NHL: The precocious Russian forward drafted in the first round by the Washington Capitals finally delivered a breathtaking, winning goal in a Game 7. No, not Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Skating around every opponent on the ice, Kuznetsov scored the go-ahead goal with less than 7 1/2 minutes left in Game 7, and Braden Holtby only needed to make 10 saves Monday night, lifting the Washington Capitals past the New York Islanders 2-1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at Washington.
Kuznetsov, a rookie, scored the sort of athletic, breathtaking goal his better-known teammate, Ovechkin, often does, taking the puck from the right boards and heading across the ice before sending a rising shot over sprawling goalie Jaroslav Halak.
The Capitals now face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers, who eliminated Washington from the 2012 and 2013 playoffs – in Game 7 each time.
The Islanders’ loss ends their playing days at Nassau Coliseum, which opened in 1972. The team is moving to Brooklyn next season.
You have to go back 22 years to find a playoff series won by the Islanders, and that victory in 1993 came against the Capitals. Since then, New York has lost seven consecutive first-round series.
• Johnson, Lightning force Game 7: Spokane’s Tyler Johnson scored two goals in his latest stellar performance and the Tampa Bay Lightning held on for a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Detroit, forcing a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.
Johnson and Jason Garrison scored in the first period, and Johnson added another goal in the second to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead.
• Hall of Famer Pronovost dies: Hall of Famer Marcel Pronovost, who spent 15 years with the Detroit Red Wings before capping his playing career with a five-year run in Toronto, has died. He was 84.
Pronovost won the Stanley Cup five times as a player and recorded 88 goals and 257 assists in 1,206 regular-season games. He moved into coaching after his retirement and had served as a scout for the New Jersey Devils since 1990.
Bucks push Bulls to Game 5
NBA: Michael Carter-Williams had 22 points and eight assists, Khris Middleton scored 21 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks avoided elimination again with a 94-88 victory over the host Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
With a 3-2 lead, the Bulls will try to close it out again Thursday at Milwaukee. But the Bucks aren’t going quietly after dropping the first three games.
They took Game 4 on a last-second layup by Jerryd Bayless and withstood several pushes by the Bulls in the fourth quarter of this one.
• Nets tie series with No. 1-seeded Hawks: Deron Williams rebounded from two dismal games with 35 points, and the Brooklyn Nets pulled out a 120-115 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks in New York, tying the series at two games apiece.
The Nets, just 38-44 in the regular season, won a second straight in the series and moved two victories from becoming the sixth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 – only the fourth since the first round became best-of-7.
• Portland avoids elimination: Damian Lillard had 32 points and the Portland Trail Blazers avoided elimination from the playoffs with a 99-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Portland.
Memphis led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Portland rallied to deny the Grizzlies their first-ever playoff sweep.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Portland.
Memphis was playing without point guard Mike Conley, who was inadvertently elbowed in the face in the third quarter of Game 3 and underwent surgery on Monday morning. His status for the rest of the playoffs is uncertain.
Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 21 points.
• Love out next series: Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will miss at least the team’s next playoff series with a dislocated left shoulder, a damaging blow to Cleveland’s NBA title hopes.
Love was hurt in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over Boston as the Cavs completed a first-round series sweep. He got his left arm locked with Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk while chasing a loose ball. Olynyk yanked down on Love’s arm and his shoulder popped out of its socket joint.
The Cavs said Love sustained a torn ligament and bruising. He is seeking additional medical opinions.
Olynyk received a one-game suspension from the NBA and will sit out the first game of next season.
All-American chooses Duke
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Touted recruit Brandon Ingram is headed to Duke.
The 6-foot-8 Kinston guard announced his choice, ending a recruiting battle for the McDonald’s All-American’s services between Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State and UCLA.
Ingram was the Associated Press men’s prep player of the year for North Carolina after leading Kinston to a fourth straight state title. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 4 prospect by Rivals and No. 13 by Scout.
Ingram joins another stellar recruiting haul for the Blue Devils that includes five-star prospects Derryck Thornton at the point, Luke Kennard at guard and center Chase Jeter.
• Ex-Kentucky ‘Tower’ Phillips passes: Mike Phillips, who formed the “Twin Towers” with Rick Robey on the Kentucky team that won the 1978 NCAA title, has died in western Kentucky. He was 59.
In 1978, the team went 30-2 and beat Duke in the NCAA final.
Redskins pick up option on RG3
NFL: Despite Robert Griffin III’s history of injuries and moves in and out of the lineup, Washington plans to exercise the quarterback’s fifth-year contract option for the 2016 season.
New general manager Scot McCloughan opened his pre-draft news conference by saying the Redskins will inform the NFL ahead of the deadline that they will pick up their option for the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, which is worth about $16 million.
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