MADRID, Spain -- Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late equalizer as Real Madrid avoided a bruising derby defeat at Spanish title rival Atletico Madrid with a 2-2 draw on Sunday. Nashville Predators Jerseys . Ronaldo pounced on a loose ball inside the area to net the 82nd-minute equalizer -- his 23rd goal of the season for the league leaders. Karim Benzema put Madrid ahead at the Vicente Calderon Stadium after three minutes but, instead of wilting, Atletico hit back with two goals to take the lead by halftime. Koke smashed a low shot beyond Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who then watched Gabi Fernandezs swerving effort from 30 metres (yards) fly past him just before the break. Madrid stayed three points ahead of Atletico, but Barcelona was able to cut its deficit to Madrid to one point after a laboured 4-1 win against Almeria at the Camp Nou. Barcelona led 2-0 by the 24th after Alexis Sanchez tapped a rebound into the empty goal before Lionel Messi curled an exquisite left-foot free kick around the defensive wall and into the top of the goal for his 15th league strike of the season. A rout looked in the cards until Angel Trujillo got free to head home a corner in the 27th, and the relegation-threatened club made Barcelona work for its points. Carles Puyol, who had made a rare start, scored an even rarer goal after Messis header came off the bar straight to him in the 83rd minute. Xavi Hernandez scored moments later as the Catalans bounced back from a 3-1 loss to Real Sociedad last weekend. Madrid leads with 64 points, Barcelona has 63, and Atletico is on 61 points. The fifth meeting between crosstown rivals Atletico and Madrid since last Mays Copa del Rey final kept its trademark liveliness and aggression, with Atletico knowing defeat would likely end its dreams of a first title since 1996. "Atletico tried to make the game violent," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We dont play that way, however. But they tried right to the end." Atleticos defence played Benzema onside for the France striker to score his 15th of the season, leaving him alone to guide Angel Di Marias cross into the box past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Ugly confrontations followed as both teams used gamesmanship to try and gain an edge, with Arda Turan booked for protesting in the 11th after Sergio Ramos tripped Diego Costa inside the area with no penalty awarded. But Atleticos pressure paid off in the 28th when Turan spotted Koke inside the area to smash past Lopez. Diego Costa, who will play at the Calderon for Spain on Wednesday, was a physical presence and troubled Madrid throughout. Atletico took the lead in first-half stoppage time when Gabis powerful drive beat the slow-footed Lopez for a deserved lead. In the second half, Lopez kept it close as Atletico found space on the counter with Madrid pressing for an equalizer. Despite being outplayed, Madrids attack finally connected when Gareth Bale failed to control a cross but the ball fell to Ronaldo to extend Madrids unbeaten run in all competitions to 28 games. "Atletico played a bruising style right to the end, when we finally got a chance to play and create opportunities," Ancelotti said. Madrid is unbeaten at the Calderon for 15 games, dating to June 1999. "The result is what it is," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We had chances to win it. At least we showed we are still alive in the title race." Ruben Castros late goal gave bottom side Real Betis a 1-1 draw at 10-man Villarreal, which slipped six points from fourth and the final Champions League spot. Betis was left 11 points from safety. Real Sociedad fell seven points behind fourth-place Athletic Bilbao after Kevin Gameiro skipped through a pair of defenders and netted the rebound from his initial shot to lead Sevilla to a 1-0 victory. Joaquin Larrivey scored as Rayo Vallecano climbed within three points of 17th-place Almeria -- and safety from the drop -- with a 1-0 win over Valencia, which played the last 15 minutes with 10 men. Matt Irwin Predators Jersey . Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 after opening with a 77 -- his worst score of the season -- on TPC San Antonios AT&T Oaks Course. Lefty was 11 strokes behind leader Steven Bowditch, the Australian who had a 67 to reach 8-under 136. Austin Watson Jersey . Forward Iker Muniain scored the winner in the 70th minute after Bilbaos incessant pressure recovered the ball and sparked a counterattack inside Barcelonas half. Neymar was once again tagged to pick up Messis goal-scoring duties, but when he wasnt frustrated by slippery footing Bilbaos defence got the better of him. http://www.authenticpredatorspro.com/Kyle-turris-predators-jersey/ . -- Masahiro Tanaka knows that first appearance in a spring training game for the New York Yankees will be scrutinized.TORONTO – Jonathan Bernier had made a mere 54 starts in the NHL before he joined the Maple Leafs this past summer. "I played a lot in junior, played a lot in the AHL, but last three years I didnt play much, so I kind of forgot how to prepare myself," said Bernier in conversation with the Leaf Report. "I forgot how hard it is to be ready every night." He is rapidly rediscovering what it takes. Making his third straight start in a rare Sunday night affair, the 25-year-old stopped 41 shots as the Leafs picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in three weeks, topping the Hurricanes 5-2 at the ACC. Bernier has sizzled with a .949 save percentage in his last five games, settling into a groove in the Toronto crease. He appears firmly on track to start in Wednesdays Winter Classic. "Thats up to Randy," said Bernier with a smile, now ranked eighth in the NHL with a .930 save percentage this season. "Obviously, itd be a really nice experience, but like Ive said since the beginning, you cant control what Randy is going to decide. Thats up to him." Bernier spoke earlier in the year about the mental and physical preparation required to play near-nightly in an NHL crease. Having tended goal as the back-up to Jonathan Quick for years with the Kings, he had forgotten the formula it took for success. With 23 starts already as a Leaf, he is picking it up once more. "Youve got to learn when to push yourself in practice or when to rest yourself, all those little things; when to work in the gym, when not," he explained. "You dont want to overwork, but at the same time you need those good practices to get back in the game and feel good about yourself." He is admittedly better prepared for the workload, one that is considerably more taxing night to night than what he experienced in Los Angeles. Sunday marked the fifth time he faced at least 40 shots this season. Its just another step in the learning process. "Im sure Ill be a different goalie or different person in two years from now," he said. "I never really played that much in this league so far. Its all new for me." Five Points 1. Bozaks Impactful Return Playing his first game since Dec. 3, returning from an oblique injury, Tyler Bozak made a splash with three assists against Carolina. The 27-year-old had a hand in both Phil Kessel goals – Kessels team-leading 19th and 20th – adding his 10th assist this season on Paul Rangers second goal of the year. Bozak, who entered the night averaging upwards of 21 minutes a game, was held to 17-plus on Sunday night, his ice-time managed after more than three weeks on long-term injured reserve. That will change in the near future according to Carlyle, who relies on the fifth-year centre in all situations. "We think a lot of a player by the number of minutes he plays," said Carlyle. "Usually thats a good indication of how coaches feel about players." The Leafs coach spoke of Bozaks intangibles. "Hes a smart hockey player," Carlyle continued. "He does a lot of little things that dont get noticed on the score-sheet and he puts himself in a position to be the safety valve for the other two players hes playing with." Alongside Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Bozak and the Toronto top line enjoyed a flurry of opportunities against the Hurricanes, including a handful of breakaways for Kessel, but also had their issues in the defensive zone, being outshot by the trio of Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin and Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe scored Carolinas first goal of the game with the line out on the ice. Prior to the game, van Riemsdyk spoke of Bozaks ability to impact the trio as a "safety valve" defensively. "Were usually going against other teams top offensive units and hes really good at competing with them down-low, getting the puck out of the zone," said van Riemsdyk. "When he does that…it gives all of us more energy to play offence. When youre not getting hemmed in as much and youre good defensively. you have more energy to expend on offence." Bozak now has eight points in the past five games hes played, also winning 14 of 26 draws on this night. 2. Face-off Work Carlyle stressed the need for increased competitiveness in the face-off circle prior to Sundays game and he got it. The Leafs won 60 per cent of their draws against the Hurricanes, led by Jay McClement, who emerged victorious on 15 of 24 face-offs. "If youre not having success against the individual, then Im about being competitive and I believe that our team has to become more competitive in those small areas," said Carlyle earlier in the day. "When theres a 50-50 opportunity to come up with the puck, I think we have to show more tenacity, more bite, and what it comes down to, its more competitive spirit." Jerred Smithson, reassigned to the Marlies on Saturday, recently offered a similar sentiment in conversation with the Leaf Report. "Its just wanting to win the battle more than that other guy," said Smithson, who held a 59 per cent mark in 17 games with the Leafs. "Thats the biggest thing for me, anyway. You know theres always different techniques, but just the will and the commpete going into the circle and wanting it just that much more. Mattias Ekholm Jersey. ." Outside of Smithson and McClement, Toronto centres have all dipped under the 50 per cent mark. Even Bozak, long the teams best face-off man, has fallen to 46 per cent in 17 games this season. Centre Face-off Percentage Jerred Smithson 58.6 Jay McClement 54.9 Tyler Bozak 46.6 Trevor Smith 45.2 Peter Holland 45.2 Nazem Kadri 42.1 Dave Bolland 41.3 The Leafs, at 47.2 per cent this season, sit 25th overall on the draw. 3. Opposing Strategy Despite beating the Hurricanes handily, the Leafs did not play what could be considered a smooth game. Carlyle felt his team was "overmatched in a lot of areas" and were outshot 43-27 and out-attempted 75-49. The Leafs coach has identified the formula of opposing teams. "They got to the red-line and they dumped the puck in," he said of the Hurricanes. "That seems to be the mandate for teams coming in here: you try to force us to play as much defence [as possible] in our own zone." Carlyle said opponents have been intent on forcing his team to recover pucks down low and along the walls in the Toronto zone, pinching their defencemen where possible for added support. "Its no secret," he said. "We havent been able to hand that or manage the game properly in that area and weve got to get better at it." 4. Best Period as a Leaf? David Clarkson left the bench for the final 13 minutes of the second period. The 29-year-old required stitches for a gash on his elbow. He returned a different player for the final frame. "Probably the best period of hockey hes played for us," said Carlyle of Clarksons third period. Employed in checking line duties alongside McClement and Nik Kulemin for the past five games, Clarkson seems to be gradually finding a role with the Leafs. On Sunday, his units duties included a showdown with Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. And though they were outshot, the trio managed to keep Carolinas top line off the scoresheet. "We feel confident that we can put that line on the ice against any line weve played so far," Carlyle said. "So when you have that type of confidence in the group, the sum of the three, its a good sign for the coaching staff. We feel confident in those players. And if you notice their minutes, they get to play a lot." 5. Hollands Opportunity With Bozak back from a 12-game stint on injured reserve and a checking unit of Clarkson, Kulemin and McClement remaining intact, Peter Holland moved down the lineup Sunday into the fourth line centre position. The shift wasnt because of performance. Holland has made good use of an opportunity presented by the teams injury troubles. He entered the evening with eight points in the previous 10 games. "I thought Ive come in and Ive gotten stronger pretty much on a consistent basis, game in, game out," said the 22-year-old, shooting a blistering 23 per cent on six goals this season. "Whether Im playing five minutes or 15 minutes, I think Im just trying to do my best to earn the respect of my coaches and the rest of my teammates. Just do the little things right; winning battles; winning face-offs; being on the defensive side of pucks. I think when Ive done a good job of that the offence has come, so I just need to stick with that." Holland, who played only eight minutes against Carolina, is tied for third on the team in December scoring. Stats-Pack .949 – Save percentage for Jonathan Bernier over the past five games. 43-72 – Leafs in the face-off circle against the Hurricanes. 17:14 – Ice-time for Tyler Bozak in his return to the lineup against Carolina. 6 – Seasons with 20-plus goals for Phil Kessel. 8 – Points in the last five games for Bozak, who had three assists against the Hurricanes. 8 – Goals from the Toronto defence in the past 12 games. Along with Ranger, Dion Phaneuf scored his fourth marker of the season on Sunday. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-2 Season: 22.3% (5th) PK: 1-2 Season: 77.5% (27th) Quote of the Night "I wasnt waving the pompoms to be involved with it to start with." -Randy Carlyle, on the upcoming Winter Classic. Up Next The Leafs face the Red Wings in Wednesdays Winter Classic. ' ' '