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Mitch's Sports Report: Maple Leafs Set Franchise Record For Consecutive Home Wins

In the NHL Mika Zibanejad scored a tying goal late in the third period and then decided that wasn't quite heroic enough, going on to net the game winner in overtime to lead the NY Rangers to a 4-3 win over the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Toronto Maple Leafs also went overtime and one step further, beating the Dallas Stars 6-5 in the overtime shootout round while making history in the process. The win gives Toronto an 11-game home winning streak, best in franchise history and that's pretty impressive when you consider that the Leafs started skating as an original six NHL team back in 1942. They were playing hockey well before that, of course, since the advent of the NHL in 1917, but they were called the Toronto Arenas in those early days.

In any event, the win against Dallas last night didn't come easy, with the Leafs battling back from deficits of 4-2 and 5-4 in the third period, and starting goaltender Frederik Andersen had to leave the game with an injury about half way through.

His back-up Curtis McElhinney played well, stopping 13 of the 15 shots he faced in relief and coming through in the shootout round, which ended when Mitch Marner potted the game winner in the third go-around. There were also plenty of touques tossed to the ice when James van Riemsdyk recorded his third career hat trick for Toronto.

Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau also scored in regulation for the Leafs, Marleau's goal the most dramatic since it tied the game with just 15 seconds left to force the overtime. No word yet on how long Andersen will be out for Toronto, which is settled firmly in third place in the Atlantic division, a first-round playoff against the Boston Bruins almost assured with about a month left in the regular season.

The extra point Dallas lost is more problematic for the Stars, who would currently qualify for the playoffs as a wild card team, but they sit just one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks, with a number of other teams also within striking distance in what looks to be a wild finish for the post-season in the western conference.

Over in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are starting to resemble their hockey counterparts as a makeshift M*A*S*H unit.

The Bruins have five players currently nursing wounds of one kind or another while the Celtics took on the Washington Wizards in Boston last night with six players unavailable for game action, including two of their best in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.

But that doesn't really excuse the Celtics blowing a 20-point lead, losing 125-124 to the Wizards in double overtime. Bradley Beal scored 34 points for Washington, including four in the second overtime. The Celts had a chance to win it themselves, but Jayson Tatum's attempted buzzer-beater from three point range was off the mark. Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 31 points, but with Washington trailing by three in the waning seconds, he left Jodie Meeks open beyond the arc and Meeks nailed the trey that forced the first overtime.

NFL free agency is a feeding frenzy right now, and as a result the New England Patriots will need to scramble to fill some pretty big losses, including Nate Solder, the offensive tackle who's been so good at protecting Tom Brady over the years. He's signing with the NY Giants. One of Brady's favorite wide receivers over the last few years, Danny Amendola, is reportedly going to the Miami Dolphins, and all-purpose running back Dion Lewis is signing with the Tennessee Titans.

The NY Jets are shoring up their quarterback position, signing former Vikings QB Terry Bridgewater.

The weather continues to play havoc with high school sports title games.

The state crown for division one boy's hockey to be decided between familiar foes Spaulding and Essex has been put off until Monday night at Gutterson Field House, with the division two championship featuring top-seeded Woodstock against number three Lyndon also taking place Monday night at the Gutt.

Over at Barre Auditorium, the division two boy's basketball semi-final pitting Milton against U-32 has been postponed until Saturday, and the division four semi-final between Poultney and Sharon will also tip off there on Saturday afternoon.

Tonight, the boy's division one semi-finals will tip off at Patrick Gym with No. 4 St. Johnsbury taking on top-seeded  Rutland, and the late game will feature Mount Mansfield against Rice.

And tonight at Barre Auditorium the division three semi-finals are set with number five Thetford hoping for an upset against top-seeded Windsor, and BFA-Fairfax taking on Williamstown.  


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