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Dismal season takes toll on Maple Leafs' brand

Dismal season takes toll on Leafs' brand, MLSE exec says fans need to be 'hugged'
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

The blue-chip Maple Leafs brand has survived bad seasons in the past. But 2014-15 took its toll.

"I'll tell you there's a bunch of us down here that are losing sleep about it," said Dave Hopkinson, chief commercial officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

Toronto finished 27th in the league with a 30-44-8 record, losing 34 of its last 43 games and finishing with the NHL's worst road record (8-27-6).

Flames looking to close out series at home

Flames looking to close out series at home after Game 5 loss to Canucks
Jason Keller, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The Calgary Flames are heading home and facing adversity for the first time in many of their young playoff careers.

The Vancouver Canucks staved off elimination Thursday with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarter-final, forcing a Game 6 back in Calgary with the Flames holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Calgary came into the game with unquestionable momentum after having outplayed the Canucks for most of its two home wins in Game 3 and 4.

Canucks down Flames 2-1 to force Game 6

Staying Alive: Daniel Sedin scores winner as Canucks down Flames to force Game 6
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks still have a pulse in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Daniel Sedin scored early in the third period Thursday as the Canucks avoided elimination with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarter-final.

Vancouver still trails the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Saturday in Calgary.

Predators force Game 6 beating Chicago 5-2 with 4 in 3rd

Forsberg has 1st hat trick as Predators score 4 in 3rd, beat Blackhawks 5-2 to force Game 6
Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nashville Predators picked a perfect time for their first win when facing elimination from the playoffs.

Rookie Filip Forsberg had his first career hat trick and the first in Nashville's post-season history as the Predators forced a sixth game in their first-round Western Conference series by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Thursday night.

Thursday's Scoreboard

Thursday's Scoreboard
The Canadian Press

Thursday's Games

NHL playoffs

Washington 5 N.Y. Islanders 1

(Washington leads series 3-2)

Tampa Bay 3 Detroit 2 (OT)

(series tied 2-2)

Nashville 5 Chicago 2

(Chicago leads series 3-2)

Vancouver 2 Calgary 1

(Calgary leads series 3-2)

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NBA playoffs

Cleveland 103 Boston 95

(Cleveland leads series 3-0)

Chicago 113 Milwaukee 106 (2OT)

(Chicago leads series 3-0)

Golden State 123 New Orleans 119 (OT)

(Golden State leads series 3-0)

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MLB

American League

Benches clear between Royals, White Sox

Benches clear in seventh inning between Royals, White Sox, five players ejected.
The Associated Press

CHICAGO - Benches cleared at the end of the seventh inning of Thursday's game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox.

Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura snagged a grounder from Chicago outfielder Adam Eaton and the pair appeared to exchange words before Ventura threw to first to end the inning. After the play, players from both dugouts and bullpens ran onto the field. Several punches were thrown.

Johnson, Lightning rally past Detroit 3-2 in OT, tie series

Johnson scores twice late, including in OT, and Lightning tie series with 3-2 win over Detroit
Noah Trister, The Associated Press

DETROIT - The Tampa Bay Lightning spent all season showing they could score goals in bunches, and with a first-round playoff series seemingly slipping away, Tyler Johnson led their most important flurry yet.

Johnson scored 2:25 into overtime to lift the Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night that evened their series at 2-2.

Capitals beat Islanders, Halak 5-1 for 3-2 series lead

'We are louder!': Rookie Kuznetsov scores 2, Capitals top Isles 5-1 for 3-2 series lead
Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - With some fist pumps and a punch of the glass, Washington Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov celebrated the first playoff goal of his long-thought-promising career.

By the time the 22-year-old Russian netted his second, the crowd's raucous chants of "We are louder!" were ringing throughout the arena as a bunch of secondary scoring put Washington on the verge of eliminating the New York Islanders.

Hutchison pitches gem in Blue Jays win

Hutchison pitches gem in Blue Jays 7-6 win over Orioles; Toronto completes sweep
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Drew Hutchison may have been flirting with a perfect game for five innings, but he didn't notice.

He struck out seven over eight innings as the Toronto Blue Jays routed the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 on Thursday to complete a three-game series sweep.

"I think you're just out there concentrating on one guy at a time," said Hutchison when asked about the possibility of a perfect game after retiring the first 15 batters he faced. "I wasn't really thinking about it."

Gaudreau, Stone, Ekblad named Calder finalists

Flames' Gaudreau, Senators' Stone, Panthers' Ekblad named NHL Calder finalists
The Canadian Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau is thrilled to be named a Calder Trophy finalist. He's got bigger things to think about right now, though.

"It's definitely exciting for me at this time of the year, but it's playoff time as well," Gaudreau said earlier this week in the midst of Calgary's first-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks. "I think that's something you've got to be focused on a little bit more."

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