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Sports

#SportsReport: Rangers Top Capitals; Capital Region Basketball Coach Pat Filien Dies At 51

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Alex Ovechkin moved up the NHL goal-scoring list again, but he couldn't help the Capitals avoid their second straight regulation loss since a 6-0-3 start. Ryan Strome scored twice and Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots as the Rangers doubled up the Capitals, 4-2. Strome provided the deciding goal in the third period, moments before Ovechkin netted his 709th goal to pass Mike Gartner for seventh on the all-time list. Anthony Bitetto also scored and Artemi Panarin had two assists to help Shesterkin win his third straight start.

Elsewhere on NHL ice:

The Blue Jackets beat the Stars, 4-3 as Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic scored for the first time since being traded to Columbus last month. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist, Cam Atkinson also scored and Joonas Korpisalo had 24 saves as the Jackets stopped a two-game skid.

Alex DeBrincat furnished a pair of third-period goals, including the game-winner in the Blackhawks' 6-4 victory against the Hurricanes. Patrick Kane scored once and had three assists for Chicago, while teammate Dominik Kubalik added a goal and two assists.

The Coyotes picked up their first win in four road games this season as Antti Raanta turned aside 39 shots in a 4-3 verdict over St. Louis. Tyler Pitlick and Nick Schmaltz scored first-period goals to help Arizona ended the Blues' four-game winning streak.

Filip Forsberg scored in regulation and overtime as the Predators topped the Panthers, 6-5. Forsberg also had three assists and Matt Duchene had two goals as Nashville stopped a two-game slide.

Jason Spezza recorded the eighth hat trick of his career and first in nearly five years as the Maple Leafs clobbered the Canucks, 7-3. Auston Matthews scored twice, Mitch Marner added a goal and a pair of assists, and John Tavares tallied for Toronto.

The Senators ended a nine-game losing streak as rookie Tim Stutzle had a goal and two assists in a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens night. Thomas Chabot had a goal and an assist, and Connor Brown also scored in Ottawa's first victory since opening night.

The Jets earned a 4-1 victory over the Flames behind Mason Appleton's two goals. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele also scored for Winnipeg, which outscored Calgary 3-0 in the second period.

In NHL news: 

With COVID-19 problems cropping up and four teams currently idled, the NHL has revised its virus protocols in a bid to keep the shortened season on track. Glass panels have been removed from behind benches for better air flow. Players and coaches are not allowed at the arena until 1 hour and 45 minutes before the game unless they're getting treatment for injuries and all meetings must be virtual. The 31 teams were also told to space out locker rooms more to provide 6 feet between people. The moves were made as the NHL sees some concerning trends, including 40 players on the COVID-19 unavailable list. In the first three weeks of the season, about 90 players have appeared on the list, which can include a positive test result unconfirmed or confirmed, symptomatic isolation, high risk close contact or quarantine for travel purposes.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins on injured reserve. The team said Merzlikins suffered an unspecified upper-body injury in practice Wednesday and is day-to-day. Merzlikins is part of a goalie rotation with Joonas Korpisalo and has gone 2-2-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

NBA

Portland knocked off the top team in the East as Enes Kanter had 17 points and 18 rebounds in a 121-105 downing of the 76ers. Gary Trent Jr. provided a team-high 24 points as the Trail Blazers overcame Joel Embiid's 37 points.

In other NBA action: 

The Utah Jazz continue to roll since splitting their first eight games of the season. The Jazz beat the Hawks for the second time in three weeks as Jordan Clarkson sank five 3-pointers while scoring 23 points in Utah's 13th win in its last 14 games, 112-91. Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Donovan Mitchell added 18 for the Jazz, who improved to an NBA-leading 17-5. The Hawks played without starters Trae Young and De'Andre Hunter due to injuries. John Collins led Atlanta with 17 points.

LeBron James contributed 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to the Lakers' 114-93 thumping of the Nuggets. Dennis Schröder chipped in 21 points for Los Angeles, which trailed by 12 before outscoring Denver, 68-35 in the second half.

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a career-high 40 points and Stephen Curry had 28 as the Warriors easily dealt the Mavericks their seventh loss in eight games, 147-116. Draymond Green had 11 points and a season-high 15 assists as a makeshift center, helping Golden State get by without using any player taller than 6-foot-7 forward Andrew Wiggins due to injuries.

John Wall delivered 22 points and Eric Gordon added 20 in the Rockets' seventh win in eight games, 115-103 versus the Grizzlies. Christian Wood scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting before rolling his right ankle in the third quarter, keeping him off the court the remainder of the game.

In NBA news:

The league told its teams on Thursday night that it expects to finalize plans in the coming week to have an All-Star Game in Atlanta. The game and skills competitions will be held on March 7. That's according to a memo given to teams from the league, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. It remains unclear when players would have to report to Atlanta and how testing will work there, or if fans will be part of the game.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been given the OK to increase attendance at home games. The team received a letter from the state of Ohio, which granted a second variance and will allow the Cavs to have 2,720 fans inside 19,000-seat Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The change takes effect immediately.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

In women's college basketball, Syracuse took down Wake Forest 85-78, and No. 1 Louisville crushed Boston College 97-68. 

In top-25 men's basketball: 

Seventh-ranked Ohio State won a top-10 matchup, going into Iowa and beating the No. 8 Hawkeyes, 89-85. E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young and Duane Washington Jr. each had 16 points as the Buckeyes moved within one game of Michigan for the Big Ten lead. Ohio State trailed 61-50 with 14 ½ minutes left before embarking on a 17-5 run. Justin Ahrens was scoreless before nailing three 3-pointers during the closing spurt. Hawkeyes center Luka Garza was held to 16 points after entering the game leading the nation in scoring.

Drew Timme scored a season-high 21 points and No. 1 Gonzaga overcame a sloppy performance to beat Pacific, 76-58. The 18-0 Bulldogs trailed at halftime for only the second time this season and didn't pull away until midway through the second half, extending the nation's longest active winning streak to 22 games.

In college basketball news: 

Bryant & Stratton College says Albany Athletic Director and head men’s basketball Coach Pat Filien has died at age 51. Filien had long been a prominent figure in local college basketball – he played for Albany’s College of Saint Rose, helping it reach its first Division II NCAA Tournament in 1992. Then, as an assistant coach, he reached five NCAA Tournaments with the University of Vermont and the University at Albany in the early 2000s. The Times Union reports Filien had suffered from COVID-19 in recent days.

The Canisius College athletic department has announced Thursday that the Golden Griffin women's basketball program will not complete the remainder of the season due to health and safety concerns.

No. 2 Baylor has had its season interrupted again because of COVID-19 protocols, with the Big 12 Conference postponing the Bears' next two scheduled games. The 17-0 Bears have matched the best start in school history and were supposed to host TCU on Saturday and play at No. 9 Oklahoma next Wednesday. Neither the conference or Baylor provided specifics, saying only that the postponements were in accordance with the league's interruption guidelines for men's basketball. That would indicate that the Bears wouldn't have the required six scholarship players for the games, either because of positive tests or contact tracing.

NFL

The Chiefs take on the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl this Sunday. People in 20 states, including New York and New Hampshire, can legally place a wager – but not in Massachusetts. Sports betting was left out of the big economic development bill approved last month by the Massachusetts legislature. State Senator Eric Lesser, co-chair of the Economic Development Committee, said he wants to see sports betting done in this legislative session in a separate bill. Gov. Charlie Baker refiled the sports betting bill he introduced two years ago that would allow both online betting and casino sportsbooks. Baker included a $35 million revenue estimate from sports betting in his budget proposal.

Also, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will carry forward the lessons learned from 2020. In his annual state of the league news conference Thursday, Goodell said topics for future discussion range from battling the pandemic to minority coaching hires to scheduling to the NFL's working relationship with the players' union. As for what changes from the pandemic season are worth keeping in a post-COVID-19 world, Goodell said virtual sessions "are going to be a part of our life for a long time" because coaches and players were able to remotely work through the playbooks in 2020. Goodell said he feels strongly about the value of training camp and preseason games. NFL Players Association President J.C. Tretter of the Cleveland Browns is advocating getting rid of the offseason and OTAs permanently. Goodell said the league will look into tweaking the rules for teams that hire new coaches as a way to ensure more diversity in the coaching ranks.

MLB

Yankee Stadium opens Friday morning as a COVID-19 vaccination site. The site at 1 E. 161st Street will operate strictly for qualified Bronx residents on an appointment-only basis from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Plans to provide COVID-19 vaccinations at Citi Field were delayed by a lack of sufficient vaccine supply. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo say 15,000 people can be vaccinated during the first week Yankee Stadium is open.

In other MLB news: 

Cleveland Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the team was unaware of former pitching coach Mickey Callaway's inappropriate behavior toward women while he was with the club. Antonetti said he became "distraught and disturbed" in learning about Callaway's actions, which were reported by The Athletic on Monday night. Callaway has said any relationship was consensual.

The White Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, giving them another option behind Yasmani Grandal. A person familiar with the situation confirmed Chicago's deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move was pending a physical. The 34-year-old Lucroy appeared in one game with Boston last season after batting .232 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 101 games with the Angels and Cubs in 2019.

First baseman Ji-Man Choi and the Rays have argued their salary arbitration case. The 29-year-old asked for a raise to $2.45 million, and the Rays argued for $1.85 million. Choi hit .230 with three homers and 16 RBIs last year, then batted .240 with two homers and four RBIs as the Rays advanced to the World Series and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Veteran reliever Nick Vincent has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rangers that includes an invitation to big league spring training. The 34-year-old right-hander went 1-2 with three saves and a 4.43 ERA in 21 appearances for the Marlins last season.

The average Major League Baseball salary dropped for an unprecedented third straight year, even before the shortened season caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The players association said Thursday the 2020 average would have been $3.89 million if a full season had been played. That was down 4.2% from the 2019 average and represented a 5.2% decrease from the record average of just under $4.1 million in 2017.

TENNIS

Tennis Hall of Famer Tony Trabert has died at age 90. His death Wednesday night at his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was confirmed by his daughter. Trabert was a five-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1 player who went on to successful careers as a Davis Cup captain, broadcaster and executive. Trabert won three of the four major singles titles in 1955, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals.

In other tennis news: 

The Australian Open tournament director expects the year's first tennis major to start as scheduled next week. This despite 160 players being among the 507 people forced back into isolation after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19. All matches in all six warmup events were postponed after the state government announced the latest coronavirus case.

Wimbledon organizers are planning for a reduced-capacity crowd at this year's Grand Slam tournament, though other options remain. The All England Club has previously announced that the tournament would go ahead with or without fans. It was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

© The Associated Press 2021. All Rights Reserved.