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Blue Jackets edge Penguins 4-3 in double overtime

PITTSBURGH (AP) Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

Game 3 is Monday in Columbus.

Jack Johnson tied the game with 6:01 left in regulation for the Blue Jackets. Ryan Johansen also scored the first playoff goal of his career for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky overcame a shaky start to finish with 39 saves.

Brian Gibbons scored twice and Matt Niskanen added his second goal of the playoffs but Pittsburgh was outplayed for much of the final three-plus periods. Fleury made 41 stops but was helpless on the game-winner.

The Penguins have dropped four straight home overtime playoff games and blew a chance to take a 2-0 series lead when they failed to bury the Blue Jackets early on.

Instead, Columbus weathered an opening storm and recovered to collect the team's first playoff victory since the expansion team made its debut on Oct. 7, 2000 - 4,493 days ago.

The Blue Jackets were the better team for long stretches and kept Pittsburgh's high-powered special teams in check. The Penguins went just 1 for 8 on the power play.

Both teams traded quality chances in the first overtime period. Bobrovsky made an excellent blocker save on Sidney Crosby racing down the right wing. Fleury stuffed R.J. Umberger from point blank range earlier in the period.

There was no back-and-forth in the second extra session. Brandon Dubinsky started the winning play by jabbing the puck at Fleury and Pittsburgh's defense offered little resistance until the puck was on Calvert's stick for the winner.

The Penguins knew they couldn't afford a repeat of the first 21 minutes of Game 1, when the Blue Jackets knocked them around while streaking to a two-goal lead. Though Pittsburgh rallied to escape, the Penguins knew they were fortunate against a team making just its second playoff appearance in franchise history.

This time, Pittsburgh's start wasn't the problem. It was everything else.

Gibbons scored the first two playoff goals of his career 54 seconds apart - including a nifty short-handed breakaway in which he undressed Bobrovsky - to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead before the game was 5 minutes old. The giddiness didn't last long, for the Penguins or Gibbons.

Johansen scored before the power play expired and Gibbons, elevated to Pittsburgh's top line midway through Game 1, did not return after colliding with Johansen midway through the first period. While a Niskanen shot from the point with 2:08 left in the first restored Pittsburgh's two-goal edge, it only seemed to galvanize the Blue Jackets.

Pittsburgh appeared primed to push the lead to three when Columbus forward Blake Comeau gift-wrapped a power play for the Penguins by tackling defenseman Paul Martin right in front of the referee a good 50 feet behind the play.

Instead, it brought Columbus to life. Some lethargic Pittsburgh passing set up a 3-on-1 short-handed breakaway for the Blue Jackets, with Calvert beating Fleury to bring Columbus within one. The disjointed effort by the Penguins deflated the bench and the building. Only stellar play by Fleury over the final 10 minutes of the second period kept Pittsburgh in front.

The wave carried over into the third, with Columbus eventually drawing even on Johnson's power-play goal with 6 minutes to go.

NOTES: The Blue Jackets scratched forward Nick Foligno once again with a lower body injury but Foligno is optimistic he'll be able to return for Game 3. Foligno skated on Friday and believed he was close but was not cleared by team doctors. ... Crosby's two assists moved him into third on the team's career postseason scoring list. He now has 108 postseason points, trailing Jaromir Jagr (147) and Mario Lemieux (172). ... Columbus D Fedor Tyutin missed the third period and overtime due to an undisclosed injury.

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 03:04:00 +0000
Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

TORONTO (AP) Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 24 points, Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 94-87 Saturday in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.

Shaun Livingston scored 10 points and Kevin Garnett had five as the Nets won despite making 4 of 24 3-pointers.

Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors.

Valanciunas is the second Raptors player to have a double double in his postseason debut. Tracy McGrady had 25 points and 10 rebounds against New York in his first playoff game in 2000.

Valanciunas also set a Raptors record for playoff rebounds by surpassing Keon Clark, who had 16 against Detroit in 2002.

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 19:45:00 +0000
Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-86 on Saturday night in the opening game of their first-round series.

Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who nearly squandered a 25-point lead but recovered from a dismal third quarter to make 10 of 16 shots in the fourth.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just seven of 21 shots and got into foul trouble in the second half. Mike Conley had 16 points and 11 assists, Mark Gasol scored 16 points and Tony Allen added 13 points for the Grizzlies. The Thunder held Memphis to 36 percent shooting.

Oklahoma City was the only home team to win on the first day of the postseason.

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 04:35:00 +0000
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

LOS ANGELES (AP) Klay Thompson scored 22 points, David Lee added 20 and the Golden State Warriors got Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 on Saturday in their playoff opener.

Stephen Curry added 14 points for the Warriors, who trailed by 11 points to start the game before rallying in the third when Griffin and Paul were on the bench together.

Paul led the Clippers with 28 points, and J.J. Redick added 22 points in 30 minutes. Griffin finished with 16 points, fouling out with 48 seconds left and the game tied at 105. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 22:42:00 +0000
Harper pulled for not hustling, Nats fall to Cards

WASHINGTON (AP) Bryce Harper hit the ball to the mound, jogged to first base and took a right turn to the dugout before getting halfway down the basepath.

That would be his final play in the Washington Nationals' 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

First-year manager Matt Williams will tolerate physical miscues, such as the error that provided St. Louis three unearned runs, but he won't take the nonchalance that the normally aggressive Harper displayed during his sixth-inning jog.

"Lack of hustle. That's why he came out of the game," Williams said. "He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when we play the game, that we hustle at all times."

Now in his third season, the 21-year-old Harper is one of Washington's brightest lights and already a two-time All-Star. The outfielder once ran into a wall in the relentless pursuit of a fly ball, but on this day Harper was left explaining his casual approach on a comebacker.

"I respect what he did," Harper said of Williams' decision. "That's part of the game."

Harper was replaced by Kevin Frandsen, who entered as Washington's left fielder in the seventh and assumed Harper's position as the second batter in the lineup.

In the ninth inning, Frandsen came to the plate with runners on second and third with one out and Washington trailing 4-2. He drove in a run with a groundout before Jayson Werth struck out on three pitches against Trevor Rosenthal, who earned his fifth save.

"Kevin Frandsen put on a nice `AB' against Rosenthal," Williams said, "but (Harper's) spot came up with the ability to win the game. And that's a shame for his teammates."

Said Harper: "Man, that's tough to watch, not being able to be up there in that situation. It's something that I thrive on and I want to be in. You know, it's in the past and there's nothing we can do about it now."

Williams said Harper would be back in the starting lineup Sunday for the series finale. Harper went 0 for 3 before being pulled and is batting .295.

"People come pay money to watch him play the way he can play," Williams said. "And it's pretty exciting. It's pretty dynamic. But there's another side to it. And the other side is that regardless of how the ball comes off the bat or regardless of how he's feeling about an at-bat, he must maintain that intensity and that aggressiveness. And that means running all the way to first base and touching the base."

Harper was scratched from a game Wednesday with a sore quadriceps, but Williams didn't view that as a reason to stop short of running 90 feet to first base.

"Regardless of situation, regardless of what's happening to you personally, we have to play the game a certain way to give ourselves the best chance to win," the manager said. "And it's too bad that it came down to that situation in the ninth inning when he could've been at the plate. For the sake of his teammates and the sake of the organization, he needs to play with aggression and the way he plays."

Lance Lynn (4-0) gave up one run and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in becoming the NL's first four-game winner. After the right-hander lost his control in the sixth, Kevin Siegrist retired Danny Espinosa on a two-out fly ball with the bases loaded.

Tony Cruz drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who have won nine of the last 10 games between the teams.

St. Louis took control with a three-run second inning fueled by third baseman Anthony Rendon's throwing error, capped by Lynn's RBI double. The Nationals, in their first season under former Gold Glove third baseman Williams, are averaging more than an error per game and lead the majors in miscues.

"I feel like we made a mistake, a couple of minor mistakes that cost us, but we were in the game," Williams said.

Espinosa homered for the Nationals, but he was the only player to get past first base against Lynn until the sixth.

Jordan Zimmermann (1-1) allowed four runs, only one of them earned, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two after coming in with a 0-3 with an 8.27 ERA in six career games against the Cardinals.

St. Louis bolted in front for good in the second inning. After third baseman Anthony Rendon threw wide on a potential force play at second, Cruz sliced a two-out, two-run single to right field and scored on a double by Lynn. It was the pitcher's first extra-base hit in 115 career at-bats and his fourth RBI.

NOTES: The game drew a sellout crowd of 41,084. ... The Nationals activated OF Denard Span from the 7-day disabled list and optioned OF Steve Souza Jr. to Triple-A Syracuse. Span started in the leadoff spot and got two hits. ... Stephen Strasburg (1-2) starts for Washington on Sunday against RHP Shelby Miller (1-2), who went 2-0 against the Nationals last year.

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 22:00:00 +0000

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