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Canucks temporarily rediscover identity in sweep of lowly Senators –



VANCOUVER – Funeral music at the start of the week, show tunes at the end. Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks’ world.

With radio and social media conjecture last weekend that general manager Jim Benning’s job could be in jeopardy — seven games into the National Hockey League season, in the middle of a pandemic that precludes any substantive roster changes, when revenue is as suppressed as attendance — the Canucks rolled over the Ottawa Senators, completing Thursday a three-game series sweep against the worst team in hockey by winning 4-1 at Rogers Arena.

Despite getting outshot each game, the Canucks impeached the Senators by a total score of 16-3 because goalies Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko suddenly surged into form just as Vancouver’s struggling top line of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser found theirs.

The forward trio generated three more goals on Thursday, two of them by Boeser, and Holtby nearly matched Demko’s outstanding performances Monday and Wednesday with a 36-save effort as the Canucks moved back to 5-5 and into a playoff spot.

The North Division, however, isn’t Canada’s proudest achievement at the moment, and it’s as difficult to draw strong conclusions from Vancouver dusting Ottawa as it was last week when the team was getting overrun by the Montreal Canadiens amid a myriad of halting Canucks mistakes.

But last week, the goaltending needed to be better and the 6-40-9 Lotto Line needed to be found. Which is why the West Coast mood has brightened considerably over the last four days.

It looks like Twitter will have to wait to fire Benning. But stand by: the Canucks open a difficult six-game road trip against the three other Canadian teams in playoff position, starting Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

“We knew it was an important series, especially before a road trip and after our start,” Boeser said after lifting his goal total to six in 10 games. “To get back to .500 and play well and play how we’ve been playing, before the road trip, I think it’s huge. It gives our group confidence.”

“We’re still trying to figure out some of the kinks in our game… and we’re still doing that,” defenceman Quinn Hughes said after setting up a pair of early goals that launched the Canucks’ wire-to-wire win. “Like I said last year, we’re going to be better two months from now than we are now. That’s just the group we have; the more you play… the more we’ll figure each other out. The three games here were really big just to kind of get back on track before things really slide.”

The Canucks did look like a hockey team again, playing with far more positional discipline and better puck management.

The Senators played well in spurts during the three games but couldn’t score, couldn’t get enough saves from Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg, and got little from their emerging stars.

It was so bad for Ottawa, another Tkachuk left angry. Brady Tkachuk pounded the glass in frustration after a last-minute fight Thursday with Zack MacEwen, although he didn’t go full-on toddler tantrum like his brother Matthew did Tuesday in Calgary.

Brady had just one assist in three games in Vancouver and after opening the season with three points in the Senators’ only win, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, has amassed two points over seven straight Ottawa losses since then.

Ottawa’s other young star, defenceman Thomas Chabot, was largely invisible in the series until he caught Hughes on a poor angle one-and-one and scored Ottawa’s only goal on Thursday.

Holtby didn’t face nearly the shot quality Demko saw earlier in the week, but made timely saves, including a breakaway stop on Connor Brown seconds before the end of the middle period and Ottawa trailing 3-1.

Demko said he felt “enough was enough” after his own poor start to the season, and Holtby looked Thursday like he had the same resolve, playing easily his best game of the year and nudging his save percentage north of 90.

“I think we all want to be better, top to bottom,” Holtby said. “But as a goaltender, you pride yourself on trying to be the difference-maker when it’s needed. That last Montreal game (5-2 loss on Saturday when Holtby allowed two late goals)… maybe you’re nitpicking, but you’ve got to find a way to do it in order to lead your team when things aren’t going well. Obviously, Thatch with the last two games and how unbelievable he played, I think we both know that this season it’s going to take both of us to be consistent and try and be the difference makers. This three-game set is a good step in the right direction.”

The Canucks lead the NHL in both goals scored (35) and allowed (36).

Who knows where their next step will take them?

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UK government approves US$5.33 billion sale of Chelsea to LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly



London, United Kingdom (UK)- The UK government has formally approved the sale of Chelsea FC for US$5.33 billion to Todd Boehly, the co-owner of the LA Dodgers and Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm.

As a result, this now brings Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea, in which the club has won 21 trophies including five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues to an end.

“Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea. Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea has been able to continue to play football, but we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.

Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.

In addition, the steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for the necessary licences required and we thank them for all their cooperation,” read a statement from the government.

The UK government sanctioned Abramovich on March 10, 2022, due to suspected links with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

This in turn led to several restrictions on the club such as the ability to buy or sell players and negotiate new contracts with players. However, due to the recent developments all of that is all about to change, a boost for Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, as he prepares for the 2022/23 season after finishing third and qualifying for next year’s Champions League in the 2021/22 season.

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Blues' head coach Craig Berube addresses Nazem Kadri threats: 'It's not a good thing' – The Athletic



St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube denounced social media threats made toward Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri Wednesday, days after the coach said he had ‘no comment‘ when he was first asked about them Monday.

“I’m not on social media. I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff,” Berube told the media Wednesday. “In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that. Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it.

“It’s not a good thing. So I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”

Kadri was subjected to racist comments and threats on social media following a collision with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during Game 3 of the Blues-Avalanche second-round series. Following the game, Binnington threw a water bottle at Kadri as the Avs forward was being interviewed by TNT.

In Game 4, Kadri scored a hat-trick en route to a 6-3 Avalanche win over the Blues. Colorado can eliminate St. Louis Wednesday night in Game 5 with a victory.

(Top photo: Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images)

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Instigator call the turning point in Rangers’ Game 4 win over Hurricanes –



Yep. They picked up right where they left off.

Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes ended with tensions high and there was some obvious carryover into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden that saw the Blue Shirts even the series with a 4-1 victory.

Whistles were few and far in between during a frenetic first half of the opening period as both teams traded chances. The Rangers controlled much of the high-paced action and eventually began winning more puck battles than the Hurricanes.

Then the key turning point of Game 4 occurred.

Jacob Trouba absolutely walloped Max Domi near the penalty boxes with a hard hit at the 11:38 mark.

Steven Lorentz was in the vicinity when the open-ice hit was delivered. Instead of merely taking Trouba’s number, Lorentz immediately came to the defence of his teammate and dropped the mitts with Trouba in a rare playoff scrap.

Trouba unquestionably contacted Domi’s head, just as the Hurricanes’ forward’s feet were sliding out from beneath him mind you, yet the officials deemed it a clean hit.

The sequence resulted in an instigator call on Lorentz.

Carolina’s bench, plus head coach Rod Brind’Amour, were visibly upset when Trouba only received five for fighting.

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant told the broadcast at the first intermission “it was a great hit” before adding “Domi had his head down a little bit.”

Domi, of course, was involved in the rough stuff at the end of that heated Game 3 over the weekend.

The instigator call certainly seemed to affect the Hurricanes on the penalty kill and the Rangers capitalized with Lorentz in his team’s locker room as part of the 2-5-10 he was assessed.

Carolina was relatively sloppy while a man down and a turnover in their own end led to a missed opportunity to clear the zone. That led to Adam Fox patiently making a cross-ice saucer pass to Andrew Copp who neatly slide the puck to Frank Vatrano and the winger beat Antti Raanta low glove to open the scoring.

Brind’Amour, while wanting his players to be more disciplined, was fairly subdued in his post-game comments. He did mention he thought Trouba should’ve been given a cross-checking minor for getting his stick up on Lorentz prior to the brief punch-up.

“We’re not out there to catch guys (with their heads down) or play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said of Trouba’s hit after the game. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we’re there and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two minutes changed the course of the game. … It’s not headhunting at all. It’s a good hit and their response warranted a penalty.”

Copp added his second assist of the period moments later when Fox, who leapfrogged Cale Makar for the active post-season lead in points among blueliners, tipped in his fourth of the playoffs on a Ryan Lindgren shot.

Lindgren, who has been excellent for the Rangers since returning to the lineup, was named the second star thanks to his two-assist night. Copp and Vatrano, both acquired in March trades, were named first and third stars of the game, respectively.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around on the Carolina side of the equation, Raanta’s performance is not why the series is even as it shifts back to PNC Arena.

Raanta did allow four goals on 28 shots, sure, however he also made a handful of highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.

Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin were both separately stopped by Raanta on breakaway backhand deke attempts and he flashed the leather on Chris Kreider, yet his best of the night was against Mika Zibanejad.

The bigger concern for Carolina continued to be the lacklustre power play. It was only 5-for-43 in the playoffs prior to Game 4 where the issues persisted.

Carolina didn’t have trouble entering the zone when a man up. It’s just they couldn’t do much beyond moving the puck around the perimeter once the zone was established.

Their first man advantage of Game 4 occurred midway through the second period although the best scoring chance and only shot on goal during that PP was generated by the Rangers.

Brind’Amour’s group couldn’t get anything going with Lafreniere in the box serving a goalie interference minor early in the final frame either and they finished the night 0-for-2.

The Hurricanes were down by three goals heading into the third period and to say putting three behind Ilya Shesterkin in a single period is a tall task would be an understatement.

The soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner had his shutout bid ended by Teuvo Teravainen in the third but that’s all Carolina could muster.

Brind’Amour didn’t even bother pulling his goalie in the final few minutes with the score 4-1.

There was some more pushing and shoving at the final horn with Ryan Reeves giving Domi the business – which was likely more fallout from the Game 3 rough stuff – but nothing escalated further.

The Hurricanes are winless on the road this post-season but perfect at home so they’ll appreciate Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.

This series is now officially a best-of-three.

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