NHL: Pekka Rinne made 29 saves to lead the host Nashville Predators to a 2-0 win over Phoenix on Thursday night, damaging the Coyotes’ playoff hopes.
Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist scored for Nashville, which has won four of its last five.
The loss hurt Phoenix’s quest for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Coyotes entered the day two points behind the Dallas Stars in the wild-card race. Both teams have two games remaining, including Sunday’s season finale when Dallas visits Phoenix.
• Rangers clinch home ice: Rick Nash scored the winning goal with 1:42 left, on host New York’s third shot of the third period, and the Rangers clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres.
New York secured second place in the Metropolitan Division when the Philadelphia Flyers lost at Tampa Bay. The Rangers will face either the Flyers or Columbus in the playoffs.
Spurs near top seed in West
NBA: Patty Mills scored 26 points starting in place of Tony Parker and the visiting San Antonio Spurs moved to the brink of the top seed in the Western Conference with a 109-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Making his second start of the season and seventh of his career with Parker nursing a bad back, Mills had 11 points and a pair of steals in the third quarter when the Spurs turned a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead.
Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds after leaving briefly in the first quarter because of a hyperextended right knee. Kawhi Leonard added 16 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and five assists.
Monta Ellis led Dallas with 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 19.
• Pelicans’ Davis out: The Pelicans say All-Star forward Anthony Davis will miss New Orleans’ final four games this season.
Davis, who has averaged 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks this season, sat out Wednesday night’s loss to Phoenix with back soreness. The club says team doctors have determined that Davis could use another week or two of rest to heal properly.
• Bulls sign two: The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Mike James and forward Lou Amundson for the remainder of the season.
James appeared in 11 games with Chicago earlier this season. An 11-year veteran, he has averaged 9.9 points in his career.
Amundson played in 18 games for New Orleans this season. He has also played with Philadelphia (twice), Utah, Phoenix, Golden State, Indiana, and Chicago in his seven seasons.
Union, Minnesota in hockey final
College hockey: Daniel Ciampini and tiny Union College are thriving on college hockey’s biggest stage.
Ciampini broke a third-period tie with the second of his three goals to help Union beat Boston College 5-4 in the NCAA hockey semifinals.
The Dutchmen (31-6-4) advanced to the final for the first time. They will face Minnesota – a 2-1 winner over North Dakota on a thrilling shorthanded goal by Justin Holl with 0.6 seconds left in the second semifinal – in the championship game Saturday night.
Valencia in Europa semifinals
Soccer: Valencia fought back from a three-goal, first-leg deficit to beat visiting Basel 5-0 and qualify for the Europa League semifinal, while competition favorite Juventus advanced after a tense 2-1 win at home to Lyon.
Pablo Alcacer scored a hat trick in Valencia, with the third coming in extra time after Basel’s Marcelo Diaz and Gaston Sauro were sent off.
In Turin, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio scored either side of Jimmy Briand’s leveler for Lyon, handing Juventus a 3-1 aggregate win.
Benfica, beaten by Chelsea in last season’s final, could be back in the showpiece match next month after beating AZ Alkmaar 2-0 to seal a 3-0 aggregate victory, while 10-man Sevilla defeated Porto 4-1 to qualify 4-2 on aggregate.
• Ronaldo likely to miss Copa final: Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to miss the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona because of a leg injury.
Madrid says medical scans on the Portugal international revealed a muscle injury in his left leg – in addition to a left knee injury he had been nursing. Madrid didn’t say how long Ronaldo would be sidelined.
Madrid lost 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday without Ronaldo, who has scored 45 goals in all competitions for the Spanish team this season including a record-equaling 14 in the Champions League. However, his side advanced 3-2 on aggregate for the final.
• D.C. United’s Neal suspended: D.C. United midfielder Lewis Neal has been suspended for a game by Major League Soccer for dangerous play against the Revolution’s Andrew Farrell.
Neal slid into Farrell spikes-first in the fourth minute of United’s 2-0 win against New England on April 5, sending the defender to the ground. He received a yellow card. Neal was also fined and will miss Saturday’s game against New York Red Bulls.
• Surgery for Sporting K.C.’s Opara: Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara will have surgery on his injured right ankle and is likely to miss the rest of the MLS season.
The club said that the April 16 surgery will repair cartilage damage. Opara had to be helped from the field after colliding with Colorado Rapids defender Jared Watts on March 29.
UNLV ineligible for postseason
Miscellany: The UNLV Rebels will not be eligible for the Mountain West championship game or a bowl berth in 2014 after failing to reach the minimum Academic Progress Rate score.
The university said Thursday that its final appeal to the NCAA subcommittee was denied and sanctions will be enforced. The sanctions include no postseason competition, substituting four hours of academics for four hours of practice time weekly and five days of football-related activities a week instead of six.
• Contador’s Basque lead cut: Alberto Contador’s lead at the Tour of Basque Country was trimmed during a fourth stage won by Dutch cyclist Wouter Poels.
Contador, a multiple Tour de France champion, lost two seconds of his overall lead. He is in front by 12 seconds with two stages left.