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Islanders force Game 6 with thrilling double OT win over Lightning

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Islanders force Game 6 with thrilling double OT win over Lightning

The Islanders aren’t packing up their things in Edmonton just yet.

Barely hanging on to a 1-1 tie from the first period on, the Isles kept their season alive behind a goal from Jordan Eberle in double overtime to defeat the Lightning 2-1 Tuesday night at Rogers Place and force a Game 6 on Thursday.

The game was decided when ex-Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk fanned on a shot from the point. Anders Lee beat Shattenkirk to the puck and his pretty cross-ice feed left Eberle with nothing but net to shoot at. He didn’t miss.

Seemingly making it as difficult on themselves as they possibly could, the Islanders appeared to be crossing their fingers for overtime rather than ending it in regulation.

From the end of the second period and through the first 8 ½ minutes of the third, the Isles were unable to get a single shot on goal even after earning a power play 44 seconds into the final frame. They went nearly 12 minutes without a shot.

And with 1:23 left in regulation, Anthony Beauvillier earned a double minor for high sticking Mikhail Sergachev. Tampa Bay then opened the extra period with 2:37 left on the man-advantage but the Islanders were able to fend it off, going 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the win.

The Lightning dictated most of the first extra period, nearly capitalizing with seconds left on the clock with a flurry of pressure that Ryan Pulock helped stifle as the horn sounded. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced, including four big stops in the first overtime and eight in the second.

The only team to win a conference finals after facing a 3-1 series deficit was the Devils in 2000, with current Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello at the helm. Lamoriello’s 2020 Islanders took a step toward becoming the second team to accomplish the feat.

Jordan Eberle is mobbed by teammates after scoring the game-winning double overtime goal in the Islanders' 2-1 Game 5 win over the Lightning.
Jordan Eberle is mobbed by teammates after scoring the game-winning double overtime goal in the Islanders’ 2-1 Game 5 win over the Lightning.Getty Images

The Islanders had their opportunities to win it in regulation, more than they’d probably like to admit.

After Tampa Bay nearly took its first lead of the night halfway through the second period off a Carter Veraghe goal that was overturned after Barry Trotz challenged for offsides, the Islanders should have been shocked awake. Instead, on the following two-on-one opportunity, Jean-Gabriel Pageau was hesitant to take the shot and tried to dish to Lee before Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian got a stick on the puck to break up the rush.

Then there was a nearly two-minute-long delayed penalty that the Islanders managed to pin the Lightning in the offensive zone with six skaters out on the ice. Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak blocked all three of Mathew Barzal’s shots and Paquette got in front of Brock Nelson’s.

On the subsequent power play, the Islanders registered just one shot on goal. The Lightning, on the other hand, mustered a three-on-two shorthanded opportunity that Varlamov had to make a glove save on.

Tampa Bay was able to get warmed up early after Cal Clutterbuck was called for slashing just over five minutes into the game. The Islanders were pinned in their zone for nearly the entire penalty kill as the Lightning racked up four shots to go up 7-1 in shots early.

And even when Nikita Kucherov tripped Nelson to put the Lightning on the penalty kill, the Isles struggled to set up in the offensive zone or gain possession. It wasn’t until more than halfway through the man-advantage opportunity that Ryan Pulock blasted one from the top of the left faceoff circle to lift the Islanders to a 1-0 lead at 15:41 of the first.

Varlamov had to come up with a big glove save on Yanni Gourde as the Lightning came out heavy 42 seconds into the middle frame. But a hard shot from Blake Coleman resulted in a long rebound off of Varlamov’s pads before Victor Hedman put it away to tie the game 1-1.

Halfway through the second period, the Islanders’ season flashed before their eyes when Carter Veraghe sent a wide-open wrist shot past Varlamov after Paquette bodied Scott Mayfield off the puck in the corner. But Trotz challenged for offsides and the goal was overturned to keep the score 1-1.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Fantasy Football Buy-Low, Sell-High Stock Watch: Joe Mixon, James Robinson among trade candidates heading into Week 4

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Fantasy Football Buy-Low, Sell-High Stock Watch: Joe Mixon, James Robinson among trade candidates heading into Week 4

Fantasy football owners usually do a roster audit after Week 3. Given this year’s spate of big injuries, you might not have seen three games from all of your key players, but if you have, you will likely follow this rule: If there’s been more good than bad, you’re optimistic; if there’s been more bad than good, you’re worried. If your record is 0-3 or even 1-2, you might be really worried. As such, you might be looking to make a big move, but you shouldn’t be rash about our trade targets. Finding the right buy-low, sell-high candidates is important. Fantasy Pros’ Mike Tagliere is here to help with his Week 4 Stock Watch that includes notable players like Joe Mixon, Darrell Henderson, James Robinson, and Deebo Samuel.

As tough as it might be sometimes, you can’t let past performances dictate how you view players going forward. Obviously, it’s a factor, but Weeks 1-3 are in the past — you can’t change them. You have to worry about Weeks 4-13 (and hopefully beyond). That means investing in slow-starting players who are still getting ample opportunities or parting ways with your early-season breakouts who might have already peaked. Don’t consider anyone on your roster “untouchable.”

MORE FROM FANTASY PROS: Trade analyzer

As we caution every week, values can change quickly in fantasy football, so don’t get too locked in on a certain trade target. Change your thinking as the trends change, but don’t be afraid to strike if you have a good offer on the table. —  Matt Lutovsky

MORE WEEK 4: Top waiver pickups

Week 4 Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Buy-low candidates

Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)

Wait, buy Mixon? You mean the guy who has 157 total yards without a touchdown through three games? Yep. He’s a three-down back who was a similar buy-low early last year and finished as a top-eight running back over the second half of the season. As teams start to respect Joe Burrow through the air, lanes will open for Mixon. If you’re able to flip someone like James Robinson for Mixon, I’d consider that a phenomenal opportunity.

Darrell Henderson (RB – LAR)

Some might be thinking it’s time to sell on Henderson with the pending return of Cam Akers (ribs), but if you’ve watched the past two weeks, Henderson has been the best running back on the team, and it hasn’t even been close. He’s running with purpose and has done well in two less-than-ideal matchups. If he continues to hold onto this job, he’s going to help win fantasy titles.

Darius Slayton (WR – NYG)

The bad news is that Slayton finished with just three catches for 53 yards in Week 3; the good news is that it allows you to swoop in and buy him cheaper than he should be. He was targeted a team-high seven times, and the matchups will get better as the weeks go on. With Sterling Shepard (toe) out maybe a month, Slayton is the clear-cut top receiver for the Giants.

For more buy-low targets from Fantasy Pros, click here.

WEEK 4 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight End | D/ST | Kicker

Week 4 Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Sell-high candidates

James Robinson (RB – JAC)

Last week, I had Robinson in the “buy” section because not many realized what they had. This week, however, I’m suggesting you field offers for him. I’ve heard some suggest he’s a rock-solid RB2 for the remainder of the season, though I’m not completely sold on that. He hasn’t had to share any of the workload with both Ryquell Armstead (COVID-19 lst) and Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) out of the lineup. That will change, and while Robinson should still be the lead back, he’s not going to be worth more than he is right now. Great performances on national television will get you great return in trades.

Todd Gurley (RB – ATL)

Take advantage of Gurley’s touchdown in Week 3 and sell high. I’m not sure he’s the best running back on his team at this point, and that’s not even saying much, as Brian Hill isn’t uber-talented or anything. Gurley is only getting what’s blocked and isn’t contributing in the passing game. He’s nothing more than a touchdown-dependent low-end RB2/high-end RB3.

WEEK 4 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight End | D/ST | Kicker

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)

You should be using the imminent-return rumors to your advantage if you’ve been holding onto Samuel. There have been whispers that he’s expected to come back from his foot injury in Week 5, which is odd to say the least. If they know he won’t be ready in Week 4, then they can’t say with any certainty that he’ll be out there in Week 5. On top of that, receivers coming off foot surgeries in the same calendar year almost always end in disappointment.

For more sell-high targets from Fantasy Pros, click here.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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How Indians survived utter chaos to reach Yankees playoff showdown

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How Indians survived utter chaos to reach Yankees playoff showdown

The Yankees and Indians begin their first-round, best-of-three MLB playoff series on Tuesday night (7 p.m., ESPN) in Cleveland.

5 things to know about the Indians

1. Terry Francona is in his eighth year as manager of the Indians, but he’s been away from the team for most of the season. The 61-year-old missed all but 14 games because of gastrointestinal surgery and blood-clotting issues. He managed the first eight games of the season, then returned for six more in August, but has been watching from home since Aug. 21. Sandy Alomar Jr. has filled in for Francona after his longtime bench coach, Brad Mills, opted out of the season for personal reasons. Francona is expected to join the Indians’ postseason bubble, but Alomar will continue to manage the team.

2. In the past 14 months, the Indians have traded away Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger — arguably their three best pitchers entering 2019 — and still have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Shane Bieber has emerged as a Cy Young candidate while cancer survivor Carlos Carrasco, a pair of 2016 draft picks in Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale, and 23-year-old Triston McKenzie round out a starting five that own a 2.95 ERA and a 10.9 K/9.

3. The bullpen isn’t half bad, either, and the most interesting arm in it belongs to James Karinchak. The right-hander, who went to Valley Central High School in Montgomery, N.Y., is a strikeout king with a funky delivery. As a minor leaguer in 2019, he recorded 74 of 91 outs via the punch-out. Karinchak has been nearly as good this year with the Indians, striking out 53 in 27 innings (81 outs) to go with a 2.67 ERA. He has a nasty curveball, wears No. 99 and enters to “Wild Thing” — with the haircut to match.

Shane Bieber
Shane BieberMLB Photos via Getty Images

4. The Indians had a chaotic September, all just to end up in the same position they were in entering the month: second place in their division and the No. 4 seed in the American League. On Sept. 16, the Indians lost their eighth straight game — second straight by walk-off — and had dropped to the No. 8 seed in the AL. Four days later, they started a six-game winning streak, which included three walk-off wins, to vault them back to the No. 4 seed.

5. There was drama off the field, too. Plesac was sent home during an August series in Chicago after he was found to have broken COVID-19 protocols by going out with friends on a Saturday night. Clevinger was later revealed to have done the same. Both were eventually demoted to the alternate site after a team meeting, with Plesac making things worse when he offered a tone-deaf apology on social media. But Plesac was called back up after Clevinger was traded to the Padres and finished the year with a 2.28 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings.

Yankees-Indians ties

The Yankees and Indians may not have seen each other this season, but there’s no lack of familiarity between the two sides. A look at how they are connected:

Aaron Boone

The first game Aaron Boone played after tearing his ACL in a game of pickup basketball — opening the door for the Yankees to sign Alex Rodriguez — came wearing an Indians uniform. The Yankees manager signed with Cleveland in June of 2004 while continuing to rehab, then played for the Indians in 2005 and 2006. He batted .246 with a .680 OPS and 23 home runs across 247 games.

Cal Quantrill

The Indians pitcher was 8 years old when his dad, Paul, signed with the Yankees in December of 2003. Paul went on to post an 8-3 record and 5.23 ERA across 108 relief appearances in pinstripes before being traded to the Padres midseason in 2005. The Yankees drafted Cal out of high school in 2013, but he went to Stanford and became a first-round pick of the Padres in 2016. The Indians landed him in the Clevinger trade and Quantrill finished the year with a 2.25 ERA, mostly out of the bullpen.

Clint Frazier

The Indians drafted Frazier fifth overall in the 2013 MLB draft and he rose through their system up to Triple-A Columbus in 2016. Then came the Andrew Miller trade on deadline day that July, sending the reliever to the Indians for Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. Frazier finally established an everyday role for himself this season after more injuries in the Yankees outfield, improving his defense and providing a strong bat before cooling off late.

Gio Urshela

Long before Urshela turned into a revelation for the Yankees last season, he signed with the Indians as a 16-year-old international free agent in 2008. Seven years later, the third baseman made his major-league debut with the Indians as a midseason call-up. But after Urshela hit .225 with a .587 OPS in 148 games across two seasons, the Indians traded him to the Blue Jays in 2018 for cash considerations or a player to be named later.

Matt Blake

The Yankees’ first-year pitching coach had the same role at Lincoln-Sudbury High School and in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2015 when the Indians hired him as their pitching coordinator. He has been credited with helping to develop some of the Indians’ young arms like Bieber, Plesac,  Civale and Clevinger. Blake had just been promoted to the Indians’ director of pitching development when the Yankees hired him away to replace Larry Rothschild.

Adam Plutko

The 2011 UCLA baseball team won the Pac-10 championship behind a starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Adam Plutko. Bauer is gone from the Indians but Plutko remains and now meets his former teammate in the MLB playoffs. While Cole will start Game 1, Plutko could be used as a reliever after transitioning to the bullpen in September.

Playoff history

The Yankees were nearly matched up with the White Sox or Rays, with whom they have no postseason history. The Indians, on the other hand, are common October enemies. Here’s how past playoff series played out:

1997 ALDS

Trying to defend their World Series title, the wild-card Yankees dropped the first-round series in five games even after going up 2-1 on the Indians.

Joe Torre’s crew won the opener 8-6, despite David Cone giving up five runs in the top of the first inning, as Tino Martinez, Tim Ranes, Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill all homered. The Indians came back to even the series by scoring seven runs off Andy Pettitte for a 7-5 win in Game 2.

David Wells then threw a complete game win in Game 3 to put the Yankees on the verge of advancing. They were ready to do so in Game 4 before Mariano Rivera blew a save in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Indians walked it off, 3-2, against Ramiro Mendoza in the ninth.

The Indians finished off the comeback in Game 5, with Manny Ramirez driving in two runs and Jaret Wright out-pitching Pettitte for a 4-3 win.

1998 ALCS

The Yankees got a chance at redemption a year later and didn’t let it go to waste, on the way to another World Series title. They won 114 games during the regular season and then beat the Indians 4-2 in the ALCS.

David Wells tossed a gem in Game 1, a 7-2 Yankees win. The Indians evened the series in Game 2, though it took 12 innings as they scored three runs off Jeff Nelson to win it 4-1.

Bartolo Colon then came up with a complete-game gem of his own for a 6-1 Indians win in Game 3, but Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez answered with seven shutout innings in Game 4 to lead the Yankees to a 4-0 win against Dwight Gooden.

Chili Davis helped the Yankees take Game 5, 5-3, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs to match another strong start from Wells. The Yankees closed it out in Game 6, a 9-5 win, with Scott Brosius driving in three runs and scoring two more in the clincher.

2007 ALDS

The AL Central-champion Indians beat the wild-card Yankees 3-1 and set the tone right from the start.

The Tribe won Game 1, 12-3, clobbering Chien-Ming Wang while CC Sabathia picked up the win. Kenny Lofton was one of three Indians with three hits and he added four RBIs. The Indians then won Game 2 in much different fashion — after Joba Chamberlain was swarmed by midges while giving up the lead in the eighth inning — with Travis Hafner delivering a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning against Luis Vizcaino for the 2-1 win.

The Yankees made sure there would be no sweep, coming back to the Bronx to beat up on Jake Westbrook. Johnny Damon went 3-for-4 with four RBIs while Phil Hughes relieved Roger Clemens (in the final game of his career) and picked up the win.

But the Indians ended it in four games, getting to Wang again for a 6-4 win.

2017 ALDS

The Yankees helped make Joe Girardi’s crucial replay gaffe in Game 2 a footnote rather than the story of the series, which they came back to win in five games after facing a 2-0 hole.

Trevor Bauer blanked the Yankees in Game 1 with Jay Bruce providing the offense against Sonny Gray in a 4-0 Indians win. Game 2 was a wild one, with the Indians prevailing 9-8 in 13 innings after the Yankees blew an 8-3 lead — with some help from Lonnie Chisenhall loading the bases with two outs in the sixth inning on a hit-by-pitch that never hit him. Girardi failed to challenge the play, though, and Francisco Lindor came up next to crack a grand slam, setting the Indians’ comeback in motion.

But the Yankees got their manager’s back. Masahiro Tanaka threw seven shutout innings and Greg Bird homered for a 1-0, Game 3 win. Luis Severino then out-pitched Bauer in Game 4 for a 7-3 win before Didi Gregorius (3-for-4, three RBIs, two runs) and the Yankees finished the job with a 5-2, Game 5 win in Cleveland.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Lamar Jackson to Mark Andrews: The most important QB-TE combination in the NFL

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Lamar Jackson to Mark Andrews: The most important QB-TE combination in the NFL

Every great quarterback needs a great pass-catcher, even when that QB runs as much as Lamar Jackson. For Jackson, his most important passing-game relationship is with Baltimore’s budding star at tight end, Mark Andrews.

In his third year out of Oklahoma, Andrews might not be as familiar a name to NFL fans as Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz or Rob Gronkowski. But starting with a “Monday Night Football” showdown against Kelce, the third-year Ravens tight end will begin to show a national audience that he deserves to be in the same conversation as the best tight ends in football.

Even more so, Andrews might already have claim to a different title. While those other top tight ends reside with great wide receivers or in run-heavy offenses, Andrews is the most important piece of Jackson’s passing, making Lamar Jackson to Mark Andrews the most important quarterback-tight end combination in the NFL.

MORE: Remembering the time Lamar Jackson leaped over a defender in college

How good is Mark Andrews?

Andrews was the rare college tight end who put up big numbers. In his junior season at Oklahoma in 2017, Andrews caught 62 passes for 958 yards. That won him the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in the country. But he fell to the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft because of concerns over his non-receiving skillset. The Ravens even picked a different tight end, Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina, in the first round before doubling down at the position with Andrews in the third. 

In 2018, Andrews’ rookie year, the Ravens still depended on Joe Flacco at quarterback for more than half the season before Jackson took over. At that point, Baltimore ran most of its offense through Jackson and the ground game, so Andrews finished with 34 catches and three touchdowns. As Jackson broke out in 2019, so did Andrews, catching 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. That endeared him to fantasy owners, but with the broader NFL discussion focusing mostly on Jackson, Andrews didn’t get his full due.

It didn’t help that Andrews failed to show up in two of Baltimore’s highest-profile 2019 games. Against the Chiefs in Week 3, Andrews caught three passes for 15 yards. Then when the Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs by the Titans, Andrews again lacked big plays, finishing with four catches for 39 yards. He didn’t score in either of those losses. 

Andrews has picked up his production right where he left off (aside from those losses) in 2020: He caught six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. That was followed by 29 receiving yards on one catch in Week 2, but that came while Baltimore focused on running the ball down Houston’s throat.

Why Lamar Jackson needs Mark Andrews

To make the case that Andrews is more important to Jackson than Travis Kelce is to Patrick Mahomes, or George Kittle to Jimmy Garoppolo, we need to look at those situations. In Kansas City, it’s pretty simple: Tyreek Hill is a better wideout for Mahomes than anyone Jackson has in Baltimore (no offense, Marquise Brown). And San Francisco is one of the most run-heavy teams in football, relying on its running backs for yardage whether Kittle is at tight end or whether it’s Jordan Reed or Ross Dwelley, as it’s been the past two weeks in two 49ers victories. 

It was Brown who got the early headlines in 2019 thanks to his two long touchdowns in Week 1, but he didn’t live up to that hype the rest of the season. It was Andrews who Jackson relied on consistently in the red zone and to move the chains. Andrews led the Ravens in receiving by more than 200 yards a season ago. Jackson targeted him 14 times in the red zone — each of the seven times those passes were completed, Andrews finished the play in the end zone with a touchdown. 

Think back to Vernon Davis in San Francisco under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who currently fills that same role with the Ravens. Davis finished second on the 49ers in receiving yards from Alex Smith in 2011 and Colin Kaepernick in 2013. Throwing to the tight end is a key component to Roman’s offense, especially when options are incorporated for the quarterback — it’s often the early-releasing tight end over the middle as the best player to throw to on run-pass options. When that tight end is as athletic as Davis or Andrews, who ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, there’s huge potential for chunk yardage and touchdowns.

How Mark Andrews can reach Travis Kelce’s level

Andrews and Kelce will be the unsung story of a Week 3 2020 game that will be all about Jackson vs. Mahomes. Kelce has been a top-two tight end in football for the past five years — he’s broken the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of the past four seasons and already has 140 yards through two games this year. As long as Andrews plays in a Jackson-led offense, his raw totals may not approach those heights because of the frequency with which Jackson himself runs.

At least in 2019, Andrews was already the bigger-play threat, averaging 0.6 yards per catch more than Kelce (and Andrews’ yards per catch has increased from 13.3 to 14.5 in the small sample size of 2020). Kelce reels in a higher percentage of his targets, although some of that can be chalked up to the difference in arm talent between Jackson and Mahomes. Andrews still had a better yardage per route run than Kelce in 2019, second only to Kittle, according to Pro Football Focus.

Baltimore takes Andrews off the field on about a third of its plays as the Ravens often prefer Nick Boyle in run-blocking situations, which isn’t a move the Chiefs make with Kelce on running downs. But if anything, that might just be good for Andrews’ long-term health, and not as much a condemnation of his blocking chops. 

The reality is that on a per-play basis, Andrews might already be as good as Kelce. Put him in Kansas City’s offense and he’d rival Kelce’s massive numbers. And because the Ravens don’t have a dynamic outside target like Hill, Andrews is that much more important to Jackson and one of football’s most potent offenses.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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