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.

Elbow injury gets Jays’ Happ placed on 10-day disabled list

Donaldson, who is hitting .310 (9-for-29) with two homers and two doubles, missed most of spring training after injuring the same muscle.“He’s moving around pretty good,” Gibbons said of Donaldson’s status, without providing any update on his recovery timeline.Injuries to three impact players come at an inconvenient time for Toronto. He told reporters ahead of the Jays’ series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre that he didn’t want to go on the DL, but he was glad to learn there was nothing seriously wrong with his arm.“It’s actually really good news compared to what it could’ve been, or what I thought it was leaning toward,” Happ said, referring to worst-case-scenario for pitchers, which is ligament damage in the elbow that can require invasive surgery to fix.Although Happ isn’t expected to miss more than his allotted 10 days, losing a starting pitcher at this juncture is problematic for the struggling Blue Jays, who own the worst record in the majors.The team is already without Aaron Sanchez, who was sent to the DL Saturday after leaving his start against the Orioles a day earlier because of a blister on a finger of his throwing hand. Happ was scheduled to go the next day. Given the delicate and sometimes uncertain nature of elbow injuries in pitchers, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said there was a sense of relief that it wasn’t more serious.“It was a scare for everybody,” he said.Happ, the 33-year-old left-hander, won 20 games last year but is 0-3 this season with a 4.50 earned-run average. Already some fans and commentators are writing the Jays out of the playoff picture despite being fewer than 15 games in. The right-hander, who has allowed six earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, underwent a procedure to remove part of the nail on his middle finger and is expected to resume throwing this week.“They take a portion of that nail around where the blister was, and cut it back,” Gibbons said. Already dealing with injuries to two key players, the Toronto Blue Jays will have to weather the storm without another starting pitcher for at least the next 10 days.The team placed J.A. “It heals up pretty quick.”Sanchez is not expected to miss any additional time beyond his next scheduled start, which would have been Friday in Anaheim. After undergoing an MRI, Happ was diagnosed with elbow inflammation. Reports Tuesday suggested the all-star third baseman could miss up to four weeks, which would leave Toronto without its best player until mid-May. Happ on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday, two days after he exited his start against the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth inning with tightness in his pitching elbow. The Blue Jays will need to call up a pair of pitchers to pick up those two assignments against the Angels, but the team has not said who it will promote.The Jays are already without Josh Donaldson, who is dealing with a nagging right calf injury that flared up during a game against the Orioles last week.

Senators’ Bobby Ryan makes up for lacklustre season with stellar playoff

… “I’ll be prepared for boos if that’s what happens.”Redemption is the word that comes to mind with Ryan, who has two goals, two assists and 12 shots in the series.This on the heels of a less-than-stellar regular season in which he struggled with a wrist injury and scored only 13 goals, not the production expected from a player who inked a seven-year, $50-million (U.S) contract extension with the Senators in 2014.With his resurgence in the playoffs, Ryan is asked repeatedly if this is the best he has played all season.“It wasn’t hard to go up, was it?” he responded with typical candour following his big game on Monday.Ryan was the second player chosen overall in the 2005 entry draft, by the Anaheim Ducks, which is no slight when you recollect it was Sidney Crosby who was selected above him.A perennial 30-goal scorer his first four full NHL seasons, Ryan was traded to Ottawa in 2013 and was expected to provide a big offensive lift.His lacklustre season often brought him at odds with impatient Ottawa fans, something Ryan said he can understand.“People are going to say what they’re going to say and be on me for it for a long time,” Ryan said. “Nope, I’ve taken harder.”It was an iffy call at a crucial moment in the game and when Ryan scored the winner it was just too much for the Bruins’ faithful at TD Garden.As the Senators left the ice they had to duck as water bottles and goodness knows what else rained down from the stands. 1 among the rabid Boston faithful.“I guess if that’s the role that I’m going to take on then so be it,” Ryan said. I’m going to try to do everything I can for us now.”Ryan had his nose in everything on Monday night. One thing you can always depend on with Bobby Ryan, the veteran winger with the Ottawa Senators, is a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.There is no ducking the punches with this guy – as Riley Nash of the Boston Bruins can attest – no stand-pat responses that are commonplace in the limited vocabularies professional athletes use when dealing with the media. One fan tried to pry away the stick of Chris Wideman as he was departing.Boston interim coach Bruce Cassidy was livid over the penalty call on Nash in the overtime and Ryan’s subsequent goal, which killed the momentum of the Bruins’ big three-goal comeback.A key for Boston on Wednesday will be to try to get Brad Marchand, a 39-goal scorer over the regular season, away from the relentless Ottawa checking that has stifled his effectiveness to just one goal.“March can create a bit more out there, and he will,” Cassidy said. His game did not get off to a memorable start when he fell trying to control the puck just inside his own blueline early in the second period.That led to a breakaway goal by Boston’s David Backes. “That’s what happens when you’re paid and you’re expected to do things. A comfortable 3-0 Ottawa lead was down to 3-2 and soon to be tied heading into the third, where it remained that way until Ryan settled matters in overtime.The goal occurred with Ottawa on the power play after Nash was sent off for throwing a right cross in Ryan’s face after the two collided into the boards.Was it the best shot in the chops he has taken, Ryan was asked?“I’m not giving Nasher the satisfaction over that,” Ryan shot back with a laugh. The 30-year-old is having himself a whale of a postseason with the Senators in their opening-round NHL playoff series against the Bruins, which is simmering nicely after three games.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off eliminationOttawa leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final 2-1, thanks to Ryan’s dramatic overtime goal in Game 3 Monday night.After Erik Karlsson, the sublime defenceman who plays a key role in just about everything the Senators do, Ryan has been Ottawa’s second-best playoff performer.Ryan has four points in the series, including two goals – none bigger than his winning tip-in, which gave the Senators a 4-3 hurly-burly triumph over the Bruins on Monday.Game 4 is Wednesday night at TD Garden and a rollicking affair is anticipated with Ryan now considered public enemy No.

Capitals seeing stars after overtime loss to Maple Leafs

If we have the lead, we have to manage the puck, manage the game, be more focused on a more simple game.“Series goes to go four wins. The Leafs were merely supposed to be a tune-up for the serious playoff hockey.Funny thing, though, the NHL now is all about speed and youth. They are using it to make the Capitals, particularly their defencemen, look ponderous.So the questions for Washington head coach Barry Trotz were more pointed. The Leafs may not have much playoff experience but they have plenty of speed and youth. I don’t feel that,” Caps forward Daniel Winnik said. Fancy talents such as Ovechkin, Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov were joined by bruising defenders such as Brooks Orpik or playoff comets such as Justin Williams.After a nice cruise to first place overall and the William Jennings Trophy in the NHL’s regular season, the Capitals were finally supposed to shake the postseason blahs, in which they never made it past the second round in the post-2005 Ovechkin era. Or how they are not getting flustered when the Capitals come out like they did Monday night and take a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes.“Surprisingly, it was fine,” Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner said of the mood on the bench when the Caps took the early lead. “We’re giving it away and it’s not good enough,” Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom said after they blew two two-goal leads and lost 4-3 in overtime in Game 3 on Monday night. I think earlier in the year we might not have. And even if they are giving off the sense of a team whose playoff history is now a burden, no one is going to admit it.“No, I don’t think so. Then he indicated this will take some doing.“But how I said, it’s on us,” Ovechkin said. I know him and [Leo] Komarov have been going at it.”As it stands, though, the Capitals are still very much in this series. It’s not going to be easy. Then again, that would mean he was lousy for 20 minutes instead of 15, although Trotz rushed to his defence.“It wasn’t based on play,” Trotz said. His linemate Alexander Ovechkin, whose ice time was listed as a mere 15 minutes 8 seconds on the game sheet and who is once again coming up short in the playoffs, was similarly fatalistic.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off eliminationOvechkin said the Capitals have to forget what happened Monday and move forward for Game 4 on Wednesday. We kind of matured as a group and we have a calm about us right now, which is pretty good.”While not even Leafs head coach Mike Babcock would have predicted his players would handle themselves with aplomb through three playoff overtime games, he was right in saying before the series the pressure is always on a big favourite such as the Capitals. Oshie.There is some evidence Ovechkin did not receive credit from the game officials for all of the time he was on the ice. But they have somehow let moments when they could have buried the Toronto Maple Leafs slip away. Such as why Ovechkin only played about 15 minutes in Game 3, more than two minutes behind his centre Backstrom and three fewer than the line’s right winger, T.J. His minutes have been hard, quality minutes. Sometimes you look at minutes, sometimes they’re overstated. It’s on me to get him a little more ice time, no question.“He’s [playing] quality minutes right now. Now it is the neophyte Leafs who are breathing fire with a 2-1 series lead and whose confidence has grown so much in three overtime games that they really think they can win this thing. “I thought [Ovechkin] was playing terrific. It was never supposed to come to this for the Washington Capitals.After three games of a first-round playoff series, they were not supposed to be the team trying to explain away what appears to be a case of tightening collars and the wobbles from bearing the weight of playoff expectations. You’re out there 20 minutes, but they’re not quality minutes. We have to do a better job. The pucker factor, he called it, which meant all his kids had to do was skate like crazy and play their game.“We’ve got a bunch of kids so we’ve got energy to burn,” Babcock said Tuesday. “We play the game, we’re out there. “We just stayed positive and stuck with it. “We’ll play as long as you want. We’d just like to win.”Over the past two years, in response to repeated playoff flameouts, the Capitals were refitted as a team that could defend as tenaciously as it could dangle the puck on a string. It’s a huge test for us.”In the Leafs dressing room the talk is mostly about how much fun they are having.

Flames, down 3-0, face monumental task against Ducks

Unlike the night before, when the scent of victory was in the air for most of the night, this gathering felt funereal. “But in saying that, it’s been a really close series. In Game 2, he had troubles early – surrendering two goals early – and in Game 3, he gave up a momentum-changing flutter-ball to Shea Theodore in the final minute of the second period that gave the visitors life.Had the Flames uneventfully played out the period, they would have carried a decisive three-goal lead into the third.In 33 games this season, the Flames had a perfect record of securing the win when leading after two periods. Nothing in the current edition of the Flames suggests they will be the fifth.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off eliminationFor starters, the level of goaltending required to win against the Ducks hasn’t been there. Collectively, we’ve got to look forward to the next game. One-by-one, the players were ushered out of the dressing room, to speak about the possibilities of carving a small piece of NHL history with an epic comeback.Only four times in the history of the NHL playoffs has a team overcome a three-game disadvantage to miraculously win a series. It meant Bennett played down the depth chart most of a year punctuated by some long scoring droughts.Bennett’s mentor in junior hockey was former Flames’ star Doug Gilmour – and there are similarities in the way they approach the game. There’s a new opportunity. The first week of the playoffs support that contention.Anaheim finished the regular season on a 14-game point streak (11-0-3), becoming just the fifth team in league history to do so and the first since Pittsburgh finished the 1992-93 season with points in 18 consecutive games. There’s nothing to lose, so you try to get a game and if you get a game, you go to the next one and try to do the same thing.”If there was one unexpected bright spot for the Flames, it was the play of centre Sam Bennett, who is finding that old playoff magic from two years ago.Bennett, who was drafted as a centre, played mostly on the wing until this season, when the Flames put him back in the middle. Hope springs eternal in NHL playoff season, though hope frequently gets couched in boilerplate clichés as soon as a team falls behind 3-0 in a series, which is where the Calgary Flames found themselves Tuesday morning. Goaltender Brian Elliott may have been exceptional for the Flames in the second half of the regular season, but his last two performances have been subpar. In our opinion, 3-0 is not the way it should be right now, but it is.”Giordano acknowledged the psychological difficulty in overcoming Monday’s loss, considering the Flames were in control for the better part of two periods.“It was a tough loss, but you can’t dwell on it,” Giordano said. But that didn’t prevent a bunch of players from saying all the right things Tuesday.“We’re going to do everything in our power to send a message and make them a little nervous over there,” forward Matthew Tkachuk said. Mere hours after a perplexing collapse in which they blew a 4-1 second-period lead and lost 5-4 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames reassembled at the Scotiabank Saddledome. His most memorable moment came when he laid a hellacious open-ice check against Ducks’ defenceman Kevin Bieksa, a popular villain in these parts from his days as a Canucks agitator.Until they got jittery and let the game slip away, the Flames had mounted the necessary response Monday after playing two reasonably competitive games on the road in Anaheim, though they didn’t win either. They picked a bad time to see that streak come to a halt.It was suggested at the start of the series that the Ducks were probably the worst possible matchup for the Flames, even more difficult an opponent than the Western Conference’s leading team, the Chicago Blackhawks. Bennett will go into the hard areas in front of the net, which is where he scored Calgary’s fourth goal Monday night. From the end of their bye week until the conclusion of the regular season, the Ducks went 14-2-3 to catch and overtake the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division. “Today’s a day where you have to refresh and regroup and get over it somehow. We’ve got to get a spark early and just play with no fear. Now, however, the task seems nearly impossible – four wins in a row, two of which would have to come at the Honda Center, where they’ve lost 29 in a row. The Flames haven’t quite been the same team since.“Honestly, I think they have great players, great individuals over there who, in key moments, step up and make plays,” Flames’ captain Mark Giordano said. Calgary was decent down the stretch until it clinched a playoff spot and then collectively exhaled.

Raptors survive late-game onslaught by the Greek Freak to win Game 2

He was 4-for-14 from the field by half time but had ten boards and four assists. “My teammates challenged me. Worse, they were forcing Toronto to turn the ball over.The Raps’ lead evaporated to just one point going into the fourth.Ibaka, who hadn’t shot particularly well early in the night, pumped up his offence in the final quarter, and ended the night with 16 points, seven boards and six assists. They did so by scoring in ways that took the air out of the crowd, like a stunning Antetokounmpo to Thon Maker alley-oop dunk or a variety of ridiculously athletic manoeuvers by the Greek star that had him soaring over or through Raptor defenders to put the ball in the hoop. It was perhaps the most commanding Toronto moment of the series to that point, as they built a nine-point lead. The Bucks kept hacking at Toronto leads. “We definitely gained a lot of things out of these two games. I think we got their attention.”Game 3 is Thursday in Milwaukee. The Raptors called on two youngsters for some meaningful minutes this time. Tucker, prompting the Bucks to cry for a timeout. Antetokounmpo, who troubled the Raps endlessly on Saturday by racing out in transition, was held to two points in the first quarter on 1-of-6 shooting. Toronto lead 28-25 to end the quarter.A big Raptors sequence to start the second jolted Toronto in a convincing direction. But Lowry’s dagger put the game away with eight seconds left.“They showed me more bodies in the paint tonight. Lowry, who hit just two of his 11 field goal attempts in Game 1, was 6-of-12 on this occasion – including the big shot in the dying seconds to stop a comeback from the young Bucks, who had been charging hard with late-game acrobatics by Antetokounmpo.“I was just playing, taking my shots, being aggressive,” said Lowry. I got to the free throw line nine times and got aggressive early.”The Toronto faithful, all clad in red playoff t-shirts that read “Northside,” seemed at little tense to open the night, wondering what their team would show after Saturday’s Game 1 letdown.Serge Ibaka, questionable the past few days nursing an ankle he sprained on Saturday,
was in the starting lineup.DeRozan got off to the fast start, hitting four of his first five field goal attempts for a 12-point quarter. Rookie big man Jakob Poeltl came in to chew up some time early after Jonas Valanciunas picked up a second foul. First Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson both hit threes, then they got a big stop, which lead to an easy bucket for P.J. It was a one-point game in the final minutes.Antetokounmpo led his team with 24 points and a playoff career-high 15 boards, while Middleton added 20 points. With eight seconds left in Tuesday’s game, the snarling, clutch-shooting Kyle Lowry that Canada had come to adore reared his head and had his best moment of this NBA postseason so far– hitting a 20-foot step-back jumper to put an anxious game away.After a shaky loss in Game 1, the Toronto Raptors bounced back with a 106-100 Game 2 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, surviving a late-game onslaught by Greek superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 boards. In the second game tonight, they didn’t let me,” said Antetokounmpo. Behind 23 points by DeMar DeRozan and a bounce-back 22-point night from Lowry, the Raptors evened the series 1-1 as it now heads to Milwaukee. “And I just knew he wasn’t going to be satisfied with the way he played in Game 1.”Antetokounmpo was plucking rebounds like crazy, but he was missing shots at an unusual rate early on, from jumpers to layups and tips. In the first game they let me go in the paint a lot. Delon Wright entered midway through the second to be a pest on Malcolm Brogdon, chasing him around the floor and contributing to Toronto’s solid passing.That’s when Lowry began to step up his offence, driving through the lane multiple times, sinking layups or drawing contact and getting to the line, tallying a 12-point quarter to boost his tally to 17 points.“He’s a competitor, and a fighter,” said Toronto Coach Dwane Casey of Lowry. The young Bucks chipped away at it, by executing some of the same things that made them so terrifying in Game 1 – driving dunks from the Greek Freak, jumpers by Khris Middleton, sweet three-point shooting from Tony Snell. His low production kept the Raptors in the driver’s seat, not to mention they had finally come alive from beyond the arc. Toronto took a 55-52 lead into halftime.The Raps built that lead up to 13 points, but it never felt comfortable.

Canadiens undone by poor ‘puck management’ in Game 4 loss to Rangers

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off eliminationOn Tuesday, New York Rangers boss Alain Vigneault stretched the definition to fit defencemen pinching in further up the ice to put pressure on the opposition and force turnovers.Essentially, it means whatever the coach says it means, and there’s no point trying to divine how it is the hockey world still somehow arrives at a shared understanding.Anyway, puck management was referenced a great deal after New York’s 2-1 defeat of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series; the teams are now knotted at two victories each in the best-of-seven, and Game 5 is set for Thursday night in Montreal.The formulation was used by both Habs coach Claude Julien (short version: my team was bad at it) and by his good friend and rival Vigneault (condensed version: we were pretty good).Essentially, the Habs were undone by their propensity to give the puck to the other guys, particularly in the second period.But more generally, the crisp, tight, quick defensive play that Montreal used to claw back a Ranger lead in Game 2 and which allowed them to roll to a 3-1 win in Game 3 simply evaporated.This was not entirely their fault.“Sometimes when I stand here and answer questions, it’s as if there was only one team on the ice,” said a mildly exasperated Max Pacioretty, the Habs’ captain.It should be said he’s more put out at his own play; after scoring 35 goals and leading the team with 67 points, he has just one assist to show after four postseason games.He also shared part of the culpability for the Rangers’ winning goal after failing to stop Ryan McDonagh’s desperation attempt to keep the puck in the Montreal zone (which was the end result of a horrific turnover by Montreal defenceman Jordie Benn).“It wasn’t my best game, but I’ll be better,” he said.Julien, for his part, said “we’ll deal with it internally” – meaning he didn`t care to discuss it with reporters and would analyze the game footage to identify ways in which his top scorer can be more effective offensively.In other words, more tweaks are pending.All playoff series are tactical chess matches, and with the Rangers facing a must-win situation, new wrinkles were added to their game – and for good reason: They had lost six straight playoff contests on home ice and had no interest in tying the NHL record with seven, particularly if it meant going down 3-1 in the series.Vigneault inserted speedy rookie Pavel Buchnevich into the lineup and shuffled his lines, moving the swift-skating Michael Grabner and Chris Kreider onto different units.“It was important for us to play at a high pace … to do that you have to roll four lines and with that subtle little change we were able to do that,” he said.Vigneault also instructed his defencemen to force the issue further up the ice and to hit everything that moved.“Obviously their goal was to limit our speed … it’s up to us to battle through that,” said Pacioretty. It comes in handy when there is little of substance left to say. Now it’s a best of three, with two games in Montreal’s home barn.It’s close, and there can be no surprises: Each club is trying to play to its strengths, which are well-known and thoroughly analyzed.Thus the fuzzy, Newspeak-style language of hockey. “But we’re playing a very [good] team and they were at their best.”He added the solution is to return to the game plan of forcing New York’s defencemen to skate, and wear them down with a relentless forecheck, which seemingly went out the window when the egregious turnovers – from customarily reliable performers Andrei Markov, who gifted Jesper Fast the Rangers’ opening goal, and Benn – began piling up.Basically, the coming games will feature a contest of wills that will be fought at or near the blue lines.And Julien has demonstrated he has a few strategic surprises to deploy as well.In the second period he moved Alexander Radulov, whose assist on Torrey Mitchell’s first period goal was his team-leading sixth point of the playoffs, alongside centre Alex Galchenyuk and shifted right winger Andrew Shaw into the former’s slot with Pacioretty and Philip Danault.Mostly, it worked.For all the mistakes and poor management of the game – in Julien’s estimation that means everything from forcing passes (eight icing calls in the third period) to losing faceoffs to giveaways – the Habs had chances.There were a pair of breakaways in the first period from Shaw and Mitchell, but neither went in; Galchenyuk beat Lundqvist with a third-period shot but the puck dribbled wide; and Shea Weber hit the post with the Montreal net empty and 80 seconds to play.Indeed, the Habs only gave up five more high-danger scoring chances (13) than they recorded on Henrik Lundqvist, according to naturalstattrick.com.This series is a curious match-up in that it could plausibly be 3-1 for either team.There is very little to separate the clubs – the Habs are a little better on the blue line, the Rangers are a little better up front. Hockey argot can be maddening to the uninitiated, mostly because it somehow manages to be both frustratingly amorphous and yet deeply specific in meaning.Consider, if you will, the idea of “puck management.”It can mean avoiding turnovers in certain areas of the ice – near the blue lines, say – or it can signify making short passes or chipping and retrieving pucks in specific zones.

Blue Jackets beat Penguins 5-4 to avoid sweep

“But we got through it.”Sergei Bobrovsky had 27 saves to help the Blue Jackets get their first playoff win in three years and their first-ever in regulation.The Penguins now lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, which returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday night.Patric Hornqvist, Ron Hainsey and Tom Kuhnhackl also scored for Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury — pressed into service because of an injury to Matt Murray at the start of the series — had 29 saves.Columbus got offence from its lower lines, building leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 4-3 before Jenner poked in a goal amid heavy traffic 5:37 into the third period for a 5-3 lead. His rebound shot from the doorstep rolled up the pad of Bobrovsky with the goalie dropped in front of the net. Still, he really wanted them to be able to hear it again.After the first three games of the playoff series with Pittsburgh, the Blue Jackets players shed their gear in a room that was nearly silent. … Pittsburgh got the late goal but ran out of time.“You earn your bounces, and they were better” Penguins star forward Sidney Crosby said. That’s the way it happens after a loss. “Now we’ll figure out how to go about our business and try to manage the series here.”Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner each had a goal and an assist, and the Blue Jackets held on to beat the Penguins and avoid a sweep in the best-of-seven playoff series. D Scott Harrington was a scratch. D Kyle Quincey made his playoff debut for Columbus after D Zach Werenski was knocked out with a puck to the face Sunday. “They earned the win, and we didn’t have the desperation that we needed to win the game.”Johnson scored first for the Blue Jackets at 11:46 of the opening period when he launched a wrister from the right point into traffic that bounced off Crosby’s skate and into the net.There was less luck involved when Anderson made it 2-0 with a little over minute left in the period. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do.”NOTES: Tortorella scratched veteran winger Scott Hartnell on his 35th birthday, replacing him in the lineup with Lukas Sedlak, who returned from an injury. Ten minutes later, Phil Kessel passed the puck out to Hainsey to the far right and he beat a shielded Bobrovsky from a severe angle. F Matt Calvert also was back after serving a one-game suspension for breaking his stick over the back of Kuhnhackl on Friday. The Blue Jackets were lucky to get out of the last few minutes of the period without another score from the swarming Penguins.The Blue Jackets got a goal from Karlsson 27 seconds into the third that seemed to pump them up again. But Kuhnhackl found the back of the net on a rebound less than two minutes later to make it 4-3 before Jenner put Columbus back up by two.“We’re all excited here tonight,” Columbus winger Brandon Saad said. He grabbed a chip pass from Karlsson, circled in from the right and beat Fleury between the pads.Columbus went up 3-0 at 4:49 of the second when Nutivaara scored off a rebound.Just like in Game 3 when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit, the Penguins began roaring back.Hornqvist struck for Pittsburgh during a power play 6:43 in the second. Nutivaara, a rookie, was making his playoff debut.Jack Johnson and Josh Anderson also scored for the Blue Jackets, who were able to outlast the Penguins when they pushed back hard in the second and third periods and then got a short-handed goal from Jake Guenztel with 27 seconds left in the game.“That’s a good team — they can sense the blood in the water,” Tortorella said. Before Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Penguins, Tortorella said he wanted the young team to experience a playoff victory, lousy music and all.Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off elimination“I wanted them — some guys with limited playoff experience, some of them with none — just to try to enjoy a win,” Tortorella said. Columbus coach John Tortorella hates the kind of music his players often blare in the dressing room. ….

Blue Jays mount late comeback, fall short against Red Sox

Troy Tulowitzki reached on an infield single and moved to third on a Smoak double that scored Morales.Tulowitzki tried to score on a Martin grounder but Marco Hernandez threw him out at the plate. It was his first home run of the season.Announced attendance was 29,281 and the game took three hours 48 minutes to play.Notes: Pillar has hit safely in six straight games. Left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-1, 9.00 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday night against right-hander Rick Porcello (1-1, 7.56). The Blue Jays placed southpaw J.A. … The Toronto native belted a 1-0 pitch off the facing of the second deck for his first homer of the year.Johnson allowed four earned runs, seven hits and three walks over five innings. Boston outhit Toronto 15-12.Russell Martin, Justin Smoak and Ezequiel Carrera homered for the Blue Jays, who fell to 1-6 on their nine-game homestand. Kevin Pillar had three doubles for Toronto.Boston left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0) got the start after being called up from triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day and the Blue Jays made him work early with a 35-pitch first inning.Pillar led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Kendrys Morales. Happ (left elbow) on the 10-day disabled list before the game and recalled utilityman Ty Kelly from triple-A Buffalo. Toronto reliever Aaron Loup came on and gave up an RBI single to Sandoval before Dominic Leone recorded the final out.Stroman gave up six earned runs, 11 hits and a walk while striking out four.Martin cut into the Boston lead with a no-doubt solo shot in the bottom of the fifth. Betts drove in Xander Bogaerts and Moreland’s two-run single brought home Betts and Andrew Benintendi.Smoak made it a 3-3 game in the bottom of the third with a first-pitch solo shot to deep left-centre field. The Blue Jays traded catcher Juan Graterol to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash. Steve Pearce struck out swinging for the third out.The Blue Jays kept the pressure on in the second inning but couldn’t push another run across. … It was his second home run of the season.The Red Sox moved ahead in the fifth when Hanley Ramirez doubled to score Betts from first base and Moreland followed with another RBI double. He had six strikeouts.Betts hit his first homer of the season in the seventh and the Red Sox added another run in the eighth inning when Benintendi’s ground-rule double scored Sandoval.In the ninth, Pearce drove in Martin with a single and Carrera followed with a two-run pinch-hit homer. Mitch Moreland drove in three runs and Mookie Betts scored three times as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7 on Tuesday night.The Blue Jays made it interesting with a three-run ninth inning but Matt Barnes got Devon Travis on a lineout to end the game.Moreland had a hand in both of Boston’s three-run innings while Betts had three hits, including a solo homer in the seventh. … Dermody gave up three homers in one inning last Sunday. Devon Travis worked a one-out walk and moved to third on a Pillar double.Jose Bautista was intentionally walked to load the bases but Morales struck out and Tulowitzki lined out.Toronto starter Marcus Stroman (1-2) gave up three straight one-out singles in the third inning and all three runners came around to score. In addition, right-hander Danny Barnes was recalled as a corresponding roster move after left-hander Matt Dermody was optioned to Buffalo on Monday. The Red Sox (9-5) extended their winning streak to four games while Toronto dropped to a major-league worst 2-11.

Sharks steamroll Oilers 7-0 in Game 4 to draw even in series

You have to have a short memory at this time of year.”It is the Oilers who now are confronted with questions about their firepower and mettle. Pavelski, Couture, Marleau and Brent Burns combined for only one point in the first three games. On Tuesday night, they had 10. The fast goal by Pavelski and Couture’s first of the game staked them to a 2-0 lead by the first intermission, and it just grew from there.Talbot had given up only three goals in 83 shots entering the game and was pulled after giving up five in 24 attempts.“We didn’t start the way we wanted to and gave up a goal right away,” Talbot said. At this point, he is scoreless through four games.Earlier, Connor McDavid was called for interference for hogtying Pavelski, an infraction that led to a goal by Patrick Marleau. They allowed four power-play goals, and their margin of defeat was the worst in franchise history for a playoff game.A 15-minute game misconduct to Leon Draisaitl included, the Oilers were assessed 27 minutes in penalties. Well, that was unexpected.After being lost at sea, the San Jose Sharks found their offence on Tuesday night and thrashed the Oilers 7-0, tying their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at two games each.Unable to find the net on 39 successive shots during two straight losses, the Sharks found it just 15 seconds into the game at the SAP Center. Joe Pavelski bounced a deflected puck past Cam Talbot, opening the floodgates in drought-stricken California and bringing a sellout crowd of towel-waving maniacs to their feet. The 21-year-old who scored 77 points could get suspended for the offence. Pavelski and Couture each scored twice, Pavelski added an assist, Marleau had a goal and an assist, and Burns assisted on three others.“They have lived through these type of games and know where to take it,” McLellan said.The Sharks had only 16 shots in a Game 3 loss in San Jose on Sunday, but had 14 in the first period in Game 4. “I don’t think we have so far.” Maroon, who had 27 goals this season, has yet to crack the score sheet. It shows you that a team can take their game to a different level.“It was completely one-sided. Draisaitl was ejected with the Oilers trailing 5-0 in the second period after spearing Chris Tierney between the legs. Stanley Cup Playoffs: Canadiens edged, Oilers embarrassed, Blue Jackets fend off eliminationImpenetrable in Games 2 and 3, Talbot was yanked after Logan Couture scored for the second time on a power play with 7:08 left in the second period. McDavid has a goal and an assist but has been effectively blanketed by the Sharks’ defence the last two games. Game 5 is at Rogers Place on Thursday, but instead of trying to close out the best-of-seven series, the Oilers will now be trying to stop the Sharks’ momentum.The Oilers gave up six goals three times in 82 regular-season games, but were never steamrolled this way. Offensively, defensively … we have a lot of things we need to repair going into Thursday.”Edmonton played neither well nor smart, and lost its composure more and more as the wheels came off. The Oilers had beaten them four times in the last five games entering Tuesday night.“At the end of the day, it was about them being more hungry to get back in the series and us not responding in the right way,” Milan Lucic, the Oilers’ veteran forward, said. The Oilers weren’t so lucky when they were called for having too many players on the ice in the third period. “Tonight was a big lesson. Patrick Maroon cross-checked Pavelski across the back of the neck near the end of the period, which ended with Kris Russell and Pavelski shouting at one another after the feisty little defenceman was whacked in the face with a high stick by Tomas Hertl.At one point, Darnell Nurse laid out Timo Meier with a stick to his throat, but somehow escaped without a penalty. “It is about a shift in momentum.“Eventually, our big guys are going to step up and win us a game. Draisaitl had 29 goals, and he, too, has been shut out.“It is important that our big guys step up,” Lucic, who has a goal and an assist, said. Laurent Brossoit replaced Talbot – and gave up a second goal to Pavelski, again on a power play, less than four minutes later.The loss was the worst of the season for Edmonton and couldn’t have come at a worse time. They were in the middle of a power play when it occurred.The talk entering the game focused on the lack of production from the Sharks’ most talented players. “We gave them all the momentum they needed to carry through for the rest of the game.“As a goalie, I want to make a save here or there to stop their momentum, and I wasn’t able to do that.”Already, Talbot, said, he had put the game out of his mind.McLellan said he hoped his players would chew and stew about what happened for a bit on Wednesday and be ready to go again against the Sharks at home on Thursday. There is no time for panic or doubt to start creeping in. We have to bounce back. The Sharks had eight.“I think in the playoffs there are little lessons that are learned along the way,” Todd McLellan, the Edmonton coach, said.

Serena Williams hints she may be pregnant in Snapchat photo

At an age when most tennis professionals have already retired, Williams still dominates the women’s tour.Sister Venus, 36, has won seven Grand Slam singles titles. And did not drop ONE SET. Tennis superstar Serena Williams on Wednesday appeared to reveal she is pregnant, posting a photo of herself in a bathing suit on Snapchat with the caption “20 weeks.”The 35-year-old, who will return to the No. 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.Williams, who has played professionally for two decades, first gained the No. 1 ranking in the world next week, later deleted the photo. The Belgian player Kim Clijsters 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. Tennis star Serena Williams appears to suggest she is pregnant (Reuters)

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 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. Serena Williams has not played since, citing a knee injury.Fans reacted with a mixture of awe and glee at the news.“Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. 1 ranking in 2002 and has held that spot for more than six years in total during her career. Neither Williams nor her management team were immediately available for comment. Let that sink in,” wrote Twitter user @noelleharmony on the social media site.Williams, the highest-paid female athlete in the world, , announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last December.Other women have left the tour to have children and returned at a high level, though none has done so at Williams’ age.

Olympians Huynh, Whitfield and Klassen top Canada Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Robert W. Decorated Olympians Carol Huynh, Simon Whitfield and Cindy Klassen headline the Canada Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2017.The trio was among nine new inductees unveiled today during a news conference at a Toronto hotel.Huynh captured an Olympic gold medal in women’s wrestling in 2008 before adding a bronze in 2012 in London. Jackson and the Edmonton Grads women’s basketball team.Powless and Jackson were named for induction posthumously.The newest inductees will be enshrined Nov. Whitfield captured Olympic trialthon gold in 2000 and won a silver medal eight years later while speedskater Klassen earned six Olympic medals (one gold, two silver, three bronze).Also named were Stanley Cup-champion Lanny McDonald, former Masters winner Mike Weir, neurosurgeon Dr. 9 in Toronto. Charles Tator, lacrosse star Gaylord Powless, Canadian paralympic founder Dr.

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.