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Kane leads Blackhawks past Blues, 4-3 in OT
CHICAGO (AP) Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game at 11:17 of overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece. Kane carried the puck down the left side as teammates Ben Smith and Brandon Saad rushed toward the net, and beat Ryan Miller with a well-placed wrist shot for his 32nd career postseason goal. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which blew a 2-0 second-period lead. Jonathan Toews had two assists and Corey Crawford made 30 saves. Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night in St. Louis. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:57:00 +0000
Stars even with Ducks after 4-2 win in Game 4
DALLAS (AP) The young Dallas Stars keep overcoming early 2-0 deficits. With their latest comeback in Game 4, they are now even with the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks. Down in the series after losing the first two games in Anaheim, the Stars trailed by two goals in the first period Wednesday night before captain Jaime Benn started the comeback with an unassisted goal off a faceoff. Cody Eakin and Alex Goligoski later scored on Dallas' first two shots in the third period for a 4-2 victory. "We've done that a lot and it's not something we like to do. Whether it's the start of games or obviously the start of the series," Eakin said. "Our captain kind of ignited us. And we started skating and playing the way we wanted to." While the Stars overcame a two-goal deficit to win a playoff game for the first time in 10 years, Anaheim heads home for Game 5 with uncertainty about captain Ryan Getzlaf and questions about who will be in net Friday night. Eakin skated the length of the ice, got around a sliding defender, closed his eyes and shot just before his stick got ripped out of his hands. His go-ahead goal with 13:38 left came before Goligoski scored on the Stars' next shot only 1:22 later, making it 4-2 and prompting the Ducks to pull rookie goalie Frederik Andersen. "When you get the one goal and people start going crazy, it makes it easier to get the next one and the next one and just keep battling," said Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 21 shots. "And we were lucky to get those goals. It's not easy to score four straight against that team." Getzlaf was a surprise late scratch for Game 4 with an unspecified upper-body injury, and coach Bruce Boudreau would only say it was "a previous injury aggravated." What the coach refused to say was if it was related to the puck Getzlaf took the face in the series opener before playing Games 2 and 3 with a half-cage to protect the stitches just below his mouth. Even without Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne, the 43-year-old franchise playoff leader who was a healthy scratch, the Ducks led 2-0 in the first period. Bryan Allen scored on a shot from just inside the blue line, and Patrick Maroon knocked in the puck shot by Matthieu Perreault that hit Lehtonen's glove and fell over the goalie's shoulder behind him. But only 27 seconds into the second period, Benn scored when he gathered the puck after a faceoff and quickly shot. About 6 minutes later, Vernon Fiddler managed to get the puck in a small gap between the post and Andersen to tie it at 2. Just like Game 3, after which the Ducks insisted that the Stars went over their line with their over-aggressive approach, there were plenty of scrums Wednesday night. With 2:10 left, Anaheim's Corey Perry and Antoine Roussel got in some big blows before being separated and given 5-minute majors for fighting. It was Roussel who punched Getzlaf in the previous game. There were also five 10-minute misconduct penalties in that closing stretch, and referees had to separate several groups of players when the game ended. "That's the type of stuff that's their pushback, it's our pushback," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I really feel like we're in a playoff series now." Andersen was pulled in favor of Jonas Hiller, the veteran who won 29 games during the Ducks' best regular season in franchise history before a late slump that left him on the bench. Hiller faced only one shot in his 10 1/2 minutes, and Boudreau said he would discuss the goalie situation with his assistants before deciding who starts Friday night. "I felt a little bit off. It was a shock on the first one, and the second one snuck by me. I was expecting (Fiddler) to pass," Andersen said. "They came out of nowhere in the second. We weren't ready for their push." NOTES: The series returns Sunday to the American Airlines Center for Game 6. ... Benn and Fiddler each had a goal and an assist. Benn has three goals and two assists in the series, and has scored in every game. ... Lehtonen was 0-4 in postseason games before the Stars won 3-0 Monday, and stopped 58 of 60 shots in the two home games. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:13:00 +0000
Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno's wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise's 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2. Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead. But Ryan Johansen and Dubinsky each had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner also scored for Columbus, making only its second postseason trip. It was the fourth time in the series that the team that scored first - and also went on to hold a 3-1 lead - lost. With the Penguins hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the third period, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a big save on Matt Calvert's second shot in a flurry. Calvert later got behind Brooks Orpik on a breakaway and his forehand clanged off the crossbar, setting off a loud groan in the arena. But Fleury was the culprit when he went behind the cage to handle Jack Johnson's pass around the boards in the final minute. He whiffed trying to handle the puck and was stuck out of position, allowing Johansen to slide a centering pass through the crease where Dubinsky netted it with 22.5 seconds left. What followed was the loudest sound heard in the Blue Jackets' mostly dismal 13 seasons. In the overtime, the Blue Jackets had the best of it - as they had for all but the start. Foligno carried the puck through the neutral zone and was just across the blue line when he fired a low wrister that he tucked under Fleury's glove. As the players piled on top of Foligno, the crowd went crazy. Fleury had been brilliant throughout the third period, finishing with 42 saves. His Columbus counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, also was spectacular at times with 22 saves. The Penguins rolled to a quick 3-0 lead and ended up with a dreaded 3-1 lead after a period - and once again it vanished. Just 11 seconds after Jussi Jokinen was called for hooking, the Penguins took advantage of a James Wisniewski turnover near the blue line with Brandon Sutter carrying the puck through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 break with Adams. Sutter flipped a backhander to Adams, whose rising shot from the right circle beat Bobrovsky high on the stick side at the 6:09 mark. Pittsburgh quieted a loud capacity crowd with two goals in the span of 33 seconds in the middle of the opening period. While on the power play after Derek MacKenzie went off for roughing, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Niskanen's rocket from the right point was redirected by Kunitz. Before the details of that goal could be announced, the Penguins won another faceoff in the offensive zone and Jokinen then beat the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger to a loose puck. He tapped the puck with his outstretched stick toward the right hash mark where Neal unloaded a hard one-timer past Bobrovsky. It was the first goals of the series for Adams, Kunitz and Neal, who combined for 67 goals in the regular season. The Blue Jackets played well to close out the period. Their kill unit held off the Penguins on just over a minute of 5 on 3 and killed off two more penalties. Then at the 16:39 mark, former Penguin Mark Letestu's shot from the high slot was tipped in by Jenner, who had his back to Fleury as he muscled the puck past him. Columbus dominated the second period, scoring the only goal and outshooting the Penguins 18-6. A double-minor penalty on Lee Stempniak for high sticking eventually led to the Blue Jackets scoring again, this time with a two-man advantage. The Penguins killed the first 2 minutes of the 4-minute penalty, but picked up another minor penalty when Sutter was called for delay of game. From low on the right wing, Brandon Dubinsky slid a centering pass that Artem Anisimov was able to deflect toward the goal line, with Johansen jamming in the loose puck at the 14:20 mark. On yet another power play with just 5 seconds left in the period, the Blue Jackets almost got the tying goal but the puck bounced over Cam Atkinson's stick when he had a wide open net. From the time the Penguins built their 3-0 lead until the end of the second period, they were outshot 25-8. Notes: The NHL announced earlier Wednesday that Game 5 will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Pittsburgh. ... Columbus was without rookie D Ryan Murray, who was wearing a boot after being hit with a puck in practice. Veteran Nick Schultz took his spot. ... Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said he was hopeful C Marcel Goc (ankle) may be able to play in the series. ... Likely NHL MVP Crosby has not scored a goal in his last nine playoff games and Evgeni Malkin hasn't found the net in his last eight. --- Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP Thu, 24 Apr 2014 02:16:00 +0000
Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
MIAMI (AP) LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series. Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor. Kemba Walker added 16 and Gerald Henderson scored 15 for the Bobcats. Game 3 is Saturday night in Charlotte. The Bobcats were down three with 10 seconds left, but never got a tying shot off. Wade stole the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with 3 seconds left, made a free throw and that was enough for the Heat - who wasted a big first-half lead, then saw another one in the fourth quarter get whittled down to nearly nothing. It's hard to find any good news for Charlotte, between this two-game hole and the ongoing injury concerns revolving around their best player. Not only have the Bobcats lost 18 straight games to Miami, but the Heat have never dropped any of the previous 11 postseason series in which they've grabbed a 2-0 series lead. James, between his time in Cleveland and Miami, is 11-0 in such situations. Wade has been part of nine previous 2-0 leads with the Heat, and six of those series ended in no more than five games. Miami's lead was 91-77 midway through the fourth, and after blowing a big first-half lead it appeared as though the Heat finally had some breathing room. A few minutes later, it looked a whole lot different. Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts combined for all the damage in a 10-0 run, getting the Bobcats within 91-87. But Bosh hit a jumper to stop Miami's scoreless drought, the Heat followed that with a stop, and Bosh struck again on the ensuing possession with a drive that pushed the Heat's lead back to eight with 3:36 remaining. With that, it was Charlotte's turn - five straight points, with Jefferson scoring with 1:42 left to make it 97-94. And Douglas-Roberts had a chance to tie it with 1:09 left, but his 3-pointer bounced off the rim. After a free throw by James, Walker hit a 3 with 11.9 seconds left to get Charlotte within one. But James swished a pair of free throws moments later, Wade came up with the steal, and Miami escaped. Miami led 57-47 at the half, and the Bobcats - who missed 17 of their first 22 shots - were fortunate not to be in bigger trouble. Jefferson was obviously laboring in the early going and missed seven of his first eight shots, part of the reason why the Heat were able to run out to a 36-21 lead with 9:50 left in the half. Chalmers - whose availability was in doubt until about an hour before game time because of a bruised shin - scored 11 of those points, and the Heat seemed to be rolling. Charlotte thought otherwise. A 14-2 run got the Bobcats right back into it, with Jefferson getting consecutive baskets and Kidd-Gilchrist scoring seven points to help the Bobcats close the gap to 38-35. But James Jones, who came up big off the bench for Miami in Game 1, hit a 3-pointer to stop the run and the Heat's lead was quickly back to 16, before late 3's by Gary Neal and Walker got Charlotte within 10 again. Things tightened more in the third. The Heat led by as much as 11 during the period, before Charlotte got within four twice. Miami led 79-72 entering the fourth. NOTES: James has signed a deal with William Morris, which will represent him in entertainment-related projects. "It's been in the works," said James, who added that his management team was handling the deal so he could focus on the playoffs. ... Game 3 will be Charlotte's first playoff home game since April 26, 2010, against Orlando. No current Bobcats appeared in that game - but Heat F Rashard Lewis did, playing for Orlando. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 01:53:00 +0000
Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105
HOUSTON (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within three. Lillard made two free throws before Harden fouled out about 10 seconds later. Mo Williams and Lillard both made a pair of free throws after that to secure the win. Aldridge became the first player with consecutive 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James did it in May of 2009 after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1. Dwight Howard was unstoppable early and scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:44:00 +0000