Whitish, late run lead Nebraska women past No. 23 Minnesota

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Sam Haiby had 16 points off the bench and Hannah Whitish scored 10 of her 12 in the fourth quarter to help Nebraska rally and beat No. 23 Minnesota 63-57 Sunday night.
Whitish sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around two free throws by Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell before Taylor Kissinger hit another 3 to pull the Cornhuskers even at 57-all with three minutes to play. After a Minnesota miss, Whitish made two free throws and then the Golden Gophers committed a turnover on each of its next four possessions. Haiby made a layup and two free throws in the final 18 seconds to cap the scoring.
Minnesota (13-5, 2-5 Big Ten) committed seven of its 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter. Bell led the Golden Gophers with 16 points while Annalese Lamke and Destiny Pitts scored 10 apiece. Taiye Bello grabbed 13 rebounds as Minnesota outrebounded Nebraska (9-9, 4-3) 43-24.
The Cornhuskers had a 34-9 advantage in bench points.
The game featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes.

Rose hits last-second, Timberwolves beat Suns 116-114

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derrick Rose hit an 18-footer with 0.6 seconds left to give the Minnesota Timberwolves a 116-114 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
Rose scored 29 of his 31 points in the seconds to help Minnesota overcome an 11-point deficit.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 of his 30 points in the first half for Minnesota. With Towns struggling against double-teams in the second, Rose kept the Wolves in the game on 11-for-18 shooting in the half.
T.J. Warren led Phoenix with 21 points and Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre, Jr. each added 18. Warren’s last-second corner 3 hit off the side of the backboard. The Suns lost all four on their trip to fall to 4-20 on the road this season.
Taj Gibson dunked to pull Minnesota within one with less than a minute to play. Towns intercepted a bad pass from Booker, and Rose hit the second of two foul shots to tie it at 114 with 30.5 seconds to play.
Gibson grabbed the loose ball after Booker lost it on Phoenix’s next possession, setting up Rose’s winning shot. With the shot clock off and the crowd on its feet, Rose calmly dribbled down the clock against Mikal Bridges before pulling up and hitting the final shot.
TIP-INS
Suns: C Deandre Ayton (ankle) and F Richaun Holmes (foot) were out after suffering injuries Saturday in Charlotte. C Dragan Bender made his first start of the season and had 12 points. … Veteran guard Jamal Crawford, who played last season in Minnesota, was active and on the bench for his 1,300th career game. He missed the previous three games with a sore left knee. “His experience, his voice, his presence, the wisdom he’s sharing in the locker room when the coaches are not around, it’s priceless for the group and we’re thrilled to have him,” coach Igor Kokoskov said before the game.
Timberwolves: F Robert Covington (bruised knee) and G Tyus Jones (ankle) remained out, missing their ninth and second games, respectively.
UP NEXT
The teams meet again Tuesday night in Phoenix.
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Van Riemsdyk’s hat trick leads Flyers past Wild

By Aaron Bracy
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James van Riemsdyk recorded a hat trick, and Nolan Patrick had two goals and two assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
Wayne Simmonds also had two goals for the Flyers. It was just the second win in the last 11 games for Philadelphia, which began Monday with the fewest points in the league.
Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Suter scored for Minnesota. The Wild dropped to 0-5-1 against Metropolitan Division teams.
Van Riemsdyk netted a power-play goal with 7:56 left in the second period, scored on a deflection late in the second period and tallied into an empty net with 1:17 left in the third. Van Riemsdyk has five goals and two assists during a three-game point streak after having just one point in his previous seven games.
Philadelphia outscored the Wild 3-1 in a busy second period.
Foligno struck first, following his own miss from right in front of Carter Hart, to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.
Patrick entered without a goal in 24 straight games before the first of his two scores tied it at 3. Then he made it 4-3 with 4:32 remaining with a highlight-worthy play. Travis Sanheim took the initial slapper from the point, and Patrick moved his stick between his own legs and shot behind his back after the rebound caromed hard off the back boards for his seventh of the season.
Simmonds lifted a shot over Devan Dubnyk with 5.2 seconds left. Coach Bruce Boudreau pulled Dubnyk after the second, replacing him with Alex Stalock.
A fluky goal with 11:42 left in the third pulled the Wild within 5-4. An attempted clearance from in front of Hart bounced off Suter and back into the goal. It was waved off at first, but the officials reversed their initial decision after a video replay showed that Eric Staal was pushed into Hart by defenseman Robert Hagg.
Simmonds answered with his second of the game 2:25 later on a breakaway.
Van Riemsdyk’s first tally, a power-play goal with 7:56 left in the first period, turned the tide. Philadelphia’s power play came in ranked 30th, connecting at just 12.8 percent, and interim coach Scott Gordon made major changes by installing five forwards onto the top unit. It paid off when van Riemsdyk deflected Jakub Voracek’s slap shot to pull the Flyers within 2-1. The goal was upheld after a video challenge by Minnesota.
Notes: Scott Laughton had three assists, while Giroux had two. … Philadelphia D Andrew MacDonald returned after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury. … Philadelphia improved to 9-9-3 against Western Conference teams.
UP NEXT
Wild: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
Flyers: Host Boston on Wednesday night.

No. 23 Michigan St. women beat No. 18 Minnesota, snap skid

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Sidney Cooks scores a career-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Michigan State never trailed in its 86-68 win over 18th-ranked Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Nia Clouden scored 15 points, Jenna Allen had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Shay Colley added 12 points for the No. 23 Spartans. Michigan State (12-3, 2-2 Big Ten), which snapped a two-game skid, came in averaging 20.9 assists per game (fifth nationally) and finished with a season-high-tying 28.
The Golden Gophers, who trailed by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, used a 9-0 run to pull within one early in the second but Michigan State scored 12 of the next 15 points and then closed the quarter on a 9-2 spurt — capped by Colley’s 3-point play — to take a 43-29 halftime lead. The Spartans led by at least 11 from there.
Kenisha Bell led Minnesota (12-3, 0-3) with 20 points and Destiny Pitts scored 15. The Golden Gophers, who have lost three in a row, shot a season-low 9.1 percent (1 of 11) from 3-point range.
The Spartans committed a season-low eight turnovers and scored 23 points off 19 Minnesota giveaways.

Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins tries to clarify postgame comments

By Cliff Brunt
AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Saying he respects the gay and lesbian community, Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins tried Wednesday to clarify comments he made about Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder’s behavior during a heated game.
Thunder center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter after Wiggins collided with Noel on a dunk attempt Tuesday night. Schroder, unhappy about the play and other incidents, eventually was given a technical foul for an altercation with Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague.
After the game, Wiggins said Schroder’s actions were unwarranted. According to audio from the locker room, Wiggins appeared to say: “He was just gay. He was acting crazy for no reason.”
A few hours later, Wiggins went on Twitter and tried to explain what he said.
“I’d like to clarify what I said tonight during my post game media session. I said: ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with him he was just getting… acting crazy for no reason,’” he tweeted.
In his next post, Wiggins said: “I have the utmost love and respect for the LGBTQIA community and I would never use any term to disrespect them in anyway.”
The public comments were made after a competitive game, during which Noel was injured.
On the dunk attempt, Noel took an elbow in the face as Wiggins went up, and Noel’s head hit the ground hard. A foul was called on Noel. The play was reviewed, and no additional fouls were called. Noel was down for several minutes before being taken from the court. Players from both teams jawed at each other while Noel was on the ground.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game that Noel was taken to the University of Oklahoma’s OU Medical Center. He did not offer details on the injury.
Wiggins said he didn’t mean to hurt Noel.
“I just tried to make an aggressive move and dunk,” Wiggins said. “He tried to contest it. I think he fell wrong. I didn’t really see it until I saw him on the ground. Hopefully, he’s good. I hope nothing but the best for him. I hope he gets healthy soon and comes back stronger.”
The skirmish between Schroder and Teague came a few minutes after the collision. Two technicals were called on Teague and he was ejected.
Minnesota won the game 119-117.

Saunders wins 1st game, T’Wolves top Thunder 119-117

By Cliff Brunt
AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Andrew Wiggins had a season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-117 on Tuesday night in Ryan Saunders’ first game as Minnesota’s interim coach.
Saunders, just 32 years old, is the son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. The team fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points and Dario Saric added 15 for the Timberwolves.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook missed two 3-pointers in the closing seconds that would have given the Thunder the lead. He finished with 25 points and 16 assists.
Paul George scored 27 points and Steven Adams added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
Thunder reserve center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter after Wiggins made contact with him on a dunk attempt.
Noel took an elbow in the face as Wiggins went up, and Noel hit the ground hard. A defensive foul was called on Noel. The play was reviewed, and no additional fouls were called. Noel was down for several minutes before being taken away from the court. There was no immediate word on Noel’s condition.
In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schroder somehow won a jump ball with Towns, and Westbrook hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 111-110 lead.
Josh Okogie’s corner 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left put the Timberwolves up 119-115.
Westbrook made two free throws, then Minnesota’s Tyus Jones traveled with 15.5 seconds left to give the Thunder a chance.
TIP-INS
Thunder: G Alex Abrines missed his fifth consecutive game for personal reasons. … Schroder was listed as questionable with a left quad contusion, but he entered the game in the first quarter.
Timberwolves: G Derrick Rose missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle. … F Robert Covington missed his fourth straight game with a bruised right knee. … Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague was ejected in the third quarter after a skirmish with Schroder.
UP NEXT
Timberwolves: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Thunder: At the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

NUGGETS 103, HEAT 99
MIAMI (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season, and his basket with 2.4 seconds left put the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets ahead to stay in their 103-99 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Jamal Murray had 18 points, Trey Lyles added 15, Paul Millsap had 12 and Torrey Craig finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets.
It was the 20th career triple-double for Jokic. He also became the second center to post one against the Heat, joining Vlade Divac — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 8, 1995, exactly 24 years prior to Jokic.
Dion Waiters returned to the lineup and scored 15 points for Miami, which got 13 apiece from Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, and 12 each from Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.

RAPTORS 104,
HAWKS 101
TORONTO (AP) — Serge Ibaka scored the winning basket with 17 seconds remaining and Toronto won its sixth straight home game.
Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Kyle Lowry scored 16 points as the Raptors earned their sixth consecutive win over the Hawks.
OG Anunoby scored 14 points and Ibaka had 13.
John Collins had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Jeremy Lin scored 20 points and Trae Young added 19 for the Hawks, who have lost four of five.

PACERS 123,
CAVALIERS 115
CLEVELAND (AP) — Thaddeus Young scored 26 points, Bojan Bogdanovic had 23 and Indiana held off Cleveland’s comeback bid and handed the Cavaliers their 10th straight loss.
Cleveland has the worst record in the league at 8-33. The Cavaliers suffered another injury when forward Larry Nance hurt his right knee in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Victor Oladipo had 17 points and Domantas Sabonis had 15 for the Pacers, who have won seven of eight.
Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points for Cleveland. Alec Burks scored 19 points, Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 13 rebounds and rookie point guard Collin Sexton scored 14.

76ERS 132,
WIZARDS 115
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rookie Landry Shamet made eight 3-pointers and scored 29 points, both career-highs, and Joel Embiid had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Philadelphia to a rout of Washington.
Jimmy Butler added 20 points and Ben Simmons had 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds for the 76ers, who won their fourth straight and seventh of nine.
Bradley Beal scored 28 points for the Wizards.
Philadelphia improved to an NBA-best 18-3 at home.

SUNS 115, KINGS 111
PHOENIX (AP) — Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career high with 26 points, including a one-handed rebound jam with 11.1 seconds to play, and Phoenix snapped a six-game losing streak by rallying from a 21-point deficit to beat turnover-prone Sacramento.
Oubre, obtained in the trade that sent Trevor Ariza to Washington on Dec. 17, matched the 26 points he scored for the Wizards against Detroit on Jan. 19 of last year.
T.J. Warren added 21 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who were without leading scorer Devin Booker due to back spasms.
De’Aaron Fox scored 24 and Ben McLemore 20 for the Kings, who committed a season-high 26 turnovers, 18 in the second half. Sacramento lost for the fifth time in six games.

Wiggins leads Wolves past Lakers 108-86 before Thibs firing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Slowly but surely, the Minnesota Timberwolves have begun to find their way behind franchise cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The next step in their development will be adjusting to another new coach.
Wiggins scored 25 of his 28 points in the first half and Towns had 28 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Timberwolves take charge from the opening tipoff and breeze by the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers 108-86 on Sunday before coach Tom Thibodeau was fired .
Jeff Teague scored all of his 15 points in the first half and finished with 11 assists for the Wolves, who raised their home record to 14-6, including 8-2 against Western Conference foes.
Despite the team’s fourth-largest margin of victory in 2018-19, Thibodeau was dismissed about an hour afterward near the halfway point of his third season in charge that started with turmoil surrounding the discontent of All-Star Jimmy Butler.
The Wolves (19-21) moved into 11th place in the conference, two games behind the eighth-place Lakers (21-19). The Wolves are 15-12 since Butler was traded to Philadelphia. Their defense produced season bests in points (86) and field goal percentage (36.8) allowed.
“Every game now counts,” said Wiggins, whose five highest point totals this season have all come in the last 20 games. “You never know what position you’re going to be in at the end so every day you have to play like you’re fighting for your life.”
Lance Stephenson had 14 points for the Lakers, who fell to 1-5 without James since he strained his groin during the Christmas Day win at Golden State. With backup point guard Rajon Rondo (right ring finger surgery) and power forward Kyle Kuzma (bruised lower back) missing again, too, the leftovers for the Lakers produced a mostly lethargic performance. This was their largest losing margin in 20 games since a 117-85 defeat at Denver on Nov. 27.
“We weren’t physical enough,” point guard Lonzo Ball. “That’s a big, strong team over there, and I don’t think we brought the fight tonight.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton subbed the 7-foot-1 Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup for Kuzma next to 7-footer JaVale McGee, and the experiment led to a 15-1 deficit before Michael Beasley replaced Zubac. The Lakers missed their first eight shots from the floor, until Beasley’s baseline reverse layup.
The Wolves built their first-half lead as large as 21 points, when a slick over-the-shoulder backward flip pass by Towns in the post on a give-and-go set up Wiggins for a soaring dunk and a 28-7 advantage. He went even higher in the second quarter to catch a textbook lob from Tyus Jones after sneaking behind Zubac with a backdoor cut for the slam and a 39-21 lead.
“We’ve got to play with some passion and fire,” Walton said. “It’s hard to win in this league when you’re healthy. You’ve got to give double that effort when guys are down.”
WIGGINS, FOR THE WIN
Wiggins, whose first season on his maximum-salary contract as a $25 million player has been hit and miss to match the so-far uneven trajectory of his career, has been exhibiting an abundance of confidence in his jumpers lately, and that trust clearly paid off for him and the Timberwolves in this matinee.
He made five shots from 15 feet or further before halftime, picking up a loose ball and calmly dribbling to the perimeter to sink a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to make it 64-45.
“It’s awesome,” Towns said. “You’ve got a front-row seat to watch ‘Maple Jordan’ go to work. It’s always great when he’s going off. When he’s doing what he was doing in the first half tonight, it makes it easier for all of us offensively.”
TIP-INS
Lakers: The starting lineup was outscored 91-34, with Brandon Ingram (13 points) and Josh Hart (10 points) going a combined 8 for 28 from the floor. … Beasley had 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, his second game in double digits this season.
Timberwolves: Wiggins raised his career average against the Lakers to 23 points per game, his fourth-highest against the rest of the league. His best is against the club that drafted and traded him, Cleveland (25.6), and after that is Toronto (24.0), his hometown team. Sacramento (23.7) is his third-highest. … The Wolves are 5-0 when holding opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field.
STILL OUT
The Timberwolves remained short-handed, too, with two of their top four scorers in Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) and Derrick Rose (sprained right ankle) still out with injuries. Covington, who missed his third straight game, is out indefinitely, with more clarity on his status not expected next week, according to Thibodeau. Rose sat for the fifth consecutive contest, but he was listed as questionable and considered close to a return, Thibodeau said.
UP NEXT
Lakers: Play at Dallas on Monday night, finishing their ninth of 13 sets of back-to-back games this season.
Timberwolves: Visit Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
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Timberwolves fire coach, president Tom Thibodeau

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves had just posted their fourth-largest margin of victory of the season, and Tom Thibodeau looked and sounded satisfied Sunday as the demanding and intense coach used his postgame news conference to praise the attitude and energy with which his team had just played.
Minutes later, Thibodeau was fired.
Halfway into his third season with Minnesota that began in turmoil surrounding the eventual trade of All-Star Jimmy Butler, Thibodeau’s final game was a 108-86 victory over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers .
Assistant coach Ryan Saunders, who is 32, was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Scott Layden will stay as the general manager, assuming oversight of the roster. Thibodeau was also the president of basketball operations, with full authority over personnel decisions.
“We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement released by the team. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”
Though the timing of the move after a big win was unusual, the 60-year-old Thibodeau’s status was tenuous after the rocky start created largely by the way Butler forced his way out after such a strong debut season in 2017-18 helped the Timberwolves return to the playoffs after a 13-year absence.
Taylor told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that he didn’t blame Thibodeau for Butler’s discontent, but the owner said he believed the team was underachieving.
“Let’s see if this change will make a difference,” Taylor said in his interview with the newspaper.
Saunders is the son of the late Flip Saunders, who’s by far the winningest coach in club history. Beginning with the firing of Saunders in 2005, the dismissal of Thibodeau was the 10th time the Wolves have changed head coaches in 14 years.
Thibodeau finished 97-107 with the Wolves, who barely reached the postseason last spring, needing to beat Denver in overtime at home in the 82nd and final game. They were beaten by Houston in five games in the first round. Butler pushed the organization into a corner when his stance that he wouldn’t sign a new contract with the team became public two weeks before training camp began.
The insistence of Thibodeau and Layden to hang on to Butler as long as possible, shrugging off the distraction as simply part of life in the league, backfired as Butler protected his health by playing in only select games.
The Wolves started 4-9, and after a winless five-game road trip, the awkwardness was too much for even Thibodeau and Layden to ignore. Butler was sent to Philadelphia in a package that brought Robert Covington and Dario Saric, two promising players who’ve fit relatively well in the rotation.
The Wolves are only 15-12 since the Butler deal, though, in a Western Conference that is as stacked as ever.
With Taylor’s commitment to maximum-salary contracts for both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, there’s no more room for patience with a franchise that has had to start over so many times since Kevin Garnett led the Wolves to the Western Conference finals in 2004. The most recent setback was the death of the beloved Saunders, who served as coach and president of basketball operations in the 2014-15 season before his death from cancer.
Saunders engineered the 2014 trade that landed Wiggins from Cleveland, and the following year he drafted Towns with the first overall pick. Ryan Saunders joined the organization that same summer. He served five seasons as an assistant coach with Washington prior to that.
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Spurgeon leads Wild past Senators 4-3

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Jared Spurgeon and the Minnesota Wild turned a tough start into a nice win.
Spurgeon scored twice to help the Wild beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Saturday.
Jordan Greenway and Zach Parise also scored for the Wild (20-17-3), who improved to 2-0 on a four-game trip. Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 shots.
“I thought we were really bad in the first period and Dubnyk kept us in,” coach Bruce Boudreau. “It was almost totally opposite of the Toronto game where he had a rough start and the team played really well. If he hadn’t played as well as he had we probably would have been down three by the 10-minute mark I figure. Once we got our skating legs we started to go a little better.”
Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone scored for Ottawa (15-22-5), which dropped its seventh consecutive game.
“In the second we got away from what we were doing that made us successful,” Duchene said. “We weren’t playing bad, but we weren’t playing the way we were and they get three goals and obviously two of them are kind of fluky, but that’s just the way it’s going right now.”
Anders Nilsson made 22 saves in his Senators debut after he was acquired Wednesday in a trade with Vancouver.
“It’s always good to get the first game, but obviously I would have hoped for a better result,” Nilsson said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now, it’s just turn the page and it’s a new day tomorrow and a new game.”
Parise gave the Wild a 4-2 lead when he jumped on a rebound 6:07 into the third. But the Senators pulled within one when Stone tipped a Cody Ceci shot past Dubnyk for his 20th of the season midway through the period.
Ottawa had a two-man advantage for the last 26 seconds of the game, but was unable to capitalize.
“Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to get out of a skid like this,” Duchene said. “We’re going to keep pushing; we’re not packing it in. There’s lots of hockey left to be played and hopefully we can work our way out and things will start bouncing a little bit more, but it’s tough right now.”
The Senators got off to a much better start than they had in their previous few games. They were outshooting the Wild 12-2 midway through the first and might have had a few early goals if not for Dubnyk’s performance.
Ottawa got on the board in the final minute of the first. Duchene stepped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Zack Smith and muscled his way through the Wild defense before getting around Dubnyk for an empty net.
Spurgeon tied the game just 41 seconds into the second. He took a drop pass from Luke Kunin and beat Nilsson for his sixth of the year.
Ottawa regained the lead on Dzingel’s 16th, but the Wild tied it back up when Greenway jammed a puck under Nilsson 14:10 into the period.
Minnesota grabbed the lead for good when Spurgeon scored his second from a sharp angle with 3:29 left in the period.
“I just fired it,” Spurgeon said. “I just tried to put it on net and I think (Parise) was already in front of the net so worse case there’s a rebound for him, but I think it just trickled over his pad.”
NOTES: Ottawa F Jean-Gabriel Pageau is expected to make his season debut Sunday after suffering a torn Achilles on the first day of training camp. … F Nick Paul was a healthy scratch for the Senators. … Ottawa D Christian Jaros returned to the lineup after missing three games with a broken finger. … Senators F Rudolfs Balcers, acquired as part of the Erik Karlsson trade, made his NHL debut. … Minnesota’s J.T Brown and Nate Prosser were healthy scratches.
UP NEXT
Wild: Visit Montreal on Monday night.
Senators: Host Carolina on Sunday.

Pedal-down Bears keep Vikings out of playoffs with 24-10 win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — While taking the NFC North champion Chicago Bears to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, coach Matt Nagy has displayed an energetic personality and aggressive mindset throughout his debut.
Even with their postseason position all but set, the Bears refused to let up. They kept the rival Minnesota Vikings out of the playoffs in the process.
Fueled by that relentless defense and 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Jordan Howard, the Bears beat the Vikings 24-10 on Sunday for their first sweep of Minnesota since 2011.
“I love winning. I think it’s fun to win,” Nagy said. “So when you win, whoever it is, who cares? Let’s just play ball.”
With the 24-0 win by Philadelphia at Washington, the Vikings (8-7-1) watched the Eagles claim the last wild-card spot and went home wondering what happened to their offense after signing Kirk Cousins for $84 million guaranteed to be the franchise quarterback.
Tarik Cohen scored the last touchdown on a short run with 7:46 left to cap a 16-play drive for the Bears (12-4), who posted their best regular-season record since the 2006 team finished 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl. They’ve won nine of their last 10 games and, instead of the Vikings will host the Eagles in the first round.
“We’re growing. We’re getting stronger by the week,” Nagy said. “This will be a new challenge for us, but we’re excited. We’ll be ready.”
The Bears began the afternoon with an opportunity, albeit unlikely, to get a first-round bye with a victory and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams, who wound up beating San Francisco 48-32. Nagy was unmoved by the big early lead taken by the Rams, though, keeping quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the entire game and only holding out the starters who were already previously injured.
“Every time we step on the field we want to win,” Trubisky said. “I think it just shows the maturity of this team that we weren’t looking ahead. We weren’t thinking about sitting out. We just do exactly what’s asked.”
After spending the majority of the last two decades trying to keep up with Green Bay, the Vikings have overtaken the Packers only to have their other primary rival, the Bears, surge to the top of the division. Most problematic since coach Mike Zimmer took over has been the struggle to move and protect the ball against Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller and the rest of that Chicago defense, which established a franchise record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a season.
Done in by three-and-outs on their first four possessions, the Vikings finished with only 164 total yards.
“They’re pretty good,” Zimmer said, “so give them credit.”
THE CLINCHER
Trubisky moved the chains four times on third down during the game-sealing scoring drive, completing three passes and running once for a first down. He took a sack by Anthony Barr that would’ve forced a punt from the Minnesota 45, but a holding penalty on Vikings safety Jayron Kearse gave Chicago a fresh set of downs.
“The way we played, we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs,” Barr said.
FRUSTRATION APPARENT
Cousins and Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen were in a heated argument on the sideline after the Vikings had to settle for a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Zimmer almost cost the Vikings a touchdown when he challenged the spot of a reception by Dalvin Cook, who stepped out of bounds right at the marker.
Cousins sneaked for the first down on fourth-and-1, only to have the play blown dead by the red flag. Cook was able to get the first down on the next play.
Stefon Diggs, who went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his four-year career, caught a short touchdown pass right after that. Otherwise, the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium was mostly silent when the Vikings had the ball.
“They knew what the implications were from this game,” Hicks said, “and we took it from them.”
INJURY REPORT
Bears: With WR Allen Robinson (ribs) already held out of the game, WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) was hurt on the first drive and didn’t return. WR Taylor Gabriel (ribs) was injured a little later, leaving the Bears with only three WRs.
Vikings: With CB Xavier Rhodes (groin) sidelined for the game, rookie Holton Hill was in the starting lineup for the third time this season. Hill was targeted often, including a 40-yard reception by Gabriel at the goal line that set up the second TD by Howard despite tight coverage on the difficult catch.
UP NEXT
Bears: Host the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in the NFC wild-card round of the playoffs next Sunday, 30 years after the “Fog Bowl” game at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Eagles 20-12 to advance to the NFC championship game that day with little to no visibility.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing,” Trubisky said, “hopefully we can do something special.”
Vikings: Stay home for the playoffs for the third time in five years under Zimmer. They’ve won two postseason games, both in the division round, in 14 years.
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