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NEW YORK — Defenseman K’Andre Miller had two goals and two assists in New York’s six-goal first period, Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for his first shutout of the season, and the Rangers beat the Nashville Predators 7-0 on Sunday night.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists in the opening period, and Filip Chytil, Mika Zibanejad, Tyler Motte and Chris Kreider also scored to help New York cruise to its fourth straight home win and second shutout in two days. The Rangers beat Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night after also beating the Penguins on Thursday and Washington on Tuesday.

The Rangers scored six times on their first eight shots, chasing Nashville starting goalie Kevin Lankinen after he gave up four goals on five shots. He was replaced by Juuse Saros.

Miller became the first defenseman in franchise history with four points in a single period as the Rangers led 6-0 less than 14 minutes in. The avalanche of early goals tied the franchise record for most in the first period, most recently achieved on Dec. 15, 1999, in an 8-3 home win over Los Angeles.

“That was pretty fun,” Miller said. “The puck was finding me.”

Halak improved to 8-2-2 in his past 12 starts as the 37-year-old Slovak-born goalie secured his 53rd career shutout, third-most among active netminders behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Quick.

“It was a team effort from the drop of the puck until the end,” Halak said. “Last two games — yesterday and today — we did a really good job playing for 60 minutes and it paid off.”

Halak, who has 294 career wins with seven NHL teams, was especially pleased with his first shutout as a Ranger. His family — including 6-year-old son Nathan, who also is a goalie — were in attendance at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s more special when they are in the stands,” Halak said. “It feels great to get a win and more special to get a shutout. Our D, even though we had a big lead, they were blocking shots.”

The Rangers became the sixth team in NHL history with back-to-back shutouts while scoring six or more goals. The Rangers had three straight 6-0 shutouts from Feb. 4-10, 1973.

“I thought our guys did an excellent job,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of his team’s ability to stay focused with a six-goal lead after one period. “They played the game the right way.″

The Predators were coming off a deflating home overtime loss to Winnipeg on Saturday and were dealing with a raft of injuries to key players. Nashville was without captain and leading scorer Roman Josi — hurt against the Jets — plus defenseman Ryan McDonagh and top forwards Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen.

Nashville trails the Jets by five points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“It’s humbling to get beat 7-0,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “It something we can learn from and we will. Tonight wasn’t good enough.”

Chytil opened the scoring with his 20th goal at 2:37 — assisted by Miller and Halak — followed by Zibanejad’s team-leading 37th at 7:22. Motte scored his fifth goal 52 seconds later before Miller scored at 9:09 to make it 4-0, ending Lankinen’s night.

Panarin then added his 23rd goal at 10:01 — the fastest five goals to start a game in franchise history — before Miller scored again, his eighth of the season, with 6:24 remaining in the period.

Panarin has points in nine of his past 11 games and leads the Rangers with 80 points overall. Zibanejad, who had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s rout of the Penguins, also assisted on Panarin’s goal and has nine points in his past four games and 28 points in his past 21 contests — including 15 goals.

Kreider increased the lead to 7-0 at 9:02 of the second with his 32nd goal this season and the 261st of his career, moving the Rangers forward within one goal of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the Rangers’ all-time list.

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Sources: MAC votes to accept UMass as member

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Sources: MAC votes to accept UMass as member

The University of Massachusetts is set to join the MAC in all applicable sports for the 2025-26 school year, sources told ESPN on Monday.

UMass is an independent in football but plays in the Atlantic-10 in basketball and the vast majority of the school’s other sports. UMass’ hockey program will remain in the Hockey East as the MAC does not have a hockey league.

The MAC presidents voted to invite UMass on Monday, as the school had already formally applied to the league. The timing of an announcement is not known, but UMass is set to accept and finalize the details of the arrangement in the near future. Once a school formally applies in conference realignment, there’s usually an understanding that they will be accepted and enter that league.

UMass had also been engaged with Conference USA, per sources. Ultimately, the MAC made more geographic sense, and it also houses more of the sports that UMass offers. UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford made clear in recent comments that joining a league was a priority for UMass.

The move of UMass to the MAC will leave Notre Dame and Connecticut as the lone independents in college football, with Army set to join the American Athletic Conference in the upcoming season.

In basketball, the news is a jolt to the Atlantic 10 Conference, where UMass has had a home since 1976. UMass’ Final Four appearance in 1996 is the only Final Four appearance in Atlantic 10 history. (Three other A-10 teams — VCU, Loyola Chicago and George Mason — have had Final Four appearances, but these all came prior to joining the league.)

UMass will request to stay in the Atlantic 10 as an affiliate member for men’s and women’s lacrosse only, according to a source.

UMass has some familiarity in the MAC for football, having played four seasons in the league from 2012 to 2015. UMass eventually declined full membership in the MAC, which was part of the contract, and led to the school’s departure.

The move brings the MAC up to 13 teams and will open speculation as to whether the league will add a 14th member for balance. There had been discussions about Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky back in 2021, per sources, and those schools would again top any speculative lists.

UMass will play its final season as a football independent this year, and its schedule includes five current MAC members. The Athletic first reported the MAC’s vote on UMass.

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Dodgers trade Margot to Twins, add Hernández

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Dodgers trade Margot to Twins, add Hernández

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday traded outfielder Manuel Margot to the Minnesota Twins and agreed to terms with super utility man Kiké Hernández on a one-year, $4 million contract.

After shopping Margot, 29, in recent days, the Dodgers struck a deal to send the Twins the outfielder and shortstop prospect Rayne Doncon for shortstop prospect Noah Miller. The Dodgers also will send cash to help cover the $12 million owed Margot — $10 million this year and a $2 million buyout on a $12 million club option, a source told ESPN.

Hernández, who emerged during a six-year stint with the Dodgers and returned to Los Angeles in a trade last July, had considered a number of other teams before the trade paved the way for another stretch with the Dodgers.

He’s expected to garner most of his playing time against left-handed pitchers, with Los Angeles’ primary shortstop, Gavin Lux, and center fielder, James Outman, both left-handed hitters.

Now 32, Hernández underwent double hernia surgery in the offseason but is expected to be ready around opening day. Hernández hit .262/.308/.423 in 54 games with the Dodgers last year, more in line with his career numbers than his .222/.279/.320 line with the Twins and .222/.291/.338 showing in an injury-pocked 2022 with Boston.

Margot, an eight-year veteran, had been traded to the Dodgers with right-hander Tyler Glasnow in December. He will help relieve Byron Buxton in center and joins a reigning American League Central champion lineup that is deep in bats. Margot hit .264/.310/.376 with four home runs in 336 plate appearances for Tampa Bay last season and is regarded as a slightly above-average defensive center fielder.

The swap of shortstop prospects sends Doncon, who signed with the Dodgers for a little under $500,000 in January 2021, to Minnesota while Miller, the 36th pick in the amateur draft that year, heads to Los Angeles.

Doncon, 20, hit .216/.283/.368 in Low-A last year and can also play second and third base. Miller, 21, slashed .223/.309/.340 in High-A and is considered a well-above-average defensive shortstop.

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Sources: Iowa State to promote Mouser to OC

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Sources: Iowa State to promote Mouser to OC

Iowa State is set to promote Taylor Mouser to offensive coordinator, part of several staff moves for the offense after Nate Scheelhaase left for the NFL, sources told ESPN on Monday.

Mouser has served as Iowa State’s tight ends coach since 2021 and added an assistant head coach title in 2023. He has been part of coach Matt Campbell’s staff in various roles, on and off the field, throughout Campbell’s tenure with the Cyclones.

Mouser will replace Scheelhaase, ISU’s offensive coordinator in 2023, who recently left to become the passing game specialist for the Los Angeles Rams.

Iowa State also is set to hire Tyler Roehl as running backs coach and assistant head coach, sources told ESPN. Roehl spent the past five seasons as North Dakota State‘s offensive coordinator and was the top internal candidate for NDSU’s head-coaching role. He recently left to become offensive coordinator at Tennessee State.

Jake Waters, who last week was promoted to running backs coach, instead is set to handle the quarterbacks, according to a source. Wide receivers coach Noah Pauley will serve as ISU’s pass game coordinator, and offensive line coach Ryan Clanton will be run game coordinator for the 2024 season.

Mouser served as a graduate assistant under Campbell at Toledo (2015) and Iowa State (2016) before becoming ISU’s assistant director of scouting.

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