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Kapanen, Penguins stay hot in win over Rangers – TSN

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PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins keep finding ways to make it hard on themselves. More importantly, they keep finding ways to navigate their way out of trouble, too.

Having a goalie regaining his All-Star form helps.

Tristan Jarry made 33 saves — including a couple of sprawling stops in the final minutes — and the surging Penguins held off the New York Rangers 4-2 on Tuesday night. Jarry improved to 8-3 in his last 11 starts by stoning the Rangers repeatedly in the third period after New York drew within a goal.

Only captain Sidney Crosby’s empty-net goal with 32 seconds left allowed Pittsburgh the chance to exhale at the end of a 4-1 homestand.

“We’ve won a bunch of different ways this year,” said forward Teddy Blueger, whose short-handed goal early in the second gave Pittsburgh the lead for good. “It’s going to be like that when a team comes at us hard and things get scrambly. Jars came up huge for us. … We’ll take it and kind of learn from it and move forward.”

Kasperi Kapanen got his fourth goal in his last five games with 19 seconds to go in the second period at the end of what Penguins coach Mike Sullivan called perhaps his team’s best shift of the season. Jake Guentzel also scored for Pittsburgh as the Penguins improved to 5-1 against the Rangers.

Pittsburgh began the homestand reeling a bit following a dismal loss to the New York Islanders. The Penguins responded by winning four of five — the only loss coming in a game in which they blew a three-goal lead — to leapfrog Philadelphia and move into fourth place in the East Division as the midpoint of the truncated 56-game season nears.

“I like the resilience the group has shown,” Sullivan said. “I think our guys have shown an ability to just stay in the moment and continue to compete and I think that’s an important aspect of becoming a good team.”

New York defenceman Jack Johnson — making his first appearance in Pittsburgh since the Penguins released him during the off-season — scored his first goal in more than a year. Ryan Strome picked up his ninth with a power-play score early in the third period. Keith Kinkaid made 23 stops while withstanding an early barrage but couldn’t prevent the Rangers from dropping their second straight.

“I thought a much better effort than (a 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday night) but unfortunately, when you’re chasing this team and you lose both, it’s frustrating,” Strome said. “There’s not much we can take away from this one in terms of feeling good.”

JOHNSON RETURNS

Johnson spent two turbulent years in Pittsburgh before the Penguins bought out the final three years of his contract in October. He landed in New York, where’s been in and out of the lineup. The 34-year-old gave the Rangers the lead 9:16 into the first when his innocent flip from the point found its way through traffic — perhaps helped by a deflection off the skate of Pittsburgh defenceman John Marino — and by Jarry.

The goal was Johnson’s first since Jan. 19, 2020, when he was in the middle of his second season with Pittsburgh.

The Penguins parted ways with Johnson to get younger and faster on the blue line. Guentzel’s goal provided a snapshot of why Pittsburgh wanted to move on.

Crosby created a turnover in the New York zone and fed a cross-ice pass to a streaking Guentzel. Johnson was the closest Rangers player but rather than charge Guentzel or attempt a poke check, he hesitated and Guentzel ripped a shot over Kinkaid’s glove to tie it with 1:06 remaining in the first.

“I just saw him out of the corner of my eye,” Crosby said. “He did all the work there.”

KAPANEN CRESTING

Kapanen began the season on the top line with Crosby, dropped all the way to the fourth line at one point and has been a bit of a nomad at times. He seems to be meshing with Evgeni Malkin. Kapanen has four goals and three assists in his last five games. Malkin’s assist on Kapanen’s wrist shot from the slot at the end of extended pressure gave him points in seven straight home games for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

“That was a great shift, they were moving the puck around real well,” Blueger said. “They’re a pretty high-skilled line. … The second period wasn’t great, so to get that momentum going into the third was huge.”

UP NEXT

Rangers: Continue their six-game road trip Thursday in Boston.

Penguins: Face the Sabres for the first time this season when they visit Buffalo for a two-game set starting Thursday.

___

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UEFA threaten to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions

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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – European soccer‘s governing body UEFA has warned clubs linked to a breakaway Super League that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

In a joint statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/mediaservices/mediareleases/news/0268-12121411400e-7897186e699a-1000–statement-by-uefa-english-fa-rfef-figc-premier-league-laliga-le with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations, UEFA said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts and bans from domestic leagues, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said it had learnt that clubs from those countries “may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League”.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we….(and) also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” UEFA said.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.

In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation” – meaning players would be banned from the World Cup.

Sunday’s UEFA statement said: “The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

 

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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Netherlands and Poland seal narrow Billie Jean King Cup playoff wins

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(Reuters) – The Netherlands and Poland both needed deciding doubles wins to battle through their Billie Jean King Cup playoffs on Saturday but Britain, Italy and Canada all enjoyed easier passages.

In Den Bosch, the Dutch were without world number 11 Kiki Bertens for the second day because of injury and found themselves trailing China 2-1 after Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening singles.

But Aranxta Rus beat Wang Xinyu to level the tie and then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to defeat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan to send the hosts through.

It was equally tight in Poland where the hosts were pushed to the brink by Brazil.

Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Alves took the tie into a deciding doubles with a win over Katarzyna Kawa but the Poles prevailed 3-2 as Kawa and Magdalena Frech came back from a set down to beat Meligeni Alves and Luisa Stefani.

Kazakhstan also won a deciding rubber to see off Argentina.

Britain led 2-0 overnight against Mexico in London but Marcela Zacarias beat Heather Watson to keep alive the tie.

Katie Boulter proved too strong for Giuliana Olmos though to clinch the tie for the hosts.

Italy beat Romania 3-1 while Canada‘s teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her country’s path as she gave her side an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia thanks to a three-set win over Nina Stojanovic.

Ukraine eased past Japan 4-0 while Anastasija Sevastova secured Latvia’s 3-1 victory over India.

The eight winners move forward to next year’s qualifying round where they will hope to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

The old Fed Cup was re-branded last year and named after the American great and 12-times Grand Slam singles champion who won the inaugural tournament nearly 60 years ago.

This year’s 12-team Finals were postponed because of the pandemic and a new date has yet to be finalised.

 

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year

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(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.

With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.

F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.

The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.

“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.

The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.

“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”

Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.

One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.

The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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