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National Sports Briefs

Associated Press
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Tiger Woods barely qualified for his own tournament at the Chevron World Challenge, an indication that the last two years have been the worst stretch of his career.
His last two weeks of competition allow for a much better outlook.
A trip Down Under gave Woods plenty of indicators that his game might finally be on the rise. He had the 36-hole lead at the Australian Open and finished third, his best result of the year. Then came the Presidents Cup, where he played solidly for five matches at Royal Melbourne and was at his best in the final round of singles.
It wasn’t the results, or even the scores, that pleased him. It was his play in blustery conditions — testing conditions in Sydney at The Lakes, even more demanding in Melbourne.
“Anybody who makes swing changes … you get exposed in the wind,” Woods said Wednesday. “I felt very comfortable in that wind, which was great.”
He looked back to the early part of this year when he shot 66 in the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic and was right in the thick of the tournament. The wind picked up, and Woods had a 75-72 weekend to tie for 20th.
“I felt I should have won the tournament,” Woods said. “A right-to-left swing cost me eight shots on certain holes, and I didn’t have the ability to maneuver the ball left-to-right at the time. So the wind exposed me there, which was good.
“Playing in Oz for two weeks, it was fantastic,” he said. “I hit all shapes, all trajectories, and if you look at the rounds, I hit most of my shots pin-high. That’s an indication if the wind’s blowing that hard, that I’m really controlling my trajectory well.”
NHL
TORONTO — Milan Lucic scored twice and David Krejci added a goal and two assists for the Boston Bruins, who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Wednesday night for their 12th win in 13 games.
The defending Stanley Cup champions rebounded from a slow start this season and went 12-0-1 in November, marking the first time since January 1969 that the Bruins went an entire month without a regulation loss.
Tim Thomas made 34 saves and earned his ninth consecutive win.
Zdeno Chara, Benoit Pouliot and Brad Marchand also scored for Boston (15-7-1), which hasn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 29 at Montreal.
Mikhail Grabovski, Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin had goals for Toronto (14-9-2).
RED WINGS 4, LIGHTNING 2
DETROIT — Tomas Holmstrom’s power-play goal broke a tie early in the third period, and Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Ericsson each had a goal and an assist in Detroit’s victory over Tampa Bay.
Darren Helm also scored for Detroit, which won its sixth straight. Jimmy Howard made 33 saves, including stopping Matt Gilroy on a short-handed breakaway with 4:11 left.
Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, and Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 shots.
Holmstrom’s goal 4:22 into the third period gave Detroit a 3-2 lead. He deflected Nicklas Lidstrom’s tip pass out of the air, about shin high, past Roloson for his fourth goal. Helm added his third with 6:46 left.
BASEBALL
ARLINGTON, Texas — Greg Maddux is leaving the Chicago Cubs to join the Texas Rangers, reuniting him with his brother Mike.
The Rangers said that Greg Maddux will become a special assistant to the general manager, the same role he held with the Cubs the last two seasons.
• SAN FRANCISCO — Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy have received contract extensions taking them through the 2013 season with club options for 2014.
• CHICAGO — David DeJesus could become the starting right fielder for the Chicago Cubs after agreeing to a $10 million, two-year contract.
SKIING
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Lindsey Vonn recorded the fastest time in downhill training run in her first World Cup appearance since announcing she was getting a divorce.
The American star completed the 3,356-yard course in 1 minute, 54.79 seconds, 1.67 seconds ahead of Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg.
RACING
LAS VEGAS — Track owner Bruton Smith said Wednesday he expects the IndyCar Series to honor its contract with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and return to the track in 2012.
Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has two years remaining on his contract to hold the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has yet to announce the 2012 schedule, and is awaiting the results of the investigation into Dan Wheldon’s fatal accident at Las Vegas to decide if the series can continue to run on high-banked ovals.
“We have two years left on that contract and I expect Randy to honor it,” said Smith, who leased the property to IndyCar in a three-year contract.
Smith also said he wants IndyCar back at Texas Motor Speedway, one of the most popular venues in the series. IndyCar has not completed its sanctioning agreement with Texas, and potentially could drop both Las Vegas and Texas from the schedule over concerns of racing on high-banked ovals.

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