Rielly scores winner, Andersen excellent as Leafs beat Bruins in overtime - Canadanewsmedia
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Rielly scores winner, Andersen excellent as Leafs beat Bruins in overtime

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All things considered, the Toronto Maple Leafs would prefer if Frederik Andersen had stolen a game or two from the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Like, say, in either of the past two Game 7s against the Bruins.

For now, the Leafs will continue to have to settle for Andersen’s regular-season dominance against the Bruins.

Andersen again handled the Bruins in a 4-3 Toronto overtime victory at Scotiabank Arena, making 43 saves in an entertaining affair before a crowd of 19,394.

“He was huge for us,” Auston Matthews said. “He was solid in there, made some big saves, kept us in it at times we weren’t playing well, especially in the second period. He had a heck of a game.”

Andersen, who entered the game with a career .927 save percentage against the Bruins in 13 games, improved to 12-2-0 versus Boston.

Morgan Rielly got the winner at 3:54 of the extra period, his second goal of the game and of the season, when a shot by Mitch Marner deflected off him and past Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak.

The 46 shots represented the most the Leafs have allowed in a game this season, eclipsing the previous high of 42 against Montreal on Oct. 5. Toronto had 29 shots on Halak.

Matthews called it “a statement game” and Rielly carried a similar tune.

“Yeah, it’s big,” Rielly said. “A team within the division, not having (captain) John (Tavares). Kind of a point in our year where we want to get going and I think we answered the bell. Not as clean as we wanted, but we got it done.”

The Leafs, in their first game without Tavares as he nurses a broken finger, lost forward Andreas Johnsson in the second period.

Johnsson blocked a Brandon Carlo shot and hobbled to the bench, with the Leafs announcing at the beginning of the third period that Johnsson would not return because of a leg injury.

Coach Mike Babcock said Johnsson should “be fine” and that X-rays were negative.

Babcock threw a curve at the Bruins at the opening faceoff, putting Marner on Matthews’ right side with Johnsson on the left. That move dropped William Nylander to a line with Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Kerfoot.

While Matthews and Marner liked the chemistry they had with each other, don’t count on them becoming a long-term duo.

“Not really,” Babcock said when he was asked whether he is tempted to keep the two together further into the season.

“I’m tempted to have the best lineup we can and if that’s them together, then I’d do that. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I can’t predict that. You get to write about it after, I have to decide during. It’s not as easy to second-guess during. You’ve got to make those decisions in advance. Sometimes it goes good and you feel great. Sometimes it goes terrible and you wish you wouldn’t have done it.”

Sorry, Leafs Nation.

GAME ON

Rielly’s winner originally was credited to Marner, and while both Marner and Matthews figured the shot hit Rielly before going in, Rielly would not admit to as much … No surprise, Rielly gave the game basketball to Andersen … David Pastrnak scored his ninth goal in seven games, tying the game with a one-timer off a pass from Brad Marchand at 15:34 of the third period … Kerfoot scored the go-ahead goal at 2:37 of the third, swatting the puck behind Halak … Danton Heinen tied the game for the Bruins early in the third period as Martin Marincin served a hooking minor … Rielly, with his first goal after scoring a career-high 20 last season, opened the scoring at 5:55 of the first. Rielly’s shot from the point came about after some fine spade work by Johnsson, and went in the net after bouncing off a Bruin … Andersen made point-blank saves on Patrice Bergeron and Marchand during a Bruins power play in the second period, and was thanking the hockey gods when Jake DeBrusk fanned on what appeared to be an easy tap-in … Dmytro Timashov won’t have to fictionalize when he describes his first NHL goal to his grandkids one day. It was a beauty all right, coming at 15:44 of the first when he fired a shot into the top corner of the net over Halak’s glove, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead. “It’s a dream come true,” Timashov said. “I didn’t think it would come this soon because I don’t score a lot of goals.” … Among Andersen’s harder stops of the 18 shots he faced in the first period was a pad save on a low shot from Torey Krug, which found its way to the net through a screen. Not long after, DeBrusk scored on a pass from Coyle … Marchand was booed throughout and further endeared himself to Leafs fans when he slammed Cody Ceci into the end boards with a clean check … We were fine with Marincin taking a roughing penalty when he tackled David Backes, who had run into Andersen. That negated a Leafs power play, as Backes was going for goalie interference, but it was better than Marincin standing by and doing nothing. Said Andersen, who was bumped twice during the game: “It’s a tough battle for goalies … It’s tough to police yourself. Maybe something (for the NHL) to look at.” … Dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff was tennis star Bianca Andreescu, still riding the high of winning the U.S. Open in September.

LEARNING CURVES

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is one of the more insightful people in the game, so his thoughts on the Leafs following the morning skate weren’t overly surprising.

There’s no secret that the state of the Leafs’ defence corp remains a work in progress, and Cassidy diplomatically acknowledged as much.

“Defensively, we are always looking for where we can expose teams, no matter who we play,” Cassidy said. “Probably (with the Leafs), it’s too early to tell. I think it’s unfair (to make judgements barely two weeks into the regular season). When you get new D partners like (the Leafs have), that’s one area where chemistry is really important, I think more than up front. Let’s judge it a little bit more down the road.”

There have been bumps, to say the least, with the pairing of Rielly and Ceci; Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie also are getting up to par with each other.

We asked Ceci how he would grade his own play through the Leafs’ first eight games, and the 25-year-old answered in general terms.

“Right now, like a lot of us, we’re just trying to get a little consistency in our games and so far it has been good,” Ceci said. “It’s a lot of fun to play with these players and have a chance to play with Rielly. At the same time, we have to figure out how to get wins more consistently and to do it every single night.”

HUTCH HOMEWORK

Paying close attention from the end of the Leafs bench was backup goalie Michael Hutchinson, who is in line to start on Tuesday in Boston against the Bruins.

Hutchinson won’t have to rely solely on video review in his preparation for that game. Fresh mental notes from Saturday night should serve him well.

“It definitely helps,” Hutchinson said. “You go over a ton of video, so you already have a good scouting report going in. When you’re sitting on the bench and seeing the game live, you get a better feel for it. It should be a benefit, knowing we are going to be playing them soon again.”

Specifically?

“A lot of it is in power-play setup, which guys are in which spots for them, and different tendencies they might have,” Hutchinson said. “You always look for things we watch in our video scout and to see them in person reiterates for myself these are plays they like to run and tendencies they have.

“At the same time, when you get into the game on Tuesday, you don’t even really think about it. You just go out there and play, but it’s always in the back of your mind. Things happen so fast that every little bit of knowledge that you have comes in handy.”

While Hutchinson is fairly sure that Babcock won’t stray from the plan — which is to use the backup in the second game of back-to-back sets, no matter the opponents in either game — Hutchinson tries not to look too far ahead and study the schedule to see when his starts will come.

“It took me two years to get back in the NHL, so I’m just taking it one day at a time, enjoying every single day, whether it’s a practice day or a game day,” Hutchinson said.

LOOSE LEAFS

We’ve all seen the manner in which Nylander has been a better player to start this season — he’s a lot more engaged, and in turn, his vast skill is put to better use — than he was at any point last year after signing a contract on Dec. 1. Babcock’s view? “I think Willy would tell you that he’s feeling way better than he was at this time last year,” Babcock said. “I think he was on some beach in Sweden or something last year at this time so just being at the rink is a real step in the right direction.” A beach in October in Sweden. That’s a chilly thought … Following the morning skate, Babcock said, yes, he had updates on injured Zach Hyman (knee) and Travis Dermott (shoulder), told reporters he ate breakfast with Hyman earlier in the morning, said recovery doesn’t happen as fast as players want and wound up not giving an actual update on either player.

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED

Matthews’ minutes
In the Maple Leafs’ first game without John Tavares, Auston Matthews played 23 minutes 12 seconds — the second-most in his career. For the most part, Matthews had a tough challenge with the Patrice Bergeron line.

No chances
The Leafs didn’t have a power play, noted by coach Mike Babcock. “How many did we get?” Babcock said. The answer was none. Babcock, tongue in cheek: “I didn’t know that.” The Bruins had three.

Big hitters
The Leafs were credited with 36 hits, including nine by Dmytro Timashov. “What I like about him is he is nasty,” Babcock said. “He hits everything that moves and is heavy on the puck.”

Goat the best
The Leafs continued to get a strong performance from Frederik Gauthier, who played just under 10 minutes. Gauthier took 12 faceoffs, winning seven.

Rielly rising
Not only did Morgan Rielly score a pair of goals, he led Toronto with eight shot attempts and blocked four shots, tying with Tyson Barrie for most among Leafs.

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Alex Ovechkin’s hit should get a review from the NHL

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Friday night’s game between the Canadiens and Capitals was a very fast-paced and entertaining affair. The Habs had one of their best performances of the year, but unfortunately there was one negative moment that I feel needs to be singled out.

Alex Ovechkin came off his feet to hammer Jonathan Drouin, and it was quite disgusting.

Claude Julien said after the game that he didn’t feel there was contact with the head. I’d argue that there is, but it wasn’t the primary point of contact, so you can’t really judge it as targeting the head.

What it is, however, is a blatant charge.

He very clearly comes off his feet to hit a defenseless player. He isn’t egregiously late, but the puck isn’t on Drouin’s stick by the time he makes contact either, so he’s gaining no advantage possession-wise. At any rate, it’s a textbook charge, and inexplicably went uncalled by the officials at the time.

The official in the half-piston spot inside the Capitals zone should be embarrassed that he didn’t make the call. He’s literally staring at it. I’m stunned that he could watch that happen and think it was okay. I’d love to hear him explain how it isn’t a penalty, because he shouldn’t be allowed to officiate another hockey game at any level if he even tries to defend that no-call.

Let’s hear from the man himself, who thought it necessary to defend the hit by reminding us all that hockey is not the same as dancing.

Gee, Alexander, thanks for reminding me I didn’t accidentally put Black Swan on my television. You’re definitely not a ballerina, but you broke the rules of hockey with that hit, plain and simple.

A good example of a hockey play would be the goal you scored in the third. When it comes to your hit on Drouin, you come off your feet to obliterate a defenseless player. Hits are supposed to be an effort to take possession of the puck from the recipient, which you obviously can’t do when you fly through the air for said hit and end up landing on top of the recipient.

It’s a hockey play only in the sense that it happened in a hockey game. That is you putting a hurt on another player, which I’d argue is tantamount to intent to injure.

And if it is a ‘hockey play’ as you say, Mr. Ovechkin, how deliciously ironic is it that your hit woke the Habs up and preceded a four-goal period for your opposition?

Plays like this don’t belong in hockey. As a Habs fan I almost wished they had a Ryan Reaves to send out there and do some reciprocal damage. Shea Weber probably could have taken that role and rearranged Ovechkin’s face, but luckily the team instead rallied together and decided to punish the Capitals on the scoreboard, where it really hurts.

If the Habs had a pure goon on their roster to go take revenge, they’d have a roster spot occupied by someone incapable of providing the speed with which they dismantled the best team in the league. In retrospect, I’m glad that they don’t, because they put on a hell of a performance in the wake of the hit.

But the NHL should take a second look at this, and since they probably won’t go the route of a suspension, at least levy a fine to say that you’re not okay with this behaviour. Send some sort of message that even if you’re a superstar, you can’t just go around taking runs at people.

Because doing nothing sends a message that teams should soldier up to punish those hits themselves, and you set the game of hockey back in time.

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Charge dropped against Toronto Raptors fan who made vulgar comment about Ayesha Curry

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Tristan Warkentin made a lewd remark that was directed at Ayesha Curry, seen here on Oct. 8, 2015, while staring directly into the camera. Rich Fury/The Associated Press

A Toronto Raptors fan who made a vulgar comment on live television about Ayesha Curry, wife of NBA star Stephen Curry, has been ordered to stay away from both her and the reporter to whom he made the comment.

Prosecutors on Friday dropped a mischief charge against Tristan Warkentin, who has instead agreed to a common-law bond that orders him not to associate with Curry or CP24 reporter Kelly Linehan.

Warkentin also received counselling related to sexual harassment, court heard.

His lawyer, Richard Addelman, said outside court that his client “said some things and now he’s apologized for those things.”

Warkentin, standing beside his lawyer, declined to comment.

Linehan was interviewing Raptors fans after the team lost Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on June 2. She asked Warkentin about the vibe in Jurassic Park, where thousands of fans gathered to watch Raptors playoff games on big screens outside Scotiabank Arena.

That’s when Warkentin made the lewd remark that was directed at Ayesha Curry, whose husband plays for Golden State, while staring directly into the camera. The camera operator pulled away quickly and the audio went silent, but not before Warkentin used profane language on live television.

Stephen Curry – whose wife is an actress, celebrity cook, author and television personality who grew up in Markham, Ont. – later called insults against his family “stupid.”

Toronto police launched an investigation asking for the public’s help to identify the man. A few days later, police charged Warkentin with mischief by interfering with the lawful operation of property.

There have been a string of incidents involving the same profane taunt across the country, usually directed at female reporters and often at sporting events.

A similar incident outside a TFC soccer game in Toronto on CityNews in 2015 led to the firing of a Hydro One employee, although he was later rehired by the utility.

In one bad week in November 2017 for CHCH reporter Britt Dixon, she was harassed three separate times by men yelling the obscenity. In one case, Dixon was interviewing a Hamilton police officer who then arrested the man and charged him with causing a disturbance.

In Halifax in December 2017, CTV reporter Heather Butts was broadcasting live from a pub during a hockey game when Nash John Gracie made a crude gesture and uttered the same sexually explicit comment. He was charged with one count of public mischief and one count of causing a disturbance. Gracie later pleaded down to community service as part of a restorative justice process.

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Canadiens win 5-2 against Washington

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With the win over the team with the best record in the NHL, the Canadiens have earned at least one point in eight of their last nine games (7-1-1).

WASHINGTON — The Canadiens backed up a strong performance by Carey Price with a four-goal explosion in the second period and defeated the Washington Capitals 5-2 Friday at Capital One Arena.

With the win over the team with the best record in the NHL, the Canadiens have earned at least one point in eight of their last nine games (7-1-1).

Price has had his problems with Washington, but he made 25 saves to boost his career record against the Capitals to 8-14-5.

Canadiens’ Cale Fleury and Capitals’ Richard Panik battle for the puck at Capital One Arena on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Patrick Smith / Getty Images

The floodgates opened for the Canadiens after a strong forecheck led to the first Montreal goal at 6:33 of the second period. Pressure from Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot forced T.J. Oshie into a turnover as he tried to exit the Washington zone. Brendan Gallagher picked up the loose puck and Tomas Tatar, who was filling in for a banged-up Jonathan Drouin, found Phillip Danault alone in front, and he showed patience as he faked a shot and then lifted a backhander over rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s glove.

Weber beat the 22-year-old goaltender with a shot from the left faceoff circle at 9:16 and Samsonov looked weak when Jordan Weal beat him on a backhander to the far post at 11:42. Weal was returning to the lineup after four games as a healthy scratch.

The Canadiens enjoyed the first power play of the game and, while they didn’t score, they gained momentum and made it 4-0 seconds after Garnet Hathaway retuned to the ice. Rookie Nick Suzuki was credited with the goal when his attempt to set up Gallagher in front caromed off a defender.

It appears the Canadiens see an inordinate number of backup goaltenders, but Samsonov is already pencilled in as the No. 1 next season because cap-challenged Washington can’t afford to re-sign Braden Holtby, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July.

Samsonov, who had a 5-0-1 record coming into the game, was tough to beat in the first period. The Canadiens had the better of the play, outshooting the Capitals 15-8 on the strength of a flurry when they fired five shots on Samsonov in the final minute. Washington’s best scoring chance came midway through the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov hit a post.

The Canadiens did a good job of containing Alex Ovechkin, but he scored a power-play goal in the third period to end Price’s shutout bid. Ovechkin has made life difficult for Price and the Canadiens throughout his career. He has 32 goals and 53 points in 49 games against Montreal. He has scored 21 of those goals in 26 games against Price.

Kuznetsov scored on a breakaway with less than five minutes to play and the Capitals pulled their goalie. Price made made a save on Richard Panik to preserve the two-goal lead and Tatar scored an empty-netter to cap a four-point night.

Drouin was blindsided by Ovechkin early in the second period. He left the ice on his own power, but immediately went to the dressing room. He missed the rest of the period, but returned for the third.

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