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Favre beats Bears in potential swan song (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn_packers_bears"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.cxa13801010430.aptopix_packers_bears_football_cxa138.jpg?x=130&y=128&sig=_dgYXW02aTbscLpz306qAw--" align="left" height="128" width="130" alt="Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre waves as he leaves the field following the Packers 26-7 victory over the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)" border="0" /></a>AP - If, indeed, this was his last game, Brett Favre went out in style. The rocket-like passes that defined his career were on full display, zooming between helpless defenders and into receivers' hands. And when it was over, his voice cracked. Tears flowed.</p><br clear="all"/>

Chargers wrap up AFC's top seed (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn_cardinals_chargers"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.cali11901010208.chargers_cardinals_football_cali119.jpg?x=130&y=96&sig=nbJqOr4Tj36MwwD5akSkZA--" align="left" height="96" width="130" alt="San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson tries to fend off Arizona Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby while gaining short yardage in the Chargers' 27-20 victory in an NFL football game in San Diego on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. Tomlinson finished the season as the NFL's leading rusher with 1,815 yards. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)" border="0" /></a>AP - If it had been, say, the Super Bowl, Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson would have played on. Both were on the sideline, though, as the San Diego Chargers finished their most remarkable regular season with a 27-20 win Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals.</p><br clear="all"/>

Broncos out, Chiefs in as 49ers win (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn49ers_broncos"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.dxs11601010123.49ers_broncos_football_dxs116.jpg?x=99&y=130&sig=mXwyuEHXvinwPS131qyGBg--" align="left" height="130" width="99" alt="San Francisco 49ers kicker Joe Nedney (6) celebrates with holder Andy Lee (4) after Nedney kicked a 36-yard, game-winning field goal against the Denver Broncos during overtime of a football game in Denver, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. The 49ers beat the Broncos, 26-23, ending the Broncos' playoff hopes. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)" border="0" /></a>AP - Now Mike Shanahan wishes he hadn't gotten his wish. Denver's coach wanted Kansas City to win on Sunday so that the Broncos wouldn't back into the playoffs but be motivated to play their best football.</p><br clear="all"/>

Giants get enough help to reach playoffs (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061231/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_giants_playoffs"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061231/capt.fdx10212310046.giants_redskins_football_fdx102.jpg?x=130&y=99&sig=1MIsq22OO05RXjziKsfs4A--" align="left" height="99" width="130" alt="New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin watches his team warm up for a game against the Washington Redskins on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)" border="0" /></a>AP - The New York Giants completed a rollercoaster ride to the playoffs on Sunday, earning the final NFC wild card berth and a third game with the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.</p><br clear="all"/>

Eagles claim improbable NFC East title (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn_falcons_eagles"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061231/capt.patm10212312310.falcons_eagles_football_patm102.jpg?x=116&y=130&sig=zjrOUEjeQoHvrienA2.G4g--" align="left" height="130" width="116" alt="Philadelphia Eagles tight end Matt Schobel (89) celebrates his first quarter touchdown with quarterback A.J. Feely (14) during the first quarter of an NFL football game with the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 31 2006, in Philadelphia. Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is partially visible in background. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)" border="0" /></a>AP - The Philadelphia Eagles got their bye a week early. Thanks to the Detroit Lions, Jeff Garcia and the rest of Philadelphia's starters rested up for the playoffs while the backups finished off a remarkable late-season run with a 24-17 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.</p><br clear="all"/>

Column: Packers await Favre's final word (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_jim_litke010107"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.cxa14001010435.aptopix_packers_bears_football_cxa140.jpg?x=86&y=130&sig=vPw4XjouFCoA8kF6hUh6SQ--" align="left" height="130" width="86" alt="Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre walks off the field following the Packers 26-7 victory over the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)" border="0" /></a>AP - It's going to be a long two weeks in the City of Broad Shoulders and weak arms. The anxiety level in Green Bay, meanwhile, could be elevated for that long or longer waiting to find out if one of the strongest arms the NFL has ever seen will be back next season.</p><br clear="all"/>

SuperSonics hold off struggling Celtics (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_celtics_supersonics"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.wajb10301010433.celtics_supersonics_basketball_wajb103.jpg?x=122&y=130&sig=ez7HF5cuFu3IsqyXoBnOgQ--" align="left" height="130" width="122" alt="Seattle SuperSonics' Danny Fortson, left, hauls down a rebound next to Boston Celtics' Kendrick Perkins during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jim Bryant)" border="0" /></a>AP - Chris Wilcox is different from most forwards around the NBA. For the Seattle SuperSonics, that's a good thing. Wilcox, at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds, may not have the strength or weight of other big forwards, but he makes up for it with speed and quickness. Wilcox flashed his way through middle of the Celtics' defense for a season-high 24 points Sunday night to help the Sonics to a 101-95 victory against road-weary and injury-depleted Boston.</p><br clear="all"/>

Inside Dish: Venezuelan political climate influences MLB (The Sporting News)
The Sporting News - With the recent reelection of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, major league teams are growing more wary of sending players there for winter ball or even having their Venezuelan stars visit home during the offseason. "The political climate down there is brutal," one leading international scout says, "and it's only going to get worse." A National League club official with significant experience in Venezuela insists Chavez never would follow his buddy Fidel Castro and ban Venezuelan players from coming to North America. ...

Beasley scores first in Premier League (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061230/ap_on_sp_so_ga_su/soc_english_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061230/capt.th81412301842.britain_soccer_th814.jpg?x=93&y=130&sig=7aD8dBTVjpt4kYQG8GGlwA--" align="left" height="130" width="93" alt="Manchester City's goalscorer DaMarcus Beasley celebrates at the final whistle of the English Premiership soccer match against West Ham at Upton Park, London Saturday Dec. 30, 2006. Beasley scored the only goal in City's 1-0 win. (AP Photo/PA, Chris Young)" border="0" /></a>AP - Carlos Bocanegra scored a late equalizer in Fulham's 2-2 tie at Chelsea on Saturday and DaMarcus Beasley's first Premier League goal was Manchester City's winner at West Ham.</p><br clear="all"/>

Iginla ignites Flames past Oilers 4-2 (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070101/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_oilers_flames"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070101/capt.jmc10201010216.oilers_flames_hockey_jmc102.jpg?x=130&y=107&sig=myTdyZFMqfKr0BaZVWDsgQ--" align="left" height="107" width="130" alt="Edmonton Oilers' Jan Hejda, right, skates away as Calgary Flames Dion Phaneuf, left, Daymond Langkow, center, and Jarome Iginla, celebrate Langkow's goal during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. (AP PHOTO/CP, Jeff McIntosh)" border="0" /></a>AP - Miikka Kiprusoff came up huge early, and Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames took it from there. Kiprusoff made two huge saves on Ryan Smyth in the first 20 seconds of the game Sunday night to set the stage for the Flames' 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.</p><br clear="all"/>

Charles Robinson: No easy out


Jets top Raiders to clinch playoff spot (AP)
New York Jets running back Leon Washington cuts between Oakland Raiders safety Stuart Schweigert, left, and linebacker Thomas Howard (53) as he runs 15 yards for a touchdown during fourth quarter NFL football Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 23-3.

Leon Washington and the rest of the New York Jets were banned from talking about the playoffs all season. Minutes after they clinched an improbable postseason berth with a 23-3 victory over Oakland on Sunday, the rookie running back could hardly contain himself. "Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs -- three times for ya," Washington said with a big grin.


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Chiefs win, get help to make postseason (AP)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green (10) lies on the ground after a being tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer in the second quarter of a football game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Kansas City, Mo. Spicer was called for a roughing the passer on the play. The Chiefs won the game 35-30.

Sometimes teams that enter the final game of the season needing half a dozen things to break their way get their wish. The Kansas City Chiefs went around all week grumbling at themselves for failing to make the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. Now they're rubbing their eyes and getting ready to go to Indianapolis on Saturday, thanks to a 35-30 victory over Jacksonville and losses by...


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Giants' win puts them in playoffs (AP)
The New York Giants completed a rollercoaster ride to the playoffs on Sunday, earning the final NFC wild card berth and a third game with the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants beat Washington Saturday night to finish 8-8 and virtually assure themselves a playoff spot. They officially got their postseason ticket punched when St.

Favre, Packers rout playoff-bound Bears (AP)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre looks back to the field during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Chicago. The Packers defeated the Bears 26-7.

If, indeed, this was his last game, Brett Favre went out in style. The rocket-like passes that defined his career were on full display, zooming between helpless defenders and into receivers' hands. And when it was over, his voice cracked. Tears flowed. Is this really it, though? "If this is the last game, I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome," Favre said after the Green Bay Packers closed out...


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Cowboys blow last chance to win division (AP)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) walks off the field after the Cowboys' 39-31 loss to the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006.

No, losing to the Detroit Lions does not revoke the playoff spot the Dallas Cowboys had already clinched. It just means they're in a mess of trouble heading into what Bill Parcells likes to call "the tournament." Done in by repeated mistakes from Tony Romo and a few more by Terence Newman, the Cowboys blew their chance to stay alive in the NFC East race and build some much-needed momentum for the...


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Steelers end Bengals' season in OT (AP)
Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis talks to an official in the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh won 23-17 in overtime.

Joey Porter tried to end the suspense and get an answer for the question that all of Pittsburgh is asking. A few minutes after the Steelers knocked the Cincinnati Bengals out of playoff contention with a 23-17 victory in overtime Sunday, the emotional linebacker cornered his head coach -- the one he kissed after a victory early in the season -- and asked if he was staying.


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Chargers secure top seed in AFC playoffs (AP)
San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson raises his fist as he runs off the field following the Chargers' 27-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in San Diego.

If it had been, say, the Super Bowl, Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson would have played on. Both were on the sideline, though, as the San Diego Chargers finished their most remarkable regular season with a 27-20 win Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals. Rivers sprained his right foot, which didn't keep him from throwing two touchdown passes.


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Niners send Broncos home with OT win (AP)
Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey looks to the sidelines before the 49ers kick the game winning field goal in overtime beating the Broncos 26-23 during a football game in Denver, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. The loss knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs.

Now Mike Shanahan wishes he hadn't gotten his wish. Denver's coach wanted Kansas City to win on Sunday so that the Broncos wouldn't back into the playoffs but be motivated to play their best football. Instead, the Broncos tumbled into the offseason when Joe Nedney's 36-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime sent the San Francisco 49ers past the stunned Broncos 26-23.


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Colts hold off Dolphins 27-22 (AP)
Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Tarik Glenn (78) congratulates Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison (88) on his touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL football game in Indianapolis  Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. The Colts won 27-22.

Peyton Manning and the Colts played with the aggressiveness and passion they need to win in the playoffs. Now they must figure out a way to duplicate that effort in January. With Manning running through defenders, shredding a depleted Miami secondary and watching his maligned defense force Miami to kick five field goals, the Colts hung on to the AFC's No.


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Adrian Wojnarowski: Punching bag
In his first foray into his mailbag, our new NBA columnist takes more than a few shots from readers.

Howard lifts Mavs to 10th straight win (AP)
Denver Nuggets guard Allen Iverson reacts as time runs out in the fourth quarter of the Dallas Mavericks' 89-85 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006.

No Dirk Nowitzki. No problem for the Dallas Mavericks in extending their winning streak to 10 games. "Everybody knew Dirk was out of the lineup," Dallas forward Josh Howard said. "We needed some people to pick it up and not just me." Howard had 28 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Mavericks to their 10th straight victory, 89-85 over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.


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Nash, Stoudemire lift Suns by Pistons (AP)
Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell, right, argues with referee Tony Brothers, left, after receiving his second technical foul and an ejection from the game by referee Mark Ayotte in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Bell scored 15 points in the Suns' 108-101 win.

Steve Nash isn't going to complain about getting a win at the Palace of Auburn Hills. But he feels the victory deserves an asterisk because of the injury to Pistons All-Star guard Chauncey Billups. "It's not like we are going home feeling like we beat the Pistons," Nash said after the Phoenix Suns' 108-101 victory Sunday.


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McGrady's 38 power Rockets by Grizzlies (AP)
Memphis Grizzlies interim coach Tony Barone walks along the sidelines as the Houston Rockets beat the Grizzlies 111-109 in NBA basketball Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 in Houston.

As long as his back holds up, Tracy McGrady says he's ready to carry the Houston Rockets until Yao Ming returns from a leg injury. McGrady scored a season-high 38 points and had nine rebounds to help the Rockets beat Memphis 111-109 on Sunday night, handing Grizzlies interim coach Tony Barone his first loss.


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Ailing Duncan helps Spurs defeat Hawks (AP)
San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili (20), of Argentina, drives to the basket past Atlanta Hawks' Joe Johnson during the second half an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006.

Tim Duncan beat the stomach flu -- and the Atlanta Hawks. Duncan had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, and Tony Parker scored 27 points to help the San Antonio Spurs beat the Hawks 95-81 on Sunday. "(Duncan) did a great job, especially with the way he was feeling yesterday," said Manu Ginobili, who missed a game Tuesday night because of the bug.


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Brand scores 32, Clippers beat Knicks (AP)
New York Knicks' Eddy Curry, left, tries to evade the defense of Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman, right, and Elton Brand, rear, during the Clippers' 90-80 win in an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Los Angeles.

When he wasn't scoring, Elton Brand was making it difficult for the New York Knicks to put points on the board. Brand had 32 points and tied his career high with eight blocked shots, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 90-80 victory over the Knicks on Sunday. "Our defense is what we prided ourselves in last year, and that's what kept us in ballgames," Brand said.


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Lakers lose C Brown in win over 76ers (AP)
Los Angeles Lakers' Vladimir Radmanovic puts up a shot as Philadelphia 76ers' Alan Henderson guards during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won the game 104-94.

The Lakers leaned on Kobe Bryant and their reserves, something Los Angeles may have to do for several weeks after losing starting center Kwame Brown to a sprained ankle. Bryant finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Los Angeles reserves Sasha Vujacic, Vladimir Radmanovic and Maurice Evans made some clutch 3-pointers down the stretch to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 104-94 on...


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Wilcox leads Sonics past Celtics, 101-95 (AP)
Seattle SuperSonics' Chris Wilcox, right, leaps to knock the ball away from Boston Celtics'  Al Jefferson during the second half of an  NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 at Key Arena in Seattle. Wilcon scored a game high 24 points in the SuperSonics 101-95 win over the Celtics.

Chris Wilcox is different from most forwards around the NBA. For the Seattle SuperSonics, that's a good thing. Wilcox, at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds, may not have the strength or weight of other big forwards, but he makes up for it with speed and quickness. Wilcox flashed his way through middle of the Celtics' defense for a season-high 24 points Sunday night to help the Sonics to a 101-95 victory against...


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Warriors G Richardson breaks right hand (AP)
Golden State guard Jason Richardson could be out for two months after breaking his right hand during the Warriors' game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night. Richardson, the Warriors' leading scorer last season with 23.2 points per game, was hurt during the second quarter, apparently when Mickael Pietrus kicked out his leg while blocking a shot and accidentally kicked Richardson.

Bucks end Wizards' five-game win streak (AP)
Milwaukee Bucks' Ruben Patterson hands from the rim after a dunk, near Washington Wizards Andray Blatche, front, and Antawn Jamison, rear, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006, in Milwaukee.

The Washington Wizards were on a terrific scoring spree. The Milwaukee Bucks showed that they can score plenty of points, too. Michael Redd scored 28 points and Ruben Patterson added 21 as Milwaukee beat Washington 119-102 Saturday night to snap the Wizards' five-game winning streak. "We've gotten on a groove offensively," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said.


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Pronger breaks foot, Ducks fall to Wild (AP)
Anaheim Ducks' Andy McDonald, bottom left, Shane O'Brien, top left, Scott Niedermayer, top right, and Chris Kunitz, bottom right, surround teammate Teemu Selanne, of Finland, center, after Selanne scored his second goal of the game in the third period of a hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in St. Paul, Minn. It was is Selanne's 1,000th career game. Minnesota won 4-3.

Instead of dreaming of a Stanley Cup, Anaheim Ducks fans might just want to wish for good health in the New Year. Already without the services of top goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Ducks' sick bay added another big name on Sunday night. Anaheim lost All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger to a broken left foot during the Ducks' 4-3 loss at Minnesota.


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Thornton helps Sharks rebound from rout (AP)
San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau (12) congratulates teammate Joe Thornton (19) after Thornton scored on Dallas Stars goalie Mike Smith (41) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday night, Dec. 31, 2006, in Dallas.  Dallas Stars defender Phillippe Boucher (43) and San Jose right wing Mike Grier look on.

The San Jose Sharks didn't waste any time bouncing back from a lopsided defeat. Joe Thornton scored his 200th career goal and added two assists to help the Sharks snap a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. Joe Pavelski, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau also had first-period goals for the Sharks, coming off a season-worst 8-0 road loss to the...


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Red Wings win 12th straight over Kings (AP)
Detroit Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg, right, of Sweden, splits the Los Angeles Kings defense during the third period of their NHL hockey game on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 in Detroit. The Red Wings won 6-2.

Detroit showed that persistence pays, especially when the Red Wings face the Los Angeles Kings. Detroit got goals from six players Sunday night in a 6-2 win over Los Angeles, the Red Wings' 12th straight victory over the Kings. After struggling on offense early in the season, the Red Wings scored at least five goals for the fifth time in their last 13 games.


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Esche, Flyers stun Hurricanes, 5-2 (AP)
The Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Knuble celebrates a third period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 in Raleigh, N.C. Philadelphia won 5-2.

Outshot and outplayed most of the way, the lowly Philadelphia Flyers still found a way to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions Sunday night. Alexei Zhitnik scored the go-ahead goal while Robert Esche played a strong game in net to lead the Flyers past the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2, giving Philadelphia its second straight victory after a franchise record 10-game losing streak.


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Kiprusoff gets Flames by slumping Oilers (AP)
Edmonton Oilers' Ales Hemsky, left, and Daniel Tjarnqvist, right, send Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla to the ice during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. The Flames beat the Oilers 4-2.

Miikka Kiprusoff came up huge early, and Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames took it from there. Kiprusoff made two huge saves on Ryan Smyth in the first 20 seconds of the game Sunday night to set the stage for the Flames' 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Iginla paced Calgary with a goal and two assists, but said Kiprusoff bailed out the Flames early.


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Malhotra, Blue Jackets top Blackhawks (AP)
Columbus Blue Jackets' Duvie Westcott (10) is congratulated by teammates Jason Chimera (25), Anders Eriksson, of Sweden, Fredrik Modin (33), also of Sweden, and Manny Malhotra (27) after scoring an empty-net goal at the end of the third period to give the Blue Jackets a 3-1 win over the Blackhawks in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus' game plan was to keep Chicago bottled up. It worked almost to perfection. Manny Malhotra scored the winner late in the second period to lift the Blue Jackets to a 3-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday night. "It's one of the teams we have to catch," said Malhotra, who scored his first goal in 11 games.


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Rangers' Orr, Caps' Brashear suspended (AP)
The NHL suspended Rangers forward Colton Orr for five games and Washington enforcer Donald Brashear for one on Sunday following New York's fight-filled victory over the Capitals. Orr received his ban for a cross-checking blow to the head of Washington forward Alex Ovechkin with 4:20 left in the Rangers' 4-1 victory on Saturday night.

Brodeur has 29 saves, Devils blank Isles (AP)
New York Islanders Tom Poti checks New Jersey Devils Patrik Elias of the Czech Republic after Elias put the puck into an empty net during the third period of their hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

Rick DiPietro was outstanding again. Martin Brodeur was even better. Brodeur stopped 29 shots for his NHL-leading sixth shutout of the season and the 86th of his career, and Brian Rafalski's unusual goal was all the New Jersey Devils needed in a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.


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Vanek helps Sabres beat Thrashers 4-1 (AP)
Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) is congratulated by his teammates after the Sabres defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1 in an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006.

In a matchup of the Eastern Conference's best teams, the Buffalo Sabres got some payback against the Atlanta Thrashers. Thomas Vanek had two goals and an assist, and Ryan Miller made 29 saves in Buffalo's 4-1 victory over the Thrashers on Saturday night. The victory pushed Buffalo seven points ahead of Atlanta for the top spot in the conference.


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Legace again leads Blues past Avalanche (AP)
St. Louis Blues' Petr Cajanek, of the Czech Republic, controls the puck in front of Colorado Avalanche's Paul Stastny during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006, in St. Louis. St. Louis won 2-0.

St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace believes the formula to his recent success comes down to expecting a good result when he takes to the ice. He didn't have that feeling very often while the Blues muddled through their first 30 games. Lately he has. Legace stopped 33 shots and St. Louis won for the fifth time in six games with a 2-0 victory over Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.


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Jerry Bonkowski: Offseason caps: Smith, Said, Bliss, Wallace
Yahoo! Sports breaks down the '07 Cup field as February's season-opening Daytona 500 approaches.

Auto Racing 2006: Johnson, Hornish win big but quietly (SportsTicker)
For a sport known for its outspoken, colorful characters, the champions of the two major racing series in the United States let their actions do the talking.

Supermodel Niki Taylor marries NASCAR driver Burney Lamar in wedding ceremony in California (AP)
Supermodel Niki Taylor and NASCAR driver Burney Lamar have tied the knot, Taylor's spokeswoman confirmed Friday. The couple were married Wednesday before 60 guests at the Grande Colonial Hotel in the La Jolla area of San Diego, publicist Lesley Burbridge-Bates told The Associated Press. The bride wore a Vera Wang Couture dress.

Plan for Washington track lacks legislative support (AP)


Yates team pulls Rudd out of retirement (AP)
Robert Yates is bringing Ricky Rudd out of retirement to keep his sinking race team afloat, signing him Thursday to drive the full Nextel Cup schedule in 2007.

Rudd comes out of retirement to rejoin Yates Racing (SportsTicker)
HACKETTSTOWN, New Jersey (Ticker) - Robert Yates Racing filled a new spot with an old friend.

Marcos Ambrose to drive in up to 10 Nextel Cup races in 2007 (SportsTicker)
Australian Marcos Ambrose has joined the foreign invasion of NASCAR.

Anheuser-Busch to end NASCAR sponsorship in 2007 (AP)
Anheuser-Busch will end its title sponsorship of NASCAR's No. 2 series after the 2007 season.

Ekstrom defeats Loeb to win Race of Champions (AP)
Mattias Ekstrom beat three-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb Saturday to win the Race of Champions at Stade de France. Loeb raced for the first time since breaking his arm in September and reached the final for the third straight year. The Frenchman won last year and lost to Finland's Heikki Kovalainen in 2004.

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