This time Hawks blow 2-0 lead, lose to Predators 3-2 in OT, on verge of elimination

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NASHVILLE—The Nashville Predators are at a point they’ve never been before in franchise history, and now they have a chance to keep their first-round series from going back to the United Center.They can thank a 20-year-old playing the fourth postseason game of his career for putting them in that position.Kevin Fiala scored on a backhander 16:44 into overtime , and the Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory early Tuesday morning in Game 3 of the first-round series.The Predators have never won the first three games of any playoff series, and they got here by outscoring the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed 9-2. Even with the Blackhawks finally ending their scoring drought in this series, it wasn’t enough as Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period to force overtime.

”Obviously, we want to close it out at home, but we’ve got to focus just the same way we focused on this one and prepare the same,” Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said.

Rinne made 34 saves, even with his franchise playoff scoreless streak ending early in the second period at 141 minutes, 5 seconds.Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane each scored the first goals this series for the Blackhawks.But the Hawks, winners of three Stanley Cup titles in the past seven years, now trail 0-3 for the first time since the 2011 quarterfinals as a No. 8 seed. They lost that series in seven games to Vancouver.

”That was a long time ago,” Joel Quenneville said.Asked if this group can bounce back, Quenneville had a short answer: ”We’re going to have to.”

Jonathan Toews called it a very disappointing loss. His personal goal drought is now 12 straight postseason games, though he did have an assist.

”We got to find a way to put pressure on them, got to make them realize that winning a fourth game is the toughest for any team in any series,” Toews said.

Fiala finally converted on his third chance in overtime. Crawford got a glove on a puck nearly midway through the extra period off Fiala’s shot from the high slot. Crawford also got his left toe on a shot from Fiala in the slot with 6:00 left.Then James Neal found Fiala with a pass, and he beat Crawford to send fans home shortly after midnight local time.

”It was a great save by Crawford,” Fiala said of the toe save by the Hawk goalie. ”I was pretty angry, I could have finished it there, but never mind, we won.”

The Predators brought out the star power with country singer Carrie Underwood, married to Nashville captain Mike Fisher, to sing the national anthem. Five catfish also were tossed onto the ice before the puck dropped and combined with a late start for a very loud standing-room only crowd of 17,204.Nashville outshot the Blackhawks 49-36.Rinne’s shutout streak ended when Rasmussen scored the first postseason goal of his career 65 seconds into the second period. He beat Rinne glove-side off an assist from Marcus Kruger. The goal also snapped a scoreless skid for the Hawks that spanned 177:45 back to their first-round loss to St. Louis last postseason.Then the Blackhawks quickly made it a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal by Kane. He scored the 50th postseason goal of his career with a wrister from the right circle at 11:15 of the second, taking advantage of Marcus Kruger standing in front of Rinne.Forsberg started the rally. He scored on a wrister hitting the puck in the air past Crawford, who was caught having turned around in the crease, at 4:24. Blackhawks forward Richard Panik argued the puck went off the netting, but the play was called a good goal after a review.

”It went off the shoulder and then off the glass and then straight in, so I didn’t really see why they were talking,” Forsberg said.

Then Forsberg tied it up at 14:08 with a wrister off Ryan Ellis’ shot from the point. Officials also reviewed for Arvidsson interfering with Crawford outside the crease before ruling another good goal.

”I don’t know,” Crawford said when asked about interference. ”Game’s over.”

NOTES—This is Nashville’s third straight overtime win at home in the playoffs. The Predators won Games 4 and 6 versus San Jose in the second round last year. … Kane became the fourth Hawk player with 50 career goals, joining Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and Stan Mikita. This was Kane’s 126th playoff game.

Bulls surprise Celtics 106-102. Thomas scores 33 one day after losing 22 year old Sister in tragic Auto accident.

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BOSTON—Jimmy Butler had 30 points and nine rebounds and the Bulls outlasted Boston 106-102 in Game 1 on Sunday on an emotional night for grieving Celtics star Isaiah Thomas.Playing a day after 22-year-old sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident in their home state of Washington, Thomas led the top-seeded Celtics with 33 points.Butler scored 23 points in the second half. Bobby Portis finished with 19 for the Bulls.Al Horford had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Boston.Game 2 in the first-round series is Tuesday night in Boston.Neither team had more than a two-possession lead until Butler made three free throws with 4 minutes to play make it 95-88. Butler scored 10 straight points to put the Bulls back in front early in the fourth, the first of three lead changes in the fourth quarter.Later, Thomas had a scary moment when he was hit on his left hand on a 3-point attempt before landing awkwardly on it. After a quick visit to the trainer, he calmly made all three free throws.It was part of a stretch in which he scored seven straight points.Celtics fans rallied behind Thomas, showering him with a deafening cheer when he was introduced.Still, Thomas appeared to be a little emotional at the start of the game, badly missing his first free throw short off the front rim. He wasn’t the only Boston player a little off their game in the first half.Boston’s second unit started the second quarter 1 for 7 from the field and was outscored 10-0 to surrender the Celtics’ first-quarter lead.The Bulls had their moments of fallibility as well.Late in the second quarter Wade intercepted an errant pass by Thomas, but got hung on the front of the rim as he attempted a dunk on the fast break.

NOTES—The Bulls outrebounded the Celtics 32-16 in the first half, including 16 offensive rebounds…..The Celtics were 18 for 45 from the field in the first half.

Hawks blanked again by Preds(this time 5-0)and now trail two games to none.

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Pekka Rinne was great again. Ryan Johansen had a big night, and Nashville got a lift from a couple of unlikely scorers.The Predators are singing a sweet tune on their way home to Music City, threatening to play the Blackhawks right out of the postseason.Rinne made 30 saves in his second straight shutout and picked up two assists, helping Nashville rout the Hawks 5-0 on Saturday for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

”Character win the first one, and then tonight played a really solid game,” Rinne said.

Johansen had a goal and two assists as Nashville added a dominant performance to its taut 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night.Ryan Ellis, Harry Zolnierczyk, Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala each scored their first career playoff goal.The Predators became the fifth NHL team to begin a postseason with consecutive road shutouts, joining Detroit (1936), Buffalo (1983), New Jersey (1995) and Toronto (2001). Game 3 is Monday night in Nashville.

”A lot of guys played great hockey out there,” Ellis said. ”We got the result we wanted, but we’ve got a lot of work left to do and it doesn’t stop here.”

Joel Quenneville shuffled his lineup, inserting rookie Vinnie Hinostroza and Dennis Rasmussen and benching veteran Jordin Tootoo and John Hayden. But it was more of the same for the Blackhawks, who once again looked out of sync against the Predators’ active defense.

”That was frustration to a different level,” Quenneville said. ”That wasn’t fun to watch. I think you can look at it, we dug ourselves a tremendous hole across the board. Not too many positives come out of tonight’s game.”

The Hawks were shut out in consecutive playoff games for the first time since it was blanked in three straight in April 2002 against St. Louis. It has dropped six in a row dating to the end of the regular season.The sellout crowd of 22,175 booed as the final seconds of the second period ticked off, and there were more jeers in the third.

”It seems like right now we’re playing a little bit tight,” forward Marian Hossa said. ”Obviously everybody’s trying to score that goal. We have to play our way, the way we’ve played all season. We have to take a deep breath, throw this one in the garbage and focus on Game 3.”

The Blackhawks, who finished with a Western Conference-best 109 points this year, took the last four of their five meetings with the Predators during the regular season. They also controlled much of Game 1, outshooting the Predators 29-20, albeit with many of the attempts coming from outside.But this one was all Nashville, right from the start.

”Overall I thought it was a much better consistent effort tonight than it was in Game 1,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.

After Richard Panik had a shot go off a post in the opening minute, the Predators began to take over. Ellis’ shot from the high slot was blocked by a sliding Panik, but the defenseman tried again and drove it by Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead at 3:44.Viktor Arvidsson, who scored the only goal in Game 1, provided a perfect screen on the play, with Ellis’ shot going between his legs on the way to the net.The Predators added two more in the second.Rinne picked up a secondary assist when Mattias Ekholm found Zolnierczyk with a great stretch pass, and the forward shot it off Crawford’s left shoulder for a 2-0 lead at 2:51.The Blackhawks nearly got on the board about 30 seconds later, but captain Jonathan Toews shot it off the right post. Sissons then knocked in his own rebound with 7 minutes left.It was Sissons’ first point since he scored two goals against San Jose on March 25.

”It was good to get a balance,” Laviolette said. ”We’ve been trying to roll the lines and it was good to get a balance in scoring and get all the guys contributing.”

NOTES—Predators F Colin Wilson was scratched again with a lower-body injury…. The Blackhawks are 0 for 4 on the power play for the series. … Crawford finished with 24 saves. … The last time the Bulls dropped the first two games of a playoff series at home was in 1995 against Toronto. The Blackhawks won the series in seven games.

Preds stun Hawks 1-0 in Playoff opener.

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The Nashville Predators jumped in front of shots and got in the passing lanes for most of the night. On the precious few occasions that the Blackhawks found an open look, Pekka Rinne was there.Rinne made 29 saves, Viktor Arvidsson scored in the first period and the Predators beat the Blackhawks 1-0 on Thursday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.The 34-year-old Rinne posted the franchise’s first road playoff shutout. It was Nashville’s second playoff win in the United Center in seven tries.

”It is a good confidence-booster for us,” Rinne said.

The Predators did not have a 1-0 victory during the regular season. Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.

”We’ve got to keep on it,” Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. ”I think they played a great game over there. Peks was phenomenal for us. We defended hard, but I think we’re going to have to attack the game more and create more chances.”

Corey Crawford had 19 saves for the Blackhawks, who got center Artem Anisimov back from a leg injury that sidelined him for the last part of the season, but struggled to find many good opportunities against a sound defensive performance by Nashville.

”We’ve got to be more desperate, need more desperation around the net in that willingness to get there and fight through it and pay the price, whatever’s there,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks, who won the Central Division with the most points in the Western Conference, are going for their fourth Stanley Cup championship in the last eight seasons. They eliminated Nashville during two of those title-winning runs, including in 2015 when the Predators blew leads of 3-0 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.This time, they held on – thanks to a super performance by Rinne.The Hawks controlled much of the last two periods, but Nashville blocked several shots from the perimeter and stymied the Blackhawks when they tried to find a better chance. Rinne also stepped up at key moments in his second career playoff shutout.

”We did a really good job messing up their systems,” Rinne said, ”and didn’t give them too much flow. They like to play with a lot of speed and puck possession, and we did the right things on the ice.”

After Ryan Johansen was sent off for delay of game 9 seconds into the second, Rinne denied Patrick Kane and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the resulting power play. Ryan Hartman found Marian Hossa on a counter midway through the second, but he wasn’t able to get much on the shot and Rinne turned the rush away.The Predators killed off another power play in the third and then kept the Blackhawks away from the net after they pulled Crawford with 1:55 remaining.

”It looks like they’re kind of playing a 1-4 in the neutral zone, which is fine,” Kane said. ”We’re going to have to find ways to fight through that and more than likely, that comes with dumping the puck and hopefully getting pucks back, making them play in their end.We had some good shifts, had some good chances, didn’t really materialize the Grade-A we really wanted.”

Boosted by a raucous, red-clad crowd of 22,075, the Blackhawks got off to a fast start. But the Predators eventually started to control the action, and their high-scoring top line of Arvidsson, Johansen and Filip Forsberg silenced the fans with one nice sequence.Even with three Blackhawks in the area, Johansen managed to play the puck over to Forsberg in the high slot. Forsberg then threw it toward the net and Arvidsson tipped it by Crawford at 7:52.

”It was a great play by Filip and I just had my stick there and it was nice,” he said.

It was Arvidsson’s fourth goal in his last four games against the Blackhawks. The speedy winger set career highs with 31 goals and 30 assists in a breakout performance this season.Arvidsson nearly picked up a second goal in the first, but he was denied by Crawford on a prime opportunity with 4:22 left. He also had a backhander go off the crossbar with about 4 minutes in the third.

NOTES—Predators F Colin Wilson was scratched with an injury. Wilson had 12 goals and 23 assists this season. … The Blackhawks recalled G Jeff Glass from Rockford of the AHL. Glass was inactive as the team’s third goalie. … The Hawks were shut out in a home playoff game for the first time since 2012 against the Coyotes.

Bulls wipe out disgraceful Nets 112-73 to qualify for NBA Playoffs against Celtics

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Many people feel the Brooklyn Nets should be heavily fined for holding half their team out against the Bulls, turning the contest into a sham.Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Bulls beat those depleted Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Wednesday.Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as the Bulls took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under coach Fred Hoiberg.On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.This game was just as boring as you might think.

Bulls blow out Magic-one win away from Playoff Birth clinching.

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Emergency starter Jerian Grant had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists on Monday night, and the Bulls routed the Orlando Magic 122-75 to move closer to a postseason berth.The Bulls led by as many as 47 points in their largest margin of victory this season. They would have clinched a playoff berth with a Miami loss to Cleveland, but the Heat’s rally means the Bulls will have until their final regular-season game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.The Bulls and Miami remained one game behind No. 7 Indiana after the Pacers beat the 76ers in Philadelphia. The Bulls (40-41) would claim a three-way tie if the teams finish with the same record.The Bulls scored 14 of the first 16 points en route to a 34-13 lead at the end of one quarter. Grant led the way with seven points, four assists and one steal in that stretch.

Hawks lose to Kings in OT, finish winless three game Regular Season ending road trip. Play Nashville in Playoffs

LOS ANGELES—From the ”Miracle on Manchester” to two Stanley Cup wins, longtime Los Angeles Kings broadcaster Bob Miller(and Chicago native) has called plenty of memorable home games. Drew Doughty gave Miller one final thrilling moment to describe in his last home game.Doughty scored 27 seconds into overtime, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Saturday.

”We have a lot of pride playing for this organization and obviously Bob has been a big part to the organization for a long time,” Doughty said. ”To get a win for him and for the team and for the fans as well feels good.”

It seemed as if the highlight of the afternoon would be video tributes and messages to Miller from luminaries of hockey and Hollywood before the Kings launched a thrilling third-period comeback.Dustin Brown scored with 55 seconds remaining and Tyler Toffoli added a power-play goal for the Kings, setting the stage for Doughty’s winner when he got a step on Patrick Kane and finished off Jeff Carter‘s pass.

”I just had to beat my guy up ice and Jeff made the easy backhand pass,” Doughty said. ”It was a great play and that was a pretty cool matchup. Six really top players in the league, so it was a lot of fun.”

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves. Carter and Anze Kopitar each had three assists.Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews scored and Corey Crawford made 23 saves for the Blackhawks, who will head into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak. However, the Hawks had already locked up home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. The Blackhawks were also able to use the past week to rest players ahead of their push for a third Stanley Cup title in the last five seasons.

”Regardless of the results the last few games here on the road I think we like where our team is at,” Toews said. ”We like how everyone is feeling. We’re excited to go forward next week.”

The Hawks had a chance to set a franchise record for road wins in a season, and seemed to have that 25th victory away from United Center locked up when Panarin scored his 31st goal of the season with 6:07 remaining, only for Kopitar to find Brown on the backdoor in the final minute to send Staples Center into hysterics.It also continued Los Angeles’ recent streak of dramatic sendoffs following the exits of Lakers great Kobe Bryant and Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.Scully delivered the most poignant message to Miller, saying the newly retired legendary Los Angeles voices should spend some time together, while Wayne Gretzky and former Kings coach Barry Melrose also saluted Miller.Kopitar admitted his focus drifted toward the video board at times during breaks in the action.

”You don’t want to get caught staring, but I took a peek,” Kopitar said.

Los Angeles warmed up in special No. 44 jerseys, recognizing Miller’s 44 years as the play-by-play voice of the Kings.Miller will call the final game of his Hall of Fame career Sunday at Anaheim, a fitting end given his vital role in helping grow the sport of hockey across Southern California.

NOTES—After resting several notable players against Anaheim on Thursday, C Artem Anisimov and D Niklas Hjalmarsson were the most prominent absences for Tte Blackhawks who scratched D Michal Kempny, LW Andrew Desjardins, LW Tomas Jurco, D Michal Rozsival and LW Vinnie Hinostroza. … Kane, Panarin and Richard Panik played in all 82 games for the Blackhawks this season….The Blackhawks will open the playoffs at home against the Nashville Predators Thursday night 7:05pm at the United Center..

Bulls blow big fourth quarter lead, playoff chances in question

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BROOKLYN—Dwyane Wade returned but the Bulls sustained a potentially costly loss when the Brooklyn Nets beat them 107-106 on Saturday.Spencer Dinwiddie made four free throws in the final 13.6 seconds for the Nets in their home finale. He scored 19 points, as did rookie Caris LeVert.Jimmy Butler scored 33 points for the Bulls, who came in tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference.Wade started and played 25 minutes, scoring 14 points. He had been expected to miss the remainder of the regular season when he sprained his right elbow on March 15.But the Bulls allowed 32 points in the fourth quarter, with Dinwiddie snapping a 103-all with two free throws with 13.6 seconds to play. Butler missed a jumper and Dinwiddie put it away with another pair with 2.4 to play.

Hawks rest many, lose to Ducks 4-0

ANAHEIM—Corey Perry scored a power-play goal, John Gibson made 37 saves in his 12th career shutout and the Anaheim Ducks clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday night.Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who moved to the brink of their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title in a meeting of the Western Conference’s two division leaders.Chris Wagner and Ryan Kesler also scored for Anaheim, which has earned points in 13 consecutive games since March 10 (10-0-3).With the best record in the West already sewed up, the Central Division champion Blackhawks rested captain Jonathan Toews, forwards Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov and defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Bulls beat Sixers, stay in 7th Playoff spot with three games left.

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PHILADELPHIA—Jimmy Butler had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and helped give the Bulls playoff hopes a needed boost in the 102-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.The Bulls, Miami and Indiana entered the night with 38-40 records and in a three-way tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Butler had his fourth career triple-double.Rajon Rondo sat out with a sprained right wrist and Dwyane Wade missed another game with a fractured right elbow. Wade, who scrimmaged on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured on March 15, could return as early as Saturday’s game at Brooklyn. Wade, who averaged 18.6 points in his first season with his hometown team, had been ruled out for the season. But Wade was worked hard at joining the team minus any serious setbacks.Rondo was hurt Tuesday night in a loss to New York.With Rondo and Wade sidelined, the Bulls still cruised against the lowly Sixers. Jerian Grant scored 15 points starting for Rondo, Nikola Mirotic scored 22 and the Bulls took a 14-point lead in the first half.Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the Sixers with 18 points.The Bulls wasted a major opportunity when they lost to New York and could not afford a second straight road defeat to an Eastern Conference also-ran. The Bulls, who hold a tiebreaker over the Heat and the Pacers, improved to 7-4 since they lost Wade.The Sixers gave up 141 points Tuesday against Brooklyn and their defense was only slightly better against the Bulls. The Bulls seemed on the brink of missing the postseason for a second straight year just a few weeks ago. Mirotic hit his fifth 3 of the game late in the fourth to make it 97-82 and the Bulls firmed up a playoff spot with two key cogs set to return. Butler earned his 10th assist on Mirotic’s sixth three to clinch his fourth career triple-double.

NOTES—The Bulls have won 13 of 14 against the Sixers. … The Bulls have defeated the Sixers seven straight times in Philadelphia. … Michael Carter-Williams, 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year with the 76ers, received mostly boos when he checked in off the bench….The Bulls are at Brooklyn Saturday, and play their two final games at home.including Wednesday night vs the same Nets.