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World Sports News  


Stefan Kueng wins chilly Tour of Romandie stage

Stefan Kueng from Switzerland of team BMC Racing raises his arms after crossing the finish line to win the second stage of the Tour de Romandie cycling race in Chatelard, Switzerland, Thursday, April 27. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

Champery, Switzerland (AP) Stefan Kueng won a shortened Tour of Romandie stage Thursday that started on snow-lined roads, ended in chilling rain and left the top of the overall standings unchanged.

The Swiss rider outlasted Andriy Grivko of Ukraine in a two-man sprint more than 3-1/2 hours after racers left Aigle instead of the planned start at Champery ski station.

Organizers cut about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the route to "protect the peleton from unnecessary risks" in snow and cold temperatures.

Third-place Sonny Colbrelli of Italy won the bunch sprint 20 seconds behind the leaders.

Fabio Felline of Italy finished safely in sixth to retain his overall lead in the six-day race, which finishes Sunday.

The 23-year-old Kueng also won a stage in cold and rain in the 2015 Tour of Romandie, and is seen as a contender to inherit the now-retired Fabian Cancellara's status as the Swiss cycling star.

Friday's stage is a 187-kilometer (116-mile) ride starting and finishing in Payerne.

Sharapova reaches quarterfinals after 2nd win since return

Maria Sharapova reacts during her match against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Thursday April 27. (Bernd Weissbrod/dpa via AP)

Stuttgart, Germany (AP) Maria Sharapova won again to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals while another major obstacle to a deep run departed on Thursday.

Two-time defending champion Angelique Kerber, who was against Sharapova receiving a wild-card entry, was upset by Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-2, 7-5.

Sharapova advanced earlier by beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-1 in her second match after a 15-month doping ban.

Mladenovic won just one set in three previous matches against Kerber but dominated large parts of Thursday's match. It was the top-seeded German's first defeat in the event since 2014.

Sharapova hit nine aces and held serve throughout against Makarova. She converted three of her four break points.

"Being in the quarterfinals here again is quite special," said Sharapova, who won the indoor clay event three times from 2012-14.

Less than 24 hours after beating Roberta Vinci in straight sets in her highly anticipated first match, Sharapova said she "felt I settled down a little bit. I was able to focus on the game. I executed a great plan today and I thought I was solid."

The Russian, who tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open, held off the only break point for Makarova at 5-5, and converted her second chance in the next game to close out the opening set.

Sharapova was in control of the second throughout and wrapped up the win with two straight aces to raise her total for the tournament to 20. She improved to 7-0 against Makarova.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1, who lost her ranking due to the suspension and entered the event on a wild card, will play 73rd-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia for a place in the semifinals.

Mladenovic next takes on Carla Suarez-Navarro, who beat another Russian, Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-4.

Also, the second-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6 (2), 6-4 and will play Laura Siegemund in the quarterfinals. The finalist from last year defeated 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3.

Anastasija Sevastova beat sixth-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3, 7-5 to set up a quarterfinal against Simona Halep.

Murray and Nadal reach quarterfinals in Barcelona Open

Andy Murray of Britain returns the ball to Feliciano Lopez of Spain during the Barcelona Open Tennis Tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 27. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona, Spain (AP) Defending champion Rafael Nadal defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open while Andy Murray struggled to join him on Thursday.

Murray had his hands full getting past Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4.

Nadal converted a break point in each set to secure his seventh straight clay-court victory.

"It wasn't a day where I took a lot of free points because the court was very heavy. But I was serving well, at a good speed, and changing directions well," Nadal said. "I had the chance to hit my forehand after my serve and take control of the rallies."

Nadal, a nine-time champion in Barcelona, will next face qualifier Hyeon Chung of South Korea, who defeated eighth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-1, 6-4.

The fifth-ranked Nadal is coming off his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The top-ranked Murray took nearly two hours to close out the 40th-ranked Lopez.

"I didn't feel so good at the start, but I played good tennis in some of the important moments," Murray said.

Murray will play the quarterfinal against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who defeated fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

Ramos-Vinolas eliminated Murray in the third round in Monte Carlo despite trailing 4-0 in the deciding set.

Murray was originally going to skip the Barcelona Open but decided to play after that loss to Ramos-Vinolas. He is looking to regain his form going into the French Open following a right elbow injury that kept him out of action earlier this year.

Karen Khachanov of Russia defeated fifth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4 to play the quarterfinal against Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, who topped Benoit Paire of France 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3).

"I feel amazing," the 20-year-old Khachanov said. "It's the biggest win of my career."

In other third-round matches, fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria defeated Daniel Evans of Britain 7-6 (5), 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal against lucky loser Yuichi Sugita of Japan, who beat seventh-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3.

"It was my best win. It's unbelievable," said the 91st-ranked Sugita, who entered the main draw only after countryman Kei Nishikori withdrew with a right wrist injury. "This was very important for my life."

Sugita is the first lucky loser to reach an ATP quarterfinal since Lucas Pouille reached the final four last year in Rome.

Karlsson helps Senators edge Rangers 2-1 in Game 1

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, left, makes a save against Ottawa Senators Viktor Stalberg during the first period of Game 1 of their NHL hockey second-round playoff series, Thursday, April 27, in Ottawa, Ontario. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)

Ottawa, Ontario (AP) Erik Karlsson scored on a bad-angle shot with 4:11 left in the third period, sending the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the opener of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

The Senators captain beat fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist from just above the goal line. The shot pinged off Rangers center Derek Stepan before going into the net.

It was Karlsson's first goal and seventh point of the playoffs. The 26-year-old defenseman, who has been playing with a foot injury, also logged more than 28 minutes in the win.

Game 2 is Saturday.

Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, and Lundqvist finished with 41 saves.

Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa, which eliminated Boston in six games in the first round.

The Senators, playing in front of several empty seats, had a chance for a fast start, but went 0 for 3 on the power play during a scoreless first period.

The 35-year-old Lundqvist was terrific, especially early on. He made 21 saves in the first, including a pair of stops on Mark Stone during a flurry around the net on Ottawa's first power play.

Lundqvist had a 1.70 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in the first round against Montreal.

Anderson wasn't tested nearly as much at the other end, but was forced to hang tough when McDonagh walked past a row of Senators during a New York power play and made an attempt on goal that went wide.

The captain of the Rangers made the most of another power-play opportunity in the second, beating Anderson at 7:10 with pesky winger Chris Kreider camped out in front. New York went 1 for 15 with the man advantage in the first round.

Slumping through the first half of the middle period, the Sens grabbed momentum by punishing the Rangers with a series of heavy shifts down low in the offensive zone. The speedy Viktor Stalberg nearly scored when he slipped behind the New York defense at one point, but he was turned away.

Ottawa finally broke through with another power play — on the second of two minor penalties for rookie Brady Skjei.

Lundqvist brushed aside Kyle Turris' shot from the left face-off circle, but the rebound came right to Dzingel and he converted the Sens' 33rd shot.

It was more Lundqvist in the third. He denied Clarke MacArthur on a redirection from the slot, and then turned away Dzingel, who had gotten behind the New York defense. Lundqvist snatched his shot with the glove as the Canadian Tire Centre crowd murmured in frustration.

Raptors blow 25-point lead, but beat Bucks 92-89

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, and Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan battle for a loose ball during the second half of Game 6 of their NBA first-round playoff series basketball game Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Genaro C. Armas

Milwaukee (AP) DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan.

Rebounding from 2-1 series deficit and an embarrassing 27-point loss in Game 3, the Raptors will face Cleveland a year after losing to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals in six games.

Kyle Lowry added 13 points for Toronto.

Fellaini sent off but United hold City in Manchester derby

Manchester City's Vincent Komapany, center, shields the ball from Manchester United's Daley Blind, right, during their English Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Thursday, April 27. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

Steve Douglas

Manchester, England (AP) - Manchester United held on following Marouane Fellaini's late sending-off for headbutting Sergio Aguero to draw 0-0 at Manchester City in the English Premier League on Thursday, keeping the race for Champions League qualification congested.

A physical midfielder never far from on-field flashpoints, Fellaini had just been booked for tripping Aguero when he fouled the City striker again, before confronting him and connecting with a butt to earn a straight red card in the 84th minute.

There were just 19 seconds between the two cards being shown.

United manager Jose Mourinho didn't criticize his midfielder for his recklessness, saying Fellaini felt he was sent off only because of his reputation and Aguero perhaps overreacted.

"I saw Aguero in the tunnel," Mourinho said. "No broken nose, no broken head, his face as nice as always. If Sergio doesn't go to the floor, for sure it's not a red card, although Marouane gave him the chance to do that."

Fellaini's actions, which resulted in his third red card in nine years in English soccer, nearly undermined another dogged defensive effort by United in the 174th Manchester derby.

City sent on fit-again striker Gabriel Jesus after Fellaini's departure in an attempt to grab a late goal and the striker had a stoppage-time headed goal disallowed for offside in a tense finish at Etihad Stadium.

Mourinho's defensive tactics suffocated another heavyweight rival — it resembled an attack-vs-defence exercise in the second half — but whether a goalless draw does United any good is open to question with a month left in the season.

The result kept Mourinho's injury-hit team in fifth place, both a place and a point behind City with five games remaining in the race for a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League. Liverpool are a point ahead of City, and have played a game more than both Manchester clubs, while Arsenal are four points behind United with a game in hand.

"City will finish top four," Mourinho said. "The matches they have to play I see them doing that. I think it's between us, Arsenal, and Liverpool."

United have a difficult run-in, with trips to come to Tottenham and Arsenal, and are still involved in the Europa League, with a two-leg semifinal looming against Celta Vigo. Their squad is also ravaged by injury, a situation that won't be helped by Fellaini's upcoming three-game suspension.

By becoming only the second team, after Stoke, to stop City from scoring at home this season, United extended their unbeaten run in the league to 24 games dating to October and a loss at Chelsea.

Mourinho masterminded a 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in October, stopping at the time the league's most prolific attack, and recently delivered a tactical masterclass in a 2-0 win over first-place Chelsea.

He relishes churning out results in the big games, especially against a managerial rival like City's Pep Guardiola, and his approach for this one was clear and expected — defend in two blocks and strike on the counterattack using the long ball and the pace of forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

It worked to an extent, although it wasn't pretty.

"We have the talent," City manager Pep Guardiola said, "but it's not easy with so many players behind the ball."

Mourinho said United were "the best team in the first half and ... the best team in the second half. They were amazing, the way they fight."

Rashford was particularly lively in the first half, outsprinting defender Nicolas Otamendi with embarrassing ease on occasions, and City were often thankful for the composure of fit-again captain Vincent Kompany alongside Otamendi at the back.

City might be challenging for the title — and not just a place in the top four — had Kompany stayed injury-free this season.

After the break, Rashford was left increasingly isolated up front as United sat back even more. City were utterly dominant, restricting their opponents to just seven touches in United's attacking third, but couldn't find a way past goalkeeper David De Gea.

City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was carried off on a stretcher with a calf injury moments before Fellaini's red card after injuring himself collecting a corner. He had little else to do.

In three matches between City and United this season — two in the league and the other in the League Cup — Mourinho and Guardiola have earned one win each and drawn the other.

Everything is supersized in big heavyweight title fight

British boxer Anthony Joshua, left, and Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko pose head-to-head for the media at the end of a press conference at Sky studios in west London, Thursday, April 27. They are due to fight for the IBF heavyweight world title on Saturday at Wembley stadium in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Tim Dahlberg

London (AP) — Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko drew the kind of crowd for their final news conference that most fighters would be happy with once they got in the ring.

Everything is supersized in their heavyweight title fight, including the fighters themselves.

The two big — and big punching — heavyweights meet Saturday night in England's national stadium, where some 90,000 fans are expected to watch the most anticipated heavyweight fight in more than a decade. Most will be screaming for Joshua, but the loudest voice may be that of Klitschko's brother, Vitali, in his corner.

"My prediction is that Wladimir will knock him out," said Vitali Klitschko, a former three-time heavyweight champion himself who is now the mayor of Kiev in his native Ukraine. "I've never seen my brother so confident, and Joshua doesn't know he'll be fighting against two fighters — Wladimir and myself."

Unfortunately for Klitschko, there will be no tag team match as he enters the ring an underdog for the first time in his career. He also enters it without a title belt for the first time in more than a decade after losing to Tyson Fury in his last fight in 2015.

And, of course, he enters it seen as a villain by English fans who are hoping for Joshua to have the kind of heavyweight reign Klitschko has enjoyed — if not even better.

"It's his fans, I totally get it," Klitschko said. "But it's my night, my fight, my win."

Joshua's popularity in his native country was evident Thursday at the news conference in the Sky Sports building, where hundreds of employees left their desks to line the balconies and stairwells to get a glimpse of the two fighters. The fight quickly sold out Wembley Stadium when announced and will be on pay-per-view in England as well as both HBO and Showtime in the United States.

It comes at a time when the heavyweight division is suddenly attractive again, with American Deontay Wilder holding part of the title and Joshua owning another piece. Wilder will be ringside and is expected to push for a bout next year against Joshua should he beat Klitschko.

Joshua, who seemingly came from nowhere to win the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, is a powerful puncher who has knocked out all 18 of his opponents but has yet to face anyone near the caliber of Klitschko.

"I don't know if it's stupid or smart," Klitschko said of Joshua fighting him with so little experience. "I'm just comfortable and confident."

Klitschko will be fighting for the heavyweight title for the 29th time, a remarkable feat all by itself. With his brother, Vitali, he has dominated heavyweight boxing for the last decade, much to the displeasure of many avid boxing fans who don't like his conservative style.

But he has vowed to change his ways and be aggressive against Joshua, knowing that at age 41 this very well could be his last hurrah. The fact Klitschko got the fight at all had a lot to do with his poor performance in losing the title by decision to Fury.

"I think Father Time is a terrible person when he shows up," said Joshua's trainer, Rob McCracken. "And he's already shown up."

London bookies favor Joshua in the fight, which matches two 6-foot-6 boxers who are impressive knockout punchers. That is a big selling point, but part of the appeal is also to see if Joshua can beat a great — but 41-year-old — heavyweight and establish himself as boxing's next big attraction.

"It's just me and another man coming to blows and the best man will win," Joshua said. "April 29 is just another stepping stone to greatness."

Joshua is a former sparring partner for Klitschko, who used him in 2014 when Joshua had only seven pro fights. Klitschko said the two know each other well after working together for about 20 rounds.

Until watching Joshua at a public training session on Wednesday, though, Klitschko saw something different.

"I have never seen AJ as big as he is now," he said. "He's as big as Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Update April 14, 2017

Raptors blow 25-point lead, but beat Bucks 92-89

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Graham Dunbar

Kapolei, Hawaii (AP) Ariya Jutanugarn and In-Kyung Kim each birdied their final hole Thursday to share the lead halfway through the second round of the LPGA Lotte Championship.

Jutanugarn had a bogey-free 6-under 66, and Kim shot 64 to reach 9-under 135 at Ko Olina Golf Club.

Jutanugarn won five times last season and was the LPGA Tour's player of the year.

Alena Sharp (69) and first-round co-leader Mi Hyang Lee (70) were a stroke back.

Among those another shot back were second-ranked So Yeon Ryu (69), coming off a victory in the major ANA Inspiration, and Olympic champion Inbee Park.

Paula Creamer, co-leader after an opening 66, bogeyed both par 5s on the front nine and had a double bogey on the par-3 eighth in a 74.

Fan disorder delays Lyon-Besiktas game in Europa League QFs

A fan climbs the goal as supporters invade the pitch a few minutes before the Europa League quarterfinal between Lyon and Besiktas, in Lyon, central France, Thursday, April 13. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Graham Dunbar

Geneva (AP) On a volatile night in Lyon, fighting French and Turkish fans delayed a Europa League quarterfinal kickoff by 45 minutes on Thursday.

Hundreds of Lyon fans sought safety on the field when the disorder flared about 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff in a stadium that will host the final next season.

Trouble was concentrated in a section behind one goal housing Besiktas fans, and followed clashes between rival groups on the streets.

On the field, Lyon trailed until the 84th minute before scoring twice — the second from a bad goalkeeping error — to seize an unlikely 2-1 victory.

The return match is next Thursday in Istanbul which has a reputation as among the most hostile cities in Europe for visiting fans.

Elsewhere, Manchester United stayed on course to complete their full set of European trophies by drawing at Anderlecht 1-1 in their first-leg game.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in the first half and the Belgian side levelled in the 86th to add intrigue to the return match at Old Trafford next Thursday.


After a 9:50 p.m. kickoff in Lyon, Besiktas led at halftime through Ryan Babel's low shot in the 15th minute. Lyon waited until late to score twice in two minutes.

In the 83rd, Matthieu Valbuena's free kick found Corentin Tolisso to level the match. A minute later, Besiktas goalkeeper Fabri gifted Lyon a winner when he took a backpass close to goal and tried to trick his way past the onrushing Jeremy Morel. The defender was left with an empty net to score in.

Both clubs will be fined by UEFA, which increased security measures at all Champions League and Europa League matches this week after Borussia Dortmund's team bus was targeted by a bomb attack on Tuesday.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was among the officials on the pitch trying to restore calm.

Besiktas likely face the heavier sanctions from UEFA, which can close sections of the Turkish champion's stadium at the second-leg game.


United coach Jose Mourino was unhappy his team lapsed into a season-long failing — drawing games they should have won.

"If I were one of my defenders I would be very disappointed because they had serious work and the people who had to kill the game didn't," Mourinho said.

Still, United will be favored to advance at Old Trafford next week after controlling much of the game in Brussels.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic linked in a sweeping move to give United the lead. His pass to the right wing found Antonio Valencia for a cross that was met by Marcus Rashford's volleyed shot. Anderlecht goalkeeper Martinez Rubin dived right to push the ball spinning away toward the byline and, from a tight angle, Mkhitaryan hit a rising shot into the net.

Mkhitaryan has scored in four straight away games in the Europa League, which shapes as United's best route back to the Champions League if they can reach and win the final in Stockholm on May 24.

Anderlecht made the second leg trickier in the 86th. Leander Dendoncker ran clear of two United defenders to power a header from near the penalty spot past goalkeeper Sergio Romero.


Ajax, the 1992 champions, could have taken a more decisive lead to Germany next week.

Davy Klaassen's 23rd-minute penalty and shot in the 52nd from Justin Kluivert's cross were a poor reward for their dominance at Amsterdam Arena.

Ajax brought 10 saves from Schalke 'keeper Ralf Faehrmann and twice were denied by the goal frame.


Seeking to keep the trophy in Spain for a fourth straight year, and sixth time since 2010, Celta Vigo found a resilient opponent in Belgium champions Genk.

After trailing inside 10 minutes to a Jean-Paul Boetius goal, Celta seized the lead eight minutes later and were 3-1 up at halftime. Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and John Guidetti got the goals.

But Genk got a valuable second away goal in the 67th from substitute Thomas Buffel.

Genk, playing their 17th game in the competition theybegan in the second qualifying round in July, are unbeaten at home so far.

IAAF: 'Little progress' by Russia to secure athletics return

IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference in London, Thursday April 13. (Lauren Hurley/PA via AP)

Rob Harris

London (AP) Russia's lack of progress in cleaning up its doping culture and introducing a satisfactory testing regime continues to impede the country's reinstatement to athletics, the IAAF said on Thursday.

Providing its latest update on Russia's state-sponsored doping system, the IAAF also criticized the country's decision to make Yelena Isinbayeva the head of the country's scandalized anti-doping agency.

"It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in Russian track and field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistleblowers," Russia task force chairman Rune Andersen said in his report to the IAAF Council.

Isinbayeva repeatedly criticized the World Anti-Doping Agency, framed doping investigations as an anti-Russian plot, and called for a leading whistleblower to be banned for life.

The two-time gold medalist and world-record holder missed the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because of a ban on Russia's athletics team that is unlikely to be lifted soon based on the IAAF's fresh concerns.

"There is no reason why better progress has not been made," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said, "and RUSAF (Russia's athletics federation) should be under no illusion at all that we will stick to this. The criteria are serious and will be followed through."

But they currently are not, according to Coe, who insists the IAAF will not soften its tough stance.

"There is testing but it is still far too limited," Coe said. "The Russian investigative committee is still refusing to hand over athlete biological passport samples for independent testing from labs, we still have got athletes in closed cities that are difficult or impossible to get to, the ongoing employment of coaches from a tainted system, and we have got the head coach of RUSAF effectively refusing to sign their own pledge to clean athletics."

The IAAF is allowing some Russians to compete internationally as neutrals while their country remains banned, with 12 athletes proving they have been adequately tested for drugs over a lengthy period by non-Russian agencies.

The athletes are still "subject to acceptance of their entries by individual meeting organizers," such as the Diamond League series, the IAAF has said. The 14-meet circuit opens on May 5 in Doha, Qatar.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Columbus 3-1 in opener

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, left, stops a shot by Columbus Blue Jackets' Scott Hartnell during Game 1 of their NHL first-round playoff series in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 12. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pittsburgh (AP) Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots in a surprise start in place of injured Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins opened their Stanley Cup title defense with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

Murray was scheduled to get the nod in the playoff opener but was a late scratch after suffering a lower-body injury during warm-ups. Fleury withstood an early push by Columbus, and the Penguins responded by pulling away from the untested Blue Jackets.

Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh. Nick Bonino and Bryan Rust also scored, and Evgeni Malkin assisted on Rust and Kessel's goals in his first game back after missing the final three weeks of the regular season because of an upper-body injury.

Matt Calvert scored for Columbus in the third period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves.

Game 2 is Friday in Pittsburgh.


MONTREAL — Tanner Glass scored in the first period and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves to help New York beat Montreal in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night at Bell Centre.

Michael Grabner added an empty-net goal with 1:10 left.

Fired up by 1960s pop star Ginette Reno's national anthem, the Canadiens were all over New York in the opening period, but the Rangers struck first at 9:50. Montreal's Tomas Plekanec won a draw in his own zone, but fourth-line winger Glass pounced on it and lifted a backhander over Carey Price's shoulder.


OTTAWA, Ontario — Brad Marchand broke a tie with 2:33 left and Boston held on to beat Ottawain Game 1 of their first-round series.

Marchand scored off the rebound of Patrice Bergeron's shot.

Frank Vatrano added a goal for Boston in his first NHL playoff game, and Tuukka Rask made 26 saves. Bobby Ryan scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson stopped 23 shots.

Game 2 is Saturday in Ottawa.

SHARKS 3, OILERS 2 (overtime)

EDMONTON, Alberta — Melker Karlsson scored at 3:22 of overtime and the San Jose Sharks came back to beat the Oilers on Wednesday in Game 1 of their Western Conference series.

The Oilers took a 2-0 first-period lead only for the veteran Sharks to come back and tie the game with just over 15 minutes to play.

Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom scored for the Oilers.

Joel Ward and Paul Martin scored for San Jose.

Edmonton center Connor McDavid, the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season, had one assist in his playoff debut to extend his points streak to 15 games.

BLUES 2, WILD 1 (overtime)

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Joel Edmundson scored for St. Louis at 17:48 of overtime, Jake Allen made a career-high 51 saves and the Blues sneaked into Minnesota to steal Game 1 of their first-round series from the Wild on Wednesday.

Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko was quiet for most of the night until he drove into a crowd and threaded a pass through the Wild defense to Edmundson, who knocked in the second postseason goal of his career.

Zach Parise tied the game with 22.7 seconds left in regulation for the Wild, whose dominance was thwarted by a stellar performance from Allen.

He made the most saves ever recorded against the Wild in their 16-season history.

Australia defend world title in men's team pursuit

Australia's team competes during the Men's Team Pursuit at the World Track Cycling championships in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Bridgette Hall

Hong Kong (AP) Australia defended their title in the men's team pursuit on Thursday at the world track cycling championships.

Sam Welsford, Cameron Meyer, Alexander Porter and Nicholas Yallouris won in 3 minutes, 51.503 seconds, beating last year's runners-up New Zealand by more than two seconds in the final at the Hong Kong Velodrome.

"We had a time in mind. We had a 3:52 in mind to ride ... and we beat it by a second and that was enough to win the world title," Meyer said.

Italy won the bronze medal, beating Olympic champions Britain.

In the women's team pursuit, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Kimberly Geist and Jennifer Valente of the United States retained their world title in the closest race of the evening, beating Australia by only .417 seconds. New Zealand took bronze.

Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia, the Olympic bronze medalist, won the men's kerin for his first major gold medal.

"I've been trying for 10 years, since 2007 until now, and finally it's my time to be a world champion," Awang said.

Fabian Hernando Puerta Zapata of Colombia was second and Thomas Babek of the Czech Republic took bronze.

In the men's 15-kilometer scratch race, Adrian Teklinski of Poland won gold. Lucas Liss of Germany took silver and Christopher Latham of Britain got bronze.

F1 Sauber driver Wehrlein hits back at critics over absence

Pascal Wehrlein. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

Jerome Pugmire

Sakhir, Bahrain (AP) Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has hit back at critics who questioned why he missed the first two races in Formula One.

Wehrlein will finally make his debut for Sauber at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, after Italian Antonio Giovinazzi replaced him at the season-opening Australian GP and then the China GP last weekend.

The 22-year-old German injured his back in a crash at the Race of Champions in Miami in January, sustaining hairline cracks in vertebrae and compressing some of his intervertebral discs.

But there was confusion surrounding the initial driver switch in Australia because Wehrlein competed in the first two practice sessions at Melbourne, leading to speculation.

"I don't care too much what the others say. They didn't know my situation," Wehrlein said on Thursday at the Bahrain GP.

"If you don't know what injury someone had, you shouldn't criticize him. It's quite simple. If it was just some muscle pain or anything else, do you think Sauber would accept me to not drive?"

Wehrlein is confident he will be fit enough to race on Sunday.

"I'll be fine in the car. No pain, that's the most important thing," he said. "The track is also quite flat, not many bumps."

Wehrlein impressed at times last year with Manor Racing during his F1 debut season, finishing 10th at the Austrian GP for the team's only point.

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F1 Sauber driver Wehrlein hits back at critics over absence



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