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Capitals’ Tom Wilson punches Pavel Buchnevich in head, slams Artemi Panarin to ice

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Capitals' Tom Wilson punches Pavel Buchnevich in head, slams Artemi Panarin to ice

Tom Wilson is at it again.

The Capitals right winger once again blurred the lines of what’s acceptable in Monday’s 6-3 win over the Rangers, not only punching New York forward Pavel Buchnevich’s head in the crease after play was stopped, but also slamming left winger Artemi Panarin to the ice after he came to Buchnevich and Ryan Strome’s defense.

Strome went after Wilson after he punched Buchnevich in the middle period while the Rangers were on the power play. The incident took place at the 12:20 mark in the second period:

MORE: Tom Wilson suspension timeline: Controversial Capital has built career on blurring lines

This wasn’t a case of Wilson retaliating against Buchnevich for running the goalie, either; the latter was brought down to the ice from behind, by his head, before Wilson decided to add on after the whistle. Wilson was assessed a double-minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, while Buchnevich and Panarin were both penalized with roughing. Brendan Dillon also got a roughing minor to give the Rangers a two-man advantage for 27 seconds.

Wilson’s career is a patchwork of suspensions, fines, questionable behavior and outright dangerous play. The most recent egregious example came on March 5, when he boarded Boston’s Brandon Carlo, hitting him and causing his head to slam into the glass. The move wasn’t penalized in the game, though the NHL did suspend him seven games for the infraction.

It’s uncertain what suspension or fine the NHL will levy against Wilson, a repeat offender. But observers both within and outside the league have called for it to levy harsher penalties against him in an effort to keep its players safe. The Capitals, for their part, seemed not to mind:

“I figured, you should have some more respect for the game and for the players,” Rangers center Mika Zibanejad said after the match. “Yeah, I don’t even know, I don’t honestly know where to start. It’s just horrible. There’s zero respect and I don’t know why I’m surprised. But, yeah, it’s just horrible.”

Said Rangers coach David Quinn:

“We all saw it. There are lines that can’t be crossed in this game and it’s just zero respect to the game in general. You have one of the star players in this league now, who could have got seriously, seriously hurt in that incident.”

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Wizards’ Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

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Wizards' Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

The Wizards closed the 2020-21 NBA regular season with a torrid stretch. They were 17-6 in their final 23 games and went from a likely lottery team to a participant in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament.

Washington finished its climb up the standings Sunday. It defeated the Hornets 115-110 to secure eighth place in the Eastern Conference, which is a win-and-in spot in the conference’s four-team tournament.

Under the old playoff format, the Wizards would’ve clinched the No. 8 seed and guaranteed themselves a spot in the posteason with Sunday’s win. They would have started playing for their lives in a seven-game series, not a one- or two-game set.

MORE: Knicks clinch No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference

Wizards coach Scott Brooks saw that as an opportunity to poke fun at the play-in tournament and LeBron James’ recent comments about it.

“I’m with the King,” Brooks said. “Who created this play-in thing? Whoever did that, they need to be fired.”

Seconds later, Brooks affirmed that he was just kidding. He was paraphrasing James’ comments from May 2 when the Lakers star said that “whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”

Unlike James, Brooks thinks the play-in tournament is a net positive for the NBA, despite his team finishing eighth in the East.

MORE: How the play-in tournament works

“I love this [format]. It created so much excitement the last two weeks and, as we all know, any time you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season is great for everyone involved,” Brooks said. “Fans, TV partners, everybody. I love it. Even though we’re not the 8-seed, I still love it.”

The play-in tournament gave fringe playoff teams like the Wizards incentive to compete later into the season. Brooks is right about that. Now, it’s a matter of whether the on-court product will match the late-season chase to make (or avoid) the tournament.

With stars like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis and one of James or Damian Lillard guaranteed to participate in the play-in, there is a good chance it will live up to the hype.

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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani adds to highlight reel with go-ahead HR in 9th off one of MLB’s top closers

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Angels: Albert Pujols release about giving Shohei Ohtani more ABs, moving Jared Walsh to 1B

Matt Barnes was one out away from sealing a Red Sox victory when Angels DH Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box.

It was a mano a mano battle between one of baseball’s best pitchers and the emerging two-way superstar.

Ohtani won the battle.

MORE: Albert Pujols to sign with Dodgers

He hit a monster two-run home run that curled around the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park to give the Angels a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning Sunday. LA went on to win by that score.

Teeing off against Barnes is no easy feat. Before Ohtani batted in the ninth, Barnes had allowed two hits and no runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he was averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had allowed just one home run in 18 appearances. At one point, he had a negative FIP, something that is unheard of. 

But Ohtani managed to get the best of him Sunday and add another highlight to his superb season.

Ohtani’s homer was his 12th in 2021, tying him for the MLB lead with the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger. His 29 RBIs are tied for the Angels’ team lead with Jared Walsh. His .597 slugging percentage is second on the team only to Mike Trout.

Ohtani has been spectacular as a pitcher as well. He has thrown 25 2/3 innings over five outings, with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts per nine.

In short, he is one of the game’s most electric players right now. Barnes knows that.

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper’s magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper's magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

Match statistics: West Brom 1-2 Liverpool

Football, eh? Bloody hell!

Even after all these years, this sport still finds a way to surprise you, to thrill you, to take the breath away.

Step forward, Alisson Becker.

Liverpool’s season was fizzling out. The clock had ticked past 90 minutes, past the four that had been added on. The Reds were drawing, desperate, watching their Champions League hopes melt away in the west Midlands rain. 

And then their goalkeeper decided to take matters into his own hands. Or onto his own head, to be more specific.  

The Brazil international has been up for corners before. A few times this season, in fact. But here, when Jurgen Klopp needed him most, there he was, rising to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold’s left-wing corner with the most perfect of headers. Far corner, 2-1 Liverpool.

Bedlam.

Getty

What is it about this club? How can they just keep conjuring up these moments, these feelings, these roller-coaster rides?

What can you possibly say?

Alisson is the sixth goalkeeper to score a Premier League goal and the first to score for Liverpool. 

And this was not just any goal, this was a huge one, in the context of the Reds’ season. It keeps their top-four destiny pretty much in their own hands. As Liverpool celebrated — and boy, did they celebrate — the groans could be heard in Leicester and at Chelsea. They meet at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Any result suits the Reds.

It had looked like Klopp’s men had faltered, unable to find a way through a stubborn West Brom defense at 1-1. They had trailed to Hal Robson-Kanu’s early strike, leveling through Mo Salah’s customary equalizer.

And then they huffed and they puffed, without blowing the house down.

Salah missed. Roberto Firmino missed. Trent Alexander-Arnold missed when he simply had to score. Seven minutes left. Gini Wijnaldum missed. Two minutes remaining.

Up went the board. Four added. Klopp grinned. One of those sarcastic, rueful grins. Not enough time. Not this time.

Wrong.

alisson goal west brom liverpool
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What a moment Alisson provided. What pictures, what memories. What celebrations. What an interview.

The emotion was etched all over his face. He has had a terrible few months, losing his father, Jose, in February. He deserved this. Not even Sam Allardyce could argue otherwise. The West Brom boss was smiling himself at the final whistle. What else could he do?

“I am too emotional these last months for everything that happened with me and my life, but football is my life,” a clearly tearful Alisson told Sky Sports moments after his attacking intervention.

“I hope my father was here to see it. It’s for my family and for the boys.”

Klopp could barely have hugged his ‘keeper harder. “If Olivier Giroud scores like that you say it’s a worldie!” he told Sky. 

“It’s the best goal I ever saw from a goalkeeper. It’s a worldie! Wow!”

It cannot be for nothing, can it? You can’t let a moment like this go to waste. Liverpool needs two more wins and it should be in the Champions League. Burnley on Wednesday, Crystal Palace next Sunday. There will be fans present at those games. The noise will be there, the atmosphere, the tension, the release.

One doubts whether it will be anything like it was at around 6.25 p.m. here, mind!

Football, eh? How could we ever doubt you?

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