The Montreal Canadiens’ pre-season campaign continued to roll on as they kicked off a back-to-back series, this time against the Ottawa Senators. The roster heading to Canada’s capital was largely the same as the one that throttled the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last game. It did, however, feature another debut for the Habs as Sami Niku suited up for his Montreal debut after signing late last week upon having his contract mutually terminated in Winnipeg.
The Habs jumped out to a solid start, with the duo of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jake Evans finding a rhythm early on. Harvey-Pinard found the open space in Ottawa’s zone, and filtered a perfect pass to Evans who fired it five hole, but was denied by Matt Murray’s pads.
Then it was Niku’s turn to try to generate some pressure deep in the Ottawa zone, and he did that while centring a feed for Christian Dvorak. However, Niku was caught deep and Jonathan Drouin was late on his rotation to cover his spot allowing Ottawa to spring an odd-man rush.
While Ben Chiarot perfectly eliminated the passing target, Austin Watson fired a shot that snuck through a sliding Jake Allen to put Ottawa on top early in the first. The goal didn’t take the wind out of the Habs’ sails though, as Montreal continued to push back as the period wore on.
Eventually they found a breakthrough as Dvorak and Drouin worked their magic in the offensive zone once more. Drouin fed a pass to Chris Wideman who let his shot go. It hit Murray’s blocker and Alex Belzile was in the spot to pot the rebound into the open net and tie the game.
The tie did not last for long though, as Artem Zub fired a wristshot from the point toward Allen, and in front of the net Drake Batherson outmuscled David Savard while managing to redirect the puck by the veteran goalie to put Ottawa back on top.
The first period took an ugly turn as Josh Norris hammered Niku in the numbers as the Canadiens defender was turned to move the puck along the boards. Niku got up slowly, with his visor splattered with blood, though Norris wasn’t assessed a penalty of any kind. Batherson was given two minutes for roughing in the scrum that followed, but the Canadiens weren’t able to generate a single shot on their man advantage.
Ottawa drew the next power play to end the period as Michael Pezzetta was called for tripping. The Habs held strong to end the first, but had just over a minute of penalty-killing left to start the second period.
The Montreal penalty killers stood tall to kill off Pezzetta’s remaining sentence. Unfortunately, with the fourth line taking the next draw, the Senators took advantage of their inability to clear the zone. Shane Pinto swiped an errant pass and set up Nick Paul, who fired a shot right past Allen to double Ottawa’s lead.
That edge continued to grow as the period wore on, as an ill-timed pinch by Savard turned into another odd-man rush, and Batherson was in alone on Allen. The Sens forward uncorked a wicked shot, and the Ottawa lead was pushed to three goals.
A tripping call by Cole Reinhardt on Kaiden Guhle sent Montreal back to the power play, and this time they made sure to take advantage of that situation. Some deft movement on the power play allowed Drouin to slip a pass to Wideman, who once again aimed high on Murray. It ended up hitting Dvorak in front first, and then the centreman coolly fired the rebound into the back of the net as he shook of the stinger he had gotten from the shot.
Before the period was over, a pair of mental lapses in the defensive zone resulted in another pair of Ottawa goals, and the Canadiens found themselves in a very deep hole heading into the final period. They also found themselves staring down a very angry Senators team after Ottawa believed Michael Pezzetta took advantage of the smaller Parker Kelly in a fight during which Pezzetta dropped Kelly with just a few stiff punches.
Instead of fighting or going after anyone in a white sweater, the Senators went down the ice, turning Savard around, and scored a seventh goal to welcome Kevin Poulin to the game.
A Canadiens power play yielded next to nothing in terms of offence-generation as it was clear the Canadiens and Senators were content to just run the remainder of the game clock out.
Watson finally tracked down Pezzetta as the game was clearly over from a competitive standpoint. Watson threw Pezzetta to the ice, with the young forward clearly not wishing to engage, and Watson took a seat in the box for two minutes. Again, the Canadiens’ man advantage passed the puck around well, but there were no more goals to be found in this game as the Senators coasted for the final minutes to come away with an easy 7-2 victory.
The Senators also claimed the post-game shootout victory, with Tyler Ennis netting the winner while Ryan Poehling was denied by Murray to cap off a frustrating night.
The Canadiens get an immediate do-over tonight in Montreal when they welcome the Senators to the Bell Centre. It’s expected that we’ll see more of the team that opened the pre-season against Toronto, plus Ryan Poehling who was informed he will be playing both games this weekend.
Red Sox’s two grand slams lead ALCS rout of Astros – Sportsnet.ca
HOUSTON — J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox have a grand old time in Houston.
Boston became the first team to slug two grand slams in a postseason game, with Martinez and Devers connecting in the first two innings of a 9-5 win over the Astros on Saturday that tied their AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
Martinez made it 4-0 with his opposite-field shot off rookie Luis Garcia with two outs in the first. It was the first career playoff slam for the four-time All-Star, who began his career with the Astros.
Garcia exited with right knee discomfort after walking the first batter of the second inning. Jake Odorizzi took over, and shortly after a 13-minute delay while the right-hander warmed up on the field, Devers connected with one out for slam No. 2.
“J.D.’s swing was huge to get us on the board early, and then Raffy, same thing, another granny,” red-hot teammate Kike Hernandez said. “Has that ever happened before?”
It has now.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston. It’s the first of three consecutive home games for the Red Sox, back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2018 World Series after downing Houston in the ALCS.
Hernandez, who Boston manager Alex Cora referred to Friday night as “en fuego” after a two-homer performance in Game 1, remained on fire Saturday. He had two hits, highlighted by a solo homer in the fourth inning.
Hernandez has been this postseason’s hottest hitter, leading all players with 16 hits, five homers and four doubles. His nine extra-base hits are also the most in these playoffs and tied a Red Sox postseason record with Mike Lowell (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2007) and David Ortiz (2004 & 2007).
“The importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in,” Hernandez said.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi permitted five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Astros captured a 5-4 win in the series opener as they rallied behind homers from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa before falling into the huge hole early in this one.
“That’s a tough team,” Cora said. “It’s never comfortable with them because they’re a swing away from getting back in the game.”
The Red Sox were up 9-0 when Houston got on the board with an RBI double by Kyle Tucker with two outs in the fourth. The Astros cut the lead to 9-3 when Yuli Gurriel followed with single to right field that scored two more.
Gurriel and Jason Castro added solo homers in the ninth off Darwinzon Hernandez before Ryan Brasier got the final out.
“At the end, it was a little too close for comfort, but we got it done,” Hernandez said.
The injury to Garcia is another blow to a Houston team trying to reach the World Series for the second time in three years. The Astros are already reeling after an injury to staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. that kept him off the roster for this series.
They won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal.
When McCullers went out, manager Dusty Baker said the team would just have to “hit more” to absorb the loss. But now that the rotation is further depleted, it’ll be an even taller task for this powerful lineup outgunning a Boston team whose offense has outpaced everyone this postseason.
Odorizzi was left off the Division Series roster after a disappointing first season in Houston before getting a spot in this round after the injury to McCullers. He allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings Saturday in a performance that certainly isn’t good news for a team that is running short on starters.
TOUGH UP TOP
Altuve and Michael Brantley, the top two hitters in Houston’s lineup, are a combined 2 for 17 in the series with a hit each, including Altuve’s homer in Game 1.
There’s a day off Sunday before Houston’s Jose Urquidy makes his first start this postseason in Game 3 Monday. The Red Sox have yet to name their starter.
'It was surreal': University of Toronto student suits up for Toronto Maple Leafs – CTV News Toronto
By day, he’s a university student and the goalie for the University of Toronto’s men’s hockey team. By night, or at least for one night, he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I keep remembering little details every once in a while,” Alex Bishop told CTV News Toronto. “Saying, oh, that was really cool, or that was really cool – but I think it’ll definitely take a couple of days.”
The morning after his NHL debut, Bishop admitted it still hadn’t sunk in.
“It’s not really something that you sit at home and think, ‘oh, maybe I’ll get to sit on an NHL bench tonight.’ It just doesn’t go through your head.”
Bishop first heard of the potential opportunity on Friday morning through a message from his coach. The Leafs’ Petr Mrázek was out with a groin injury, and the team’s salary cap limitations prevented them from calling up a back-up goalie until Sunday.
Saturday morning he was on the ice, practicing with the team he’s grown up idolizing.
“It was surreal for sure,” Bishop said, adding that the players “were all very, very nice- like super welcoming.”
As for taking shots from the professionals he usually watches on television, Bishop said it wasn’t as daunting as one would think.
“As soon as you get on the ice, it’s just hockey — just different players and different shooters. I tried to just look at it that way but at the same time, try to soak it all in and say, I’m here, this is really cool.”
But he admitted it was a different story when it came time to walk out onto the ice at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night as the Leafs faced the Ottawa Senators.
“Even just walking to the bench, there’s fans on your left, fans on your right, the cameras are flashing, the horns are going crazy. It’s something you’ve seen on TV, and even if you’re at the game, you hear it, but to be experiencing it first hand, it’s indescribable.”
Bishop spent the game sitting at the end of the bench, never taking the ice. But he says that’s just fine with him.
“I just don’t think it really could have worked out better. I was able to be there the whole game and didn’t have to go in, so, best-case scenario.”
Bishop says he enjoyed everything about the night, including the chance to experience the things most fans never get to see.
“Just kind of being around the team and seeing just a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes on game day — what they do to prepare, and then obviously having a courtside seat to an NHL game is definitely not something to complain about.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a life-long fan of the team, something passed down to him from his father. Bishop says the Leafs got tickets for his mom, dad, and sister to watch the game. They were also given Leaf jerseys with his name and number on the back.
Barring another series of unfortunate events for the Leafs, the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player will suit up again for the U of T Varsity Blues.
“We’re a real, strong team,” Bishop said, “I think we have a good chance to go a decent way this year, so I’m hoping we can do that.”
As for what’s next for Bishop: midterms. He has one on Tuesday and another on Thursday, though he admits he usually crams for midterms, so his brief NHL career didn’t interrupt his studying too much.
It will be a busy week for Bishop and one he says he’ll likely never forget.
“It really isn’t lost on me that this is like.. an opportunity that not many people get. So I was very fortunate in being able to do this.”
Watt forces fumble in overtime, Steelers edge Seahawks – TSN
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin insists there is nothing “mystical” to the way outside linebacker T.J. Watt goes about his business.
The perennial All-Pro is talented. He’s focused. He’s relentless. And as of last month, he’s also one of the highest-paid defenders in the NFL.
And he’s playing like he’s worth every penny.
Watt strip-sacked Seattle quarterback Geno Smith in the waning minutes of overtime on Sunday night. Teammate Devin Bush pounced on the loose ball to set up Chris Boswell’s game-winning 36-yard field goal as the Steelers escaped with a 23-20 victory.
“I don’t think anyone is surprised about his ability to deliver in those moments,” Tomlin said of Watt.
Maybe, but Watt’s second sack of the night, the one that helped the Steelers (3-3) win their second straight to reach .500 heading into their bye week, began innocently. Watt wasn’t sure he had a path to Smith only to somehow thread his way to the former starter turned longtime backup. One mighty chop at Smith’s right arm and the ball was on the ground.
“I don’t think I had a good rush or anything,” Watt said.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Watt finished a remarkable game in which he knocked down three passes and recorded three tackles for loss by making the play that allowed Pittsburgh to avoid a deflating setback.
The Steelers have won two straight following a 1-3 start and will have two weeks to get ready for a visit to Cleveland on Halloween.
“It’s kind of crazy, don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We got to our goal, which was to get to .500 before the bye, get healthy and get prepared for a long stretch.”
Roethlisberger threw for 229 yards and a touchdown and rookie running back Najee Harris added 83 yards rushing and caught his second scoring toss of the season. Eric Ebron scored the third rushing touchdown of his career as the Steelers found creative ways to move the ball with star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
“We’ve got a lot of players that can make plays,” said Pittsburgh wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who caught nine passes for 71 yards. “They showed that.”
Smith, starting in place of injured Russell Wilson, completed 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown in his first start in nearly four years. Alex Collins ran for 101 yards while filling in for injured starter Chris Carson, the first 100-yard rushing game by a Seahawk since Dec. 15, 2018.
Smith’s late miscue, however, dropped Seattle to 2-4.
“I thought he played tough as hell,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Smith. “He was clear and calm and poised exactly like you’d hope he’d be. The game was not too big for him at all.”
The Seahawks played the final 3:10 of regulation and overtime without linebacker Darrell Taylor, who left on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed injury. Taylor fell to the ground during a 3-yard gain by Harris with the Steelers driving near midfield. Taylor was on the ground for more than 10 minutes while being attended to by medical staff. Players from both sides came out to offer support.
Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that Taylor’s preliminary CT scans were clear. The team said Taylor had feeling in all of his extremities and the 24-year-old rookie was expected to fly home with the team.
“He was so mad to be taken off the field like that. He wanted to get up,” Carroll said. “They wouldn’t let him do it, because they had to do all the secure methods to take care of him. He didn’t want any part of that.”
Seattle was trailed by three with time winding down in regulation when driving when Smith connected with D.K. Metcalfe near the Seahawks sideline. Rather than step out of bounds with his team out of timeouts, Metcalfe opted to turn upfield. The ball was stripped out of his hands by Pittsburgh’s James Pierre. Seattle wide receiver Freddie Swain fell on it at the Steelers 25.
Smith scrambled to get the Seahawks to the line of scrimmage and appeared to spike the ball with a second left. Officials, however, halted the game to review whether Metcalfe caught the pass inbounds. The call stood on review and the game clock was reset to 3 seconds, giving Smith enough time to spike it so Jason Myers could come on and pull the Seahawks even at the gun with a 43-yard field goal.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who is on the NFL’s competition committee, called the review “an embarrassment.”
“I hated it. I hated it,” Tomlin said. “I cannot believe that game was stopped to confirm catch/no catch in that moment.”
Seattle: Cornerback Sidney Jones left in the third quarter with a chest injury. … Left guard Damien Lewis was carted to the locker room in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Steelers: Rookie left tackle Dan Moore Jr. exited in the fourth quarter with a hip injury.
Seattle: Host New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 25.
Pittsburgh: Are off next week, then travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Oct. 31. Cleveland took two of three meetings with Pittsburgh in 2020, including a blowout victory in the first round of the playoffs.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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