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Canadiens Game Day: Habs' playoff hopes take another big blow – Montreal Gazette



‘Tomorrow it’s a do-or-die game,’ Ilya Kovalchuk says about Thursday’s game in Philadelphia after a 4-1 loss to Blackhawks at Bell Centre.

“Carey will face the Flyers. They’re a team in our conference. That’s why Lindgren will be in goal tonight.”

That’s how Canadiens coach Claude Julien explained his decision to start Charlie Lindgren in goal against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night at the Bell Centre and save Carey Price for Thursday’s game in Philadelphia against the Flyers (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Price, the Canadiens’ $84-Million Man, has won his last two starts, while stopping 72 of 73 shots, but Julien decided to go with his backup in the first game of the back-to-back set.

Thursday’s game is now a huge one after a 4-1 loss to Chicago with Lindgren making 24 saves as the Canadiens outshot the Blackhawks 33-28.

The Canadiens now have a 20-21-7 record — including 9-12-4 at home — and trail the Flyers by nine points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime Wednesday night in St. Louis for a one-two punch to the Habs’ hopes.

“Overall, I think that was our worst game when I’m here, I say for myself,” said Ilya Kovalchuk, who picked up an assist on Phillip Danault’s goal and now has 1-4-5 totals in six games since joining the Canadiens. “It’s unacceptable. Especially we need those points right now so … I’m disappointed.

“Tomorrow it’s a do-or-die game for us because now we’re, I think, nine points behind,” Kovalchuk added. “Tomorrow it’s a huge game. So we just need to regroup a little bit. Like I said, it’s unacceptable the way we played tonight.

The good news for the Canadiens is that the game was officially a sellout of 21,302.

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Bad start for Lindgren

The Blackhawks’ first goal at 5:42 of the first period came short-handed and it was ugly.

Lindgren went behind the net to stop the puck and then there was confusion between the goalie and Tomas Tatar about who would take it.

Neither of them took it and the Blackhawks’ Drake Caggiula happily picked it up and fed Zack Smith in front of an empty net for the goal.

“Just miscommunication,” Lindgren said after the game. “It’s unfortunate just because it’s such a preventable goal. That shouldn’t happen. It sucks that it did and then it puts them up 1-0 and it’s not the way you want to start a hockey game.”

Was it hard for the goalie to refocus after that?

“I’ve let in a lot of goals in my career and a lot of weird goals, too,” Lindgren said. “You just got to kind of forget about it and move on. Obviously, I wasn’t happy right away with it, but take some deep breaths and get back at it.”

Lindgren now has an 0-3-0 record this season with the Canadiens, along with a 3.40 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage.

Costly penalty

The Canadiens’ Max Domi took a really bad roughing penalty at 10:52 of the second period and 35 seconds later Alex DeBrincat scored a power-play goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-1.

Domi was benched for the rest of the period.

“I did what I had to do … simple as that,” Julien said after the game when asked about the benching. “I don’t have to explain it more. It’s not the first time he’s taken a bad penalty. There’s consequences and sometimes those messages go a lot longer than the situation right there.”

The Canadiens got a power play at 15:24 of the second period when Caggiula took a high-sticking penalty, but Domi remained on the bench.

“It doesn’t matter who you put on instead of Max,” Julien said when asked about that decision. “Max is not the guy that’s going to score goals all the time here. The power play is a five-man unit, simple as that.”

The Blackhawks scored the power-play goal after Lindgren had lost his blocker and his stick during a scramble and was playing with a bare left hand.

“During that play my thigh and hip were tightening up, so I was more kind of focused on that,” said Lindgren, who was tended to by a team trainer after the goal. “I knew if I put my hand behind my back that I probably wasn’t going to get hit. But that was kind of a cluster there and I don’t even remember how I lost my blocker and stick there. Everything happened quick, so getting injured wasn’t really on my radar.”

Domi accepts blame

Domi wasn’t looking for excuses after the game when asked about his costly penalty.

“You watch the replay, it’s obviously a penalty,” he said. “But in real time I didn’t realize I had his head. I’d be the first one to tell you that I was trying to gad him or something. There was no interaction. I hit him … hit him again and as I kind of turned around grabbed him a little too high and then pulled him down to the ground. It’s a penalty. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a penalty. But I certainly was not trying to do that.”

Did Julien say anything when he got back to the bench after the power-play goal was scored?

“He didn’t say anything to me,” Domi said. “But when you take a penalty and the team scores you can’t do that. It’s a coach’s decision. You got to respect that, he’s the boss. I was just waiting for my name to  be called and if I had the chance to go back out there I was going to try and do my best to make up for that one.”

Domi got back on the ice in the first minute of the third period.

“Obviously, you want to get that next goal,” he said about his thinking after getting benched. “They played well tonight. They were strong on their sticks, they won a lot of puck battles and they outworked us. I think we just got to find a way here. Got to find a way to stick with it and be better.”

Power play ‘a disaster’

The Canadiens went 0-for-3 on the power play and gave up the short-handed goal. The Canadiens are now 2-for-29 on the power play in their last nine games.

“You have to be sharp on the power play,” Kovalchuk said. “Our power play is a disaster right now. We got to see the puck and be simple. We try to do those cute passes between the sticks, skates, it didn’t work. 

“I can speak for myself, the puck was jumping all over the place,” Kovalchuk added. “Poor decisions by me. You know the coach trusts us that he puts us out there to make a difference and today we didn’t. So we have to regroup and it’s a huge game tomorrow.”

Kovalchuk logged 20:57 of ice time, the most of any Canadiens forward, and finished the game plus-1.

The Hawks’ hometown kid

The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford, who grew up in Châteauguay on Montreal’s South Shore, became a goalie because of Patrick Roy.

“Patrick Roy is pretty much the reason why I wanted to be a goalie,” Crawford told The Gazette a few years ago in an interview. “He was the man back in the day and I wanted to be like him.”

Crawford certainly plays like Roy when the Blackhawks come to the Bell Centre.

The Howard S. Billings High School graduate made 31 saves Wednesday night for his sixth straight win at the Bell Centre, during which he has an 0.75 goals-against average and a .979 save percentage.

Crawford, who won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013, improved his record this season to 8-13-2 with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

Armia and Gallagher sit out

Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher weren’t be in the lineup for the Canadiens against the Blackhawks.

On Tuesday, Armia took part in his first full practice with the team since suffering a hand injury in a 6-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg on Dec. 23. Armia, who also took part in Wednesday’s optional morning skate, missed his 11th straight game, but there’s a chance he could play Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Gallagher missed his third straight game after suffering from headaches. Gallagher earlier missed four games with a concussion, returned to play in a 4-2 loss to the Oilers on Jan. 9, and then experienced headaches and was shut down again.

“(Gallagher) doesn’t really have a headache right now, but he’s at rest,” Julien said Wednesday morning. “As you know, these things (concussions) can be sometimes hard to diagnose and all I’m gonna say is (the team doctors) don’t think it has anything to do with the first concussion. But is it a bit of a setback? We don’t know that. So all we do know, as an organization and as a medical staff, is that he needs to be rested. We need to make sure that’s taken care of before we put him back into action.

“There’s nothing more to clarify, guys,” Julien added. “It’s unknown. Yes, he’s here … he’s here every day and he’s feeling good, no more headaches. That’s where he’s at, guys, and I can’t tell you more. There’s a lot of unknown when it comes to those kind of things.”

What’s next?

The Canadiens had a flight to Philadelphia after the game and will play the Flyers Thursday night (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens have a practice scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard and will then face the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

After that, the Canadiens will have their bye week in the NHL schedule with their next game on Monday, Jan. 27 at the Bell Centre against the Washington Capitals (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).


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Watch: Frustrated Danny Lee 6-putts from 4 feet then withdraws from U.S. Open – Golf Channel



Danny Lee withdrew after a third-round 78 at the 120th U.S. Open, citing a wrist injury. But it wasn’t a pained shot from Winged Foot’s luscious rough that appeared to be the catalyst for the WD.

Lee was 3 over par for the round, facing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th to finish the day. He missed that on the left side and then missed the comebacker for bogey. Lee then frustratingly ping-ponged his ball from one side of the hole to the other before eventually six-putting and making an quintuple-bogey 9.

Frustrated Lee 6-putts (!) from 4 feet before WD

Lee signed for his 78 and then called it a championship.

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Lee withdraws from U.S. Open after 18th hole meltdown – Yahoo Canada Sports



Lee withdraws from U.S. Open after 18th hole meltdown
PGA: U.S. Open – Second Round

(Reuters) – New Zealand golfer Danny Lee withdrew from the U.S. Open citing a wrist injury after a disastrous finish to his third round on Saturday left him 13 strokes behind leader Matthew Wolff.

Lee fired rounds of 70 and 75 to make the cut at an unforgiving Winged Foot but carded an eight-over par 78 in the third round as his campaign unravelled spectacularly.

Lee was three over heading into the par-four 18th but six-putted from four feet to sign off with a quintuple bogey nine.

The 30-year-old missed putts from four feet, five feet, five feet, six feet and three feet before finally holing from seven feet and announcing his withdrawal shortly after.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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Celtics top Heat, cut East finals deficit to 2-1 – TSN



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Getting big leads has been relatively easy for the Boston Celtics in these Eastern Conference finals.

This time, they also found a way to finish the job.

And just like that, the East title series got a whole lot closer.

Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum added 25 and the Celtics got right back into the East finals with a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 on Saturday night. Kemba Walker added 21 to help Boston pull to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Marcus Smart scored 20 points for Boston, going 9 for 9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Celtics — who also got 14 rebounds and eight assists from Tatum — outscored Miami 60-36 inside the paint, led by as many as 20 and never trailed.

The Celtics held Miami to 39% shooting.

Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat, who fell for just the second time in 12 games in these playoffs. Tyler Herro scored 22 points, Jimmy Butler had 17 and Duncan Robinson 13.

The Heat rallied from 14 points down to win Game 1 in overtime, 17 points down to win Game 2, but never caught up Saturday — though they put together a late run to make matters interesting.

They got within eight on a 3-pointer by Robinson with 1:12 left, setting the tone for the Celtics to scramble at the end. Brown committed a flagrant foul nine seconds later, and Robinson made one of two free throws to cut Boston’s lead to 109-102.

Adebayo scored on the ensuing possession to get Miami within five and cap a 24-9 run, but the Heat got no closer.

Herro had 16 points in the second quarter alone to keep Miami close, the last of those 16 coming on a 3-pointer with 3:22 left before halftime to cut Boston’s lead to 51-48.

That’s when the Celtics started to run away.

Boston got three consecutive fast-break scores in a span of 48 seconds to push its lead back to 10, and after a late 3-pointer by Walker it was 63-50 at the break.

And when Miami tried another comeback in the third, Boston again had a late-in-the-quarter answer.

The Heat went on an 11-1 run to get to 82-73 on a layup by Herro with 1:08 left in the third, and Boston answered with the next seven points — needing just 32.9 seconds to get them.

Goran Dragic had 11 for Miami and Jae Crowder finished with 10. The Heat were 12 for 44 from 3-point range.


Celtics: This is the 124th series in Boston playoff history, and the Celtics have trailed 3-0 in only seven of them. … Brown and Tatum now have eight games each of at least 20 points so far in these playoffs. … Gordon Hayward made his return after missing a month with a sprained right ankle, scoring six points in 31 minutes.

Heat: Even with the loss, Miami matched the best 12-game start to any postseason in team history — now 10-2. The Heat also started postseasons that way in 2005, 2012 and 2013. … Miami never led, marking the first time that happened in the team’s last 70 games. The only other instance of that this season for the Heat was Nov. 23 against Philadelphia.


Games in the bubble still count toward “home” and “road” records. The road-designated team has won the last 12 games in which Boston has played — and in the playoffs, road teams are now 39-31. That ties the NBA record for road wins in any postseason; teams were 39-50 on the road in the 2014 playoffs. The road winning percentage this postseason (.557 right now) would also be an NBA record; the current mark is .519, set in 1966 when road teams went 14-13.


Partly to allow the Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets to catch up, the Heat and Celtics won’t play Game 4 until Wednesday. Game 2 of Lakers-Nuggets is Sunday, followed by Game 3 on Tuesday. From there, both series will have an every-other-day format.


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