Devils go for sweep
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 15 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Devils look to become the first team to advance in the NHL playoffs Tuesday night, and Dallas just hope to get even.
The Devils can complete a four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with another road win over the Boston Bruins.
The top-seeded Stars are in a far different situation in their Western Conference quarterfinal against Edmonton. They need a win Tuesday night at Edmonton to square the series at two games apiece.
Also Tuesday, the Washington Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning with a chance to take a commanding three games to none lead in their East quarterfinal.
The line centered by John Madden has been the key for the Devils, who have held the Bruins to three goals, and are on the verge of sweeping their first playoff series since the 2000 quarterfinals against the Florida Panthers on the way to a Stanley Cup title.
Madden, the Selke Trophy winner in 2001 as the NHL's top defensive forward, has taken on the role of shutting down Boston's Joe Thornton, a 101-point scorer during the regular season, and has provided offense of his own.
Along with holding Thornton to just two assists, Madden has figured in five of New Jersey's nine goals in the series.
"It's physically and mentally demanding when you play against a guy like Joe," said Madden, who has a goal and four assists in the series. "I just try to keep the puck away from him. As long as he doesn't have the puck, it makes my job easier."
Dallas goaltender Marty Turco had the best goals-against average (1.72) in the modern era this season. Also, he a league-best .932 save percentage, but allowed three goals on four shots in the third period of Sunday's 3-2 loss at Edmonton, giving the Oilers a two games to one lead in the series.
Rookie Fernando Pisani tied the game at 2-2 when his shot from the top of the right faceoff circle trickled between Turco's pads 4:40 into the third period.
Radek Dvorak scored the go-ahead goal 58 seconds later, putting the puck between the skates of veteran defenseman Richard Matvichuk as he moved through the right circle and wristed a shot over the stick of Turco.
"The second goal (by Pisani), I am sure is one Marty would like to have back, but those things will happen," said Stars Coach Dave Tippett.
The Stars played without Pierre Turgeon (knee), Bill Guerin (thigh), and defenseman Derian Hatcher (suspension). Turgeon and Guerin are questionable for Game Four, but Hatcher will return after serving a mandatory one-game suspension for drawing two misconduct penalties in the first two games of the series.
Game Five is Thursday at Dallas.
The Capitals are in control of their series after winning the first two in Tampa Bay by a combined score of 9-3. The teams play Tuesday and Wednesday at Washington's MCI Center, where the Lightning have lost 11 in a row.
Jaromir Jagr collected two goals and four assists, tying a career high for points in a postseason contest, in the Capitals' 6-3 win in Game Two. Peter Bondra also scored a pair of goals, and set up Jagr's second tally.
Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin surrendered as many as five goals for just the fifth time this season.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are one win away from sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round of the playoffs.
Penguins fire Kehoe
PITTSBURGH, April 15 (UPI) -- The return of Mario Lemieux may be uncertain, but Rick Kehoe will no longer be behind the bench for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After failing to make the playoffs for the second straight year, the Penguins fired their coach on Tuesday.
Kehoe had been with the Penguins for 29 straight years as a player, scout, assistant coach, and head coach, and will continue to work for the Penguins in another capacity, according to Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick. He will continue to work for Patrick and team owner Mario Lemieux, who is not expected to play again next season for the financially-strapped franchise.
Kehoe compiled a record of 55-81-14-10 in nearly two seasons as head coach.
"Rick battled through some difficult circumstances the last two seasons and did a very good job," Patrick said. "However, our organization is moving in a new direction and we needed to make a change."
Lemieux missed 15 games because of a chronic back condition, and has hinted toward retirement, although he has yet to make an official announcement. He led the Penguiins with 28 goals and 63 assists in 67 games.
Because of payroll constraints, Lemieux authorized the trade of star winger Alexei Kovalev to the New York Rangers in an eight-player deal in March, when the Penguins were still mathematically alive for a playoff berth. They finished with the second-worst record in the NHL at 27-44-6-5, ahead of only Carolina.
The Penguins made the playoffs 12 straight seasons from 1990-91, when they won the first of two straight Stanley Cups, to 2001-02, but Ivan Hlinka was fired and replaced by Kehoe four games into the following season. Pittsburgh went just 28-37-8-5 under Kehoe, finishing with a 10-game winless streak (0-9-1).
This past season, the Penguins won just twice in their last 22 games (2-18-2).
Kehoe played 11 seasons with the Penguins, and ranks third on the club's all-time scoring list with 636 points. Upon retiring in 1985, he joined the Penguins' staff as a scout, and worked in that capacity for two seasons.
Dixon likely to be promoted at Pittsburgh
The school has scheduled a news conference for late Tuesday afternoon.
After Howland left Pittsburgh to fill the vacancy at UCLA, the players petitioned for the school to hire Dixon as his replacement. Interim athletic director Marc Boehm and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg pursued Skip Prosser, a Pittsburgh native, who led Wake Forest to its first Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title in 41 years this year.
Prosser turned down the offer last Friday, and signed a 10-year extension with Wake Forest.
That apparently resulted in Dixon getting his first head coaching job. He interviewed for the coaching positions at Wright State and Illinois State since the end of the season, but was not chosen for either.
Dixon served as Howland's top assistant and lead recruiter for 12 years, following him from Northern Arizona to Pittsburgh in 1999-2000.
The Panthers won the Big East Conference Tournament for the first time this past season, and advanced to the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Marquette, 77-74.
Pittsburgh loses point guard Brandin Knight, shooting forward Donatas Zavackas, and bruising forward Ontario Lett from a team which finished 28-5 this past season.
Felton replacement to be named Tuesday
BOWLING GREEN, Ky., April 15 (UPI) -- Western Kentucky will introduce its new basketball coach at a Tuesday night news conference in Bowling Green, Ken.
The Hilltoppers have been without a coach since Thursday, when Dennis Felton left to take over at Georgia.
Western Kentucky did not announce who will be Felton's replacement. A news conference is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Eastern time at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Felton, a native of Clinton, Md., led the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years, and went 100-54 in five seasons. His overall record included a 54-20 mark in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Hilltoppers won 79 of their last 101 contests, and ended the 2002-03 campaign with the nation's longest homecourt winning streak at 39 games. WKU also set a Sun Belt record with 26 consecutive home victories in league action.
Hewitt suing ATP
MONTE CARLO, Monaco, April 15 (UPI) -- Lleyton Hewitt, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player, plans to take the ATP to court for defamation.
Hewitt has submitted a letter to the organizers of the men's tennis tour outlining his intention to seek damages and legal costs believed to amount to $1.5 million after he was fined for missing a compulsory television interview.
"We can confirm that we have received a letter saying that Lleyton Hewitt intends to take legal action against the ATP in Australia," said ATP spokesman Nicolas Arzani, "but we feel it would be really unfortunate to pursue the matter in court and prolong a situation that has already been concluded."
Hewitt, 22, a native of Australia, was furious and believes his reputation was damaged when the ATP hit him with a $106,000 fine for failing to speak to ESPN during an event in Cincinnati last August, where he lost to Carlos Moya in the final.
Hewitt insists that he was available to do the interview, and had asked an ATP staffer to inform ESPN.
Although that fine was later reduced to $20,000 on appeal, Hewitt is determined to launch a counter action. The case looks destined to go ahead, probably in June, following the French Open and just weeks before Hewitt attempts to defend his title at Wimbledon.
The ATP is hoping to avoid a drawn-out legal battle with Hewitt, which would be damaging for the sport's image and the tour.
The reported sum of $1.5 million is an amount which Hewitt believes would cover damage to his reputation and pay for the case.
The ATP expects the action to be taken in Hewitt's home state of Australia, unless the matter is settled privately.
Arzani said that all players who took part in the Cincinnati Masters Series were required to complete a compulsory two hours of pre-tournament media interviews.
He explained that a fine system was attached to the deal, and confirmed that the ATP had withheld Hewitt's prize money for the tournament.
"The findings of the appeal panel and the fine amount are consistent with similar violations," Arzani explained. "Withholding prize money is a standard procedure."
Serena withdraws from German Open
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 15 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Serena Williams has withdrawn from next month's German Open to concentrate on her preparations for this summer's Grand Slam events.
Williams, 21, who has won 21 of her 22 matches in 2003 and swept the last four Grand Slam titles, next will compete at the Italia Masters, beginning May 12 in Rome.
"After playing so many matches at the beginning of 2003, I have decided to take an additional week off to prepare for the European season," she said. "My focus right now is to prepare myself both mentally and physically for the upcoming major events in May and June."
Williams was runnerup in last year's German Open, a three-set final with Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium. Henin-Hardenne handed Williams her first loss this season on Sunday in the final of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.
The German Open begins in Berlin on May 5.
Gajdosova advances at Budapest
BUDAPEST, Hungary, April 15 (UPI) -- Jarmila Gajdosova, the 473rd-ranked female player in the world, advanced Tuesday to the second round of the Budapest Grand Prix.
Gajdosov, 15, a native of Slovakia, knocked off Ruxandra Dragomir Ilie of Romania, 6-1, 6-4.
It was the fourth win of the week for Gajdosova, who was a wild card in the qualifying draw as one of the four lowest-seeded players in the field. She beat Nos. 667, 206 and 156 to make the main draw.
Gajdosova, who turns 16 in two weeks, set up a second-round match with either second seed Magui Serna of Spain or Angelika Roesch of Germany.
While she is a neophyte on the WTA Tour, Gajdosova may be one of its up-and-coming stars. She is ranked sixth on the minor league ITF circuit, where she won two titles last season and was a finalist six times.
There were two seeds in action Tuesday at the red clay event.
Another Slovakian joined Gajdosova in the second round as Ludmila Cervanova defeated Lubomira Bacheva of Bulgaria, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, but another failed as Katalin Marosi of Hungary eased past Lubomira Kurhajcova, 6-4, 6-2.
Also, Jelena Jankovic of Yugoslavia outlasted Evgenia Koulikovskaya of Russia, 1-6, 6-4, 6-0; Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic eliminated Martina Muller of Germany, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, and Stephanie Cohen Aloro of France dumped Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland, 6-1, 6-2.
The top seed at the $110,000 Tier V event is Iva Majoli of Croatia, who takes on Romanian Andreea Vanc on Wednesday.
With most of the world's best in Amelia Island, Fla., for the Bausch & Lomb Championships, this event features only two of the top-50 women in the rankings.
First prize is $16,000.