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VANCOUVER — There were questions, and the Edmonton Oilers certainly had answers about how they lost a three-goal lead in Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Especially when the Oilers’ latest loss dropped them to 0-5 against the Canucks in the regular season and the playoffs combined. Even while facing questions about what went wrong, the Oilers remained steadfast about their Game 1 performance and why the series is far from over after just one game.

“I thought we gave them this one, and I think we know that it’s going to be a long series,” Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner said. “That’s how the playoffs are — you got to win four in order to keep it going. They’re up one right now, and we know that we can beat these guys. They beat us five games this year, but that gives us a lot of fire for ourselves to try to come back and get back in the series right away.”

Edmonton took a 2-0 lead on a pair of first-period goals from Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm. The Canucks cut the lead in half in the second period when Dakota Joshua scored 53 seconds into the frame, only to see Cody Ceci and Hyman push the lead to 4-1 with 6:49 remaining in the second.

So how did the Oilers go from having a firm lead to eventually losing their grip?

Canucks center Elias Lindholm was at the goal line when he flicked a puck on net that appeared to have been deflected as it slipped beyond Skinner, making the score 4-2 with 2:59 left in the second.

With a little more than 10 minutes left in the third period, Canucks forward Brock Boeser played a pass to J.T. Miller that saw the puck go off his stick and past Skinner to cut the lead to 4-3.

Four minutes later, Canucks forward Teddy Blueger played a back pass to Nikita Zadorov, with the hulking defenseman launching a slap shot that beat Skinner to tie the score at 4-4 with 6:13 left.

Then came the goal that allowed the Canucks to complete the comeback, causing Rogers Arena to go from library quiet to deafeningly loud.

Vancouver had just won a faceoff in its own zone when Zadorov played an outlet pass from behind the net to Joshua. He held the puck for less than two seconds at center ice, which freed Conor Garland to fake a shot before firing an actual attempt a second later that sailed past Skinner for a 5-4 lead with 5:35 remaining.

Garland’s goal also underlined how the Canucks, after struggling to find their footing, outshot the Oilers 19-7 between the second and third periods.

“It’s something we’ll have to learn from a little bit,” Ekholm said. “When they score, it’s all about that next shift. They’re going to score. It’s not like we’re going to keep them to nothing. At the end of the day, we let them get three goals and put ourselves in a tough spot. Up until that point, we were in a really great spot, but we kind of gave it away, so that’s the disappointing part.”

Ekholm also said he thought quite a few of the Canucks’ goals were not due to the Oilers having a breakdown in their system. Natural Stat Trick’s metrics showed that while the Canucks had 10 high-danger chances, they had only one in 5-on-5 play in the third period while having a shot share of 42.1%.

Oilers star center and captain Connor McDavid echoed that sentiment.

“I thought they were strange goals all around,” McDavid said. “We’ve scored some strange ones, too. In kind of a frantic game, you’re going to get that. Definitely some weird ones, some preventable ones, too. Overall, I didn’t mind our game.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said his team was a little too passive.

But did Knoblauch agree with his players that the system worked but didn’t get the desired results?

“There’s always things you can adjust,” Knoblauch said. “There’s going to be mistakes. … The players have to read and react. I thought they were in pretty good positions, and we didn’t have any major breakdowns.”

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Tigers blow 5-run lead, rally with 3-run HR in 9th




Tigers blow 5-run lead, rally with 3-run HR in 9th

DETROIT — Matt Vierling homered twice, including a tiebreaking, three-run drive off Jordan Romano in the ninth inning that gave Detroit a wild 14-11 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday after the Tigers wasted a five-run lead and recovered from a two-run deficit.

Vierling had four hits and tied career highs with two homers and four RBIs.

“My brother and I in the back yard, we’d always be doing situations like that,” Vierling said. “It’s kind of cool when it actually happens.”

Carson Kelly hit a three-run homer and Spencer Torkelson hit a solo shot for Detroit, which led 5-0 after three innings, 8-3 after five and 9-5 after six. The Tigers set a season high for runs and tied their high with 17 hits.

Torkelson had three hits and scored three runs.

“He’s really easy to root for,” Torkelson said of Vierling. “To see him come through, we had all the faith in the world and confidence he’d get the job done there. That’s exactly what he did.”

Toronto’s Isiah Kiner-Falefa homered in the seventh off Tyler Holton, and the Blue Jays took an 11-9 lead with a five-run eighth when Bo Bichette hit a two-run single off Jason Foley and Daulton Varsho hit a three-run homer.

Toronto manager John Schneider drew some consolation by the way his team kept fighting back.

“It’s easy to kind of quit after that and the guys did the exact opposite,” he said. “Chipped away and came back with huge hits from Bo and Varsh.”

Mark Canha tied the score with a two-run single against Yimi Garcia in the bottom half, his third hit.

Vierling, who hit a solo homer in the fifth off Zach Pop, drove a full-count slider from Romano (1-2) over the left-field wall for his first big league walk-off hit. A two-time All-Star, Romano has allowed three homers this year, half his total last season.

“I was ready for that pitch that he threw me 3-2,” Vierling said. “I was kind of looking for it 2-2, as well, but it was low and I was able to check my swing enough. The next pitch was the same pitch, just a little more up.”

Mason Englert (1-0) pitched a hitless ninth for the Tigers (26-27), who won the last three games of a four-game series against the last-place Blue Jays (23-29).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his second four-hit game of the season for the Blue Jays.

Detroit starter Casey Mize gave up three runs and eight hits in 4⅓ innings. Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi allowed five runs and eight hits in three innings. Mize and Kikuchi are 0-3 each in their six starts.

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Braves’ Acuna leaves game with knee soreness




Braves' Acuna leaves game with knee soreness

PITTSBURGH — Ronald Acuna Jr. left the Atlanta Braves8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning Sunday with left knee soreness after his knee appeared to buckle.

The reigning National League MVP led off the game with a double to right-center field off Martin Perez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuna started toward third on a stolen base attempt and his left knee appeared to buckle. He remained down for several minutes while being treated, pointing at his left leg before walking off under his own power.

Acuna, a 26-year-old outfielder, is batting .250 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 49 games. The four-time All-Star hit a career-best .337 last season with 41 homers and 106 RBIs.

Adam Duvall shifted from left to right in the bottom half, and Jarred Kelenic entered the game in place of Acuna and played left.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Royals’ Massey again on IL with low back injury




Royals' Massey again on IL with low back injury

The Kansas City Royals placed second baseman Michael Massey on the 10-day injured list Sunday because of a low back ligament sprain.

In a corresponding move, the Royals recalled shortstop Nick Loftin from Triple-A Omaha.

Massey homered in the fifth inning of the Royals’ 8-1 victory over the host Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. He exited the game in the next inning and did not play Saturday.

He also missed the start of the season with a lower back strain.

“It’s more of the same, what he has been dealing with since the spring, just some tightness,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “We’re going to have to take his lead on it and manage it. He’s feeling better, moving around and exercising, but we’re going to have to manage it day to day.”

Massey, 26, is hitting .294 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 29 games. He has a .306 on-base percentage, .529 slugging percentage and .835 OPS.

Loftin hit .276 (8-for-29) in 13 games with Kansas City this season. He is batting .308 (28-for-91) in 32 career games.

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