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Ottawa Senators defeat San Jose to move into playoff spot in NHL East

Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad celebrates a goal with teammate Bobby Ryan in 5-2 win over San Jose. (Associated Press)
Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad celebrates a goal with teammate Bobby Ryan in 5-2 win over San Jose. (Associated Press)
From Staff And Wire Reports

NHL: Now that the Ottawa Senators have moved into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference, they have a few weeks left to make sure they get to the postseason.

Mika Zibanejad scored twice, and the Senators held off visiting San Jose for a 5-2 win on Monday night.

The Senators (37-24-11) earned their seventh straight win and jumped one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the East with a game in hand. Ottawa is above the postseason cutoff for the first time since late November.

The Senators are 17-2-2 in their last 21 games after trailing the Bruins by 14 points in early February.

“We’ve been chasing it, and that’s been our goal to get inside the eight, so it’s real enjoyable,” Ottawa coach Dave Cameron said. “Wins are always nice, and they’re really nice in this case because we’re in the top eight with a day off (today).

“It’s time to sit back and regroup and actually enjoy it for a day.”

Andrew Hammond, making his seventh straight start, stopped 29 shots and improved to 14-0-1 in his first 15 NHL starts.

Joe Pavelski and Chris Tierney scored for the Sharks. Pavelski tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal and just 30 seconds later, Tierney gave San Jose the lead.

Despite giving up the two quick goals, the Senators never panicked.

“There was a quick one that could have been prevented; it was a little bit of a breakdown, but that happens,” forward Bobby Ryan said. “Not much needed to be said. This team has a lot of confidence in itself in these games.”

The Senators scored four unanswered goals in the third period – two within a span of 1:12.

Turner puts Celtics back in playoff hunt

NBA: Evan Turner had 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Boston won at Brooklyn 110-91 to snap a three-game losing streak and move a half-game ahead of Charlotte for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Avery Bradley scored 20 points to lead the Celtics and Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk each had 18.

Memphis in playoffs: Zach Randolph scored 23 points, Marc Gasol had 21 and Memphis clinched a playoff spot with a 103-82 win at New York.

The Grizzlies (50-21) shot 52 percent from the field in their third consecutive win. Vince Carter added 14 points, Jeff Green scored 12 and Kosta Koufos had 10.

New York (14-57) has dropped four in a row and 11 of 13. Langston Galloway scored 19 points.

Bulls clinch playoff spot: In Chicago, Nikola Mirotic scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, and the Bulls clinched a playoff spot with a 98-86 win over Carolina.

Pau Gasol had 27 points and 12 rebounds as Chicago moved into a tie with Toronto for third place in the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Butler added 19 points in his return to the lineup after missing 11 games with a sprained left elbow.

Former UCLA coach to Mississippi State

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mississippi State has hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland to lead its men’s program.

The 57-year-old Howland coached at UCLA for 10 years, leading the program to three straight Final Fours from 2006 to 2008. But the Bruins never made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament during the next five seasons and he was fired in 2013 despite winning the Pac-12.

Louisiana Tech wins in NIT: Alex Hamilton scored 25 points and visiting Louisiana Tech (27-8) made 11 3-pointers in an 84-72 victory over Texas A&M (21-12).

Hamilton was 9 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 6 from distance, and Kenneth Smith drained all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 16 points and eight assists.

Old Dominion home streak continues: In Norfolk, Virginia, Jonathan Arledge made the go-ahead layup with 19 seconds and Old Dominion (26-7) held off Illinois State 50-49 in the second round of the NIT for its 23rd straight win at home.

It’s the seventh-longest active home winning streak in the country. Illinois State (22-13) handed ODU its worst loss of the season, 64-45, in November in the Virgin Islands

Murray State whips Tulsa: Cameron Payne scored 20 points and visiting Murray State (29-5) shredded the normally stingy defense of Tulsa (23-11) in an 83-62 second-round victory in the NIT.

Jeffery Moss and T.J. Sapp added 17 points each and Jarvis Williams had 15 for Murray State, which made a season-high 14 3-pointers.

Sharper gets 9 years after changing plea

MISCELLANY: Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper was sentenced to nine years in federal prison immediately after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman in Arizona, marking the first change of plea of the day for the former safety accused of drugging and assaulting women in four states.

Sharper appeared in the Phoenix courtroom by video-conferencing from Los Angeles. He also is expected to change his plea in person in Los Angeles on similar allegations. Similar hearings will follow in Las Vegas this week and in New Orleans in the next month.

In each state, he’s accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women when they were unconscious or otherwise unable to resist or consent.

Astrodome could become park: A nonprofit group estimates that it would cost nearly $243 million to convert the iconic but shuttered Houston Astrodome into a massive indoor park and surrounding green space. The Urban Land Institute released its final report on the Astrodome proposal, saying the stadium “can and should live on.”

Missy Franklin hires agent: Missy Franklin has bid farewell to college swimming and is turning pro. The four-time Olympic gold medalist went out with a bang, winning three individual events and helping her California team win the NCAA championship last weekend. Now, Franklin can start competing for money and endorsement deals, and she’s signed with a sports agent connected to Hollywood.

Minnesota to join MLS: Major League Soccer is expected to confirm during a news conference this week that an expansion franchise has been awarded to Minnesota.

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