April 21, 2012 in Sports

Predators advance in NHL playoffs

 
Associated Press photo

Nashville’s Francis Bouillon, right, celebrates with Alexander Radulov after Radulov scored.
(Full-size photo)

NHL: The Nashville Predators need measure themselves against the Detroit Red Wings no more.

David Legwand scored 13 seconds into the third period, and the host Predators advanced to the Western Conference semifinals with a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings on Friday night at Nashville, Tenn.

The fourth-seeded Predators won the series 4-1, capping a season in which they finished ahead of their Central Division rival for the first time, and beat the Red Wings for the first time in three playoff series. Nashville made it even sweeter by handing the Red Wings their earliest postseason departure since a six-game, first-round loss to Edmonton in 2006.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Detroit has been the gold standard for the Central Division and especially the Predators.

“We’ve grown to the point where we have great respect for the Detroit Red Wings, but we’re not in awe of them,” Trotz said. “That’s the stepping stone that we’ve taken. Obviously, beating Detroit in the first round is a step in the right direction.”

Nashville became the first team to advance this postseason, and the Predators could face third-seeded Phoenix in the second round. The Coyotes lead Chicago 3-1.

Legwand added an assist, and Alexander Radulov also had a goal and assist for Nashville. The team that scored first won each game, and that was Nashville again.

Jiri Hudler scored for Detroit, which heads into the summer having lost three straight waiting to see if captain Nicklas Lidstrom has played his last game after 20 seasons. Lidstrom has said the past couple of days that, as usual, he will decide whether he returns in the summer.

• Penguins extend series: Steve Sullivan, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy scored and the host Pittsburgh Penguins fended off elimination with a 3-2 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves – including a series of big stops in the third period – to help Pittsburgh cut Philadelphia’s lead to 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

Hawks defeat short-handed Celtics

NBA: Joe Johnson scored 30 points, and the host Atlanta Hawks edged the short-handed Boston Celtics 97-92 to take a step toward landing homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks (38-25) are in line to be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Celtics (37-27) are on track to be No. 5.

Boston left Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus at home with injuries. Perennial All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce made the trip, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers rested both stars after playing 11 games in 15 days.

Cavaliers upset playoff-bound Knicks: Amare Stoudemire’s return from a back injury didn’t help the playoff-bound New York Knicks, who were stunned 98-90 by the host Cleveland Cavaliers. Stoudemire had missed New York’s previous 13 games with a bulging disk. He scored 15 points.

• Bobcats’ losing streak reaches 19: Mike Conley had 18 points and seven assists as the Memphis Grizzlies beat Charlotte 85-80 at Charlotte, N.C., to extend the Bobcats’ franchise-worst losing streak to 19 games.

Mavericks overcome young Warriors: Vince Carter had 19 points, including eight straight for host Dallas early in the fourth quarter, and the playoff-bound Mavericks finally pulled away from the young Golden State Warriors for a 104-94 victory. Former Washington State star Klay Thompson, one of four rookie starters for Golden State, led the Warriors with 26 points.

• Bryant back, but Lakers lose: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all scored at least 20 points to help the host San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-97 and spoil Kobe Bryant’s return. Bryant had missed the previous seven games with a bruised left shin, and the Lakers went 5-2 without him.

Durant leads Thunder past Kings: Kevin Durant had 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-92 victory over the struggling Sacramento Kings at Sacramento, Calif. The Thunder took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and went on to their second consecutive victory and fourth in five games.

Oklahoma City (46-17) remained in contention for the best record in the Western Conference. The Thunder are one-half game behind San Antonio and have three games remaining.

Curtis beats storms, takes Texas lead

Golf: Ben Curtis shot a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 in the Texas Open in San Antonio before storms brought afternoon wind, leaving the former British Open champion two strokes ahead at 10 under when the second round was suspended because of darkness.

Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot a 78 and was at 160.

• Miyazato out in front by three: Japan’s Ai Miyazato shot a 2-under 70 in difficult wind conditions to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii. The seven-time LPGA Tour winner had a 10-under 206 total at Ko Olina.

• Purtzer, Bryant team up for Legends lead: Brad Bryant and Tom Purtzer teamed up for a 12-under 60 to take a two-stroke, first-round lead at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf championship at Savannah, Ga.

Illinois wins men’s gymnastics title

Miscellany: Illinois rallied in its final two events to pass No. 1 Oklahoma at Norman, Okla., and win its first NCAA men’s gymnastics championship since 1989.

• Penn State firing reportedly related to investigation: The firing of a Penn State athletics official was connected to the investigation into the child sexual abuse case at the university, said two persons familiar with the situation, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

One person said Mark Sherburne was dismissed for failing to produce in a timely fashion documents under subpoena by the state Attorney General’s office related to its investigation into Sherburne’s boss, athletic director Tim Curley. Curley is on administrative leave after being charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report an abuse allegation against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

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