, the Capitals came out firing with 10 of the first 11 shots Saturday night. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced in his second consecutive strong performance and Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel scored twice to put the Presidents’ Trophy winners in a historically difficult hole. To attempt their own comeback, the Capitals might turn back to Holtby for Game 3 Monday night in Pittsburgh after backup Philipp Grubauer allowed two goals on the first four shots he faced in relief.Holtby had surrendered three goals on 14 shots before getting the hook after the second period Saturday. RW Paul Carey replaced Brett Connolly in the Capitals’ lineup. With Sidney Crosby continuing his brilliance for the Penguins and Braden Holtby not having the same response in net for the Capitals, the second-round series between the NHL’s top teams has tilted in Pittsburgh’s favour.Crosby set up two goals and the Penguins chased Holtby in a 6-2 victory Saturday night in Game 2, taking a commanding 2-0 lead back home.

Techera goal lifts Whitecaps over Impact for first away win

“I just wanted to get a good connection on it and see what happened, not just hit it as hard as I can.”Montreal had sustained pressure for most of the second half, but the Whitecaps got the winner when Jacobson played a ball in a wide open area for Techera, who made a deft move to elude the sliding Laurent Ciman and fire a low shot past Evan Bush.The Impact, who reached the Eastern Conference final last season, are in danger of falling out of the playoff race early if they can don’t find ways to get some wins.Right back Chris Duvall said the team needs a dose of intensity.“Eight games played and one win is a little concerning,” he said. Cristian Bolanos’s shot was played out to the edge of the area where Jacobson lobbed a perfect volley over the crowd in front and under the crossbar for his first of the season.“I knew I wouldn’t have time to take it down,” said Jacobson. The Vancouver Whitecaps were due for a road win and it came at the expense of their struggling Canadian rivals the Montreal Impact.Even though the Impact scored the first goal of a game for only the second time in eight outings, Andrew Jaconson tied it with a subtle volley and Cristian Techera got the game-winner in the 80th minute as Vancouver topped Montreal 2-1 on Saturday afternoon. But we need to find that consistency in our game that’s not there right now. We didn’t want to fly so long to go back home with no points.”Midfielder Marco Donadel scored for Montreal (1-3-4), which has been done in by spotty defensive play since the start of the season.“I’m very concerned,” said coach Mauro Biello, whose team lost both starting striker Matteo Mancosu (thigh) and his replacement Anthony Jackson-Hamel (cramps) to injuries during the game. Their goalie made some big saves in the second half. United next Saturday. The Whitecaps’ first away win in four attempts this season came at a key time with the 3-4-1 club playing the second game in a stretch of four straight on the road.“We want to start building our confidence by winning,” said centreback Kendall Waston. It’s my job to figure it out and get the team on the right track.”There was no immediate word on the severity of the injuries.Vancouver felt good about their game even though they lost 2-1 loss in Portland last week. They wanted to keep up that strong play in Montreal. “Right now certain things are not working and I find that we still need to do a better job of not giving up easy goals.“We did create, so there is that positive. “I think we have the right pieces but we need to have the right mentality.“We need to be more ruthless and, when we have our foot on someone’s throat, we need to put them away.”The Impact gave Ballou Tabla his third start of the season and the 18-year-old had three scoring chances in the second half, only to be stopped by Ousted.He was joined on the field in the 68th minute by another promising teenager, the Whitecaps’ 16-year-old Alphonso Davies, who subbed in for Tony Tchani.With Hassoun Camara (concussion) and Victor Cabrera (ankle) out, Fisher started in Montreal’s central defence.The Whitecaps made no changes from last week’s starting 11.Vancouver’s next stops are Friday in Colorado and May 12 at Houston.Montreal is on the road to face D.C. They are now 1-3-0 away from home, but one road loss was in a snowstrom at Salt Lake and another came after goalie David Ousted was shown a red card.The 19,597 watching at Saputo Stadium on a sunny afternoon saw the Impact strike in the ninth minute after a series of passes just outside the Vancouver box. “That’s the only way we can be in the playoffs at the end of the year.“And winning on the road is good. Patrice Bernier finally playing the ball back to Donadel for a low shot from distance that Jackson-Hamel dummied before it rolled inside the left post.Vancouver responded with steady pressure and forced a free kick when Kyle Fisher took down Jacobson to the left of the Montreal goal.