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NY Sports Update, January 17th, 2012: Giants beats Packers and advance to NFC Championship, Rangers win Toronto but lose to Montreal and more sports

LongIsland.com

Giants Upset Packers, Advance to NFC Championship; Losing Streak Leaves Knicks Back Below .500; Rangers Win in Toronto, Lose in Montreal; Islanders Defeat Sabres, Fall to Predators; Yankees Remake Starting Rotation

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Giants Upset Packers, Advance to NFC Championship

On Sunday, the New York Giants stunned the football world with a thrilling 37-20 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers.

Hakeem Nicks starred on offense for the Giants, catching a 66-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a 37-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half. A pair of field goals in the first and second quarters gave New York a 20-10 lead at halftime.

Quarterback Eli Manning came through with another excellent performance, completing 21 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns against just one interception.

Meanwhile, the Giants' defense shut down the normally potent Green Bay offense. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took four sacks, while the Giants forced three fumbles.

Manning's 4-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham widened the lead to 30-13 in the fourth quarter. Rodgers answered with a touchdown pass to Donald Driver, cutting the lead to 30-20, but an onside kick recovery by Victor Cruz and a touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs put the game away.

Giants safety Deon Grant left the game in the second half with a head injury. After passing concussion tests on the sideline, he returned to play.

With the win, the Giants advance to the final round of the NFC playoffs. They will face the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday.

Losing Streak Leaves Knicks Back Below .500

After losing to Memphis on the road Thursday, the Knicks struggled over the weekend, falling to Oklahoma City on the road Saturday and Orlando at home Monday.

New York (6-7) fell behind early against the Thunder, trailing 32-22 after the first quarter and 70-47 at the half. A fourth-quarter rally wasn't enough as the Knicks lost 104-92.

Monday's game started better for the Knicks, who carried a 6-point lead into halftime, but the Magic came roaring back in the final quarter to secure a 102-93 win.

New York had to face Oklahoma City without Carmelo Anthony, who had sprained his ankle during Thursday's game. Without Anthony, the Knicks could not keep up on offense: Three players led the team with just 14 points each.

Anthony returned to the floor against Orlando and led all scorers with 33 points. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, his performance wasn't enough to secure the victory.

The Knicks hope to return to form as their home stand continues. They will face Phoenix, Milwaukee and Denver before going back on the road next week.

Rangers Win in Toronto, Lose in Montreal

After seeing their five-game winning streak end in Ottawa, the Rangers bounced back to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 on Saturday. No new winning streak started this time, though, as they fell to the Canadiens 4-1 Sunday night.

New York (28-11-4) got goals from Mike Rupp, Brian Boyle and Derek Stepan, while goaltender Martin Biron made 20 saves without allowing a single score. The Rangers became the first team in the NHL to reach 60 points.

Sunday's game saw the Canadiens and Rangers trade goals in the first period, with Max Pacioretty and John Mitchell opening the scoring. The second period, though, was disastrous for New York. Pacioretty's second goal gave Montreal a 2-1 lead, and Mike Blunden and David Desharnais scored once apiece to make it 4-1.

The Rangers remain atop the Eastern Conference standings, just one point ahead of Boston. They are now tied with St. Louis and Chicago for the lead in the league standings.

Islanders Defeat Sabres, Fall to Predators

On Saturday night, the New York Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 at home at Nassau Coliseum. The home stand ended with Monday's loss against the Nashville Predators, 3-1.

Matt Moulson opened the scoring in Saturday's game with his 21st goal of the season, assisted by John Tavares. The Islanders' 1-0 lead didn't hold for long, though, as a crazy second period saw the teams exchange three goals in 2:10.

Patrick Kaleta evened the score at 1 at 14:48 in the second period. Kyle Okposo gave New York a 2-1 lead less than 90 seconds later, but within a minute Derek Roy scored to pull the Sabres even again.

Michael Grabner came through in the third period, scoring with 3:03 left in regulation to take the lead and adding an empty-net goal to ice the game.

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 300th career win, becoming just the 26th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.

In Monday's game, the Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, scoring on their first and second shots of the game. New York (16-21-6) played well in the final two periods, and John Tavares ended the shutout bid with a goal in the third.

The Islanders remain at the bottom of the division standings. They hope to improve their fortunes on the road, starting with Tuesday's game at Washington.

Yankees Remake Starting Rotation

After a quiet start to the offseason, the New York Yankees made some noise Friday night, acquiring two starting pitchers to strengthen their staff for the 2012 season.

New York shipped top prospect Jesus Montero and 24-year-old right-hander Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos.

Pineda, 23, went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for Seattle last season. He made the American League All-Star Team and led all rookies with 173 strikeouts.

The price was steep, as Montero is one of the most highly regarded offensive prospects in baseball. However, Pineda figures to be a rotation stalwart for the Yankees for years to come.

The Yankees weren't done, though, as they signed free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract worth $10 million. Kuroda, who will be 37 on Opening Day, posted a 3.07 ERA and a 13-16 record for the Dodgers last year.

Pineda and Kuroda will most likely fill the #2 and #3 spots in the Yankees' starting rotation behind ace CC Sabathia.