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Canadiens can’t escape pattern of giving up first goal in latest loss to Penguins – Sportsnet.ca

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For the 20th time in 30 games, the Montreal Canadiens surrendered the first goal of a contest on Tuesday night. And, boy, did this one ever tell a story.

The Canadiens actually showed well in the first frame of what turned out to be a 5-2 road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Montreal dinged three posts in the opening 20 minutes, but the only goal of the period came when Pittsburgh scored on a play that looked more like a pre-game warmup routine where the object of the activity is to keep the puck in the air as long as possible.

The sequence started with Kris Letang bombing a shot on Jake Allen from the point. The puck popped off Allen’s pads and looped toward the slot. Jeff Petry, returning to the lineup after a four-game absence thanks to an upper-body injury, reached out with one hand on his stick to try and swat it away, only to wind up knocking the puck out of mid-air toward Evan Rodrigues in the high slot. Rodrigues booted the puck toward the net like a soccer player sending a cross into the box, where Kapanen unleashed his inner baseball player and bunted the puck past Allen.

Apparently, hockey isn’t the only sport the Canadiens struggle with.

That series pretty much sums up how things have been going all season for Montreal, which extended its worst losing streak of the year to an unlucky seven games. In many ways, the Canadiens were full measure for their latest setback in what seems like an endless string of them. That said, there were actually a couple of bright spots worth highlighting.

Here are a few observations from a game that saw Letang notch his 600th career point against his hometown team, Sidney Crosby register a couple of assists, and the Habs ping a total of five goal posts.

Jo Knows Hockey

Jonathan Drouin’s nearly five-year tenure in Montreal has been filled with frustrations and challenges for both the player and club. But, on nights like this, you see why former GM Marc Bergevin went out and traded for the 2013 third overall pick.

Drouin was easily the Canadiens’ best skater, scoring the team’s first goal and drawing an assist on the second. His goal came about after a nice bit of forechecking by Laurent Dauphin, who picked up an errant pass by Penguins defenceman Mike Matheson and quickly hit Drouin in front of the net. Suddenly one-on-one with the red-hot Tristan Jarry, Drouin calmly sucked the puck to his backhand and whipped it past the goalie’s glove side.

Beyond the points, Drouin skated with confidence all night and looked dangerous every time he had the puck in the Penguins zone. From injuries to the anxiety that forced him to step away from the game last year, Drouin has faced so much adversity in the past couple years. He’s still just 26 years old, though, and if he can find a way to let that talent of his surface on a more consistent basis, he can be part of the solution in Montreal.

Bad Beginnings

While the Canadiens started well in the first, it was a different story in the opening minutes of the middle and final frames. Montreal was only down 1-0 after the first but managed to take two penalties before the second period was 80 seconds old. While Pittsburgh didn’t score on the extended 5-on-3 advantage, the Penguins did get a power-play marker during a second stanza that saw the Canadiens take four penalties.

Montreal went into the second intermission on a high after Jesse Ylönen scored with just three seconds left in the period. Instead of building on that, though, the good vibes disappeared 28 seconds into the third when Brian Dumoulin scored to restore Pittsburgh’s two-goal advantage and send the home side cruising toward two points.

Save that Puck

Ylönen’s tally was one he won’t soon forget, as it marked the 22-year-old Finn’s first NHL goal in his third career game. It was a nice one, too, as Ylönen cocked his stick while standing a few feet beyond the top of the circle, hoping for a feed from Drouin. When the latter curled toward his forehand side and slid the puck back toward the blue, Ylönen dropped the hammer, slamming the puck past Jarry on the stick side and just inside the post.

With the Canadiens destined for a high pick in the 2022 NHL Draft — and likely another first-rounder after they trade Ben Chiarot — a lot will be made about the young players coming into the organization this summer. That said, so much of what will determine how long the Canadiens are down is how its current crop of prospects drafted in the past three or four years develop. Ylönen, a second-rounder in 2018, scored nine goals in 29 AHL games during his first season of North American pro hockey last year and had 14 points in 17 AHL contests before his callup this season.

It’s only one shot, but the right winger glimpsed the scoring potential Montreal has to work with him to maximize.

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Senators score 5 times in 3rd period to down free-falling Oilers – CBC Sports

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Scoring five third-period goals may not be the usual game plan, but it was the perfect path to a win for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Josh Norris scored a pair of goals and the Senators erased a 3-1 third-period deficit in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Adam Gaudette, Alex Formenton, Artem Zub and Zach Sanford also scored for the Senators (11-18-2), who have won two straight and won their first game this season when trailing after the second period.

“It’s not really how we drew it up, but that’s how hockey goes sometimes,” Norris said. “I think it was a lot of fun and the guys enjoyed it. We have to clean some things up, but that’s hockey and it’s how the way the game goes sometimes. We kind of thrived on that and it was great to get the win.”

Gaudette, who also had an assist, said the comeback was a blast.

“It was a lot of fun. Personally it’s been a while since I’ve had that much fun playing hockey,” he said. “It’s been a tough year and a half or so, so it really feels good to contribute and to help this team win.”

WATCH l Senators rally with 3rd period explosion to defeat Oilers: 

Senators rally with 3rd period explosion to defeat Oilers

22 hours ago

Duration 1:25

Ottawa scores five goals in the third period for a 6-4 victory over Edmonton who suffers their 6th straight loss. 1:25

Chris Tierney had two assists, while Senators starter Matt Murray stopped 33-of-37 shots.

Zack Kassian, Kailer Yamamoto, Brendan Perlini and Darnell Nurse replied for the Oilers (18-15-2), who are still in a free-fall. They have dropped six straight and are 2-10-2 in their last 14 games.

“That is one we let slip away,” Kassian said. “Everybody is pretty upset. We were pretty frustrated with that one. That’s a tough way to lose. You are up 3-1 going into the third and you lay a stinker. We are a pretty frustrated group. I think the writing is on the wall.”

Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner made 20 saves in defeat.

The Oilers were once again guilty of allowing the first goal of the game. Ottawa scored a power-play marker midway through the first as Norris was left alone in front to send a shot past Skinner. The Oilers have conceded the game’s first goal 22 times in their last 26 games.

Edmonton knotted the game with a power-play goal of its own with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening period as Leon Draisaitl won a board battle and fed it in front to Kassian, who wired a shot past Murray.

The Oilers made it 2-1 with eight minutes left in the middle frame as Yamamoto fought off Erik Brannstrom and slid a backhand shot under Murray while off balance.

The Oilers added to the their lead with two and a half minutes to play in the second as Perlini added some extra weight to a Duncan Keith shot for his third of the season.

Ottawa got one back early in the third on a two-on-one as Gaudette beat Skinner with a high backhander.

WATCH l What do Connor McDavid’s comments tell us about hockey culture?:  

What do Connor McDavid’s comments tell us about hockey culture? | The Breakdown

3 days ago

Duration 7:20

CBC Sports’ Jacqueline Doorey is joined by Shireen Ahmed to get her reactions to McDavid’s comments about the Oilers potentially signing Evander Kane and what they say about hockey culture. 7:20

The Senators tied it up five minutes into the third period as Skinner coughed up a puck behind the net, eventually leading to a rebound goal by Formenton.

Ottawa’s unlikely comeback saw them regain the lead midway through the third when Zub picked the top corner with a long shot.

However, the Oilers were able to draw even two minutes later as Nurse jumped up to score on a wrist shot.

The Senators came roaring back with another power-play goal as Norris scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

Sanford put the game away with Ottawa’s fifth third-period goal, scoring on a long seeing-eye empty netter.

The Senators return home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, while the Oilers are off until Thursday when they host the Florida Panthers.

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Novak Djokovic arrives in Dubai after deportation from Australia – Sportsnet.ca

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Novak Djokovic arrived early Monday in Dubai after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title.

The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic touched down after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month.

Dubai International Airport was quiet early Monday morning as flights from the Australia and Asia began to arrive. Passengers wearing mandatory face masks collected their bags and walked out of the cavernous terminal. The first Muslim call to prayers before the sunrise echoed over the terminal.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Djokovic planned to travel next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, doesn’t start until Feb. 14.

Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, doesn’t require travelers to be vaccinated, though they must show a negative PCR test to board a flight.

Djokovic had won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the tournament that began Monday.

Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months.

He won an appeal to stay for the tournament, but Australia’s immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges decided unanimously Sunday to affirm the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Vaccination amid the pandemic was a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, whether players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. More than 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two men — American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the first major tournament of the year due to the vaccine requirement.

Djokovic’s attempt to get the medical exemption for not being vaccinated sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

20:54ET 16-01-22

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Australia leaves door open for Djokovic to play at next year’s Open

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to compete at next year’s Australian Open despite the tennis superstar facing an automatic three-year ban from entering the country.

The world number one player left Australia late on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country’s COVID-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status.

Under immigration law, Djokovic cannot be granted another visa for three years unless Australia’s immigration minister accepts there are compelling or compassionate reasons.

“I’m not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make,” Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday as Djokovic was en route to Dubai.

“It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for (a person) to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time.”

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge Federal Court bench dealt a final blow to Djokovic’s hopes of chasing a record 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, dismaying his family and supporters.

In a rollercoaster ride, the world’s top men’s player was first detained by immigration authorities on Jan. 6, ordered released by a court on Jan. 10 and then detained again on Saturday pending Sunday’s court hearing.

Djokovic, 34, said he was extremely disappointed by the ruling but he respected the court’s decision.

“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and the tournament I love,” Djokovic said in a statement before flying out of Melbourne.

The player was filmed by Reuters wearing a mask and taking selfies with fans at the arrival gate in Dubai as he waited for his entourage to get off the plane. The group then headed through a security channel for transfer passengers.

The saga caused a row between Canberra and Belgrade, with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic calling the court decision “scandalous”.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that she and Morrison had been in touch with Brnabic during the legal process last week.

“I am absolutely confident that the very positive relationship, bilateral relationship between Australia and Serbia will continue on the strong footing that it currently enjoys,” Payne told reporters.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had said Djokovic could be a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

The Federal Court judges noted their ruling was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister’s decision, but did not address “the merits or wisdom” of the decision. They have yet to release the full reasoning behind their decision.

POLITICAL TOUCHSTONE

The Serbian tennis player’s visa troubles fuelled global debate over the rights of people who decline to get vaccinated as governments take measures to protect people from the two-year pandemic.

Djokovic had been granted a visa to enter Australia, with a COVID-19 infection on Dec. 16 providing the basis for a medical exemption from Australia’s requirements that all visitors be vaccinated. The exemption was organised via Tennis Australia and the Victoria state government.

That exemption prompted widespread anger in Australia, which has undergone some of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated.

The controversy became a political touchstone for Morrison as he prepares for an election due by May, amid wrangling over responsibility between his centre-right federal coalition government and the centre-left Victoria state government.

Morrison on Monday defended his handling of the situation and differentiated Djokovic’s case from vaccine sceptics within his own government.

“If you’re someone coming from overseas, and there are conditions for you to enter this country, then you have to comply with them,” he said. “This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border.”

The men’s tennis governing body ATP said the decision “marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events”, adding it respected the decision, a comment echoed by Tennis Australia.

On the tennis circuit, fellow players have become impatient for the media circus to end.

“The situation has not been good all round for anyone. It feels everything here happened extremely last minute and that’s why it became such a mess,” said former world number one Andy Murray.

 

(Reporting By Jane Wardell; editing by Diane Craft and Michael Perry)

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