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3 Keys: Lightning at Canadiens, Game 4 of Stanley Cup Final –



The Tampa Bay Lightning can win the Stanley Cup for the second time in less than 10 months when they visit the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre on Monday.

The Lightning won the Cup for the second time in their history Sept. 28, 2020, defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 of the Final.

“It’s been a ride,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. 

Tampa Bay can become the first team to sweep its opponent in the Cup Final since the Detroit Red Wings did it against the Washington Capitals in 1998.

The Lightning are the first team to win the first three games in the Cup Final since the Los Angeles Kings against the New York Rangers in 2014. The Kings lost Game 4 but won Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and take it, but it’s going to be hard,” Lightning defenseman David Savard said. “We know that team on the other side doesn’t want to go down without a fight.”

The Canadiens will try to become the fifth NHL team to come back after losing the first three games in a best-of-7 series and second to do it in the Cup Final (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs). They are the 200th team to trail 3-0, including the 28th in the Cup Final.

Tampa Bay has outscored Montreal 14-5 and hasn’t trailed in the series. The Lightning had one-goal leads after the first period in Games 1 and 3.

“There is a lot of energy,” Canadiens forward Paul Byron said. “Everyone on the team knows we can play better. It’s a big challenge for the team, but everyone has to play to their potential tonight. I like the energy. I like the atmosphere on the team. We’ll see tonight.”

Here are 3 keys for Game 4:

1. Price must be right 

Canadiens goalie Carey Price has been badly outplayed in the series by his Lightning counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Price has a 4.39 goals-against average and an .835 save percentage, allowing 13 goals on 79 shots. Vasilevskiy has a 1.67 GAA and a .948 save percentage, allowing five goals on 97 shots.

It’s unlikely that the Canadiens will extend the series if Vasilevskiy continues to outshine Price.

2. Lightning need to block out noise

The Lightning don’t believe they’re going to get caught up in the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup because of their experience from last season. 

They lost Game 5 of the Cup Final against the Stars last season when they had a chance to win the series. They won it in Game 6.

“I remember vividly last year having an opportunity to knock out Dallas and I look back now my thoughts were all going in the wrong direction,” Cooper said. “You’re thinking about raising the Stanley Cup, what’s it going to be like after, lifelong dreams, who is going to get to drink out of it. That’s called channeling your energy in the wrong direction. 

“When we lost that game, I learned a lesson and it has to come back to your beliefs and it’s the process over the outcome. You can’t think of the outcome. You just have to believe in your process and whatever happens that’ll all take care of itself. Going into these games now, knowing how much is at stake, I’ve put it aside and I want to channel my energy into having our team play the best possible game.”

3. Canadiens make changes

The Canadiens will have a new look with several line and lineup changes in an attempt to shake things up and find some new energy, particularly at the start of the game.

The biggest change up front is inserting forward Jake Evans at center on the third line and scratching Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who has played 19 straight games since he was a healthy scratch in Game 1 against the Maple Leafs in the first round.

Evans, scratched the past two games after playing on the fourth line in Game 1, will center the third line with Artturi Lehkonen and Byron. Canadiens coach Dominque Ducharme said the line brings speed and energy, as it did in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers.

“They can play against top lines,” Ducharme said. “They showed it against [Connor] McDavid in two games.”

Brett Kulak and Alexander Romanov will enter the lineup on the third defense pair, replacing Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson.

“We wanted to bring a little bit more skating on our back end with those two guys,” Ducharme said. “We feel it’s important against them tonight and we’ll see.”

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

Tyler JohnsonAnthony CirelliSteven Stamkos

Barclay GoodrowYanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Pat MaroonRoss ColtonMathieu Joseph

Victor HedmanJan Rutta

Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev — David Savard

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Luke Schenn, Alex-Barre Boulet, Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Gemel Smith, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Fredrik Claesson, Cal Foote, Ben Thomas, Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin

Injured: Alex Killorn (undisclosed)

Canadiens projected lineup

Tyler ToffoliPhillip DanaultBrendan Gallagher

Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJosh Anderson

Paul Byron — Jake Evans — Artturi Lehkonen

Joel ArmiaEric StaalCorey Perry

Ben ChiarotShea Weber

Joel EdmundsonJeff Petry

Alexander Romanov — Brett Kulak

Carey Price

Jake Allen

Scratched: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cale Fleury, Jon Merrill, Lukas Vejdemo, Laurent Dauphin, Jesse Ylonen, Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, Otto Leskinen, Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson, Tomas Tatar, Cayden Primeau, Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven

Injured: None

Status report

Killorn will be a game-time decision, Cooper said. He has missed the past two games after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 1 when blocking a shot. … Toffoli will move up to the top line and replace Lehkonen, who will drop to the third line. Anderson will move up from the third line to the second line and Caufield will move from right wing to left wing. The Canadiens fourth line will remain the same from Game 3.

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Saint John moves into Memorial Cup title game with win over Shawinigan – ESPN



SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — William Dufour scored four times in a span of 19 minutes, 55 seconds and the host Saint John Sea Dogs advanced to the Memorial Cup championship game, beating the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rival Shawinigan Cataractes 5-3 on Saturday.

“To finish my [junior] career like this is so great,” Dufour said. “We have one more game to win. We’re just going to go for it.”

QMJHL champion Shawinigan will face Ontario Hockey League winner Hamilton on Monday night in the semifinal, with the winner advancing to face Saint John in the final Wednesday night.

Dufour erased Shawinigan’s 3-0 lead with a natural hat trick in the second, scoring at 2:02, 2:23 and 8:38. Jeremie Poirier gave the Sea Dogs the lead on a power play with 5:48 left in the period, and Dufour struck again at 1:57 of the third.

The 6-foot-3 Dufour, selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL draft by the New York Islanders, was the MVP of the QMJHL this season after scoring 56 goals and finishing with 116 points in the regular season.

Loris Rafanomezantsoa opened the scoring for Shawinigan at 49 seconds, Olivier Nadeau made it 2-0 with 5:27 left in the period and William Veillette connected with 43 seconds to go.

Nikolas Hurtubise made 26 saves for Saint John. The Sea Dogs had two victories and an overtime loss in round-robin play.

Canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event features the winners of the three major junior leagues and the host team.

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Canada’s Nathan Rourke throws record-setting 436 yards, Lions dominate Argos –



VANCOUVER — Even after setting a CFL record, B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke saw room for improvement.

The 24-year-old native of Victoria, B.C., threw for 436 yards on Saturday, powering the Lions to a dominant 44-3 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

It was the most passing yards a Canadian quarterback has ever put up in a CFL game, eclipsing the 427-yard mark set by Gerry Dattilio in 1981.

“I’m just a distributor of the football out there. Those guys are getting in the right positions and they’re making big plays,” Rourke said after the win.

“There were a couple throws today, especially the first half where I wasn’t nearly as accurate as I need to be. But those guys made some plays for me and made me look good out there.”

The performance was no surprise to veteran Lions defensive back Gary Peters.

“When you come into the facility, he’s the first one there. And I’m one of the last people to leave. He’s literally there after me, walking eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, trying to find something to do. He’s always working no matter what,” he said.

“He’s trying to perfect himself. He’s a young guy, but you can see in his eyes that he’s really hungry.”

Rourke completed 39 of 45 passes on Saturday, including four touchdowns. He was sacked once.

Dominique Rhymes hauled in two majors for B.C. (2-0), while Bryan Burnham and Jevon Cottoy each had one. Fullback David Mackie scored a rushing TD late in the fourth quarter. Kicker Sean Whyte chipped in with three field goals, including a 50-yard strike.

B.C.’s defence smothered the Argos (1-1), holding McLeod Bethel-Thompson to 178 passing yards. The Toronto quarterback connected on 15 of 21 attempts, threw one interception and was sacked twice before being replaced late in the fourth quarter.

Chad Kelly came on in relief and threw for 26 yards, completing two of four attempts. He was sacked once and threw one interception.

The Argos’ only points of the night came off a 23-yard field goal from Boris Bede early in the second quarter.

“I’m totally embarrassed. That was a horrible display of football,” said Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “That was a tough loss. It sucks. I hate it. But we can’t let it ruin our season. We’ve just got to go back to work and find ways to get better.”

The Lions were coming off of a bye week but showed no rust early in Saturday’s game, kicking it off with an eight-play, 68-yard scoring drive.

Rourke scrambled out of a collapsing pocket to pick up 11 yards and a first down, then capped the drive with a crisp 19-yard pass to Burnham in the end zone. The veteran wide receiver bowed twice to the crowd after tallying his first touchdown of the season.

B.C.’s defensive unit was tested on Toronto’s first possession of the night, with DaVaris Daniels powering through a tackle and Bethel-Thompson finding Dejon Brissett on the Lions’ one-yard line.

The Lions stood strong and denied the visitors all three times they attempted to sneak into the end zone. Toronto turned the ball over on downs.

“And then it just snowballed and we couldn’t get nothing going,” Dinwiddie said. “And we get a little bit going in the third quarter then we fumble. I mean, everybody had a hand in it. It’s just It’s upsetting, but we’ve got to find ways to get better.”

Early in the second quarter, B.C. cornerback Delvin Breaux knocked down a long toss from Bethel-Thompson to Brandon Banks and Dinwiddie challenged the call, arguing defensive pass interference. On review, officials agreed and Toronto was awarded a first down at the B.C. 21-yard line.

Lions defensive lineman David Menard sacked Bethel-Thompson on the next play, but the Argos still managed to score on the drive, with Bede booting a field goal that cut Toronto’s deficit to 10-3.

Rourke increased the Lions’ cushion midway through the half, finding Rhymes in the end zone with a 19-yard bullet to cap a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive.

B.C. headed to the locker room up 20-3 after Whyte hit a 44-yard field goal to close out the second quarter.

A rash of injuries swept through B.C.’s lineup late in the first half, though, with linebacker Bo Lokombo, running back James Butler and Burnham all heading to the locker room with game-ending injuries. Receiver Lucky Whitehead appeared to suffer an ankle injury too but stayed in the game.

“A couple of people went down but it just makes us stronger,” Rhymes said. “And it just shows the versatility we have on offence. When one man goes down, that’s our brother, so we want to make sure we only pick it up for him.”

Lions head coach Rick Campbell said Burnham went to the hospital to have further tests done and the team won’t know his status until Sunday. Lokombo and Butler may be available to play next week.

Midway through the third frame, Wynton McMannis hauled down Rourke around centre field for a seven-yard loss. The Lions remained undeterred, though, and sent Whyte out for a 50-yard field goal attempt. He made the kick, giving B.C. a 23-3 lead.

Lions defensive end Obum Gwacham seemed to exact some revenge on the next possession, sacking Bethel-Thompson.

Rourke’s arching 29-yard toss to a wide-open Cottoy deep in the red zone set up B.C.’s third TD of the night late in the third quarter. Cottoy took a couple of quick steps into the end zone and tallied his first major of the season.

The final frame saw Rourke again connect with Rhymes, this time with a 24-yard toss. Stationed just outside of the end zone, Rhymes easily completed the touchdown and the Lions took a 37-3 lead.

Peters added to Toronto’s woes midway through the fourth quarter, picking off Bethel-Thompson’s pass.

Mackie — filling in at running back for the injured Butler — muscled the ball over the goal line late in the fourth for his first CFL touchdown. A successful convert from Whyte gave the home side a 44-3 lead.

Kelly came on for Bethel-Thompson to close out the game and was quickly sacked by Menard.

The Lions will be back in action on Thursday when they tackle the Redblacks in Ottawa. The Argos will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on July 4.

FOOTNOTES: The victory gives B.C. a 2-0 start to the season for the first time since 2016. … Argos offensive lineman Jonathan Zamora limped off the field after being injured on a play midway through the fourth quarter. Saturday marked the 100th all-time meeting between the two teams. B.C. holds a 60-38-2 edge in the series.

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Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky a ‘possibility’ to return for Game 6 –



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