Giants Advance to Super Bowl
With a thrilling 20-17 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants are NFC champions.
On the strength of two touchdowns and a field goal apiece, the Giants and 49ers ended regulation tied at 17. The Niners had a chance to win the game with a strong fourth-quarter drive, but the Giants defense stopped them cold on third down, forcing David Akers to come out for the game-tying field goal.
Just under eight minutes elapsed in overtime before the Giants got Lawrence Tynes into position for the game-winning score. His 31-yard field goal punched his team's ticket to this year's Super Bowl.
Despite being sacked six times, Giants quarterback Eli Manning came through with an excellent game. He threw 58 passes and completed 32, both Giants postseason records. Manning also racked up 316 yards and two touchdown passes.
One of those touchdowns went to Mario Manningham, a steady contributor for the Giants throughout the season. The other was caught by Bear Pascoe, the first of his professional career.
Other key offensive contributors were Victor Cruz, who caught 10 passes for 142 yards; Ahmad Bradshaw, who totaled 126 yards; and Hakeem Nicks, who chipped in 55 yards on five receptions.
On defense, Chase Blackburn led the team with seven tackles. Jason Pierre-Paul was right behind him with six tackles, a half-sack and a deflected pass.
In a game that featured plenty of punts and field goals, though, it was the special teams that really came through for the Giants. On the Giants' second overtime punt, rookie Jacquian Williams forced a fumble, recovered by Devin Thomas. That turnover started a Giants drive that ended in Tynes' game-winning field goal.
Despite barely making the playoffs on the strength of a 9-7 regular season record, the Giants are firing on all cylinders. They have effectively won five straight single elimination games.
Manning and the Giants would love to make it six in a row with a win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
Knicks' Losing Streak Reaches Six Games
With Carmelo Anthony coming back to full strength, the Knicks hoped this weekend's games would turn things around. Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen.
The Knicks fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 100-86 at home on Friday. They struggled on offense: Anthony led the team with 35 points, but only three other Knicks even cracked double figures.
Meanwhile, Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings - a one-time Knicks draft target - led all scorers with 36 points. He led Milwaukee on a 29-17 run in the last seconds of the second quarter and all of the third quarter, a run that put the game away for the Bucks.
On Saturday, the Knicks finally fell to the Denver Nuggets in double overtime. New York (6-10) surged to an early lead, taking a 54-46 advantage into the second half, but Denver came roaring back in the third quarter to tie the score at 72.
The score remained tied through the end of regulation and the first overtime, but the Knicks faltered in the second and took a 119-144 loss.
Former Knicks led the way for the Nuggets. Danilo Gallinari scored a game-high 37 points, also his personal career high. Al Harrington and Timofey Mozgov added a combined 40 points against their old team.
Anthony (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Amar'e Stoudemire (12 points, 11 rebounds) both contributed double-doubles for the Knicks. Given the length of the game, though, those numbers represented subpar performances for both players.
The Knicks hope to put this brutal home stand behind them and turn their season around on the road. They will face the Bobcats in Charlotte Tuesday night before traveling to Cleveland on Wednesday.
Islanders Defeat Hurricanes, Lose in Toronto
After a successful two-game road trip, the Islanders continued their success at home with an overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jeff Skinner opened the scoring in the first period, lacing a goal past Evgeni Nabokov to take a 1-0. It was the only blemish on the night for the veteran goaltender, who stopped 14 of Carolina's 15 shots in the period and made 32 saves overall.
From that point on, the star of the game was John Tavares. He extended his league-leading scoring streak to 12 games with a goal in the second period, tying the score at 1. The two teams remained deadlocked through the end of regulation.
In overtime, Tavares again went to the net. Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward made a good save, knocking his first shot away, but the Islanders center knocked his own rebound out of the air to score the game-winning point.
Unfortunately, the Isles were unable to push their winning streak to four games. They were shut out on the road in Toronto Monday night.
Maple Leafs centre Matthew Lombardi was credited with a goal just 1:37 into the game, thanks to a scramble in which the puck appeared to go off Mark Streit. Lombardi scored again in the third period, as did Phil Kessel, giving Toronto a 3-0 victory.
The shutout stopped Tavares' scoring streak at 12 games, the longest such streak in the NHL this season. The Isles' three-game winning streak was their third of the season.
New York (19-22-6) will have a chance for redemption Tuesday night as the Maple Leafs come with them to Long Island.
Rangers Outlast Bruins for Overtime Win
In a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers came out just ahead Saturday night.
It was an exciting second period as the Rangers took the lead twice, only to see the Bruins pull back even by the end. Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for New York (30-12-4) early in the period, but Andrew Ference answered with a goal to tie the game at one.
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead as Marian Gaborik chipped a deflected pass into the net. Near the close of the second period, though, Adam McQuald came through for the Bruins to tie it 2-2.
The score remained tied through the third period and nearly to the end of overtime. With a potential shootout looming, Gaborik was again the hero, knocking a Brad Richards rebound past Bruins goaltender Tukka Rask to win the game.
The win put New York ahead in the conference standings, but after Boston's win Sunday night the teams are tied atop the Eastern Conference. Both sit three points behind league-leading Detroit.
The Rangers will try to reclaim that lead as they host the Jets Tuesday night.