Most Dramatic Moments of the Week
After a relatively unexciting week last week, the world of sports really stepped it up over the past seven days, and we were treated to some amazing events.
One NHL team qualified for the Stanley Cup, while another mounted a comeback, the NBA conference finals heated up and the MLB pitched in with a few dramatic moments of its own.
Let's take a look back on the most dramatic moments in sports over the past week.
Beckett Throws No-Hitter
Josh Beckett has had quite the career. He helped the Florida Marlins win a World Series in 2003 and then went to the Boston Red Sox and dominated there for a number of years, including winning the World Series and ALCS MVP in 2007.
But then, in August 2012, Beckett was part of a blockbuster deal that landed him in Los Angeles, where he struggled for a while, dealing with injuries and age.
2014 has been a season of redemption for the 34-year-old, and Saturday went a long way toward that.
Beckett threw the first no-hitter of his career, a gem of an outing against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he walked only three while striking out six. He threw 128 pitches in the game, retiring 23 straight batters at one point.
Johnson a No-Show at OTAs
It may not have been overly surprising when Ian Rapoport reported that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson had failed to show up for OTAs Tuesday, but it was still very noteworthy.
Johnson, one of the best receivers in the league, voiced his uncertainty about his future in Houston, per the Brian T. Smith. That talk was then backed up by his failure to appear at workouts Tuesday.
As a premier receiver who could help a team win now, there's no question that teams would love to bring in Johnson. But he is almost 33 years old and has a history of injuries, so his value is up in the air to an extent.
Let the speculation begin.
Rangers Take Game 4 in OT
With the Montreal Canadiens fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Finals, a Game 4 victory would have tied up the series and given them a lot of momentum heading back home for Game 5.
After tying up the game roughly two minutes into the third period, it seemed like they had some momentum and could possibly put in the go-ahead before regular time expired.
But the New York Rangers showed their resiliency and hung in while forcing overtime, and they finally got a break when Martin St. Louis got space to the right of the goal and roofed a shot that put away Montreal.
With a 3-1 series lead, the Rangers headed into Montreal with all the confidence in the world.
Howard Hits Walk-Off Homer in Philly
Nobody will argue that Ryan Howard's best days aren't behind him. But Wednesday night, he reclaimed a bit of that power-hitting magic that made him such a force for most of his career.
The former MVP crushed a three-run, two-out homer off of Boone Logan into the bleachers, using that opposite-field power to his advantage, as he has so many times before.
That walk-off home run was made possible by a game-tying RBI single from Chase Utley just one batter earlier. At 35 years of age, Utley is healthy and tearing up the league (.335 BA, .937 OPS), and if Howard can get his stroke back, the Phillies may be able to salvage the year.
As it is, the 6-3 win over the Colorado Rockies put them at 23-27 on the season.
Ibaka Returns to Lead Thunder to Win
At one point, Serge Ibaka was thought to be out for the rest of the postseason with a calf strain. But then he made an incredible comeback in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals and gave his team a much-needed boost.
The Oklahoma City Thunder just looked more complete with him on the floor, and he had a solid game himself. With the crowd roaring and the entire team playing with new energy, the Thunder turned the tide and dominated the San Antonio Spurs to avoid a 3-0 series hole.
Ibaka finished with 15 points and made his first four shots in the first quarter. He also added seven rebounds and four blocks to help establish a presence down low.
With Ibaka's energy and inspiration, this series suddenly gained new life and Oklahoma City has to be considered dangerous.
Williams Sisters Lose on Same Day
Venus and Serena Williams were supposed to play each other in the third round of the 2014 French Open. Problem is, they still had to win their second-round matches to get there.
And in a shocking turn of events Wednesday, both sisters lost their matches to inferior opponents.
Early in the day, Venus lost to Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Later on, Serena, the defending French Open champ and a favorite to get back to the final, lost in a short 64-minute contest with Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Chris Chase of USA Today called it the worst loss of Serena's career.
It's safe to say that this was not the outcome the sisters had in mind for the Grand Slam event.
Handzus Scores in Unbelievable Double OT Game
Man, what a game.
The Chicago Blackhawks were at home in Game 5, trying to stave off elimination against the pesky and talented Los Angeles Kings. The home side came out on fire, scoring three of the game's first four goals in the first period.
But the Kings righted the ship and actually took a 4-3 lead into the third period. Then Ben Smith tied it less than two minutes into the period, and the two teams turned things up a notch and were deadlocked at four apiece.
For as good as each team's forwards were, the opposing goalies were even better, and nobody could score for roughly two full periods after Smith's goal. The first overtime frame was downright nuts, but Michal Handzus finally saved the Blackhawks' season 2:04 into the second frame.
This matchup (especially overtime) had everything any fan could want: awesome goals, crazy saves, big hits and a frenzied pace that made it difficult to even sit down as a spectator. I'd put my vote down for that first overtime as the best period of hockey in the NHL so far this season (and I don't think I would be alone in that).
$15 All-Time NBA Team Challenge
This may not be directly related to anything in sports that actually happened during the past week, but if you're on Twitter, Facebook or are just an NBA fan, you undoubtedly saw the challenge put out by Ballislife.com.
It's always a great debate when the discussion of all-time NBA greats is involved, and this particular example gets sweetened by the inclusion of a few modern-day stars as well.
For my money, I'll take Oscar, MJ, Pippen, Duncan, and Shaq. Oscar, Jordan and Pippen would be literally unstoppable in the open court, and seeing a tandem of Duncan and O'Neal would be mighty interesting.
How would you spend your $15?
Rangers Get Back to Cup for First Time Since '94
On Thursday night, the New York Rangers finally reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years. With the series at 3-2, coming off a tough loss in Montreal, the Rangers really had to bear down against a solid Canadiens defense and young goaltender Dustin Tokarski, who was phenomenal in relief all series.
Dominic Moore scored what would become the series-winning goal in the second period, Henrik Lundqvist pitched a shutout and Mats Zuccarello was all over the ice, but Ryan McDonagh stole the show for the Rangers.
McDonagh, still just 24 years old, was excellent all series and proved why he will be an elite No. 1 defenseman for years to come.
The Rangers will face either the Blackhawks or the Kings in the finals.
Pitcher Hits Walk-Off Double in 10th
Yovani Gallardo is a solid starting pitcher, but he's just that: a pitcher. So when the Milwaukee Brewers ran out of position players in the 10th inning of Tuesday's game against the Baltimore Orioles and were forced to send Gallardo up to the plate, they were probably just hoping that he didn't strike out.
After T.J. McFarland retired the first two batters in the inning, he intentionally walked Mark Reynolds to get to face Gallardo.
But to everyone's surprise, Gallardo belted a waist-high fastball into the gap in left field, scoring Reynolds and sending his team (along with the crowd) into a frenzy.
Gallardo then went out and won his start against the Orioles the following day.