Back-to-back wins against Western Canadian teams gave the Montreal Canadiens a little bit of breathing room coming into Edmonton on Saturday night. Claude Julien chose to stick with the same lineup that had beaten the Calgary Flames in overtime on Thursday, meaning Mikey Reilly stayed paired up with Cale Fleury, while Riley Barber and Ryan Poehling flanked Nate Thompson on the fourth line.
Standing between Carey Price and a third consecutive win? A top-heavy Oilers team led by the league’s most dynamic duo Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, a team currently placed third in the Pacific, with their hopes set on a playoff run. Edmonton has chosen to split the goaltending duties between Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen this year, with Koskinen getting the nod last night from coach Dave Tippett.
Montreal emphasized before the game how important it was to not attract unnecessary penalties. The Oilers rank second in the league on the power play, with a scoring efficiency which borders on 30%. A duo like McDavid and Draisaitl doesn’t need additional help, considering how difficult they are to stop already at five-on-five.
Less than two minutes into the first period they demonstrated exactly how difficult they are to stop even at full strength. A breakaway in the neutral zone led to a two-on-two opportunity against Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot. McDavid served Draisaitl right on the blade, the puck found its way in behind Carey Price, and Montreal was down a goal early.
The first penalty of the game was dispensed to Jordan Weal when his stick unfortunately got stuck between the legs of an Oilers defenceman, resulting in a tripping call. It was an opportune moment for the home team to double its lead, but the Habs’ penalty kill made one of their best efforts of the season, not only stopping Edmonton from scoring but actually refusing to concede a single shot against Price during the two minutes. Instead, Artturi Lehkonen had a good chance to tie it up after a line change gave him free space in the offensive zone. Koskinen was able to make the save that time after an initial flub, but overall the penalty kill showed a positive sign for the Canadiens.
That joy was, however, shortlived. Near the middle of the period, Max Domi lost control of the puck as he was trying to bring it out into the neutral zone. His team was also on the move, causing major problems on defence. Chaos erupted in the Montreal crease. The defenders were unable to clear the puck which eventually found its way out to Ethan Bear. Bear shot it back in toward the net where Josh Archibald had his blade in the right place to beat Price.
Half a minute after the 2-0-goal, Phillip Danault got called for holding right after a faceoff and things were looking mighty bleak for the guests from Québec. This time, surely the stars would align and provide a third goal of the night.
On cue, a third goal was about to come. But not of the kind we were expecting. Former Oiler Jeff Petry took care of a mistimed cross-ice pass and took off in the offensive direction. Being a three-on-one, most people, including Koskinen, were expecting Petry to move the puck over to either of his teammates. Instead, he released a quick wrister toward the far post that Koskinen let in beneath his glove.
With the short-handed goal, the Habs were right back into a game which had felt lost for most of the first period. But that is the beauty of this Montreal team: they never quit.
Montreal picked up their game toward the end of the period, fueled by their goal. Momentum continued into the second, where they held Edmonton without a single shot on net for the first eight minutes.
Nick Cousins drew a penalty on Caleb Jones, when the latter held the former up against the boards behind the goal. During the power play, their first of the night, the Canadiens would tie the game up at two. Petry, traded from Edmonton to Montreal for a bag of peanuts in March of 2015, showed his true value once again when he blasted one from the blue line into the havoc in front of the Oilers’ net. Danault got the goal, his eighth of the year, steering Petry’s shot past Koskinen in mid-air. Both of Montreal’s goals thus far had come on special teams; one each on the penalty kill and the power play.
In an effort to get his team to wake up, Zack Kassian picked a fight with Ben Chiarot, ending with both of them sitting out the following five minutes. Once their punishment was over, Weal got sent to the box for a second tripping minor of the night. This time, Connor McDavid got his chance and he took it. Weber tried to clear the puck by passing it up the zone. Once the pass was intercepted, Draisaitl found McDavid in the neutral zone straight in front of the net. Neither Danault nor Weber could keep up with McDavid’s pace, and once alone with Price he made no mistake.
The Canadiens ended the period with massive pressure against the Oilers’ defence, spending the vast majority of the last two minutes well established in Edmonton’s zone. Unfortunately, the pressure did not lead to a change on the scoreboard, meaning that the home team would enter the third period with a 3-2-lead.
That lead would not last for long. Lehkonen found Max Domi on a surge forward. Demonstrating silky smooth hands, Domi pushed himself and the puck in between Bear and Darnell Nurse before snapping a wrister past Koskinen. The Habs had bounced back from a late-game deficit once again. The second assist went to Petry, thereby registering his third point of the night.
Next up: another tripping call against Montreal and Cale Fleury. Just as the penalty was ending, a shot from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was tipped by Price back up toward his own goal. First, the referee signaled that the puck had gone in off the deflection and the Edmonton fans cheered. The following replay proved a clear ricochet off the crossbar followed by a Price recovery. The goal was revoked and Montreal’s fans cheered instead.
Edmonton would eventually get their fourth goal of the night, as a strange backspin bounce gave Archibald and Riley Sheahan a two-on-one against Brett Kulak. Sheahan got the score, giving him only his third of the year but his second this week.
Montreal did their best trying to tie it up for a third time, but Sheahan’s goal would prove to be the decisive one. It also did not help having to play an additional two minutes on the penalty kill, after Cousins had been called for interference behind his net on breakout. The Canadiens fell for the first time on their road trip, a 4-3 defeat.
The Habs will now have to reload and recharge for their last outing before Christmas, facing off against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Monday night.
Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports
Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.
Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.
“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.
“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”
WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:
The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.
The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.
This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors
Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.
“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.
“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.
“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”
Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.
The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.
“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.
The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.
“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.
Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.
“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.
Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore
Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks
Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.
The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.
The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.
The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.
The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.
Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.
Watch live for free: Leylah Fernandez vs. Storm Sanders at National Bank Open – Sportsnet.ca
Update: This stream has ended.
Canadian Leylah Fernandez begins her quest for her first National Bank Open title against qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia, under the lights in Toronto.
Fernandez, still only 19, is returning to action for the first time since suffering a fracture in her foot during the quarterfinals of the French Open on May 31.
The Laval native is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA Tour after a headline-making run to the U.S. Open final last year.
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