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What pressure? Arsenal sweeps Slavia Prague aside to set up a reunion with Emery

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What pressure? Arsenal sweeps Slavia Prague aside to set up a reunion with Emery

Slavia Prague 0-4 Arsenal: Match statistics

What was all the fuss about?

It was billed as the game that would define Arsenal’s season, a night that could even shape Mikel Arteta’s future at the club.

The pressure was supposed to be on against Slavia Prague but within 25 superb minutes, the Gunners were in cruise control.

Last week’s 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium had left the Gunners with a very simple equation going into the second leg of their Europa League quarterfinal in the Czech capital: score a goal.

Arteta’s side knew failure to find a way through a Slavia side that was unbeaten at home in all competitions this season would send it crashing out of the tournament and leave an already disappointing season in tatters.

Serious questions were being asked of the players after the way in which they threw away a lead in the closing stages of the first leg to hand Prague the advantage going into Thursday night’s return fixture.

But in the space of six scintillating first-half minutes, those questions were answered in emphatic style.

The brilliant Emile Smith Rowe had already had a goal ruled out for the tightest of offside calls before Nicolas Pepe gave the visitors the lead on 18 minutes, thus canceling out Slavia’s away goal.

Alexandre Lacazette then struck from the penalty spot three minutes later to make it 2-0 on the night before Bukayo Saka added a classy third goal – all within 24 minutes of the game getting underway.

It was game, set and match Arsenal before we had even reached the half-hour mark.

Even in his wildest dreams, Arteta would never have imagined such an impressive start from his side, especially with his captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing due to contracting malaria while away with Gabon on international duty.

This was a major statement from his side and another example of why there is genuine belief within the club that things are heading in the right direction under the Spaniard.

Getty/Goal

The abject performances throughout November and the majority of December may have led to a hugely disappointing Premier League campaign, but the improvement since Christmas has been undeniable.

Since beating Chelsea 3-1 on Boxing Day, Arteta’s side sits fourth in the form table, with only Manchester City, Manchester United and West Ham picking up more points.

And now the Gunners have booked their spot in the Europa League semifinals, where they will meet Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

Clearly, there is still much for Arsenal to improve on and failure to go on and win the Europa League will more than likely leave it facing up to a season without European competition for the first time in 25 years.

For a club of Arsenal’s stature, that is not good enough, but there are still plenty of reasons for optimism and they were all on show as Prague was blown away in its backyard.

Arsenal’s homegrown youngsters have been the catalyst for the improvement since Boxing Day and one again they led the charge – with academy graduates Smith Rowe and Saka proving far too good for the Czech champions.

Immediately after seeing a goal ruled out for offside, Smith Rowe waltzed through the Slavia defense before working the ball to Pepe, who showed wonderful composure to score his fifth Europa League goal of the season.

Saka then took center stage, winning a penalty, which was converted by Lacazette, before scoring the third himself with a fine finish from the edge of the box.

At that point, the game was done and dusted. Arsenal had done its job and it cruised through the remainder of the quarterfinal, with Lacazette putting the gloss on a fabulous night’s work with a fourth goal on 77 minutes.

All eyes now turn to the semifinal against Villarreal and the return of Emery, the man Arteta replaced just over 16 months ago.

Emery led Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 and now he is the man standing in their way of repeating the trick two years later.

A return to the Champions League is now within touching distance for Arsenal. Just three games stand between the Gunners and a seat back at Europe’s top table.

They went to Prague with their season on the line and they return to London with the dream still alive.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo pokes fun at himself after monster dunk: ‘I almost pooped’

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Giannis Antetokounmpo pokes fun at himself after monster dunk: 'I almost pooped'

Giannis Antetokounmpo had one of the top on-court highlights in the NBA on Thursday night against the Pacers.

The Bucks forward closed the third quarter with a massive left-handed throwdown over JaKarr Sampson. The play was a pretty one, and you can see it below:

But as good as Giannis’ dunk was, he one-upped himself with an Instagram post of his mean mug following the slam.

MORE: Heat’s Udonis Haslem ejected after playing three minutes in his season debut

The face that Antetokounmpo made after the dunk was surely memorable. His veins were bulging out of his neck and he looked ripped while he screamed in exultation. Antetokounmpo, however, saw it as a perfect opportunity to poke fun at himself.

As such, the Bucks star took to Instagram to joke that he “almost pooped” while making the play.

Generally, you don’t want to end up on the wrong end of poop talk in the NBA. Just ask Paul Pierce. But Giannis may have changed the game with his post.

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How did Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert do in their MLB debuts?

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How did Mariners' Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert do in their MLB debuts?

Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert have officially arrived.

The touted Mariners prospects and first-round picks in the 2018 MLB Draft made their major league debuts Thursday night against the Indians. Their outings were highly anticipated among Seattle fans as both are viewed as critical pieces in the prospect-laden Mariners’ rebuild.

Here’s how each player fared in his first MLB game:

Jarred Kelenic’s Mariners debut

The Mariners plugged Kelenic into the leadoff spot, so he was the first Seattle batter against Zach Plesac in the bottom of the first inning.

Kelenic swung at the first pitch and lifted it down the right-field line. It looked as if the ball was going to sail into foul ground, but Indians right fielder Josh Naylor made a spectacular running catch, reaching over the side wall while crashing into it.

Kelenic had less success his second and third times up. In the third inning, he saw four pitches and struck out swinging; in the sixth, he saw three pitches and grounded to first baseman Jake Bauers, who threw to Plesac for the putout.

Logan Gilbert’s Mariners debut

With the Mariners at home, Gilbert was on the mound to begin the game. He set the Indians down in order in the first inning but then hit some speed bumps.

In the second inning, Gilbert allowed the first home run of his major league career, a solo shot by Franmil Reyes that gave the Indians a 1-0 lead. He allowed a second run before getting out of the frame.

In the third inning, Gilbert recorded the first two strikeouts of his career but also left a fastball over the plate to Jose Ramirez. The slugger made him pay with a drive over the right-field fence to extend Cleveland’s lead to 4-0.

Gilbert’s most impressive inning of the night was the fourth. He struck out three batters, thanks largely to nasty breaking balls. He would have had a 1-2-3 inning if not for Harold Ramirez reaching on a dropped third strike.

Overall, Gilbert pitched four innings, allowed four runs (all earned) on five hits, struck out five and walked none. He threw 71 pitches; he was expected to throw a maximum of 80-85 pitches in his debut.

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NHL playoffs schedule 2021: Full bracket, dates, times, TV channels for every series

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NHL playoffs schedule 2021: Full bracket, dates, times, TV channels for every series

After a 56-game sprint and a few COVID-19-related delays, the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs are officially here.

The most heart-stopping, enthralling and — if you’re a fan of a team in the chase — nerve-wracking playoffs will begin Saturday when the Capitals host the Bruins.

Things are a little different this year — if you didn’t already notice from the Capitals and the Bruins matching up in the first round. Because of COVID-19 protocols limiting travel at the beginning of the season and the closure of the Canada-U.S. border, teams were slotted into one of four divisions. There will not be a Western Conference or Eastern Conference champion and the playoffs are structured differently, which we’ll delve into in a bit.

MORE: Watch NHL playoff games live & on demand with fuboTV (7-day trial)

The one familiar thing this year is that the road to lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup will be a long and winding one but the end will taste oh, so sweet. Who will be the ones to drink from sports’ greatest trophy? Only time will tell. 

Until then, below you’ll find everything to know about watching the 2021 NHL playoffs, including series-by-series TV schedules and live streaming information.

2021 NHL playoffs bracket

(SN Illustration)

NHL playoffs 2021: TV channels, live stream

  • TV (U.S.): NBC, NBCSN, USA, CNBC, NHLN
  • TV (Canada):  Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, CBC, FX, FXX and OMNI
  • Stream (U.S.): NBC Sports.com | fuboTV (free trial)
  • Stream (Canada): SN Now, SN NOW+, NHL Live
  • Live scores: SN Scoreboard

The 2021 postseason marks the final year NBC’s family of networks will broadcast the NHL’s road to the Stanley Cup. First-round games will be shown on NHL Network and across NBC channels in the United, while in Canada games will be shown on FX, FXX, Sportsnet’s channels and CBC.

In Canada, Chris Cuthbert and Craig Simpson will describe the Maple Leafs-Canadiens series while Harnarayan Singh and Louie DeBrusk will bring fans Oilers-Jets. David Amber and Ron McLean will be the studio anchors and will be joined by a rotating crew of analysts and insiders.

NBC will also employ a rotating crew that will include play-by-play announcers Kenny Albert, John Forslund and Brendan Burke and analysts Eddie Olczyk, AJ Mleczko and Dominic Moore.

How will the NHL playoffs work in 2021?

Here’s a quick overview of how the 2021 postseason will work, with every series being a best of seven:

  • Four teams from each division advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs. First-round matchups will be No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in each division.
  • The first-round winners in each division will then face off to determine the division champion.
  • Once the four division winners are crowned, they’ll meet in the Stanley Cup semifinals. Seeding for this round will be based on regular-season point totals.
  • The semifinal winners will meet in the Stanley Cup Final. 

NHL playoffs schedule, results by series

(All times Eastern)

First round

East Division: (1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sun., May 16 at Pittsburgh Noon (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)
Tue., May 18 at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Thu., May 20 at New York 7 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Sat., May 22 at New York 3 p.m. (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)
*Mon., May 24 at Pittsburgh TBD
*Wed., May 26 at New York TBD
*Fri., May 28 at Pittsburgh TBD

(* If necessary)

MORE:  Islanders legend Bryan Trottier enters NFT world with works commemorating HOF career

East Division: (2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sat., May 15 at Washington 7:15 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports, OMNI)
Mon., May 17 at Washington 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Wed., May 19 at Boston 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports)
Fri., May 21 at Boston 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports)
*Sun., May 23 at Washington TBD
*Tue., May 25 at Boston TBD
*Thu., May 27 at Washington TBD

(* If necessary)

North Division: (1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Thu., May 20 at Toronto 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Sat., May 22 at Toronto 7 p.m. (CNBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports, OMNI)
Mon., May 24 at Montreal TBD
Tue., May 25 at Montreal TBD
*Thu., May 27 at Toronto TBD
*Sat., May 29 at Montreal TBD
*Mon., May 31 at Toronto TBD

(* If necessary)

North Division: (2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3) Winnipeg Jets

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Wed., May 19 at Edmonton 9 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Fri., May 21 at Edmonton 9 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Sun., May 23 at Winnipeg TBD
Mon., May 24 at Winnipeg TBD
*Wed., May 26 at Edmonton TBD
*Fri., May 28 at Winnipeg TBD
*Sun., May 30 at Edmonton TBD

(* If necessary)

Central Division: (1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Mon., May 17 at Carolina 8 p.m. (CNBC, SNE, TVA Sports)
Wed., May 19 at Carolina 8 p.m. (CNBC, FX-CA, TVA Sports)
Fri., May 21 at Nashville 7 p.m. (USA, FXX-CA, TVA Sports)
Sun., May 23 at Nashville TBD
*Tue., May 25 at Carolina TBD
*Thu., May 27 at Nashville TBD
*Sat., May 29 at Carolina TBD

(* If necessary)

MORE: Tripp Tracy talks playoffs and why one Canes star ranks with Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews

Central Division: (2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sun., May 16 at Florida 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)
Tue., May 18 at Florida 8 p.m. (CNBC, SNE, TVA Sports)
Thu., May 20 at Tampa Bay 6:30 p.m. (USA, FX-CA, TVA Sports)
Sat., May 22 at Tampa Bay 12:30 p.m. (CNBC, SN, TVA Sports)
*Mon., May 24 at Florida TBD
*Wed., May 26 at Tampa Bay TBD
*Fri., May 28 at Florida TBD

(* If necessary)

West Division: (1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Mon., May 17 at Colorado 10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports)
Wed., May 19 at Colorado 10:30 p.m. (CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports)
Fri., May 21 at St. Louis 9:30 p.m. (USA, SN360, TVA Sports)
Sun., May 23 at St. Louis TBD
*Tue., May 25 at Colorado TBD
*Thu., May 27 at St. Louis TBD
*Sat., May 29 at Colorado TBD

(* If necessary)

West Division: (2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sun., May 16 at Vegas 3 p.m. (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)
Tue., May 18 at Vegas 10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Thu., May 20 at Minnesota 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Sat., May 22 at Minnesota 8 p.m. (NBC, SN360, TVA Sports)
*Mon., May 24 at Vegas TBD
*Wed., May 26 at Minnesota TBD
*Fri., May 28 at Vegas TBD

(* If necessary)

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