Max Domi scores winner as Habs improve their record to 5-1-0 in the last six games after battling back from 2-0 first-period deficit.
CALGARY — The Canadiens just missed making the playoffs last season, but they were a fun team to watch and they never gave up.
They created a new identity after finishing 28th in the overall NHL standings the previous season.
After going through an eight-game winless streak earlier this season, the Canadiens seem to have regained the identity they worked so hard on developing last year. On Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Canadiens were losing 2-0 after the first period and 3-2 in the third period before battling back to beat the Calgary Flames 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Max Domi.
The Canadiens now have a 6-2-0 record since that eight-game losing streak (0-5-3) and are 5-1-0 in their last six games, including back-to-back road wins in Vancouver and Calgary to start this Western Canada trip.
Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia and Nick Suzuki scored for the Canadiens in regulation time against the Flames. Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Olivier Kylington scored for Calgary. The Canadiens outshot the Flames 43-27.
The Canadiens improved their season record to 17-12-6 and moved into second place in the Atlantic Division. They now have a 9-4-3 record on the road.
“When you go through a situation like we did, any team is going to lose a little bit of confidence,” coach Claude Julien said after the game about his team’s eight-game winless streak. “That’s why you talk about being fragile. It seems like every time you turn around the puck’s in your net or something bad is happening. But we’ve worked our way out of it and now we’re playing with obviously a lot of confidence, but also a lot of commitment. I didn’t think our first period was the best, not that it was bad. But second period we came out, we started skating the way we wanted our guys to skate and compete and that made a big difference. The rest of the game was see-saw.
“As a group in that dressing room, we as coaches give a lot of advice and ask for a lot of things,” Julien added. “But there’s a certain amount that happens in that dressing room with leadership and pushing each other and I think this is a group that respects each other to the point where they can push each other without taking it personally. And that’s where I think we’re getting better as a team.”
Tkachuk opened the scoring for the Flames at 7:34 of the first period as the result of a defensive breakdown by Canadiens defencemen Brett Kulak and Jeff Petry with centre Phillip Danault somehow caught alone behind the net. Winger Tomas Tatar scrambled to get in front of the net, but was too late and Tkachuk was left wide open to put the puck past Carey Price.
Suzuki came close to tying it for the Canadiens with three minutes left in the period when Price hit him with a breakout pass near centre ice. Suzuki streaked down the right wing and rang a shot off the goalpost.
The Flames went up 2-0 with only eight seconds left in the first period and Danault sitting in the penalty box for tripping. Lindholm completed a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play with Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. Price had no chance. Giving up goals in the final minute of a period has been a big problem for the Canadiens this season.
Gallagher got the Canadiens on the board at 9:46 of the second period when he scored from an almost impossible angle. With his butt basically touching the boards at the goal line to Flames goalie David Rittich’s right, Gallagher fired on the net and somehow it went in on the short side for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.
Armia tied it up at 13:11 of the second period on another shot Rittich probably should have stopped, but the big forward surprised the goalie with a quick release. Armia fired a short-side shot from the high slot without any screen and it went in for his 12th goal of the season, one short of the career high he set last season.
Armia almost put the Canadiens ahead 3-2 when he went in on a breakaway and rang a shot off the post just under six minutes into the third period. That miss looked like it would prove costly when Kylington scored at 6:25 to put the Flames up 3-2, beating Price with a high shot to the glove side.
But the Canadiens battled back yet again and Suzuki scored a nice deflection goal at the 11:58 mark. The rookie had gone 12 games without a goal. Jordan Weal picked up an assist on Suzuki’s goal after going 15 games without a point.
When Domi was asked after the game if the Canadiens are starting to play like they did last season, he responded: “As far as we’re concerned we’re just worried about this year. Nothing else matters. We know what we have in this locker room. We want to play for each other. Everyone’s here to win hockey games and that’s all that matters. Confident group right now.”
“The Western road trip is a big turning point in the year,” Domi added. “If we can come away with as many points as possible in this roadie going into a couple of days off at Christmas, I think that’s what winning teams do. We’re finding ways to win right now, so we just got to keep it going.”
The Canadiens flew to Edmonton after the game and will look for their third straight road win Saturday against the Oilers (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).
Woods, Mickelson booted from Winged Foot – pgatour.com
MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Exhausted. Beat up. Defeated. Veterans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among the masses who didn’t make it to the weekend of the U.S. Open after they were unable to maneuver inside the top 60 players through 36 holes.
As beat up as they were after another tough examination at Winged Foot, Woods and Mickelson would much rather be getting a couple more chances at the infamous U.S. Open course instead of packing up early. They both had scores to settle, but “The Foot” stuck the boot in once more.
Woods famously missed his first major cut as a professional at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open and was hoping to make amends while chasing a record 83rd PGA TOUR win. But the 44-year-old was felled by a brace of early double bogeys and was unable to stop the momentum going awry.
Starting on the 10th following his Thursday 73, Woods doubled the 16th after also making a bogey on the 14th. He then faced some serious déjà vu when he came up short of the 18th green on approach and for the second day running chunked a chip that failed to make the putting surface.
Woods added another four bogeys on the front side before getting minor solace from birdies on two of his final three holes to shoot 7-over 77 and finish the championship 10 over, four back of the cut line.
“It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend and be able to compete for this great championship. It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship. I didn’t get myself that opportunity,” Woods lamented.
“Physically it was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to. Iron play was pretty much the way it has been. It’s been good, and I finally putted well. But on this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that.”
Mickelson was unable to rebound well enough from his dismal 79 in round one, adding a 4-over 74 to finish 13 over in his chase for a career grand slam. Hoping to make up for losing a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 2006, Mickelson had just one birdie on Friday. His problem was hitting just six of 28 fairways.
“I’m appreciative of the opportunity to have been able compete here and I’m disappointed I didn’t play better,” Mickelson said.
“I’ve been playing very well at home, and I get out here where the penalty for a mis-hit is severe, and I find myself getting a little tight and a little steer-y and playing some of my worst golf. That’s something I’ve got to work on and fix.”
Defending U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (+8) won’t be there to fight for a repeat result, revealing he is suffering from a hip injury.
Among others to miss the weekend are recent PGA Champion Collin Morikawa (+7), and former FedExCup and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (+10). Jordan Spieth continued with his struggles, shooting a Friday 81 to finish at 14 over.
Other former major and or PLAYERS champions to miss out included Martin Kaymer (+7), Keegan Bradley (+8), Si Woo Kim (+9), Matt Kuchar (+9), Jimmy Walker (+10), Danny Willett (+10), Henrik Stenson (+11), Sergio Garcia (+15) and Graeme McDowell (+16).
Potential Stamkos return would increase Lightning’s emotional drive – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — We can only imagine what this has been like for Steven Stamkos.
The Tampa Bay Lightning captain hasn’t spoken to reporters since before the playoffs started. But he’s spent 55 days living behind the fences inside the NHL bubble, away from his wife and son, and unable to play for even a shift of his team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
That would be difficult for any hockey player, but in the context of Stamkos’s career it seems downright cruel.
From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.
This is a guy who missed out on the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 because of a broken leg and was limited to just one game in Tampa’s run to the 2016 Eastern Conference Final because of a scary blood clot situation.
And while his list of career ailments also includes a torn meniscus, it’s not as if Stamkos is hurt all the time. It just seems to happen at the wrong times. He played all 82 games last season and got in 57 this year before undergoing core muscle surgery on March 2.
That procedure came with a six- to eight-week recovery timeline, which passed during the COVID-19 pause. Stamkos had resumed skating by the time the summer training camp came around in July and was still a regular participant in practice after the Lightning travelled to Toronto and joined the bubble.
Somewhere along the way he suffered a setback or a new injury. All we know for sure is that he’s been deemed unfit to play for all 19 Tampa playoff games so far and is unlikely to return for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Dallas on Saturday night.
“He’s still rehabbing, we haven’t ruled him out,” Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Friday. “I don’t expect him in the lineup tomorrow.”
Under these circumstances, after everything Stamkos has been through, it would be quite something if he managed to get back playing with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
You could see how much it meant to the 30-year-old just to be included in Thursday’s less significant presentation at Rogers Place. Victor Hedman, a teammate for 11 seasons and more than 700 games, made sure Stamkos joined the group that accepted the Prince of Wales Trophy from deputy commissioner Bill Daly after the Lightning won the Eastern Conference Final.
Stamkos and Hedman, the two foundational building blocks of this organization, have both reached the stage of their career where winning is all that matters.
Their professional existence is geared entirely around these precious moments. They’ve won individual awards and earned enough money to ensure future generations of their families are secure. They have built careers that will likely land both of them in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day.
The only thing that’s missing is now four wins away.
“Every year that passes that you don’t win, it’s another opportunity that’s gone by,” Stamkos told Joe Smith of The Athletic in September 2019. “I’ve dealt with a lot of things in my career in terms of injuries and have overcome that. But you never know what’s going to happen. You want to take advantage of playing on a team of this calibre.
“The search for that elusive trophy continues and you just want to do anything you can to win.”
You can be sure he’s doing absolutely everything in his power to get back in the lineup now. Stamkos has participated in a few recent Lightning skates here, and could be seen skating with determination and leaning into his patented one-timer during brief clips made available on the NHL’s media website.
It’s hard to imagine that he would be doing all that work for naught.
Even though the team has reached this stage without him, it’s not as though it can’t use him. The Lightning have relied heavily on Hedman and the top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat for goals during these playoffs and saw its power play fall quiet for the last five games of the Islanders series.
Then there’s the fact that Point and Kucherov are each playing at something less than 100 per cent and are now entering Cup Final that will be contested in a more compressed manner than usual. The Lightning and Stars are due to play five games in the next eight days. The grind is becoming real.
Should Stamkos find his way back into the lineup at some point during that stretch, it would be an emotional shot in the arm for the group. They’ve been building towards this opportunity for a long time now and won’t want to let it slip through their fingers.
“You realize now all you want is to chase the Stanley Cup,” Stamkos told Smith last September. “The goals, the assists, the points: they’re nice. But our goal now, and [what it] should have been, is to bring home the team trophy.
“A lot of guys won individual awards last year, which is great on the resume at the end of your career. But everyone is judging you on championships. You’ve got to find a way to win them.”
Seeing him return to the lineup would help those efforts considerably.
Lightning haven’t ruled out Steven Stamkos playing in Stanley Cup Final – Sportsnet.ca
But the team still hasn’t closed the door on the star sniper appearing at some point in the championship series against the Dallas Stars — although it likely won’t happen in Game 1.
Stamkos was injured during Phase 2 skates before the NHL returned to play in late July and has been rehabbing his undisclosed injury in the bubble since, first in Toronto and now Edmonton. He was shut down before the season was paused in March after having core muscle surgery but was expected to play in the playoffs before this new injury occurred.
The Lighting have been carried offensively in the playoffs by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman, but a healthy Stamkos would still be a big addition to the lineup. In 57 games this season, the 30-year-old had 29 goals and 66 points.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT on Sportsnet.
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