Top Things to Know for Friday

Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. FORGET REGULATION: The Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks have offered extra playoff hockey every time they’ve met this series. FROM ELIAS: It’s just the second playoff series in NHL history where each of the first four games went to OT. That also means history for the Blackhawks – they’ve now gone to overtime in six straight playoff games dating back to last season, an NHL record.

Dwight HowardHoward

2. HOWARD OUT: Dwight Howard will miss the rest of the season, the playoffs and the Olympics this summer as he plans to undergo back surgery. Howard had been incredibly durable over the course of his career, but this year is the exception. He’s already missed eight games this season, one more than he missed in his first seven seasons combined. In his first four seasons, he didn’t miss a game.

3. HEAT CATCH FIRE: The Chicago Bulls were once against without Derrick Rose, and the Miami Heat took advantage with an 11-point win. The win pulled the Heat to within just a game and a half of the Bulls for the top spot in the East. And that could be crucial since all four meetings this season between the teams were won by the home team. As for the Bulls, they’re 17-9 without Rose this season. But against teams .500 or better, they are just 3-4 with three of those losses coming by double figures.

Curtis GrandersonGranderson4. THE GRANDY MAN CAN: Curtis Granderson accomplished something that had never been done in New York Yankees history. He had five hits including three home runs. Granderson just missed joining an elite club – Lou Gehrig is the only player to hit four home runs in a game with the Yankees.

5. TROUBLE IN THE WINDY CITY: Blustery times in the Windy City. The Blackhawks loss puts them on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. The Bulls lost to the Heat, failed to clinch the East’s top seed and saw their lead for the top spot shrink to a game and a half. The Cubs and White Sox both lost on Thursday, making Chicago’s baseball teams a combined 9-16 this season.