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Canadiens’ Max Domi has chance to prove himself in season’s final weeks – Sportsnet.ca

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MONTREAL — Max Domi flew out of the gate, stormed into the offensive zone, knocked Quinn Hughes over and generated the first scoring chance of a game his Montreal Canadiens eventually lost 4-3 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

It was Domi who set up the game’s first goal for Paul Byron, Domi who set up the goal for Jordan Weal to put the Canadiens up 3-2 in the first minute of the third period, and yes, it was Domi who spent the last minute and thirty-five seconds of his 18:14 of ice-time trying to defend against the goal Tyler Toffoli scored to win the game for the Canucks.

We’re not glossing over that last part. Both Domi and Byron, and defenceman Jeff Petry, had chances to get the puck out of Montreal’s end and get themselves off the ice, but they failed and it cost the Canadiens yet another point in the standings. But the point (no pun intend) is Domi was a factor in every part of this game just like he was in a 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and, to a slightly lesser degree, in a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals late last week, and that’s important in the big picture.

Why, you may ask? Because these final 18 games of the season are proving ground for everyone, and Domi has much incentive — outside of his drive to perform for a new contract — to show that he can be every bit the player that scored 28 goals and 72 points in his first season with the team, and less so the player who’s struggled to be consistent this year.

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He started with 10 points in his first 10 games, followed it up with just one goal and two assists over his next 10, and then he went point-less in 10 of his next 13 games before rattling off points in nine straight. And coming into this game, Domi had scored four points in his last four games after he went five games without a point for a second time this season.

Last season, after Domi was traded to the Canadiens from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk, the Winnipeg native was the model of consistency — never going more than three games without a point.

But it wasn’t just his scoring that was consistent, it was his engagement. And even if it was expected he’d dip in both departments after never producing more than 18 goals and 52 points in his three other seasons that preceded last year’s breakout, it wasn’t expected he’d drop to the level he has at points this year.

Now it’s crucial for Domi to continue on the path he’s currently on, because as Byron put it, “In seasons like this, where they don’t always go as planned, you want to be part of the solution going forward. You want to show that you can be part of the team and build on something.”

There’s also this point Byron made that really resonates: “If we can get our young guys to keep raising their level, keep growing, I think our team has a bright future.”

That was after he labeled Domi a young player.

Byron was right to do so, because Domi is just 24 and still on the upswing of his career. He was also right with what he was saying in general, because this team isn’t going to get to where it wants to go without players like Domi taking their game up a level and keeping it there. And it’s the games played at this time of the year, games against teams who appear destined for the playoffs, which provide the best opportunities for players to prove they can do that.

“The league tightens, penalties are called less, checking’s a little harder, each goal’s so important,” Byron said. “So I think it’s valuable experience for young guys to learn from and I think they’ve been doing a great job this year and I think they’re just going to continue to get better.”

That process for Domi, who has 15 goals and 42 points in 65 games, is vital.

It will be just as vital to the Canadiens, whether Domi stays with them or is used to acquire a piece through trade that addresses other needs they have.

The fact that there’s a spot for Domi at centre right now, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi plying his trade in the American Hockey League and Nate Thompson traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, can only help. With his skating being his best asset, the moves to wing for portions of the season have left him stagnant, which is not uncommon for natural centremen. Even ones who have played wing at various points throughout their careers.

“You’re just not getting as many puck touches (on the wing), and as a centreman you’re coming from behind the play and you can kind of see everything whereas as a winger you’ve got guys behind you,” said Weal, a converted winger who played his entire minor-league career and 503 junior and AHL games combined as a centre before breaking through to the NHL five seasons ago. “You’ve got guys in front of you, so you have to worry about both. As a centre, you’re coming from so low that you can see everything in front of you.”

It’s as a centre that Domi has proven to be at his most effective with Montreal, but his future there with this team is in doubt with Kotkaniemi developing, Nick Suzuki moving above him in the lineup and Phillip Danault being the most versatile Canadien at the position.

Domi can’t control any of that, but he can control how he approaches each game from here to the end of the season. And it’ll be a considerable development for both him and the Canadiens if he brings what he did for most of this game against the Canucks.

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Canada finishes preliminary round undefeated, top of group with win over Finland at world juniors – CBC Sports

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Ridly Greig was a little banged up after helping Canada to a big win at the world junior hockey championship on Monday.

Not only did the Ottawa Senators’ prospect score and contribute an assist in the 6-3 victory over Finland, he blocked some big shots when the Canadians ran into third-period penalty trouble.

“Whatever it takes to win, whatever it takes to do anything for the boys or kind of get some momentum, I’m going to do it,” Greig said. “Whether it’s stand in front of a slap shot, I’m going to do it.”

Special teams were the difference maker on Monday, with the Canadians going 2-for-2 on the power play while Finland was 1-for-5.

The Finns got their second stretch of five-on-three hockey with less than five minutes left on the clock when William Dufour joined Ethan Del Mastro in the penalty box.

Finland pulled goalie Leevi Merilainen just as Del Mastro’s penalty expired and with the extra man Roby Jarventie put a puck in off the glove of Canadian goalie Dylan Garand to make it 5-3.

Dufour sealed the score at 6-3 with an empty-net strike 18:13 into the third.

The Finns had a prime opportunity to eat into Canada’s lead with a minute-long two-man advantage midway through the final period.

Donovan Sebrango was sent to the box for high-sticking and less than a minute later, teammate Will Cuylee was tossed from the game for a knee-on-knee hit.

Canada weathered being down two men, then chewed through the four remaining minutes of the major penalty without conceding a goal.

WATCH | Bedard, McTavish lead Canada past Finland: 

Bedard and McTavish stay hot in Canada’s win over Finland

14 hours ago

Duration 1:06

Mason McTavish set up Connor Bedard for a first period goal in Canada’s 6-3 round robin win over Finland at the world juniors.

“I thought our penalty kill was elite today, so many guys blocking shots. And that’s a great sign for a team that’s trying to win something,” said Canada’s captain Mason McTavish, who had a goal and two assists in the win.

“Finland, they’re a great team. I think they were 3-0 coming into this, their power play is ridiculous. So the fact that our PK stood up there with one of the best power plays in the tournament is huge for us.”

Connor Bedard scored and contributed an assist for Canada (4-0-0), while Dufour, Brennan Othmann and Tyson Foerester also found the back of the net. Olen Zellweger tallied three assists.

Joakim Kemell scored and contributed an assist for Finland (3-1-0) and Samuel Helenius rounded out the scoring.

Canada’s Garand made 22 saves and Merilainen stopped 31 of 36 shots for the Finns.

Important result

The result was an important one for Canada, who finished the preliminary round atop Group A. They’ll face Group B’s Switzerland (1-3-0) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Switzerland clinched its spot in the quarter-finals earlier on Monday with a 3-2 win over Austria (0-0-4).

Finland was disappointed with Monday’s result, said head coach Antti Pennanen.

“It was OK but it wasn’t enough. And we were angry after the game, that’s for sure,” he said.

A big goal early in the third whittled the Finns’ deficit to 5-2.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Topi Niemela fired a shot from the point and Kemell tipped it in from the slot for his third goal of the tournament.

Canada called for a coach’s challenge, arguing that the puck had gone off the netting before falling back to the ice ahead of the goal.

“The guys on the ice are generally the ones who can tell you what’s going on,” said head coach Dave Cameron. “My players were 100 per cent sure it went in [to the net]. So you trust your players.”

After an extended video review, officials determined the goal was good. The Canadians did not receive a delay-of-game penalty because officials said the review was “inconclusive.”

The Canadians dominated the middle frame, outshooting the Finns 20-5 and taking a 5-1 lead.

McTavish gave his country its second power-play goal of the game 16:17 into the period after Finland’s Rubin Rafkin was called for interference.

WATCH | Johnson scores highlight-reel goal:

Kent Johnson scores beautiful lacrosse-style goal at World Juniors

3 days ago

Duration 1:16

The Port Moody, B.C. native and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect put Canada up 2-1 against Czechia just before the end of the 1st period in their preliminary round matchup.

Zellweger sent the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect a pass from inside the blue line and McTavish uncorked a one-timer that flew over Merilainen’s shoulder stick side.

Thirty-one seconds into the second, Canada went up 4-1 after the Finnish goalie bobbled a shot by Joshua Roy.

Greig slid in on one knee to put the rebound in the back of the net with his third goal of the tournament.

Canada went into the first intermission up 3-1 after a late Finland goal.

A knot of players battled for the puck behind the Canadian net and Finland’s Kalle Vasisanen came up with it. He sent a pass to Helenius at the high hash marks and the L.A. Kings’ prospect got a shot up and over Garland’s shoulder with 57 seconds left in the period.

17-year-old phenom

Bedard put away his third goal of the tournament in memorable fashion 17:19 into the first.

Canada was penned in its own zone for an extended period, but the 17-year-old phenom showed no signs of exhaustion when he collected a cross-ice pass from McTavish at the blue line and sped into the faceoff circle.

He then ripped a blistering shot past Merilainen, pinging the puck off the inside of the crossbar to make it 3-0.

A power-play strike boosted Canada’s lead to 2-0 midway through the opening frame after Helenius was called for slashing.

Greig’s shot ricocheted off Merilainen’s pad but Foerester was in position to poke the rebound in from the top of the crease as he slid past the net.

Finland got off to a strong start, outshooting the host nation 4-0 across the first five minutes of the game.

It was Canada that opened the scoring, though, 6:21 into the first.

Defenceman Zellweger fired a long bomb from inside the blue line and Othmann batted it in past Merilainen.

The play was reviewed for a potential high stick but the goal — Othmann’s second of the tournament — was determined to be good after officials reviewed the video.

Reigning champion Americans also undefeated

The preliminary round wrapped Monday night with Group B’s Sweden (3-1-0) registering a 4-2 victory over Germany (2-2-0).

Sweden will battle Latvia (1-2-1) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday while Germany will face Finland.

The reigning champion Americans (4-0-0) also went undefeated in round-robin action and will play Czechia (1-2-1), the country commonly known as the Czech Republic, in the quarter-finals.

The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal games will go Saturday.

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Three Stars from Day 6 of WJC: Bergmanis steals the show in Latvia’s historical win – Sportsnet.ca

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In a slate of games featuring the likes of Sweden, Finland and the United States, the showstopper of Day 6 at the World Juniors was Latvia.

The tiny country notched its first ever win in WJC preliminary round play and by the same token hopped over Czechia and Slovakia into third place in Group A.

Latvian captain Ralf Bergmanis scored a hat trick and his team downed Czechia 5-3. They will play a World Juniors quarterfinal game for the first time in the country’s history.

Needless to say, the young men in burgundy were quite thrilled.

Finland had no pity for Slovakia and continued their solid run in the tournament with a 9-3 win. The Young Lions were 5-for-7 on the power play, sending their next opponents Canada a message to stay disciplined for their final preliminary round game on Monday.  

Slovakia saw their chances to play a quarterfinal game crumble before their eyes in the next game. Sitting in the stands, Slovak players held their heads in their hands as Bergmanis scored his third goal from across the ice into an empty net.

The Americans outpaced Sweden for most of their battle for first place in Group B. Goaltending woes allowed the Junior Crowns to hope for a comeback but the red, white and blue weathered the late storm to clinch a 3-2 win.

The Swedes will play Germany on Monday and the winner will end the preliminary round in second place.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 6 of the World Juniors:

3rd star: Matt Coronato, USA

Coronato’s scoring ability is more than evident. If you give an inch, he’ll take a mile.

The five-foot-10 winger added two goals to his World Juniors tally and helped the Americans finish atop Group B. Coronato is now tied with his country-mate Carter Mazur as the tournament’s second-leading goalscorer with four.

The Calgary Flames’ 13th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft showed his eye for goal with his second marker of the night. Off a Swedish turnover, Coronato bagged the eventual game-winner with a sniper’s goal.

Coronato notched his first goal of the game in the second period when he pounced on a rebound from a shot by Logan Cooley. The soon-to-be Harvard sophomore made Sweden goalie Jesper Wallsted look bad by lodging the puck under his blocker and into the net.

2nd star: Kasper Simontaival, Finland

There’s no shame in being opportunistic, especially if it earns you points in return. Simontaival did exactly that to bridge the gap between the Finns and Slovaks. The winger finished the game with three points (two goals, one assist) including one assist on the power play. 

The LA Kings third-rounder in 2020 stood by the slot and pounced on a rebound to give Finland a power-play goal 34 seconds into the second period. The goal was later given to Roni Hirvonen, who had touched the puck last. 

Both players also combined in the first period, this time Hirvonen found Simontaival in the slot for the goal. 

Simontaival notched his second goal of the game in the third period when he was, once again, in front of the net. He redirected Aatu Raty’s pass in the back of the net and gave Finland an 8-3 lead. 

The 20-year-old even screened goalie Tomas Bolo for Finland’s ninth goal of the game courtesy of Kasper Puutio. Bottom line, sticking around dangerous areas is paying off for the five-foot-nine winger.

1st star: Ralfs Bergmanis, Latvia

Captain Latvia came through for the motherland. Charles and Nikolaj Boyle from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct would be proud.

Bergmanis opened his tournament account and finished the game as the hat trick hero, lifting his country into the knockout round. 

Bergmanis completed his hat trick in an empty net, from behind his own net. A rink-long shot sealed his team’s victory, as the disillusioned Slovak players watched their elimination from the stands.

[brightcove videoID=6310886309112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Latvia took a first-period lead and right as Czechia attempted the comeback with an equalizing goal in the second, the University of Vermont commit got to work. Bergmanis regained Latvia’s lead when his shot from the point in traffic found the back of the net. 

Bergmanis then gave his country a two-goal lead on the power play. From the point, the blueliner broke Frantisek Nemec’s ankles before beating Czech netminder Jan Bednar with a wrister. 

The 20-year-old is still undrafted but he sure made a lot of eyes look his way in one of the biggest games in Latvian junior hockey history. 

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Blue Jays activate Springer from IL, designate Zimmer for assignment – Sportsnet.ca

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The Toronto Blue Jays have activated outfielder George Springer from the 10-day injured list ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles.

Outfielder Bradley Zimmer was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Springer has been on the IL with right elbow inflammation since Aug. 5. Interim manager John Schneider has previously said Springer is expected to slot in as the designated hitter once activated to allow the injury to continue to heal.

When healthy, Springer has made a major impact from the lead-off spot for the Blue Jays. In 89 games he has hit .251/.331/.464 with 18 home runs and 49 RBI, good enough to earn a selection to this year’s all-star game.

Zimmer was never able to make an impact beyond as a defensive replacement this season and his role was further limited by the addition of free-agent Jackie Bradley Jr. last week. The 29-year-old Zimmer was brought in to provide some depth as a left-handed bat and appeared in 77 games, hitting .105/.209/.237.

The Blue Jays outfield, now healthy, consists of Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez and Bradley, Jr., with Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio available as platoon options.

Yusei Kikuchi will be on the mound when the Blue Jays host the Orioles in the first of three games Monday night. You can watch the game on Sportsnet and SN NOW beginning at 7:07 p.m. ET.

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