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#SportsReport: Rangers Fined For Criticizing Player Safety Call; Mets Down Cardinals

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The New York Rangers have been fined $250,000 by the NHL for criticizing head of player safety George Parros. The team made its comments after the league fined but did not suspend Washington's Tom Wilson for his role in a scrum that injured Rangers star Artemi Panarin on Monday.

Commissioner Gary Bettman says the extent to which the Rangers expressed their disagreement was "unacceptable." Also, the league has handed Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich a one-game suspension for for cross-checking Capitals forward Anthony Mantha in the second period of Wednesday's rematch. Buchnevich was one of two Rangers who were sucker-punched by Wilson on Monday.

On the ice: 

The Bruins are within four points of the Penguins with two games in hand after Patrice Bergeron scored to help Boston down the Rangers, 4-0. Jeremy Swayman needed to stop only 15 shots for his second career shutout. Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo also scored in the Bruins' fifth win in six games.

The Devils won for the fifth time in six games as Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 32 shots in a 2-1 win over the Islanders. Michael McLeod scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period. Anthony Beauvillier scored for the Islanders, whose three-game losing streak likely will leave them fourth in the East Division by season's end.

Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 40th goal of the season to help the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens, 5-2. Matthews has reached the plateau in 49 games, second only to Frank Mahovlich among the fastest in Leafs history. Mitch Marner and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist for Toronto, which is 6-2-1 against Montreal this season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins regained sole possession of first place in the NHL's East Division. The Pens are two points ahead of the Capitals after Jeff Carter scored a career-high four goals in Pittsburgh's 8-4 thumping of the Sabres. Carter beat Michael Houser three times in the game's first 25 minutes for his first hat trick since March 28, 2018. Jared McCann had a goal and two assists for the Pens.

The Hurricanes had to settle for a point after Alex DeBrincat tallied at 2:02 of overtime to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win at Carolina. The Canes were on their way to a 1-0 victory until Riley Stillman's redirect for his first NHL goal at 16:59 of the third. Martin Necas scored a short-handed goal for the Hurricanes, who had won five straight as they try to clinch the Presidents' Trophy.

Travis Hamonic, Nils Hoglander and Jayce Hawryluk each had a goal and an assist as the Canucks doubled up the Oilers, 6-3 to end a six-game slide. Thatcher Demko made 39 saves, including a stop on a penalty shot by Connor McDavid. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Connor McDavid had three assists as the Edmonton captain approaches 100 points.

NBA

The Brooklyn Nets continue to fade after building a 1 1/2-game lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference. The Nets now find themselves 2 1/2 games behind East-leading Philadelphia following their fourth straight loss, 113-109 to Dallas. Luka Doncic scored 24 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 to help the Mavericks complete a sweep of the two-game season series. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 17 points as the Mavericks reached 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. The Nets fell despite Kyrie Irving's season-high, 45 points. Kevin Durant chipped in 20 points and nine rebounds for Brooklyn.

Checking out Thursday's other NBA action:

The Wizards eked out a 131-129 win over the Raptors as Bradley Beal had 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists for his league-leading 34th double of the season and 180th of his career, one behind Oscar Robertson's all-time record. Pascal Siakam matched his career high with 44 points for the Raptors, who lost for the fifth time in six games and fell four games behind the Wizards for the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Clippers are No. 3 in the Western Conference following a 118-94 pounding of the Lakers. Paul George led seven Clippers in double figures with 24 points and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the blowout win. Kyle Kuzma dropped in a team-high 25 points for the Lakers, who played without LeBron James and received just four points from Anthony Davis on 2 of 9 shooting.

Caris LeVert scored 31 points, including nine in the final 2:17 to push the Pacers past the Hawks, 133-126. All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis scored 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting with nine assists for Indiana. Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points and 10 assists.

Nikola Vucevic provided 29 points and 14 rebounds as the Bulls hammered the Hornets, 120-99. Zach LaVine returned from an 11-game absence due to the league's health and safety protocols and scored 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting for Chicago.

Wayne Ellington and Cory Joseph scored 18 points apiece to help the Pistons beat the Grizzlies, 111-97 and end a four-game losing streak. Memphis scored just 17 points in the second quarter and 21 in the third but trailed by just eight heading into the final period.

Stephen Curry scored 34 points and added seven assists as the Warriors raced past the Thunder, 118-97. Mychal Mulder chipped in 25 points in just 20 minutes off the bench, making seven 3-pointers in 13 attempts. Andrew Wiggins posted 18 points and seven rebounds as Golden State took a major step toward securing a spot in the play-in.

MLB

Taijuan Walker struck out eight while holding the Cardinals to one hit over seven innings of the Mets' 4-1 victory in St. Louis. The Mets walked three times with the bases loaded and earned a split of the four-game series despite stranding 17 runners on Thursday.

In other MLB action: 

Jose Altuve gave himself quite a 31st birthday present. The Houston Astros second baseman slammed a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning of a 7-4 win over the Yankees. Chad Green inherited a 3-2 lead starting the eighth inning before putting the first two runners on base. Altuve's blast helped the Astros avoid a three-game sweep. Yordan Álvarez hit a pair of solo homers off Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, and Martin Madonado added a two-run blast in the ninth. Yanks shortstop Gleyber Torres scored from first base on an infield single, but New York's five-game winning streak ended.

Franchy Cordero came off the bench with three hits to snap an 0-for-25 slump and send the Red Sox past the Tigers, 12-9. Rafael Devers drove in three runs on a pair of singles, but his second error of the game allowed Detroit to tie the game, 9-9 in the seventh.

Randal Grichuk homered, doubled and drove in five to lead the Blue Jays to a 10-4 rout of the Athletics. Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien was 4-for-6 with a solo homer and three runs scored against his former team.

Zack Wheeler struck out eight while tossing a three-hitter as the Phillies blanked the Brewers, 2-0 to complete a four-game sweep. The game was scoreless until Alec Bohm homered in the seventh, one inning before Rhys Hoskins doubled home a run for the NL East leaders.

Ehire Adrianza made the most of a rare start on a day off for slumping NL MVP Freddie Freeman, providing a nice defensive play and a two-run single in the Braves' 4-2 decision over the Nationals. Drew Smyly was reached for just four hits while pitching into the seventh as Atlanta completed its first sweep of Washington since 2014.

Brett Phillips had two hits during a seven-run eighth that allowed the Rays to turn a 3-1 deficit into an 8-3 win over the Angels. Mike Zunino sparked the uprising with a homer and Phillips capped the rally with a two-run double as Tampa Bay completed a four-game sweep.

Triston McKenzie bounced back from a rugged start to pitch one-hit ball into the sixth inning of the Indians' 4-0 shutout of the Royals. Franmil Reyes launched his eighth home run, and Cesar Hernandez and Rene Rivera each had three hits to help Cleveland complete a four-game sweep.

The Rangers pulled out a 4-3 win over the Twins on Willie Calhoun's RBI single in the 10th inning. Joey Gallo and Jonah Heim homered to help Texas earn its third straight win.

Adam Duvall hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning and five pitchers combined on a five-hitter as the Marlins topped the Diamondbacks, 3-1 for their first three-game sweep of the season. Arizona was outscored, 20-4 in the series after entering Miami ranked second in the majors in runs.

In MLB news:

The Los Angeles Angels are dropping a Hall of Fame candidate. Albert Pujols has been designated for assignment, abruptly ending the 41-year-old superstar slugger's decade with his second major league team. Pujols is fifth in major league history with 667 career homers, and 13th with 3,253 hits. The oldest active player in the majors is batting just .198 this season with five homers and 12 RBIs. Pujols joined the Angels in late 2011 after 11 successful seasons with the Cardinals.

Blue Jays outfielder George Springer is not expected to be ready to return to Toronto's lineup when his stint on the 10-day injured list ends May 13. Springer landed on the injured list Wednesday after aggravating his strained right quadriceps. Springer didn't make his season debut until April 28 because of a strained oblique muscle and, later, the quadriceps injury.

Carlos Carrasco has been shifted to the 60-day injured list by the Mets, a surprise move that pushes back his season debut until May 28 at the earliest. The 34-year-old right-hander has been sidelined by an injured right hamstring since spring training and had been making progress. He threw a simulated game Tuesday, and the team said Wednesday that Carrasco was starting a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment this weekend.

Former Milwaukee Brewers catcher and Milwaukee Brewers manager Del Crandell has died at 91. Crandall was one of the best defensive catchers of the 1950s and early 1960s, earning four Gold Gloves and appearing in 11 All-Star games over eight seasons. Crandall was a member of the Braves' 1957 World Series championship team and the 1958 squad that lost the World Series. Bill Crandall says his father had Parkinson's disease and died Wednesday in Mission Viejo, California.

PGA

Phil Mickelson blistered the Quail Hollow course for eight birdies in a 7-under 64 that gives him the first-round lead at the PGA's Wells Fargo Championship. Mickelson ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn. He closed with two birdies and a superb par save on the par-4 ninth for his best score since a 63 in the second round of the Travelers Championship last June. K.H. Lee had a 66 in the morning, while Innisbrook runner-up Keegan Bradley had a 66 in the afternoon. The group at 67 included former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Tommy Fleetwood and Keith Mitchell.

Darren Clarke is the first-round leader at the Regions Tradition, opening with a 6-under 66 in the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors. The 2011 British Open champion had a one-stroke lead over Stephen Ames and Jerry Kelly at Greystone Golf & Country Club. Steve Stricker, the 2019 winner, was among three players two shots back at 68.

NFL

Safety Bobby McCain has been released by the Miami Dolphins, who took Jevon Holland of Oregon as a potential replacement in the second round of the draft. McCain had spent his entire six-year NFL career with Miami, starting 15 games last season and making 55 career starts. His release clears $5.6 million in salary cap space for the Dolphins.

Also, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is forming a behavioral health program seeking solutions to mental and behavioral issues for current and former athletes and their families. The program is supported by such hall members as Ronnie Lott, Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater, Andre Reed and Tim Brown.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Texas linebacker Jake Ehlinger, the younger brother of former Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger, has been found dead near the Austin campus. Police say officers responded to a call shortly after noon Thursday. Police did not detail how they found him, but said the death is not considered suspicious. No cause of death was immediately released. The 20-year-old had not played the last two seasons. Sam Ehlinger was drafted last week by the Indianapolis Colts. Their father, Ross, died in 2013 while competing in a San Francisco triathlon at age 46.

Also, college football teams will be required to hold at least seven padless practices during the preseason, and the number of contact practices will be reduced from 21 to 18. Those are proposals suggested by the NCAA's oversight committee and will go to the Division I Council for approval this month. It is expected to pass and go into effect next season. The changes to preseason practice come after a five-year study of six major college football teams showed players suffered more concussions during preseason practices than during games.

© The Associated Press 2021. All Rights Reserved.