Stanley Cup favorites the Washington Capitals fell at the first playoff hurdle on Wednesday after another inspired display by Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak gave the Canadiens a shock victory in their Game 7 decider.
“No one gave us a chance, but here we are,” Halak told reporters after the 2-1 victory over the top seeds at the Verizon Center.
The Slovakian made 41 saves as the Canadiens became the first eighth seed to win a series after falling behind 3-1.
“After we were trailing 3-1 we said we have nothing to lose and we came out game by game,” Halak said. “Now we’re going to the second round.”
Montreal will face Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the semi-finals today.
Halak had to be at his brilliant best to repel wave after wave of attacks by the Capitals, who set a franchise record with 54 regular season wins and boasted the league’s top offense.
The Slovak made 37 stops in the Game 5 win and 53 in Game 6 to lead his team back from the brink, but the Caps, led by two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin, were still expected to close out the series on home ice.
The Canadiens, however, took the lead when Marc-Andre Bergeron converted a slap-shot with 30 seconds left in the first period.
After a scoreless second, Dominic Moore extended the advantage with a snap-shot 16 minutes, 24 seconds into the final period.
Washington’s Brooks Laich got his team to within one with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left, but the Capitals, who had a man advantage after a Montreal penalty with 1 minute, 44 seconds remaining, were unable to find a way past Halak.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on