Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press

UNDATED (AP) — Fresh teams in the NHL’s conference finals have paved the way for another generation of breakout stars in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Sharks’ Logan Couture, Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin, Bruins’ Brad Marchand and Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly are among those who have raised their profiles this postseason. No Sidney Crosby, no Alex Ovechkin, no problem as hockey gets introduced to some new headliners.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Logan Couture once again led the way in the playoffs for the San Jose Sharks with two goals and one assist in a Game 1 win over St. Louis in the opener of the Western Conference final. Couture has been delivering that kind of performance throughout his career in the postseason. He leads the NHL this year with 11 goals and 17 points and is second in playoff goals to Alex Ovechkin since his first postseason in 2010.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Josh Bell homered and drove in a career-high five runs and Adam Frazier hit a tiebreaking, pinch-hit double to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 10-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates scored five times in the seventh inning and twice in the eighth to rally from a 6-3 deficit. Pittsburgh has won six of eight, including the final three of its four-game series at St. Louis. Paul Goldschmidt and José Martínez homered for the Cardinals, who have lost five of six and nine of 11.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cole Irvin was outstanding in his major league debut and the Philadelphia Phillies scored six times in the fifth inning to beat the Kansas City Royals 6-1 in the rubber match of their three-game series. J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run double and Odubel Herrera followed with a two-run single for Philadelphia.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Alex Bowman quite literally had his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in his sights, ticking off the laps in his No. 88 Chevrolet at the front of the pack at Kansas Speedway. Too bad Brad Keselowski was in his rearview mirror. The result was a third consecutive second-place run for a driver still in search of his first win.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Paul Arriola scored in his second consecutive game and D.C. United beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. Bill Hamid had four saves for D.C. United (7-3-2) for his sixth shutout of the season.

UNDATED (AP) — Triple-A baseball is seeing a dramatic increase in home runs with the major league ball being used for the first time at the highest level of the minor leagues. Home runs among the 30 Triple-A teams were up 65% over a comparable period in 2018. The Triple-A per-game average of 1.29 homers is even with the major league average and is a 48% increase from the 2018 Triple-A full-season average of 0.87.

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