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NHL roundup: Predators clinch playoff berth

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Luke Kunin scored two goals and the host Nashville Predators sealed a playoff spot with a 3-1 win over the Central Division champion Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

 

Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 21 saves and held a shutout into the third period in what was a preview of a first-round postseason series. The teams conclude the regular season with a rematch Monday night in Nashville.

 

Kunin scored in the second and third periods for a 2-0 Predators lead. Mikael Granlund assisted on both goals.

 

Carolina’s goal came from Morgan Geekie less than 1 1/2 minutes after Kunin’s second goal, but Erik Haula sealed the outcome with an empty-net tally. Carolina goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves while taking a loss in regulation for the first time in his past nine outings.

 

Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

 

Toronto overcame a 2-0 deficit with three straight second-period goals to defeat visiting Montreal and clinch the North Division title.

 

The Maple Leafs won the final two regular-season games between the teams to take the season series 7-2-1. Jack Campbell made 21 saves for the victory.

 

Pierre Engvall, William Nylander and Mitchell Marner scored for the Maple Leafs. Brett Kulak and Nick Suzuki scored for the Canadiens, who got 23 saves from Jake Allen.

 

Penguins 1, Sabres 0

 

Jeff Carter scored and goaltender Maxime Lagace stopped all 29 shots he faced to lead Pittsburgh past visiting Buffalo as both teams concluded the regular season.

 

Several hours later, Pittsburgh clinched the East Division and home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins secured first place after they won and the Washington Capitals failed to record a regulation-time victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

The Sabres finished last not only in the East but also overall in the NHL. Buffalo rookie goalie Michael Houser, pressed into the No. 1 role because of a series of injuries, made 22 saves in his fourth career start.

 

Panthers 5, Lightning 1

 

Alex Wennberg scored three goals to lead Florida past Tampa Bay in Sunrise, Fla., and into a two-point lead on the Lightning in the race for home-ice advantage in their Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series.

 

The two teams conclude the regular season on Monday. Florida needs one point to clinch home ice; Tampa Bay needs a regulation win. Sam Bennett and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida, and each added an assist. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots.

 

The teams amassed a combined 156 minutes of penalty time and nine misconduct penalties. Luke Schenn scored for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy took the loss with 30 saves.

 

Capitals 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

 

Conor Sheary scored with 59.4 seconds left in overtime as Washington defeated visiting Philadelphia.

 

Lars Eller scored with 40 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. On the game-winner, Sheary took a quick pass from Nic Dowd and fired a shot that trickled between goalie Alex Lyon’s pads.

 

The injury-depleted Capitals were even more short-handed in this contest. T.J. Oshie appeared to hurt his knee late in the second period and was ruled out with a lower-body injury, leaving Washington with only 10 forwards during the third period and overtime.

 

Rangers 5, Bruins 4

 

Mika Zibanejad, Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov scored in a span of less than five minutes during a four-goal third period, and New York completed its season with a victory at Boston.

 

Zibanejad scored again late, K’Andre Miller also had a goal and Pavel Buchnevich had three assists as the Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak. Keith Kinkaid had 28 saves before exiting during the third with an injury. Igor Shesterkin stopped seven shots the rest of the way for New York.

 

Nick Ritchie, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron scored for the Bruins, whose six-game points streak came to an end. Charlie McAvoy had two assists and Tuukka Rask stopped 18 shots.

 

Islanders 5, Devils 1

 

Brock Nelson scored twice in a span of 3:40 in the second period as New York scored four unanswered goals in a rout of visiting New Jersey in the final regular-season game at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

 

Jordan Eberle scored late in the first period, and Nelson struck twice by swatting in a pair of rebounds after New Jersey’s Andreas Johnsson tied the game less than five minutes into the second. Former Devil Kyle Palmieri and Mathew Barzal scored in a span of 37 seconds early in the third as the Islanders halted a three-game losing streak.

 

The Islanders moved within two points of the third-place Bruins. The Islanders visit Boston on Monday night for their final regular-season game, but the Bruins also visit the Capitals on Tuesday night.

 

Senators 4, Jets 2

 

Tim Stutzle posted his first career hat trick to pace visiting Ottawa to a victory over Winnipeg, handing the Jets their sixth consecutive home defeat.

 

Connor Brown also scored and added two assists, Shane Pinto collected two assists and Filip Gustavsson made 27 saves for the Senators. Ottawa, which has long been eliminated from playoff contention, is on an 8-1-1 run.

 

Mason Appleton and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets, who have lost eight of nine games but remain in third place in the North Division. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots.

 

Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)

 

Max Domi scored with 20.4 seconds remaining in overtime and Columbus won its season finale over visiting Detroit.

 

Domi scored from the slot off a feed from Oliver Bjorkstrand. Cam Atkinson, Bjorkstrand, Eric Robinson and Jack Roslovic scored in regulation for Columbus.

 

Jakub Vrana, Danny DeKeyser, Sam Gagner and Valtteri Filppula scored for Detroit.

 

Wild 4, Ducks 3 (OT)

 

Victor Rask scored with 2:14 left in the extra session to lift Minnesota past Anaheim in St. Paul, Minn.

 

Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Hartman and Nick Bonino also scored, and Cam Talbot made 19 saves for the Wild, who finished 7-1-0 against the Ducks this season. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for his 13th multi-point game, adding to his franchise rookie records.

 

Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. Ryan Miller made 21 saves in the final game of his 18-year NHL career.

 

–Field Level Media

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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