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#SportsReport: Rangers top Penguins; Panthers defeat Capitals

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NHL:

The Nashville Predators' No. 3 goaltender almost stole a game from the Colorado Avalanche in his first postseason start. Instead, the top-seeded Avs were able to take a two-games-to-none lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Cale Makar beat Connor Ingram on Colorado's 51st shot to give the Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Predators. Before the goal, the rookie netminder hadn't allowed a goal since Nathan MacKinnon beat him 5:25 into the game. Makar ended it at 8:31 of the extra session.

Yakov Trenin had the lone goal for Nashville, tying the game in the first period.

Meanwhile, it was time for the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars to get even. The Blueshirts, Cats and Stars knotted their respective Stanley Cup first-round series at a game apiece.

Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists in the Rangers' 5-2 win over Pittsburgh, helping the Blueshirts bounce back from Tuesday’s triple-overtime loss. The Rangers led 3-2 until Panarin and Vatrano scored 1:47 apart midway through the third period.

Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp provided New York’s other goals.

Igor Shesterkin turned back 39 shots and looked no worse for wear after making 79 saves in Game 1.

Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins, who host Game 3 on Saturday.

The Panthers got back on track by whipping the Capitals, 5-1.

The game was scoreless until Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov tallied 1:38 apart late in the opening period. Mason Marchment restored Florida’s two-goal lead, just 27 seconds after Nicklas Backstrom put the Caps on the board 2:44 into the second.

Anton Lundell and Carter Verhaeghe added second-period goals and Sergei Bobrovsky handled 26 shots. Verhaeghe and Barkov also had one assist apiece.

The series shifts to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday.

Jake Oettinger made 29 saves in his first postseason shutout and second career playoff start, guiding the Stars past the Flames, 2-0 in Calgary. Oettinger stopped 23 shots over the last two periods, allowing the Stars to even the Stanley Cup first-round series at a game apiece.

Joe Pavelski opened the scoring 7:47 into the first period and Michael Raffl secured the win with an empty-netter.

Johnny Gaudreau beat Oettinger 43 seconds into the game, but the goal was waved off for offside.

Game 3 is Saturday in Dallas.

NHL:

New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff is returning for a third straight season despite seeing his team miss the NHL playoffs yet again. General manager Tom Fitzgerald said Thursday that he hired Ruff to take a group of talented young players and make them better, and that has happened for guys like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. But Fitzgerald says he now wants to see the team improve.

NBA:

The Philadelphia 76ers have ruled out Joel Embiid for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday versus the visiting Miami Heat.

Embiid hasn’t played since suffering an orbital fracture in the Sixers’ first-round clincher against Toronto.

Philly has dropped its first two games against the Heat and need someone in the front court to provide offensive support to guards James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.

In other NBA news:

Celtics guard Marcus Smart says there’s a “strong likelihood” he’ll play Saturday at Milwaukee after missing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal with a bruised right thigh. Smart says the injury is similar to an issue he faced in the regular season. The NBA defensive player of the year missed six games in January due to a quadriceps problem.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton will miss at least two more games of the Boston series as he recovers from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Middleton hasn’t played since injuring his knee in Game 2 of the Bucks’ five-game, first-round victory win over the Chicago Bulls.

Memphis center Steven Adams has cleared the health and safety protocols and should be available for Game 3 of the Grizzlies’ Western Conference semifinal with the Warriors on Saturday. Coach Taylor Jenkins says they will make a decision after seeing how Adams handles Friday.

Grizzlies star Dillon Brooks has been suspended for one game without pay by the league for making “unnecessary and excessive contact” that resulted in a fractured elbow for Golden State’s Gary Payton II in Game 2. Brooks must sit out Saturday’s Game 3 with the series shifting to Chase Center in San Francisco tied at one game apiece.

The Nets say Ben Simmons has undergone successful back surgery in Los Angeles. The team says Simmons will need about three weeks for an “initial recovery period” before he can start his rehabilitation program. The Nets are hoping he’ll be fully recovered before the start of training camp this fall.

MLB:

Shohei Ohtani was overpowering in his Fenway Park debut, but it took his Los Angeles Angels teammates seven innings to give him some support.

The reigning American League MVP fired two-hit ball with seven strikeouts over seven frames as the Angels drubbed the Red Sox, 8-0. Ohtani induced a career-best 29 swings and misses and threw 81 of his 99 pitches for strikes. He also drove in a run.

However, Rich Hill and Tanner Houck matched zeroes with Ohtani until Jared Walsh belted a two-run homer in the seventh. The Angels followed with a five-run eighth, capped by Walsh’s two-run, infield single.

Also on major league diamonds:

Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning to push the Orioles past the Twins, 5-3. Hays also saved a run by throwing out Max Kepler out at the plate in the fourth. Mountcastle had two round-trippers and Jorge López got the final four outs to move to 3-1.

Rookie Steven Kwan hit his first big-league homer and Adam Civale picked up his first win of the season as the Guardians rallied to beat the Blue Jays, 6-5. Toronto had a 2-0 lead until Kwan ripped a two-run shot, sparking a scoring burst that gave Cleveland a 6-2 lead. Civale struck out eight and allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Mike Zunino smacked a three-run homer against his former team and Shane McClanahan held Seattle hitless into the fifth inning of the Rays’ 4-3 victory. The only hits Seattle managed off the hard-throwing lefty were Jesse Winker’s first homer of the season and consecutive singles by Ty France and J.P. Crawford in the sixth, ending McClanahan’s night. McClanahan has allowed three earned runs or less in all six of his starts.

The Astros pulled out a 3-2 win over the Tigers on Kyle Tucker’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Jose Altuve and rookie Jeremy Peña hit solo homers in Houston’s fourth consecutive win. Tucker’s hit helped the Astros bounce back after closer Ryan Pressly blew the save in the ninth inning of his return from the injured list.

The Mets exploded for seven runs in the ninth inning to turn a 7-1 deficit into an 8-7 win at Philadelphia. Brandon Nimmo tied it with a two-run single and scored on Starling Marte’s double, allowing New York to post its first win in 25 years when trailing by six in the ninth. The Mets managed just three hits before the rally as Aaron Nola limited them to one run over seven frames.

The Brewers made it eight wins in nine games while dealing the Reds their ninth consecutive loss, 10-5. Willy Adames hit two of Milwaukee’s six home runs and had four ribbies to back a shaky Adrian Houser, who yielded four earned runs over five innings. Luis Urías, Christian Yelich, Tyrone Taylor and Keston Hiura also went deep for the NL Central leaders.

Yadier Molina picked up his first RBI of the season by homering in the third inning of the Cardinals' 7-1 trouncing of the Giants. Tommy Edman hit a two-run single and another RBI single. Winning pitcher Miles Mikolas allowed one run on seven hits, struck out three and walked three over 5 2/3 innings.

Manny Machado homered twice and Nick Martinez worked seven innings to lead the Padres to a 2-1 victory over the Marlins. Machado’s first homer was to straightaway center before his second blast landed in the second deck. Martinez held the Marlins to one run and four hits.

Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers each hit their first home run of the season, both three-run shots in the Rockies’ 9-7 win versus the Nationals. Randal Grichuk also homered to help Colorado withstand Washington’s 15-hit attack. Rodgers’ blast put the Rockies up 8-3 in the fifth.

Twins shortstop Carlos Correa may have a broken finger after he was hit by a pitch Thursday in Baltimore.

A Twins spokesman said after the game that preliminary imaging showed the potential for a non-displaced fracture of Correa’s right middle finger. Correa is expected to have a CT scan Friday.

Elsewhere around the majors:

The White Sox have placed outfielder Andrew Vaughn on the 10-day injured list because of a bruised right hand. Vaughn hasn’t played since he was struck by a pitch from Los Angeles Angels right-hander Mike Mayers last week. He is batting .283 with four home runs and a team-leading 12 RBIs in 16 games.

NFL:

The Los Angeles Chargers added another veteran to their defense by signing outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The outside linebacker had 66 tackles for the Patriots last season and was second on the team with five sacks. Van Noy was released by the Patriots in March.

GOLF:

A new book on Phil Mickelson says government auditors found his gambling losses totaled more than $40 million in a four-year period.

Alan Shipnuck writes that the federal audit occurred during the investigation of Mickelson’s role in an insider trading scheme that sent Billy Walters to prison. Shipnuck’s previous excerpt shed light on Lefty’s involvement with a Saudi-funded golf league run by Greg Norman.

Mickelson has not said if he will defend his title in the PGA Championship in two weeks.

Jason Day shot a 7-under 63 to take the first-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Day has been tinkering with his swing in an effort to end a four-year victory drought on the PGA Tour.

Joel Dahmen was a shot back on what could be the best day for scoring at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, with rain, wind and unseasonably cool temperatures in the forecast through Sunday.

Matthew Wolff, local favorite Denny McCarthy and PGA Tour rookies Aaron Rai, Callum Tarren and Paul Barjon are two shots back.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS:

The commissioners of the Southeastern and Pac-12 conferences were in Washington on Thursday, meeting with lawmakers to discuss the need for federal legislation to help colleges regulate how athletes can be paid for endorsement deals.

Coaches and administrators from several college conferences held spring meetings in Arizona this week and emphasized the need to bring some uniform standards to NIL compensation.

Outgoing Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said college sports leaders have been told there is little if any chance of anything getting done in Congress for college sports until after the midterm elections in November.

The NCAA has generally not regulated NIL activity as booster-fueled collectives have sprung up all over the country. Coaches and administrators have complained that collectives are crossing NCAA lines by using payments disguised as NIL deals as recruiting inducements for both high school prospects and transferring athletes.

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