ATLANTA — If this was an audition for a permanent spot in the Braves rotation, Williams Perez nailed it.
Perez gave up one run over five innings and had seven strikeouts in his first major league start and fellow rookie Todd Cunningham drove in the tiebreaking run with a groundout as Atlanta beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Wednesday night.
“He was terrific,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “You can’t ask for anything more.”
TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov scored 3:33 into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Ondrej Palat had two goals and an assist, and Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had one goal and an assist for the Lightning. They took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series that continues Friday night at Amalie Arena.
The annual Chronicle Student Athletic Recognitions banquet will be held Wednesday, May 27 at the College of Central Florida Citrus Campus in Lecanto.
The top athletes in Citrus County will be honored at the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. with the Red Carpet Reception. The awards ceremony is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. and finish at approximately 8 p.m.
NEW YORK — Tyler Johnson is carrying the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoff and making more than a name for himself.
The 24-year-old is becoming one of the front-runners to be the postseason MVP.
Johnson scored short-handed, even strength and on the power play in tallying the first hat trick in Lightning playoff history and Tampa Bay got its high-scoring offense in gear and evened the Eastern Conference finals with a 6-2 victory over the stumbling New York Rangers on Monday night.
MINNEAPOLIS — Evan Longoria drove in three runs and had two of Tamp Bay’s season-high 19 hits, Chris Archer threw six sharp innings for his first win this month, and the Rays routed the Minnesota Twins 11-3 on Sunday.
James Loney drove in two runs for Tampa Bay, which used a five-run sixth to secure its fourth win in six games and avoid a three-game sweep. The Twins scored nine runs in their previous two wins against the Rays, but Archer (4-4) limited them to four hits and a walk.
NEW YORK — The New York Rangers aren’t the same team the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated in the regular season.
Not even close, and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals showed that.
Dominic Moore scored with 2:25 to play, the defense limited the Lightning’s high-powered offense and the Rangers defeated goaltender Ben Bishop and the Lightning 2-1 Saturday to move within three wins of returning to the Stanley Cup finals.