#SportsReport: Lightning defeat Sabres; Predators best Avalanche
Nikita Kucherov scored a hat trick, Steven Stamokos had a goal and two assists, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 Tuesday night.
Anthony Cirelli had a goal and an assist, Ondrej Palat extended his scoring streak to four games, and the Lightning got three assists from Alex Killorn and two from Victor Hedman. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves for his 20th win of the season.
Tampa Bay (24-9-5) has won three of four following a three-game skid to keep pace with the Florida Panthers atop the NHL standings with 53 points.
In other ice action:
William Nylander scored in regulation and got the winner in a shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Auston Matthews and Ilya Mikheyev also scored in regulation as as Toronto improved to 5-0-1 on a six-game point streak, and 21-4-2 since opening the season 2-4-1. Jack Campbell made 31 saves. Keegan Kolesar, William Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Golden Knights. Robin Lehner stopped 15 shots for Vegas, which has now lost four of its last five games — all at home. In the tiebreaker, Cambell denied attempts by Evgenii Dadonov, Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault, and Lehner stopped Jason Spezza and Matthews before Nylander scored for the win.
Logan Couture scored in overtime moments after a fan threw a fake octopus on the ice and the San Jose Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The octopus — a longstanding fan tradition in Detroit — hit the ice less than a minute into overtime with play in San Jose’s end. Couture directed the linesman to grab it, and play continued, with the Sharks pushing the puck to the other end. Brent Burns sent the puck toward the net and Alex Nedeljkovic stopped it but couldn’t control it. As the puck sat near the goal line, Couture knocked it in.
Evgeni Malkin scored twice and had an assist in his season debut, Jeff Carter added two goals and the surging Pittsburgh Penguins rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Malkin had not played since undergoing right knee surgery in June. The four-time All-Star and 2012 Hart Trophy winner had been skating with teammates for several weeks and was a full participant in Monday’s practice. He centered the second line between Carter and Kasperi Kapanen, which was responsible for all four Pittsburgh goals. Kapanen added two assists and Tristan Jarry stopped 25 shots for the Penguins, who bounced right back from Saturday’s loss at Dallas that snapped a 10-game winning streak. Jakob Silfverberg scored Anaheim’s goal and Anthony Stolarz made 30 saves.
Matt Duchene scored two goals, including the game-winner on a power play 3:01 into overtime, and the streaking Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4. Luke Kunin also scored twice, Tanner Jeannot added a goal and Juuse Saros made 40 saves to help Nashville win its fifth straight.
Sam Reinhart had two goals and an assist and the Florida Panthers handed Vancouver Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau his first regulation loss in 10 games with a 5-2 victory. Aleksander Barkov scored his team-leading 15th goal and also had an assist for Florida. Aaron Ekblad had a goal and two assists, Maxim Mamin also scored, and Frank Vatrano and Anton Lundell each had two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 42 shots. The Panthers move to 6-0-1 in their past seven games.
Alex DeBrincat scored twice and Calvin de Haan got his first goal in nearly a year to lift Chicago to its second straight road win. Connor Murphy also scored for Chicago, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves for his 11th win.
Jack Eichel finally skated with the Vegas Golden Knights for the first time since being acquired from Buffalo and becoming the first NHL player to undergo artificial disk replacement surgery on his neck in November. Eichel said even though his new teammates were preparing for their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs while he wore a non-contact jersey as he skated around the team’s practice facility, he felt like he was part of a hockey team again.
Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said it’ll take some time — “a while” — before the 25-year-old All-Star center will be able to endure contact. Eichel said he has no target date.
In other NHL news:
A person with knowledge of the deal says goalie Tuukka Rask is signing a prorated, $1 million contract for the rest of the season with the Boston Bruins. The deal had not been announced. The 2014 Vezina Trophy winner will make $545,000 for the rest of the season.
The Minnesota Wild have agreed to terms with defenseman Jon Merrill on a three-year, $3.6 million contract extension. The deal runs through the 2024-25 season.
The Detroit Red Wings have hired Nicklas Lidstrom as vice president of hockey operations and will be based in his native Sweden and involved in every aspect of helping run the organization.
New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz and defenseman Ryan Pulock have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Dallas goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Denis Gurianov also were placed in the protocol. Same for Chicago defenseman Jake McCabe and Blackhawks trainer Mike Gapski.
Ja Morant scored 29 points, including five in the final minute, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors 116-108 for their 10th straight win. Ziaire Williams and Tyus Jones had 17 points each for Memphis. Jones keyed a fourth-quarter rally that put the Grizzlies ahead for good. He finished 6 for 8 from the field, including connecting on all five of his 3-point attempts.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 27 points, while Klay Thompson finished with 14 points. Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II scored 13 each.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
The Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 25-point deficit in the second half for a stunning 87-85 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Amir Coffey had 18 points and Reggie Jackson scored 11 of his 13 in the fourth quarter. Terance Mann scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter for the Clippers. They won despite managing a meager 28 points in the lowest-scoring first half in the NBA this season and then falling behind 59-34 midway through the third period. Aaron Gordon scored a season-high 30 points and Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30.8 seconds remaining and the Washington Wizards beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-118 despite being without star Bradley Beal because of health and safety protocols. The Wizards worked the shot clock down, and Caldwell-Pope’s attempt from the right wing went in off the glass. The Thunder lost their fifth straight game.
Devin Booker scored 16 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:02 remaining, and Chris Paul had 15 points and 12 assists as the Phoenix Suns beat Toronto 99-95 to snap the Raptors’ longest winning streak of the season at six games. Jae Crowder scored 19 points, Deandre Ayton had 16 and Mikal Bridges added 12 as the Suns improved to 31-9, matching the franchise’s best record through 40 games.
Brandon Ingram capped a 33-point, nine-assist performance by hitting three 3-pointers in the final 1:13 — the last with less than a second left — and the New Orleans Pelicans edged the Minnesota Timberwolves, 128-125. Josh Hart had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Jonas Valanciunas added 13 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans. Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 for Minnesota, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped. D’Angelo Russell had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves, and his driving scoop tied the game with 3.6 seconds left.
Nikola Vučević scored 22 points, DeMar DeRozan had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls routed the Detroit Pistons 133-87. DeRozan sat for most of the final 16 minutes but still added seven assists. Eastern Conference-leading Chicago won after its season-best nine-game winning streak ended Sunday in Dallas.
A person familiar with the decision tells AP that Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman has been rewarded for the team’s turnaround with a contract extension and new job title, president of basketball operations. Altman has re-shaped the Cavs’ roster and moved them back into playoff contention. He has agreed to the extension through the 2027-28 season, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made the deal official.
The nation’s longest winning streak is over after No. 19 Texas Tech won 65-62 at top-ranked Baylor. The defending national champion Bears had won 21 consecutive games.
Kevin McCullar scored 12 points in his return after missing two games, including a key 3-pointer late. The Red Raiders were coming off a win over then-No. 6 Kansas.
Adam Flagler and James Akinjo had 17 points for Baylor. Akinjo’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the front of the rim. The Bears were the last unbeaten team in Division I.
Southern California had also been undefeated before losing at Stanford earlier Tuesday.
Harrison Ingram and Spencer Jones scored 21 points apiece and Stanford beat No. 5 Southern California 75-69 for its first win over a top five team in nearly 15 years. Stanford returned from a nearly three-week break for COVID-19 protocols and delivered a big win in a nearly empty arena.
Stanford had lost 14 straight games against teams in the top five of the AP poll since beating No. 3 UCLA 75-68 on Jan. 28, 2007. Isaiah Mobley scored 16 points to lead the Trojans and Boogie Ellis added 14.
In other college basketball action:
Freshman Jabari Smith scored a season-high 25 points and Allen Flanigan made four straight free throws in the final minute, lifting No. 4 Auburn to an 81-77 victory over rival No. 24 Alabama. The Tigers lost all of a 14-point lead before managing to avoid becoming the third Top-5 team to lose on the night. They pushed their win streak to 12 games in the rivals’ first Top 25 matchup in 35 years.
Dajuan Harris hit a driving layup with 8 seconds left, and No. 9 Kansas got the better of a wild finish against No. 15 Iowa State to win 62-61. There were four lead changes in the final 38 seconds, and the Jayhawks survived when Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer. Ochai Agbaji scored 22 points to lead Kansas, which rebounded from a loss at Texas Tech on Saturday. Christian Braun had 13 points and Harris had 12. Isaiah Brockington scored 17 points for Iowa State.
Oscar Tshiebwe scored a career-high 30 points and had 13 rebounds as 18th-ranked Kentucky routed Vanderbilt 78-66 for its second straight win. Tshiebwe came in leading the nation in rebounding and second in double-doubles; this was his 12th. He became the first Kentucky player with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Tayshaun Prince on Dec. 8, 2001, against North Carolina. Scotty Pippen Jr. led Vanderbilt with 32 points.
Andrew Jones scored a season-best 22 points and made four steals, and No. 21 Texas beat Oklahoma 66-52. Texas led by 20 points six minutes into the second half. Oklahoma cut the deficit to 11 with 5:38 left, but Timmy Allen scored inside for Texas and Jones made consecutive layups to put the Sooners away.
Santiago Vescovi scored 14 points to help No. 22 Tennessee overcome a sluggish start to beat South Carolina, 66-46, in a Southeastern Conference game Tuesday night. The Volunteers, who live by the 3-point shot, missed their first five attempts and didn’t hit their first 3-pointer until 2 minutes were left in the first half.
Trent Frazier scored a season-high 29 points, Kofi Cockburn had his eighth straight double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 25 Illinois held off struggling Nebraska for a hard-earned 81-71 victory. The Illini have won five straight games and 10 of 11 and are out to their best start in conference play since 2005.
No. 23 Providence’s game at Creighton was canceled because of COVID-19 issues in the Friars’ program.
Georgia is No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll after earning its second national championship - and first in 41 years - by beating rival Alabama Monday night, 33-18.
The Bulldogs received all 61 first-place votes to be a unanimous No. 1 for the ninth time this season. The Tide finished No. 2, giving the Southeastern Conference the top two teams in the final rankings for the third time since 2011.
Michigan was No. 3, Cincinnati No. 4, with Baylor at No. 5.
Ohio State was No. 6 and Oklahoma State finished seventh.
Notre Dame was eighth, Michigan State was ninth and Oklahoma was 10th, giving the Big 12 three top 10 teams.
In other college football news:
Florida hired New York Giants offensive line coach Rob Sale to a similar position Tuesday. The move leaves new Gators coach Billy Napier with just two staff spots remaining to fill. Sale also will serve as Florida’s offensive coordinator, although Napier is planning to call plays in his first year in Gainesville.
The New York Jets and Detroit Lions will get an up-close look at some of college football’s top players at the Senior Bowl. The coaching staffs of both teams were assigned by NFL Football Operations to lead the all-star squads for the game in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 5.
The Green Bay Packers finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the top spot in the final AP Pro32 poll. The Packers earned all 12 first-place votes for 384 points.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers remained at No. 2 and will open the postseason by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Kansas City Chiefs inched up a spot to No. 3. The Chiefs will begin their drive for their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the Tennessee Titans, who have the top seed in the AFC, gained a place to No. 4. The Dallas Cowboys climbed three spots to No. 5.
In other NFL news:
The Carolina Panthers have fired three coaches: special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn, offensive line coach Pat Meyer and defensive line coach Frank Okam. Carolina’s offensive line struggled all season and quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Cam Newton spent most of the season under duress.
Baker Mayfield didn’t lose his starting job after a losing season. Browns general manager Andrew Berry said Tuesday the team expects the quarterback to return as its starter next season and rebound after an injury-filled, sub-par 2021.
The New York Giants have cleaned house, firing coach Joe Judge a day after general manager Dave Gettleman retired. The Giants announced the move late Tuesday afternoon.
An arrest report says Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith’s arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence came after the Washington State Patrol pulled him over for going 96 mph in a 60 mph zone and driving erratically across several lanes of traffic. Smith was taken to a hospital where he reportedly became agitated prior having his blood drawn after refusing a preliminary breath test.
A final legal hurdle has been cleared for the Denver Broncos to begin the process of finding a new buyer for the team that’s valued at close to $4 billion. A judge ruled Tuesday that a right of first refusal agreement between late owners Pat Bowlen and Edgar Kaiser “is no longer valid or enforceable in any respect” and “has terminated in its entirety.” Kaiser’s estate had claimed that before his death in 2012 Kaiser had transferred his right of first refusal should the team ever hit the market.
Novak Djokovic has moved to clarify how mistakes were made on the immigration document he submitted on his arrival in Melbourne as a COVID-19 vaccination saga continues to overshadow the days leading up to the Australian Open. A statement was posted on Djokovic’s social media accounts while the men’s tennis No. 1 was in Rod Laver Arena holding a practice session.
Djokovic is in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts next Monday. He won a legal battle this week to have a decision to cancel his visa overturned but he still faces the prospect of deportation because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.
In other tennis news:
Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray has advanced to the second round of the Sydney Tennis Classic by beating Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-1. Murray entered the tournament with a wild card and has also been handed one for next week’s Australian Open.
No new inductees have been selected for the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the first time in its history. None passed the threshold required for entry.
Major League Baseball and the players’ association are scheduled to meet Thursday in the first negotiations between the parties since labor talks broke off Dec. 1.
MLB has been preparing a new proposal for the union. Management locked out the union on Dec. 2 following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The dispute threatens spring training, which is scheduled to start Feb. 16 in Florida and Arizona.
In other MLB news:
Keith Hernandez will have his No. 17 retired by the New York Mets this summer to honor his seven seasons as a player and nearly three decades as a beloved broadcaster with the franchise. The Mets announced that Hernandez will become the fourth player to have his uniform number retired by the team in a ceremony prior to a game July 9 against Miami.
Mikaela Shiffrin has won a record 47th slalom in the last women’s World Cup slalom before the Beijing Olympics. Shiffrin’s became the first skier in World Cup history to win that many races in a single discipline. Her Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova locked up the season title in the discipline.
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