NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, throwing for four scores to lead the New Orleans Saints to a 34-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
The scoring strike that broke Peyton Manning’s record of 539 career touchdown passes came in the third quarter, when Brees hit tight end Josh Hill for a 5-yard score. Brees’ next pass in the game was the 541st scoring toss of his career, a 28-yard TD to reserve QB and utility player Taysom Hill that put the Saints up 34-0.
“It was special, everything about the night,” Brees said. “It just kind of makes your whole life and career flash before your eyes, because I never thought I’d have a chance to be part of something like this.”
The 40-year-old Brees came into the game already holding NFL records for completions with 6,792 and yards passing with 72,577 — and built on those numbers by also setting a record for completion percentage in a game. He completed 29 of 30 passes — 96.7 against Arizona last season.
“He had a hot hand, obviously,” Payton said. “Guys were making plays, but that’s awfully difficult to do.”
The victory kept the Saints (11-3), who’d already won the NFC South, in the running with San Francisco (11-3) and Green Bay (11-3) for one of the top two seeds in the NFC playoffs. The Colts (6-8) were eliminated from playoff contention after losing their fourth straight and sixth out of seven.
“There’s a lot at stake right now relative to these games when you look at the top of the NFC,” Payton said. “It’s about winning and winning and winning and trying to give yourself the best chance in the post-season.”
Jacoby Brissett struggled at times with accuracy and finished 18 of 34 for 165 yards against a Saints defence looking for redemption after allowing 48 points in a loss to the 49ers a week earlier.
Meanwhile, Colts defenders had no answer for Michael Thomas, who caught 12 passes for 128 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. Thomas’ eighth game this season with at least 10 catches give him 133 for the season, which is also the fourth-highest single-season total in NFL history.
With four more catches, Thomas will pass Antonio Brown and Julio Jones for second most in a season and needs 11 to eclipse Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 from 2002.
Tre’Quan Smith caught a 21-yard touchdown pass for New Orleans.
Jordan Wilkins scored the Colts’ lone TD on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
While Brees holds the career touchdown pass record for now, the Patriots’ Tom Brady is only three behind at 538.
“It’s a fluid record,” Payton said. “There’s still another quarterback in New England, so that will go back and forth as long as those two are playing.”
The next-closest active player is Rivers with 395.
Colts: Reserve safety Rolan Milligan left the game with a foot injury in the first half. Cornerback Quincy Wilson left with a shoulder injury.
Saints: Right guard Larry Warford needed help to the sideline with a left knee injury early in the third quarter. Defensive back C.J. Gardner Johnson left the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Colts: Host Carolina on Sunday.
Saints: Visit Tennessee on Sunday.
Stamkos remains out of Lightning lineup for Game 5 vs. Stars – Sportsnet.ca
Tampa’s captain suited up in Game 3, but was declared unfit to play for Friday’s Game 4 victory. Before Game 5, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos will not play on Saturday. However, earlier Cooper did not rule him out for the remainder of the series, should Dallas stave off elimination Saturday.
Stamkos has missed the entirety of the Lightning’s post-season run due to an injury suffered before the club reconvened from the season’s pause to begin training. Managing only 2:47 minutes of ice-time during Game 3, Stamkos made an immediate impact upon returning to the lineup, scoring the second goal of the Bolts’ eventual 5-2 win just seven minutes into the tilt.
Stamkos posted 29 goals and 66 points through 57 regular-season games in 2019-20, dominating before being forced to the sidelines with a core muscle injury.
Lightning-Stars stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final – NHL
NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Lightning and Stars. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch the Lightning-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Boosted by the long-awaited and “inspirational” return of Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning got goals from all three of their first-line forwards, their top defenseman and their captain in a threee-goal win to move within two wins of the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. For the second straight game, Tampa jumped out to a multi-goal first-period lead before the Stars got on the board. The Dallas Stars cut the deficit to one entering the second period, but the middle frame was all Lightning, outscoring Dallas 3-0 in large part thanks to a 21-4 shot differential.
After Game 2, Kevin Shattenkirk said, “when we play our best game it’s hard for teams to win.” In Game 3, Tampa played one of its best games this postseason, getting major contributions from its usual suspects in the top line trio and Hedman and also a quantifiable (one goal from Stamkos) and unquantifiable lift from the return of its captain.
The top line of Palat, Point and Kucherov carried the day once again, combining for three goals and six points in Game 3, their second straight game with four-plus points. Point leads all players this postseason with 11 goals and with Palat and Hedman also reaching double-digit goals in Game 3, the trio make Tampa the first team in a decade to have three players with 10-plus goals in the same postseason.
Tyler Seguin has struggled mightily in the 2020 playoffs. The 28-year-old has now gone 12 consecutive games without a goal and has just one assist over that span (which was six games ago). His last goal came in Game 3 of the Second Round vs. Colorado
Along with Seguin, some of Dallas’ other forwards have been quiet recently as well:
▪ Jamie Benn: Zero points this series after ending West Final on a three-game goal streak
▪ Denis Gurianov: Zero points, three shots this series (OT goal and assist in series-clincher vs. Vegas)
▪ Alex Radulov: Zero goals, three assists this series
Tampa can become the first team in the NHL expansion era (1967-present) to win the Stanley Cup the season after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
WHAT: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Saturday, September 26, 8 p.m. ET
ON THE CALL: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Lightning-Stars stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 3-1)
Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 2 (recap)
Lighting 5, Stars 4 [OT] (recap)
Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Stars have no choice but to believe after gut-wrenching OT loss in Game 4 – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — It was what so many Game 4s turn out to be. The fact was, the Tampa Bay Lightning could lose and still win the series. The Dallas Stars could not.
If the Stars couldn’t turn this Stanley Cup their way in Game 4 on Friday, in a game that meant everything to their Cup dreams, then they wouldn’t be able to turn it at all.
You can’t lose three of four against a team like Tampa, look yourself in the mirror the next day and say, “you’re going to beat the Lightning three games in a row,” and believe the guy talking to you.
Well, that’s where the Stars find themselves after a game in which everyone played as hard as they could play — they scored four times, yet lost 5-4 on a Kevin Shattenkirk power-play goal in overtime.
“I think we’ve got more,” said a defiant Tyler Seguin, who was simply fantastic for the full 66:34. “We would have won if we got everything out of everybody.
“I believe in the team, believe in the boys. We’ve got another level here.”
What choice does he have? What choice do any of them have?
“We’ll bounce back,” said head coach Rick Bowness, roughly 20 hours before puck drop in Game 5 on a rare set of back-to-back games in this COVID Cup. “I have full faith in our hockey club. We will fight back. We will bounce back and we’re going to play (Saturday) like we played tonight.”
This was, undoubtedly, a fine effort wasted by Dallas. Perhaps their finest in this Final.
On how many nights are they going to pin a minus-3 on stud defenceman Victor Hedman? Or pump three of their first nine shots past annual Vezina candidate Andrei Vasilevskiy?
How many more times can the Stars ask 36-year-old Joe Pavelski for two goals? Or get as stunning an effort by Seguin, who had two assists, three shots on goal and was an amazing 70 per cent in the circle?
“That’s his best game of the playoffs,” Bowness said of Seguin, whose lack of production has been rightly criticized up ’til now.
As playoff games go, this surely was not one of those nights when you walk out of the rink wondering who officiated the game, as the zebra tandem of Kelly Sutherland and Francis Charron had a bit of an adventure for three periods and overtime.
The pair missed some calls on Tampa early, including an inadvertent trip by Tyler Johnson that sent Roope Hintz into the boards so hard that he did not return. Then, with 29 seconds left in regulation, Corey Perry jabbed his stick into Brayden Point’s private parts, and somehow Sutherland called Perry for interference and Point for embellishment.
Seguin drew a legit penalty early in OT when he drove the net for a scoring chance, and the Lightning managed to kill a lengthy 4-on-3 and the remaining 5-on-4 disadvantage. Then Benn got a tad overzealous in a battle with Johnson 5:10 in overtime, and he gave Charron a chance to raise his arm.
Shattenkirk would score on the ensuing power play, and that might just be it for the Stars, who went down with their captain in the box.
“I see it. It’s in front of Kelly (Sutherland),” replayed Pavelski. “He’s got a great look at it, and the back ref (Charron) calls it.
“I don’t have a ton of time for a play where Tyler Johnson steps in front of Jamie Benn and has no real effect on the play,” the veteran continued. “There’s a battle going on there. It’s playoffs. It’s overtime. We expect 5-on-5, to battle it out.”
You hear it every year. All a hockey player asks for is a chance to decide it for themselves, but by taking the penalty, perhaps that’s exactly what Benn did.
“The players want to play 5-on-5 and let’s see what happens. The players are right,” said a disappointed Bowness. “I saw two guys going after a loose puck. Their guy hooking our guy and our guy trying to fight through the hook. That’s a hockey play. Two guys, in the playoffs, going for a loose puck.”
What Bowness also saw was his own power-play unit with a chance to end the game earlier in OT, and it failed.
“We had the 4-on-3. You have to put the puck in the net — simple as that,” he admitted. “Our power play had a chance to end the game and they didn’t get it done.”
They didn’t get it done.
Every year, whether in spring or fall, we say that about one of the teams fortunate enough to make it this far.
The guy in the Stars’ mirror Saturday morning is telling them they can still get it done. That being down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t a death sentence.
It says here, fat chance.
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