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Kirill Kaprizov steps up to get Wild hard-fought point against Avalanche

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Kirill Kaprizov steps up to get Wild hard-fought point against Avalanche

DENVER — The thing about star players is they tend to show up when their team needs them most. That’s what winger Kirill Kaprizov did for the Wild on Monday afternoon at Ball Arena.

After a controversial call gave the Colorado Avalanche the lead late in the game, the 24-year-old Russian promptly tied the score 3-3 to help the Wild force overtime. When they fell behind, there was no sulking on the bench from Kaprizov and his teammates, no feeling sorry for themselves.

Instead, the Wild responded with arguably their best shift of the game, earned an offensive zone draw in the process, and Kaprizov scored seconds after Ryan Hartman won the faceoff.

“I felt like my head was going pop off,” Wild coach Dean Evason said, crediting his team for its response after the Avalanche took the lead in the third period. “They held their composure. We yelled a few times and caught ourselves as a team. Things could go real sideways, and they didn’t.”

Though the Wild ultimately lost 4-3 in a shootout, the fact that they got a point out of the matinee felt like a win.

“I’m very, very proud of the way we competed,” Evason said. “If that could ended in a tie, that would have been better. But we did enough things to have success.”

Not surprisingly, Kaprizov was at the epicenter of the Wild comeback, scoring a pair of tying goals in the final 20 minutes. He always seems to shine brighter when the spotlight is on him.

“He’s on a mission every time he goes out there,” winger Jordan Greenway said. “When it comes down to the end, and there’s a little more pressure, he steps up, for sure. He’s been doing really good for us.”

Asked why he’s so effective in winning time, Kaprizov made it sound like it’s no big deal, replying, “You just focus more and play better in those situations.” That answer is actually fitting  considering how easy he makes the game look at times.

If Kaprizov was the Wild’s star on Monday, goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and winger Kevin Fiala deserve credit as best supporting actors. They helped keep the Wild in the game when it could have gone the other way in a hurry.

With starting goaltender Cam Talbot still out with a lower-body injury, Kahkonen got the nod once again for the Wild, and he continued to shine between the pipes.

While he allowed a pair of goals in the first period, those were largely due to the Wild taking a couple of careless penalties in succession.

Less than 30 seconds into the 5-on-3, winger Mikko Rantanen collected a loose puck on the doorstep, and promptly put the Avalanche up 1-0. Then, a couple of minutes later, rookie center Alex Newhook extended the Avalanche lead to 2-0 with a blast from the slot.

“You have to try and stay out of the penalty box as much as you can against these guys,” Kahkonen said. “We know that, and I think from then on, we did a good job of playing hard and playing the right way.”

After catching their breath at intermission, the Wild started the second period with a flurry, getting a goal from Fiala roughly 30 seconds in to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The tenor of the game changed midway through the second period when Greenway inadvertently made contact with goaltender Darcy Kuemper in the crease. While he initially stayed in the game, Kuemper left shortly thereafter in favor of backup goaltender Pavel Francouz.

“I haven’t looked at it,” Greenway said. “I think he was maybe out of the crease a little bit. I didn’t even really try to intentionally give it to him. I just skated through and ended up clipping him.”

Regardless of intention, Kuemper did not return to the game, and the Wild took advantage by peppering Francouz with shot after shot. It paid dividends early in the third period when Kaprizov finished off a pass from winger Mats Zuccarello to tie the score 2-2.

That set the stage for some controversy in the final minutes as MacKinnon scored to put the Avalanche in front 3-2. It was initially ruled no goal on the ice, and while replay never actually showed the puck crossing the goal line, the officials seemingly used logic to overturn the original call.

Though the Wild clearly did not agree with the officials, they used their frustration as fuel, and Kaprizov tied the score 3-3 less than a minute later. He launched himself full speed into the glass after scoring the goal, clearly excited to be a part of the

“It was good,” said Kaprizov, who admitted he wasn’t happy with his play in the first two periods of the game. “I was really excited to get those.”

Neither team scored in overtime, then in the shootout, Zuccarello, Fiala, and Kaprizov failed to score for the Wild. Still, the Wild walked away with their heads held high as they boarded the team charter back to Minnesota.

Asked if he was impressed with the way his team forced overtime in the end, Fiala replied, “Not impressed because I know my team.” He added that the Wild had no doubt on the bench that they could tie the game.

“We never quit no matter what,” Fiala said. “That’s a great thing about us.”

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Amar’e Stoudemire clarifies comments on Kyrie Irving and leaving the Nets

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Amar’e Stoudemire clarifies comments on Kyrie Irving and leaving the Nets

Former Nets assistant Amar’e Stoudemire suggested there’s no bad blood between him, the Nets or Kyrie Irving, and that the media took his words in an appearance on ESPN’s First Take out of context.

Stoudemire, who broke the news of his departure from Steve Nash’s coaching staff in a May 12 nationally-televised conversation with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, posted a video with a caption that categorized the media as “misinformed” on Wednesday for the widespread reporting that he quit on the Nets after two failed seasons in Brooklyn without an NBA title – or a trip beyond the second round of the playoffs.

“I want to clarify something: I’m seeing articles right now popping up saying ‘Amar’e quits the Nets and criticized Kyrie on his way out,’” the former Phoenix Suns All-Star forward said in the video. “That’s not the case.”

In his discussion on ESPN, Stoudemire also admitted Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 played a role in the Nets’ early season struggles that eventually led to them not being prepared or cohesive enough to secure a win against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

New York City’s vaccine mandate rendered the All-Star guard ineligible for home games until late March, and the Nets moved in lockstep with the city mandate, ruling Irving ineligible for road games and home practices until making him eligible in mid-December with his debut coming in early January.

“Yeah, I think (not having Kyrie) hurt us,” Stoudemire said on May 12. “It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have the consistency with Kyrie enough to build chemistry for the group with the team. He plays only on away games depending on which city it is, can’t play in New York, therefore you have different lineups and different matchups depending on the game schedule.

“So it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie. The chemistry is not where we would like it to be, so it was difficult for us to manage that.”

Stoudemire clarified those comments on Instagram on Wednesday after multiple local and national news outlets posted stories suggesting his comments were a dig at Irving on his way out the Nets’ doors.

“Why would I criticize someone who’s as similar as I am? I also fast during the NBA season for Yom Kippur,” he said. “I’m also a guy who has religious intake. I’m also a guy who’s an activist, who speaks about African-American communities. So why would I criticize someone who’s as similar as I am?

“The media will try to turn your words against your fellow friend or organization to provide more viewers or clicks to their article,” he continued. “I’m not gonna allow that to happen. You’re not gonna turn me against Kyrie, you’re not gonna turn me against the Nets, you’re not gonna turn me against anyone. So you can forget about it.”

The short-lived Nets player development coach also said he spoke to Steve Nash prior to going onto First Take and left his job because he didn’t feel it was a good fit from a scheduling standpoint.

Stoudemire converted to Judaism in August of 2020 and said his inability to work during Shabbat – from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday – made him feel he couldn’t grow in the coaching space.

“Not working on Friday night and Saturdays is difficult for anyone to grow in the coaching space because coaching is such a grind. It requires you to be there full-time,” he said. “And for me, I was unable to grow in that space, so I did not want to continue coaching, and on the flip side, the Nets organization wants people who can be there full-time, and I totally understand that. Therefore, it was a mutual organization between them and I.

“(The Nets are a) beautiful organization, Sean Marks and I are great friends, Steve Nash and I are good friends,” he continued. “I had a beautiful time, an amazing experience with the organization. There’s no hard feelings no way, no how. There’s no quitting on my side. I was there for 2 years sacrificing my time away from my family for those 2 year but still was able to hold down the fort and fulfill my obligation. So there’s no quitting from that standpoint.”

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Dolphins waive quarterback as Melvin Ingram signing made official

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Dolphins waive quarterback as Melvin Ingram signing made official

The Miami Dolphins officially announced the signing of edge rusher Melvin Ingram while waiving quarterback Chris Streveler on Wednesday.

Streveler spent the early phases of the Dolphins’ offseason workout program in Miami and was waived amid the team’s first week of organized team activities after originally being signed on Feb. 22.

Streveler has appeared in seven career games over the past two NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, completing 17-of25 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He was waived by the Cardinals last November and finished out the 2021 season on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad.

Streveler has appeared in seven career games over the past two NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, completing 17-of-25 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He was waived by the Cardinals last November and finished out the 2021 season on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad.

The Dolphins agreed to terms with Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowl edge defender who is 33, on Sunday.

Coach Mike McDaniel declined to comment on the acquisition at Tuesday’s first media availability of organized team activities because Ingram had not yet signed, but linebacker Jerome Baker said: “He’s a playmaker. He goes hard every play. He has a high motor. I’m excited. He’s a veteran. He’s going to bring that to the young guys and we’re all going to learn from him.”

Ingram has 373 tackles, 51 sacks, three interceptions, 29 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries in his 10 NFL seasons, nine with the Chargers. He split last season between the Steelers and Chiefs after being dealt at last season’s trade deadline.

In the second half of the 2021 season in Kansas City, Ingram started six games, making 15 tackles and a sack. He then started all three of the Chiefs’ playoff games, adding five tackles and two postseason sacks. He was touted for the number of quarterback pressures he provided during the stretch, in addition to the three total sacks.

With experience playing outside linebacker and defensive end, Ingram, at 6-foot-2, 247 pounds, figures to mostly play outside linebacker with Miami. The Dolphins, however, can switch between 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, allowing him to exhibit his versatility, similar to Jaelan Phillips in his rookie year.

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Man who fled police, his passenger killed in Anoka crash, authorities say

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Man who fled police, his passenger killed in Anoka crash, authorities say

A driver who fled police and his passenger were killed after their car smashed into a pickup truck late Tuesday night in Anoka, according to authorities.

Just after 11:30 p.m., a Coon Rapids officer tried to make a traffic stop on 2000 Buick LeSabre on Hanson Boulevard near Gateway Drive Northwest, but the driver took off and a short pursuit began, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said in a Wednesday statement.

The pursuit was called off by Coon Rapids police as the car entered Anoka, where about a mile down the road it crashed into a 2006 Dodge Ram on Main Street near Ferry Street, the sheriff’s office said. The driver of the fleeing vehicle died at the scene, while his passenger — also a man — was transported to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The driver of the pickup truck had minor injuries and was released at the scene.

The names of the men killed are being withheld by authorities pending notification of family.

The crash remains under investigation by the Minnesota State Patrol, Anoka and Coon Rapids police and the sheriff’s office.

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