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Canada opens women’s world hockey championship with win over Finland –



CALGARY — Canada’s first women’s world hockey championship game in over two years was a hard-fought 5-3 win over Finland, and the battle felt like sweet relief for Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin.

Rookie forward Sarah Fillier scored the third-period game-winner and veteran Brianne Jenner sealed the win with an empty-net goal Friday in Calgary.

“To be honest, it’s hard to put into words, just watching the video before the game on the blue-line and when they said the world championship was finally open, to be honest, it gave me shivers,” Poulin said.

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Poulin, Erin Ambrose and Jamie Lee Rattray also scored for the host Canadians, who trailed by two goals after the opening period.

Natalie Spooner and Claire Thompson each had two assists. Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped eight shots for the win.

Minnamari Tuominen, Nelli Laitinen and Elisa Holopainen replied for Finland, with Anni Keisala turning away 39 shots in the loss.

The Czech Republic downed Denmark 6-1 in Pool B earlier Friday and the United States blanked Switzerland 3-0 in the evening game as the 10-country women’s championship got underway 859 days after the last one in Espoo, Finland.

The 2020 and 2021 tournaments scheduled for Halifax and Truro, N.S., were both cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.

When Nova Scotia pulled the plug on the tournament in May, Hockey Canada rescheduled and relocated the tournament to Calgary in summer less than six months out from Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February.

Poulin barely played in Espoo because of a knee injury, so the gap felt even longer for the 30-year-old from Beauceville, Que.

“Bringing back that jersey for an international game was very special today,” Poulin said. “We’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time.”

When Holopainen drew the Finns even at 7:13 of the third period, Fillier scored a go-ahead goal 25 seconds later.

The 21-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., is one of eight players making their world championship debut for Canada in Calgary.

“They’re the types of shifts that we have to win momentum or gain momentum back and usually good players and goal scorers find ways to contribute in those times,” Canadian head coach Troy Ryan said.

“Not only was it a confidence boost builder for her, I thought it was awesome for our team to regain momentum after that tying goal.”

Canada didn’t play in a world championship final for the first time in the history of the tournament in 2019 after a 4-2 loss to Finland in the semifinal.

Canada took the bronze medal, while the host Finns fell 2-1 in a shootout to the United States in the gold-medal game in Espoo.

Canada’s 4-1 pre-tournament win Wednesday over Finland was the first meeting between the two countries since that semifinal.

Down 2-0 in Friday’s opener, Canada swarmed the offensive zone for a second-period 25-2 edge in shots, and scored twice in a 20-second span to pull even.

“I don’t think we entered the offensive zone, not even once in the second period,” Tuominen said.

“We just need to focus on getting out of our zone and getting the puck deep and getting changes. Then we get fresh legs on the ice and maybe create something other than just playing d-zone.”

Holopainen pulled the Finns even with a backhand tip between the pads of Desbiens, but Fillier quickly responded when Spooner fed her in the slot from behind the net.

Canada led for the first time in the game early in the third period when Jenner’s redirection deflected off Ambrose and by Keisala.

Poulin wired a wrist shot past Keisala right after Rattray scored at 14:41 during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period.

Finland’s power-play went 0-for-11 in the tune-up, but converted its first chance Friday to spot the visitors a two-goal lead by 6:05 of the opening period.

Tuominen scored five-on-three. Laitinen’s off-speed deflection of a Sofianna Sundelin shot spun by the glove of Desbiens at 2:25.

Finland coach Pasi Mustonen also has eight rookies in his lineup.

“We were better in the first period actually and played a wonderful period,” Mustonen said. “I’m actually quite satisfied with the way we played when you look at the whole game.

“Knowing this wasn’t our best game we will play here in worlds, we will try to play better and better, so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

Canada meets Russia in Pool A on Sunday, followed by Switzerland on Tuesday and the U.S. on Thursday.

The quarterfinals Aug. 28 are followed by the Aug. 30 semifinals and medal games Aug. 31.

Hockey Canada didn’t sell tickets for the preliminary round, but allows a maximum of 120 family members into a dedicated section of WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre if they wear masks and don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.

No player, official or team staff member had tested positive for the virus since the 10 teams entered the tournament bubble Aug. 10, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Friday in statement.

Finland is minus star goaltender Noora R?ty, whose combined 93 saves in the 2019 semifinal and final earned her the award for the tournament’s top goaltender.

R?ty didn’t join the Finnish team this summer because she couldn’t financially afford to leave her Minnesota goaltending school this summer, she told the Finnish media outlet Ilta-Sanomat earlier this month.

Keisala proved able to fill the void with save after save to make Canada work for the victory.

“She’s been the best goalie in Finland the last year,” Mustonen said.

Notes: Rosters were expanded to 25 players from 23 for this world championship for extra personnel in the event of injury . . . Canadian forwards Laura Stacey and Kristin O’Neill and goaltender Kristin Campbell were scratches Friday . . . Finnish defender Jenni Hiirikoski joined Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser and countrywoman Karoliina Rantamaki for participation in the most world championships at 13. At 69 career games, Hiirikoski is one off the record for the most games played.

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Canucks keep surprising with ‘inexplicable’ comeback vs. Canadiens



VANCOUVER – Two weeks into his Calder Trophy season four years ago, Elias Pettersson was thrown violently to the ice in Florida by defenceman Mike Matheson, who had been embarrassed by the rookie Vancouver Canuck earlier in the shift.

Pettersson suffered a concussion, Matheson a two-game suspension and the incident set off an inferno of debate about the culture of both the Canucks and the National Hockey League.

But even then, as a 19-year-old with the physique of a 2-iron, Pettersson was tougher than he seemed. Tougher mentally and physically. Four years later for Pettersson and two teams later for Matheson, the Canucks’ elite two-way centre victimized the Montreal Canadiens’ defenceman in overtime to give Vancouver an inexplicable 7-6 victory in front of fans who have rarely been so entertained.

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Pettersson may or may not have caused Matheson to blow a tire and lose the puck by touching the defenceman’s leg with his stick, but there was little doubt about the significance of the goal it caused – for the Canucks and Pettersson.

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Stronger in every sense than he was four years ago, Pettersson skated the puck to the net from a sharp angle as Matheson retreated and tucked a forehand deke through the pads of Montreal goalie Sam Montembeault.

Asked after the game if he realized in the moment whom he had just pilfered and embarrassed, Pettersson looked a long time at the questioner before deadpanning: “I’m going to say, ‘No comment.’” He knew.

This was Pettersson’s revenge.

At least that’s the storyline we’re going with in a game that could have spawned an alternate universe. For the first time since 1973, the Canucks rallied from a four-goal deficit to win. After the Canadiens scored four times in the first period, the Canucks eventually blew a 5-4 lead late in the third, trailed 6-5, then tied it on Andrei Kuzmenko’s power-play goal with Vancouver relief netminder Collin Delia on the bench for an extra attacker.

And then Pettersson won it 13 seconds into overtime.

“If they had called a penalty there, I would have been upset,” he said. “I didn’t touch his skates. I saw that I had an open lane (to the net). And I saw their goalie had one knee down at the post and it looked like if I made a long move, I might be able to get it through.”

Later, in his press scrum, Pettersson told reporters: “I don’t know if it was relief to score a goal or whatever, but just, overall, the emotion all game, to be down four and come back, be down one again and then tie it at the end, it was a game that had a lot of emotions and I’m glad we came up on top tonight.”

Canucks’ Pettersson hoping team can build off come from behind win over Canadiens

A game with 13 goals deserves that many clauses in one sentence.

“Man, we got the two points; that’s all I can say,” Canuck captain Bo Horvat said. “At the end of the day, I don’t care how we did it, we got it done. Obviously, it was not pretty. We made it pretty hard on ourselves but we showed a lot of resilience tonight. And Dells stepping in (for starting goalie Spencer Martin) and playing as well as he did … it was a fun one. It was a Monday Night Football game.”

Maybe the Canucks would be good at football. They appear to have some flaws as a hockey team.

Unable to figure how to defend leads and win, now they don’t even know how to lose properly. Canuck teams don’t come back from 4-0 late in the second period. They don’t score seven goals in the final 23½ minutes.

They don’t finish a four-game homestand at 2-2 when they led for less than seven minutes in more than four hours of hockey.

“That’s just the rollercoaster of emotions — kind of how you do not want to play the game, really,” Canuck veteran J.T. Miller said. “You want to play even-keel. But when you give up four that quickly, it was kind of a shell shock because … we had been absolutely dominant. Shots were 9-0 (at the start). A couple breakdowns and we’ve just got to get out of that habit of giving them up bang, bang, bang, bang. You’re not going to come back from 4-0 every day. But we talked about getting two in the second (period). But we had so many guys step up. Petey’s line was awesome; Petey was dominant.”

After Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win against Arizona, when the Canucks chased the mighty Coyotes all game, Pettersson’s line was reconfigured by desperate coach Bruce Boudreau. Brock Boeser, who went from being a healthy scratch to outed on the trade block to goal-scoring hero in one eventful Saturday, was deployed Monday alongside Pettersson and winger Ilya Mikheyev.

Mikheyev scored twice on perfect passes from Pettersson, who finished with three points, giving him 32 in 26 games this season.

Canucks’ Pettersson slips game winner five-hole to cap OT thriller vs. Canadiens

Horvat, Conor Garland and Jack Studnicka, with the Canucks’ first go-ahead goal at 8:49 of the third period, also scored for Vancouver.

It was impossible to foresee when the score was 4-0 that Studnicka and Delia would become key figures in a Canuck victory. But most of their season has been a surprise. The Canucks are Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.

“It’s funny, I feel like every game, it’s so live or die,” Miller said. “It’s 82 games. We’ve won a lot of games in the last 15 or 20 (but), it’s a process. It’s not going to be pretty every night. I’m just proud of the group. We had a lot of different guys step up tonight, which is awesome.”

The Canucks have lost seven games this season after leading by two or three goals. But now they’ve won one when they trailed by four.

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Darnell Nurse sounds off on Edmonton Oilers slow starts after Stuart Skinner faces 50 shots



Another slow start for the Edmonton Oilers wasn’t their undoing against the Washington Capitals in Monday’s 3-2 loss, but it certainly didn’t help either.

The Oilers were outshot 22-12 in the opening frame, with Stuart Skinner turning aside all 22 in his eventual 47-save performance in the loss.

“We come in here and we talk about it every day,” Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said of his team’s starts. “We sit here after the game, talk about it over and over and over. … We want to have good starts each and every night but, you know, we’re sitting here and it’s a part of our game. We’re almost a quarter of the way through the season.

“The more we just talk away and pester at it, we need to just show up and play. Relax, pin our ears back and come out on the on the attack.”

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The Oilers were outshot 50-30 on Monday, including 19-7 in the second period, when Skinner allowed two goals.

“We weren’t as quick and physical as we wanted to be in the defensive zone,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Our goalie stood tall. We’re 2-2 going into the third period. We made a critical error, and it ended up in the back of our net.”

Skinner Unfazed as Oilers Allow 50 Shots

Skinner, who has moved into the starting role ahead of Jack Campbell over the past month, saw his record drop to 7-6 on the season, with a .916 save percentage and a 2.93 goals-against average.

The 50 shots faced against the Capitals were a season high for Skinner, who said the early barrage helped put him the zone.

“I think if you get a few [early] chances on you and make all the saves, it’s a little bit of a confidence booster,” Skinner said. “They got on the power play and I got a few shots on the power play, so after that I was ready to go.”

The loss dropped the Oilers to 14-12-0 on the season as the team currently sits in the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

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Recap: Brazil vs South Korea – World Cup 2022



Neymar has returned from injury to help Brazil thump South Korea 4-1, setting up a World Cup quarter-final clash against Croatia.

Four unanswered Brazilian goals in the first half at Stadium 974 on Monday set an imperious tone for a team with their sights firmly on a sixth World Cup title.

And while the game settled in the second period, it was never sluggish or scrappy, and a spirited South Korea fought hard to score a consolation goal in the 76th minute.

It took just seven minutes for Brazil to get off the mark, with Raphinha picking up the ball just outside the box and rushing in on the right side, sending in a pass to Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain number 10 was brought down by his marker and the ball ended up at the feet of Vinicius Jr, in acres of space.

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The Real Madrid star steadied himself before placing it to the right of Kim Seung-gyu in the South Korean goal.

Brazil celebrating their third goal, with goalscorer Richarlison in the centre [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Just three minutes later, Richarlison was brought down by Jung Woo-young inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar, who had reportedly flown his barber out to Qatar to dye his hair blonde following previous victories over South Korea with bleached hair, wasted no time in slotting it into the bottom-right of the net. Brazil was up two-nil with less than 15 minutes on the clock.

South Korea had their share of chances, with Hwang Hee-chan, fresh off scoring the winner against Portugal, having a go from a distance but sending the ball comfortably over the bar. Moments later, Allison was forced to make a diving save to his left, his first save of the tournament.

But Paolo Bento’s men were simply outclassed in every part of the pitch.

A remarkable piece of skill in the 26th minute saw Richarlison juggling the ball, heading it to himself three times while evading defenders on the edge of the South Korean box. He then passed the ball before running through on goal to receive the return, firing the ball in for Brazil’s third.

Just 10 minutes later, Vinicius Jr set up Lucas Paqueta with a cheeky chip, and the midfielder shot low and right. Kim Seung-gyu could do little but look at the ball nestling in the back of the net.

With four goals before half-time, Brazil was putting down a marker for any teams who think they might have a chance of lifting the trophy on December 18.

Son Heung-min nearly clawed one back for South Korea straight after the restart, but Alisson — who must, through this game alone, be in contention for the Golden Glove — got enough of his arm onto the shot to tip it wide.

Faced with the intensity of Brazil’s onslaught, South Korea tried to slow the game, but more chances for Raphinha and Vinicius Jr followed despite the best efforts of the men in red.

Then came the 77th minute, and out of nowhere, Paik Seung-ho scored from outside the box. A free kick for South Korea was bundled clear by the Brazilian defence, falling to Paik, who belted it past Alisson’s dive to find the top-right corner. Finally, the South Korean fans had something to cheer about.

South Korea continued to work hard in defence and create chances in attack, but that goal was to be their only score, and they head home having been soundly beaten by one of the best teams in the world.

Brazil will face Croatia in the quarter-finals at Education City on Friday.

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