Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

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Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Henrik Lundqvist had just spent the better part of 4 hours repelling pucks and shooing skaters from the crease in the pressure-packed situation known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.When it was all over, after the calendar moved from Wednesday to Thursday and the New York Rangers had defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in three overtimes, Lundqvist was absolutely drained."I think my entire body is just tired right now," said Lundqvist, who stopped 45 shots to help New York take a 2-1 lead in the series. "I just want to lay down and relax and get a message. My neck is hurting."Marian Gaborik scored at 14:41 of the third overtime to help the Eastern Conference's regular-season champs grab back home-ice advantage from the seventh-seeded Capitals.Brad Richards sent a pass from the backboards toward Gaborik, who ended the marathon by sliding the puck between the pads of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby."When you get into that many hours of playing, it becomes a mental game," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I felt if the game got longer and longer, our team was at an advantage. We have a mentally tough group. Just not giving in -- that's the key."It was Gaborik's first goal since New York's first playoff game against Ottawa, snapping an eight-game drought."I hope it gets Gabby going," Tortorella said. "He's a guy we need as we continue."Holtby stopped 47 shots for the Capitals, but the last one got away."You just try to play every period the same," he said. "Once you start putting more pressure on yourself because it's overtime, that's when bad things start to happen. The game started to open up in the third overtime, but it happens."Early in the third overtime, Washington killed a New York power play to keep the suspense going.The game started at 7:40 p.m. and stretched into the next day, ending at 12:14 a.m. Thursday. There will be a two-day break before the teams meet for Game 4 on Saturday in Washington.Asked if this game was a series-turner, Tortorella said, "The impact is we're up a game. They have to win three, we have to win two. The guys should feel good about themselves as far as what they went through. They didn't give in and found a way. Now we go about our business."It was yet another low scoring, extremely tight game for the Capitals. Nine of Washington's 10 playoff games have been decided by one goal; the exception was New York's 3-1 win in the series opener.John Carlson got a second-period goal for the Capitals, 2-3 in overtime this postseason. Ryan Callahan scored in the second period to make it 1-0 for New York, which improved to 1-2 in overtime during these playoffs.Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who logged only 13 minutes of ice time in the Capitals' 3-2 victory Monday in Game 2 in New York, finished with 20 minutes in regulation. He had 6 minutes in the first period, compared to 3 in Game 2. After two periods, his 14:49 of ice time was the most on the team.The difference was that in the previous game, Washington bolted to a 2-0 lead and didn't need the offense that Ovechkin is capable of providing. Despite his extended play in regulation, he was used very sparingly during overtime.Tortorella, in contrast, milked more than 40 minutes apiece out of defensemen Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh before the game entered the third overtime.Early in the first extra period, Washington's Troy Brouwer got a pass in front of the net and inexplicably shot the puck wide. At the 15-minute mark, Ovechkin gathered in a turnover by Anton Stralman, moved in with a bouncing puck and drilled a shot off the right post.The goal horn sounded, and many in the sellout crowd stood and cheered. But a replay showed the puck never entered the net.Washington successfully killed a New York power play in the final minutes of the first extra session.Fatigue became a factor in the second overtime, as the teams combined for 13 shots.The Rangers had a chance to take the lead late in regulation when Mike Knuble was called for goaltender interference at 14:25 of the third period, even though he received a nudge from both Brian Boyle and McDonagh as he crashed into Lundqvist. New York failed to get off a shot, and with 13 seconds left on the man advantage, Richards was called for tripping.Washington didn't get off a shot on its power play, either.The Capitals outshot New York 13-10 during a scoreless first period in which Washington had the lone power play. Lundqvist denied Marcus Johansson on a shot from the low end of the right circle with just over 13 minutes elapsed, and seconds later Ovechkin was leveled by Staal after unleashing a wrist shot from the left circle.New York's first power play provided the game's initial goal. With Brooks Laich off for hooking, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto took a shot from the left circle that hit Carlson and Washington's Matt Hendricks. Callahan was in position to sweep the bouncing puck into the right side of the net.Washington killed 27 of 30 penalties in the postseason before Callahan's goal. It was bad omen for the Capitals, who were 5-1 in the playoffs when scoring first and 0-3 when falling behind 1-0.Carlson tied it at 11:10, deftly skating from left to right around three Rangers in the New York zone before launching a wrist shot that whizzed past Lundqvist's right shoulder into the top of the net. Stralman got caught up ice, and Carlson skated around Gaborik to get free.NOTES:Visiting teams are 13-6 in overtime this postseason. ... Rangers C Brandon Dubinsky was scratched for a third straight game with an unspecified injury. ... Washington had won five straight home playoff games against the Rangers, dating to 2009 and including last season. ... It was the third-longest game in Capitals history and the fifth-longest for the Rangers.

Curran: Ravens are the Patriots' most bitter rival

Curran: Ravens are the Patriots' most bitter rival

Who has been the Patriots' greatest rival of the Belichick-Brady Era?

There are a few candidates: There's no franchise the team hates more thoroughly than the Jets. The Steelers, just because of franchise tradition, are in the mix but the Patriots have had their way in most of the big games with Pittsburgh. The Colts? It's kind of a big brother-little brother thing. The Broncos? Definitely. But no opponent has provided the gripping games and the mix of animosity and respect that the Ravens have over the past decade. 

The first truly memorable Ravens-Patriots game came in 2007. Brian Billick was in his final season as Ravens head coach and Baltimore -- with Kyle Boller at quarterback -- was on its way to a 5-11 season. But that Monday night epic against the unbeaten Patriots was one of the most gripping games of the Belichick era with the Patriots erasing a 24-17 deficit in the final eight minutes thanks to a Ravens meltdown that included defensive coordinator Rex Ryan calling costly timeouts and Ravens players throwing penalty flags. The Patriots won, 27-24, on a touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney with 44 seconds left. It was probably the hardest the Patriots were pushed en route to 16-0.

Since then, there was the never-to-be-forgotten 33-14 2009 playoff rout at Gillette, which was probably the low point of the Belichick Era. That was followed by a pair of 23-20 Patriots wins before -- the second of those being a stirring AFC Championship win in the 2011 playoffs when Sterling Moore’s pass breakup and a hooked field goal attempt sent the Ravens home whining. But the Ravens broke Gronk in that game and -- with him hobbling around in the Super Bowl against the Giants -- they came up short, 21-17.

Early in 2012, again in prime time, the Patriots let leads of 13-0 and 30-21 slip away as the Ravens won 31-30 on a 27-yard Justin Tucker field goal at the buzzer. It was the Replacement Ref Game, the nadir of the horrific stretch of time in which we got an eyeful of how bad officiating can really be (thanks, Rog!).

The two teams saw each other again in the 2012 AFC Championship and the Patriots saw a 13-7 halftime lead evaporate in a hail of Joe Flacco throws to Anquan Boldin as the Patriots got out-toughed in a 28-13 loss. Late in 2013, the Patriots gave the Ravens a tremendous 41-7 beating in Baltimore to usher the Ravens out of playoff contention. It was the best win of the year for New England.

And the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff win for New England was one of the best playoff wins of Belichick Era. The Patriots twice erased 14-point deficits to win 35-31 at Gillette. The Ravens made a public show of complaining about the Patriots formation trickery and saying they’d take it up with the league. Tom Brady chastised the Ravens for not knowing the rules and Ravens coach John Harbaugh -- who’s got a haughty streak in him to say the least -- made sure the rule got changed then spent 2015 running trick formation plays recreationally.

More damaging was the private maneuvering of the Ravens.

Their coaching staff -- specifically special teams coach Jerry Rosburg -- was dropping dimes to the Indianapolis Colts, encouraging Indy to be on alert for football shenanigans, alleging the Patriots monkeyed with the K-ball usage. Harbaugh initially denied any involvement in the mess that ensued after the Colts alerted the league to that concern and the purported deflating of footballs which was “well known around the league.” After it was demonstrated that the Ravens had communicated with the Colts, Harbaugh and the Ravens released a statement trying to establish distance. 

As much as Baltimore wants to maintain its distance, the communication with Indy and the fact that “independent investigator” Ted Wells interviewed both Rosburg and Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees during the DeflateGate investigation shows that the Ravens weren’t just minding their own business in this whole thing.

This will be the first time the teams meet since all that went down and it will be interesting to hear this week if there’s any latent bitterness on the part of the Patriots who -- despite the on-field rivalry -- had a strong relationship with Baltimore at the ownership level with Steve Bisciotti, at the personnel level with Ozzie Newsome and George Kokinis and with the coaching staff. Bill Belichick recommended Harbaugh to Bisciotti for the Ravens head job in 2008.

The surging Ravens have won four of five. They’re 7-5 and leading the AFC North. And -- unlike other teams that traditionally melt under the lights in New England -- the Ravens relish the chance to play the Patriots.

"We have to go up into a hostile place in New England that we really enjoy playing [at]," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "It's going to be another important game in December up there on a Monday night, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, big time."

“Now we’ve got our toughest challenge and we’ll need to play our best football up in New England to win that football game,” said Harbaugh. “We believe we’ll have a chance to do that based on where we are right now. … They’ve got great players, a great organization and they’re always at the top and they’ve earned it. We’ve been honored to be in some big games with them over the years and that’s a place we want to be.”

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.