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In brief: Canucks rally to beat Sharks in Game 1

Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, left, and San Jose’s Dany Heatley collide during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. (Associated Press)
Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, left, and San Jose’s Dany Heatley collide during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. (Associated Press)

NHL: In Vancouver, British Columbia, defenseman Kevin Bieksa tied it 7:02 into the third period, Henrik Sedin scored on a power play 1:19 later, and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to open their first Western Conference final in 17 years with a 3-2 victory over the No. 2 seeded San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Maxim Lapierre scored his first of these playoffs, and Roberto Luongo made 27 saves – and a brutal first period giveaway – for the Canucks. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored, and Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots for the Sharks, coming off an emotional, draining Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

San Jose took a 2-1 lead into the third period thanks to a goal on its only power play, and the gift from Luongo. But after failing to finish several great chances late in the second, Vancouver finally converted in the third.

Alex Burrows got behind Dan Boyle on a left wing rush and fed a pass across and back to a pinching Bieksa atop the right faceoff circle. Bieksa’s wrist shot caught Niemi sliding left and went past his blocker on the other side.

Dany Heatley took an elbowing penalty 32 seconds later, and the Canucks’ power play, which looked terrible its first three chances after leading the NHL in the regular season, finally converted.

Finland wins worlds by beating Sweden

Hockey: In Bratislava, Slovakia, Petteri Nokelainen scored the first of Finland’s five third-period goals to lift it to a 6-1 win over Sweden for its second ice hockey world championship title.

Nokelainen beat goalie Viktor Fasth at 2:35 of the final period on a breakaway to give Finland a 2-1 lead and Niko Kapanen scored another 46 seconds later in the third.

Janne Pesonen, Mika Pyorala and Antti Pihlstrom scored in a 2:24 span later in the period to finish off the Swedes.

Sunday’s game was the fourth worlds final between the long-standing rivals.

Finnish goalie Petri Vehanen stopped 32 shots for the win.

Jarkko Immonen started the Finnish comeback after he answered the opening goal by Magnus Paajarvi to become the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals.

Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth was selected the MVP of the tournament during the final period when he allowed five goals.

• Czechs beat Russia to take bronze at worlds: In Bratislava, Slovakia, Roman Cervenka scored a hat trick to lead the Czech Republic to a 7-4 victory over Russia and the bronze medal at the ice hockey world championship.

Petr Prucha scored twice, and Jan Marek and Tomas Plekanec added one apiece for the Czechs – the defending champions – in a rematch of last year’s final.

Ilya Kovalchuk finally found his scoring touch to score twice for Russia, but it was not enough. Dmitri Kulikov and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored a goal each.

The Czechs earned their fourth bronze at worlds, while Russia, the most successful nation in the tournament with 25 titles, finished without a medal for the first time since 2006.

Star forward Alex Ovechkin, who joined Russia after his Washington Capitals were eliminated from the NHL playoffs, failed to score a goal in his five games.

Contador takes jersey, wins Giro’s ninth stage

Cycling: In Etna, Italy, Giro d’Italia favorite Alberto Contador surged to his first stage win of this year’s race and took the leader’s pink jersey from Pieter Weening.

The three-time Tour de France winner finished the 104.7-mile ninth stage from Messina in 4 hours, 54 minutes, 8 seconds, with Jose Rujano 3 seconds behind.

Stefano Garzelli then led the chasing pack across the line for third, 50 seconds behind Contador.

Overall, Contador has a 59-second lead over Kanstantsin Sivtsov.

• Tour of California start wiped out by snow: The start of the Tour of California was wiped out because of snow, forcing organizers to cut the event from eight to seven stages.

Before calling off the start, organizers delayed the stage by 2 hours, 45 minutes and shortened the scheduled 118.7-mile road race from South Lake Tahoe to Northstar at Tahoe Resort to 49.2 miles.

Girardi accepts Posada’s apology

Baseball: Yankees manager Joe Girardi says Jorge Posada has apologized to him in a face-to-face conversation, one day after the slumping star asked to be removed from the lineup and ended up in a messy public spat with management.

Posada was not in the lineup Sunday night against Boston left-hander Jon Lester, but the five-time All-Star was smiling in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse and appeared generally relaxed.

Posada says he had a bad day Saturday and his frustration boiled over. He calmly answered a string of questions from reporters and then went out to take batting practice.

He later entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning and drew a walk.

Girardi might have been planning to put Posada on the bench Sunday regardless of the strange saga that’s played out. The 39-year-old switch-hitter is 0 for 24 against left-handed pitchers this season.

Troubled Olympic marathon champ dies

Miscellany: Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died early todayafter jumping from a balcony, police said. Wanjiru was 24.

John Mbijiwe, the police chief in Kenya’s Central Province, said initial information indicated Wanjiru died after jumping from a balcony at his Rift Valley home, but the death is subject to further investigation.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon, finishing in an Olympic-record 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

Wanjiru had a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. The runner denied all charges and was released on bail.

• Kennedy moves from Murray State to Texas A&M: Billy Kennedy has taken over the Texas A&M basketball program, leaving Murray State to replace Mark Turgeon with the Aggies.

Turgeon left last week to coach Maryland.

Kennedy, a former assistant at A&M, has twice been honored as the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year in his five seasons with the Racers.

• Roddick misses Rome doubles final with injury: Andy Roddick pulled out of the doubles final at the Italian Open because of a right shoulder injury, with the French Open just a week away.

Roddick was scheduled to team up with fellow American Mardy Fish, and his withdrawal handed the title to another pair of Americans, John Isner and Sam Querrey.

• Toronto wins Lacrosse title: Garrett Billings and Kasey Beirnes led Toronto to the National Lacrossse League title, scoring two goals each in the Rock’s 8-7 victory over the Washington Stealth at Toronto.

Rob Hellyer, Blaine Manning, Glen Bryan and Stephan Leblanc also scored for Toronto.

• Liu beats Oliver in 110-meter hurdles: Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang broke American David Oliver’s 18-race win streak, winning the 110-meter hurdles at the Shanghai Diamond League event at Shanghai.

Liu dominated the race from the start, finishing in 13.07 seconds to the delight of the home crowd. Oliver was second in 13.18, while American Aries Merritt was third in 13.24.

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