Canadiens @ Senators recap: Kovalchuk ends losing streak in overtime – Habs Eyes on the Prize
Following this season’s second eight-game losing-streak, the Montreal Canadiens looked to improve against the only Canadian team currently beneath them on the league table, the Ottawa Senators.
Brendan Gallagher was suffering from headaches and was confirmed out ahead of the game, meaning that newly acquired Ilya Kovalchuk once again stepped onto the first line to pair up with Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar. Matthew Peca was back in the lineup for the first time in a month, flanking Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the third line. On defense, Ben Chiarot missed his second game in a row with a lower-body injury, meaning that the same six defenders who started against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night would get a new chance to operate. There were large contrasts in the netminding game, where Montreal started Carey Price and Ottawa started Swedish sophomore Marcus Hogberg, with just 12 career NHL games before Saturday.
After an even start Dylan DeMelo crosschecked Max Domi, and with that he sent Montreal on the man advantage. Being without Gallagher, Paul Byron, Joel Armia and Jonathan Drouin, the Habs still managed to produce one of the best-looking power plays of the whole year. The puck went from player to player as if on a string, before ending with Nick Suzuki scoring his ninth of his rookie season, assisted by Jeff Petry and Tatar.
Nick Cousins became the first and only Montreal player to visit the box in the first period as he received a crosschecking minor. However, Ottawa only got 23 seconds to try to capitalize on their first power play before Drake Batherson evened the strength out with a hook on Artturi Lehkonen.
Batherson had a rough first period. Right as he was entering the game again, having served his two-minute minor, he reached with the stick to try to stop a Montreal attack before having fully exited the box. giving the referees no choice but to send him right back in for interference.
Lehkonen, Kovalchuk, Danault, and Suzuki each had opportunities to double the lead for the guests before the break, but either the shots went just beside the net or Hogberg was in the way. The score remained 1-0 until the end of the period.
Midway through the second, Brady Tkachuk got annoyed by Victor Mete’s presence in the crease and chose to crosscheck the defenceman into Price, with an interference penalty following. Unfortunately, the positive flow from the first power play was nowhere to be seen, and instead Chris Tierney had a chance to equalize when he broke through alone from mid-ice. Price stopped the effort and held tight on his shutout bid.
Ottawa took over through the course of the second, making Price and Montreal’s vulnerable defence work hard to prevent losing a lead once again. The two earlier games this week have both followed the same pattern, with Montreal in the lead to end the second period and then a turnaround in the third for the worse.
Montreal, coming into Saturday with a league-high 35 shots per game on average, had difficulties getting opportunities on offence, resulting in only 16 shots fired against Hogberg throughout the first 40 minutes of play. There were more chances to be had, but most shots seemed to have a tendency to wind up wide of the net, making Hogberg’s night considerably easier.
Marco Scandella and Tierney got sent to the box simultaneously early in the third, creating a two-minute four-on-four. The best scoring chance during these minutes went to former Hab Mikey Reilly, playing the Canadiens for the first time since the trade. Price was awake and managed to block the shot from the point.
Minutes later, Tierney drew a new penalty on a Canadiens player. This time Mete was the perpetrator and Tierney did not have to accompany him to the penalty box. Yet again, Montreal’s usually fragile penalty kill came up strong and killed off the two minutes meritoriously.
The penalty kill would have to continue to play on top of their level as Tatar got called for holding shortly afterword. Ottawa was closing in on double the amount of shots as their guests. Price, however, demonstrated a confidence that has been lacking during the start of the new year, stopping every effort and getting by with a little help from his friends.
It eventually took a Montreal Canadiens player to tie the game up. Batherson got credited with the goal that was steered toward the net by Peca’s stick to fool Price. If a single goal could summarize the Habs’ season so far, this had to be it.
Struggling offensively and now needing another goal, matters became even more difficult when Scandella got penalized for the second time in less than 20 minutes, this time for tripping up Reilly. While being one man down, Montreal could actually have settled matters. On a surprising breakaway, Ryan Poehling and Nate Thompson came in two-on-one against Hogberg and a lone Senators defenceman. After passing back and forth, Poehling gave Thompson a chance for a simple put-in from close distance, but yet again the shot failed to go.
Just as it had the two times earlier this season, a game between Montreal and Ottawa went to overtime. Kovalchuk got a first-class opportunity for his first goal in a Habs jersey, getting left alone from mid-ice during a botched Senators line change. The young Swedish netminder read the effort and stopped a fairytale ending.
With less than a minute left of overtime, the Russian sniper would get a second chance. Getting into the offensive zone on the left side, one-on-one against a forward, Batherson, playing defence, Kovalchuk slowed down, making everyone believe he would pass to a surging Danault on the other side. Instead, he demonstrated that marksman-like wrist shot that has made him feared by the world’s premier goaltenders for nearly two decades. The shot went off the far post and in, creating havoc among both the Canadiens players and the fans at Canadian Tire Centre. The relief in Kovalchuk’s eyes as the puck went in truly was priceless to see. As was the joy among his teammates when they congratulated him.
Next, the Habs will return home to the Bell Centre for an outing against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. With this win, Montreal ended their second eight-game losing streak this season. Let us hope that we won’t have to endure yet another one of these anytime soon.
Sail Canada says coach fired because lack of money, not pregnancy
Lisa Ross wants her job back.
The two-time Olympic sailor for Canada was named to the national sailing team’s coaching staff three years ago.
Nine days after telling Sail Canada in March she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year, Ross was fired.
Ross was in Andora, Italy, where she’d been coaching Canadian sailors at the European championship. She was about to head to Spain for more competitions and training camps.
The 46-year-old from Mahone Bay, N.S., said during the March 17 video call with Sail Canada’s chief executive officer Don Adams and high-performance director Mike Milner, she was told to pack her bags and return to Canada.
“It was strange and shocking,” Ross told The Canadian Press. “It was a five-minute phone call where I was fired, basically, without cause.
“I was in Europe. I was in the middle of a planned six-week trip.”
Sail Canada said lack of money, and not Ross’s pregnancy, was the reason for her firing.
“Sail Canada terminated Lisa Ross’s contract for financial reasons which had nothing to do with Lisa Ross being pregnant,” the organization said in a statement to The Canadian Press.
“Discussions and the decision to terminate Lisa Ross’s contract took place well before she verbally informed Sail Canada high performance director that she was pregnant.
$80,000 annual salary
Sail Canada said Ross’s salary was supported by Sport Canada Gender Equity funding, which was eliminated at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“Sail Canada was able to maintain Lisa Ross’s position in the next fiscal year through the Return to Sport funding program but, unfortunately, that funding is no longer available in 2023-2024,” the organization said.
Ross’s annual salary was $80,000. The federal government renewed its funding for gender equity in sport in October with a commitment of $25.3 million over three years.
“This is not available at present, but we have been informed it may be some time in the future,” Sail Canada said in a statement. “We do not know if female coaching will be part of the areas of funding.
Sail Canada said it made its decision to fire Ross “because of financial reasons based on the information available at the time of budget finalization.”
I would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring I can continue in my role …— Former Sail Canada coach Lisa Ross on her firing
“With the 2023-2024 Olympic season fast approaching, and in order for Sail Canada to prioritize Olympic hopefuls and maintain a balanced budget, Sail Canada has to make drastic cuts to its high-performance budget.”
Sail Canada said it sought a Nova Scotia labour lawyer’s advice on Feb. 21 to vet the decision to dismiss Ross.
Ross departed for Europe at the end of February and had no inkling her job was on the chopping block until she was sacked March 17.
“I just would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring that I can continue in my role as one of the more senior coaches on the staff,” Ross said.
Sail Canada said it waited until after the European championship March 10-17 to fire her “so that it would not become a distraction for the athletes.”
Another female hired on contract basis
Ross was the only woman on Sail Canada’s technical staff of a high-performance director and coaches.
Since her dismissal, Rosie Chapman was hired on a contract basis.
Chapman is partially subsidized by athletes and costs 20 per cent of a full-time salary, Sail Canada said.
Ross competed for Canada in 2004 in Athens in women’s three-person keelboat and 2008 in Beijing in women’s dinghy.
She coached laser sailor Brenda Bowskill at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ross was named the Canadian sailing team’s development coach in 2020, but she coached the senior men’s laser team that year.
Ross didn’t coach at Tokyo’s Olympics in 2021. She was on maternity leave with her second child.
She was coaching the 49er FX women’s development team when she was fired. Her third child is due Sept. 1.
She’d planned to continue coaching until August when she could no longer fly.
Ross intended to be back with the athletes in time for January’s world championship and to help prepare them for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She says she communicated that plan to Sail Canada the day she told the organization she was pregnant.
Milner replied that same day: “You should also know Rosie and I have been talking on and off for more than a year on joining our team and I think this is a great opportunity for the girls while you are on mat leave.”
Lawsuit not filed against Sail Canada
Milner also wrote in that email to Ross that his “initial thought” would be to have Chapman become the international coach after April’s Princess Sofia or Hyeres regattas “and focus you on domestic training.”
Ross has filed claims with Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Board and Human Rights Commission but has not sued Sail Canada.
“I’m not asking for a massive amount of money,” Ross said. “I’m asking for my job back.”
The World Sailing Trust recently launched a half-dozen recommendations under an initiative called Project Juno to “support better maternity policies in sailing.”
While Sail Canada insists her pregnancy did not cost Ross her job, it says the organization has pregnancy and parental leave policy “that is in keeping with the Ontario Employment Standards Act” and subject to Sport Canada’s Athletes Assistance Program policies and procedures.
Ross says she has never seen that policy.
She hasn’t filed a complaint with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which was established almost a year ago to administer Canadian sport’s universal code of conduct. Sail Canada is a signatory to OSIC.
“I want my job back, so I want to focus on that,” Ross said. “I want to be a part of the sport system that I’ve been a part of since I was 17.
“I went to my first Pan Am Games when I was 17. It’s been a scary process to go through, just even with my relationship with Sail Canada because that’s been a huge part of my life and I want that to continue.”
Jubilant Latvians given national holiday after shock ice hockey win over USA
Latvians woke up to go to work Monday morning, only to find they didn’t have to. Their parliament had met at midnight to declare a holiday after the national ice hockey team chalked up its best result at the world championship.
Latvia, where hockey is hugely popular, co-hosted the men’s championship with Finland, and the country’s 4-3 overtime victory over the United States for the bronze medal on Sunday was greeted with jubilation.
A plane bringing the team home from Finland flew at low altitude over central Riga on Monday to greet thousands of fans who had gathered to welcome the squad.
At quarter to midnight on Sunday, members of parliament, sporting red-and-white national team jerseys, convened for a 10-minute session to unanimously declare the holiday.
It was “to strengthen the fact of significant success of Latvian athletes in the social memory of the society,” according to the bill’s sponsors.
The bill was introduced by a smiling member of parliament with her face painted in the colors of the national flag. Another giggled while trying to read out the names of absent parliamentarians, to laughter from many in the hall. There was an ovation from everyone present after the final vote.
But as dawn broke, there was confusion about who was working and who was not. Court hearings were canceled and schools and universities were closed, but national exams for high school students went ahead, with staff paid at holiday rates. Several hospitals chose to stay open to honor doctor appointments.
Businesses found themselves in some disarray, with Aigars Rostovskis, the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telling public broadcaster LSM: “It will be chaos for many.”
Canada won the gold medal, the team’s record 28th world title, by defeating Germany 5-2 on Sunday.
Kamloops Blazers rout Peterborough Petes 10-2 in Memorial Cup
KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — Logan Stankoven had a goal and four assists, Connor Levis had a goal and two assists and the Kamloops Blazers routed the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes 10-2 in the Memorial Cup on Sunday.
The win came after Kamloops defenseman Kyle Masters was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was hit and fell backward into the corner boards with less than seven minutes remaining. There was no immediate word on Masters’ condition.
Ryan Michael, Fraser Minten, Ashton Ferster, Matthew Seminoff, Dylan Sydor, Jakub Demek, Matthew Seminoff and Ryan Hofer each scored goals for the Blazers, who bounced back from an 8-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Quebec Remparts on Friday night.
Caedan Bankier and Olen Zellweger also added two assists each for the Blazers, who scored four power-play goals and improved to 1-1 in the four-team, 10-day tournament.
Peterborough dropped to 0-2 and must beat Quebec on Tuesday to advance.
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