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COVID-19 forces different Super Bowl Sunday for fans

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TAMPA, Fla./LONG BEACH, Calif (Reuters) – Fans hoping to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday will face a much different reality this year, with the novel coronavirus restricting the celebration around one of America’s unofficial holidays.

Those who choose to gather at Super Bowl parties big and small in Tampa and across the country face dire warnings from public health officials to abide by basic health and safety protocols, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 450,000 lives in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance said those who attend large watch parties should avoid “chanting or cheering” and avoid going to the restroom during “high-traffic times.”

For local businesses in Tampa, Florida, meeting the safety standards of the COVID-19 era may mean extra work without the usual super-sized plunder they might have enjoyed with America’s biggest sporting event coming to town.

“We gotta make sure we’re absolutely… taking precautions to the nines,” said Tom Malloy, 25, the manager of Ducky’s Sports Lounge in Tampa, which plans to host fans for a watch party on Sunday with indoor and outdoor seating and 40 TVs blasting the big game.

“We’re willing as a business to accept any of those additional costs to kind of make people feel safe.”

Malloy said the pandemic has been a learning experience in how to stay up to code with local safety measures while weathering the “hefty, hefty hit” to revenue.

“We’re using Super Bowl as kind of an opportunity to maybe rekindle a relationship with people who have, you know, been out of the bar scene since COVID came,” said Malloy. “Thank God Super Bowl has been helping us out.”

More than 2,500 miles away in Long Beach, California, Legends Sports Bar on bustling 2nd street is gearing up for what is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year.

Normally the large restaurant would be packed with revelers but due to COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining, additional tables have been installed outside facing giant TVs.

“We’re going to go full blast. TVs on, sound on, and just crank it as much as we can,” said manager Daryl Domantay. All of the tables, which are positioned eight feet apart, had already sold out.

He said it will be up to his staff to keep groups from getting too close, which he admitted will be a challenge.

“It’s going to be tough because usually people run up and down, high-fiving each other. Instead they have to stay in their seat unless they are using the restroom.”

But Domantay said he was lucky – similar bars in Los Angeles County that are governed by a different health department are barred from having TVs on at all to discourage large gatherings.

‘COOL IT’

NFL fans planning an all-day extravaganza of food and football at home aren’t immune to the strict precautions, either.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, said this week that the typical house parties of the past should “absolutely not” happen.

“As difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it,” Fauci told “Good Morning America.” https://twitter.com/GMA/status/1356941462802468867

The National Basketball Association (NBA) issued a warning of its own to teams and coaches, according to media reports https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/1358092247896641541, telling them they are barred from attending Super Bowl gatherings outside of their homes.

In host city Tampa, where the 22,000-person attendance cap at Raymond James Stadium has made tickets even harder to come by than usual, residents say they’re cutting back on their traditional gatherings.

“Every year we usually do a big huge party,” said Kevin Schmook, a Tampa resident of 24 years. “We can’t invite all of our friends so we just go to a house where we know people are COVID-safe.”

 

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Tampa and Rory Carroll in Long Beach; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Philipp Kurashev scores in shootout as Blackhawks beat Lightning – Sportsnet.ca

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CHICAGO — Philipp Kurashev scored the only goal in a shootout and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Friday night.

Alex DeBrincat scored twice and Dominik Kubalik added a goal in regulation for the Blackhawks, who lost their first three games to the Lightning this season. Malcolm Subban made 39 saves, plus three more in the shootout.

“We were resilient tonight,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We gritted it out, whether it’s the saves we got or the penalty kills. We blocked a lot of shots and got clears when we needed to.”

Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn and Ryan McDonough scored for the Lightning, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots.

Chicago improved to 4-1-1 in its past six games and snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game winning streak. On Thursday night, the Lightning won 3-2 in overtime on Alex Killorn’s buzzer-beating goal.

“They were probably better last night, and we win,” Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said. “Both teams probably know who was a little better tonight, and they end up winning. It comes out even.”

McDonough made it 3-2 off a big rebound 3:20 into the third period, jumping on Killorn’s drive and beating Subban from 10 feet.

Kubalik tied it 1:40 later by poking home the fluttering shot of defenceman Duncan Keith for his fourth goal in six games.

Overtime started with a flurry of chances for both teams. McElhinney stopped Patrick Kane on a pair breakaways in the first two minutes, and Tampa Bay also had several odd-man chances. Subban held strong despite a hard collision with Steven Stamkos, then denied Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Stamkos in the shootout.

“We gave up a lot of chances, a lot of breakaways he stopped, and he’s the reason we won,” DeBrincat said.

Tampa Bay scored twice in the first 11 minutes, only to see Chicago tie it early in the second period.

Cirelli got behind Keith and rebounded Point’s shot at 2:51 for his third goal in four games. Killorn made it 2-0 at 10:27 with a power-play goal, tipping Hedman’s shot from the high slot.

DeBrincat scored less than three minutes later. The 100th goal of his NHL career was a power-play goal, a wrist shot from the left circle with Blake Coleman off for hooking.

DeBrincat, who had 18 goals in 70 games last season, scored his 14th in 21 games this year 7:08 into the second period, parking low in the left circle before one-timing a pass from Kane to tie it.

“This is a tough challenge,” McDonough said of the three-game series with Chicago. “We’ve got one more crack at them in a couple of days and have to take advantage of it.”

Blackhawks defenceman Calvin DeHaan crumpled to the ice after blocking Ondrej Palat’s snapshot 2:12 into the final period and eventually limped to the bench. He went to the locker room and did not return.

EXTRA WORK

Tampa Bay played only two overtime games in its first 20 contests but were taken to overtime for the second game in two nights by the Blackhawks, running their season total to four. Columbus and Carolina were the other teams to force the Lightning past 60 minutes, and only Carolina scored a victory.

SEABROOK HONORED

Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook received a video tribute on the scoreboard Friday night, hours after he announced his retirement because of injuries, saying his right hip wouldn’t heal enough to allow him to play following surgery. Seabrook was a key part of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015, as well as Canada’s 2010 Olympic champions.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay and Chicago conclude their three-game series on Sunday at United Center.

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Vasilevskiy shutout streak ends for Lightning against Blackhawks – NHL.com

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Andrei Vasilevskiy had his shutout streak ended at 228:09 when the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie allowed a shorthanded goal in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Ryan Caprenter scored at 7:24 to deny Vasilevskiy a fourth straight shutout.

Vasilevskiy broke the Lightning record of 202:46, which was set by John Grahame in 2005-06. 

Brian Boucher holds the modern-era NHL records for most consecutive shutouts (five) and longest streak without allowing a goal (332:01), set from Dec. 22, 2003 through Jan. 11, 2004, with five straight shutouts from Dec. 31-Jan. 9 for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Vasilevskiy had the 15th streak of three straight shutouts in the NHL since Boucher had five. Ilya Bryzgalov has the second-longest streak of the modern era, 249:43 with the Philadelphia Flyers from March 6-15, 2012. The NHL recognizes the modern era as beginning with the 1943-44 season, when the center red line was introduced.

“A lot of guys have done back to back (shutouts) and you feel good, it feels awesome and you know your stats are reflecting it,” Boucher said this week. “But once you get halfway through two and a half (games) you start to feel like, ‘Man, I’ve got something cooking here.’ You start to feel that you might not get beat. How long that lasts is the big question, but the confidence you feel when you have this going is just something you don’t feel all the time. It’s just weird, hard to describe. You start to almost feel like you’re superhuman.”

Vasilevskiy made 73 saves in his three straight shutouts and 108 in the shutout streak of more than 11 periods. He hadn’t allowed a goal since Feb. 22, when Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast scored on a power play at 19:15 of the second period.

Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in a 3-0 win against the Hurricanes on Feb. 24, 20 saves in a 5-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 27, and 28 saves in a 2-0 win against the Stars on Tuesday.

He was 13-3-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and three shutouts entering Thursday.

“You can give him the first, second and third (place) votes for the Vezina (Trophy),” Boucher said of the award for best NHL goalie. “Just from a pure talent standpoint he is the best goalie in the League. Whether he wins the Vezina or not, nobody matches up to his capabilities in net. No chance. Some people have talent and never live up to the expectations. He’s living up to the expectations. We’re not clamoring for more. We’re wondering if he can get more, but we’re not clamoring for it. We see greatness.”

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THREE THINGS: Up & Down, By a Hair and Back for More – BlueJackets.com

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The Blackhawks looked poised to take a statement win at the United Center after 40 minutes of play, but managed a point in a frustrating overtime loss to the defending-champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. 

“Frustrating result because I thought we played really, really well for 48-50 minutes of the game,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We weren’t ready to match the urgency, the desperation (early in the third)… it’s tough because we don’t get paid off for how we played for most of that game, and that hurts you.”

Video: CHI Recap: Blackhawks earn a point in 3-2 OT loss

Here are three takeaways from the overtime loss:

UP AND DOWN

After a scoreless opening frame, the Blackhawks looked in firm control of the game in the second period, with goals from Ryan Carpenter and Alex DeBrincat to take a 2-0 lead just past the halfway point of the game.

A well-expected push from the Lightning to start the third saw the visitors tie things up just 2:55 into the frame, starting with a shorthanded goal off an Anthony Cirelli deflection in front and soon followed by a piece of Steven Stamkos skill off a faceoff win. 

Chicago stabilized for the remainder of regulation, eventually taking a point as 60 minutes wouldn’t solve the third meeting between the two teams.

“I thought we played well most of the game,” said DeBrincat. “Start of the third period, we let that one up on the power play, but I thought the last 10 was pretty good.”

“We played really well the first two periods. We played really solid hockey, just the way we’re supposed to play and the way we can play our best,” Lankinen said. “They got a deflection goal, a little bounce (on) the first one, probably gained some momentum out of that. Just a funny bounce the second one too, kind of. I think that’s just hockey. Momentum swings happen. We showed some character though and played well at the end of the third. Pushed the momentum in their end and had some really good chances. Even in overtime, we had a couple good chances, but it was just not our night tonight.”

Video: DeBrincat on last-second loss to TBL

BY A HAIR

After a back-and-forth overtime frame with a combined eight shots on goal and a touch of iron apiece, the game appeared to be headed to a shootout — that is until Victor Hedman’s shot from the point found its way through traffic and crossed the goal line with a fraction of a second left on the game clock, crossing the line with 0.1 seconds showing officially. 

After some initial confusion and a confirmation from the situation room in Toronto, the Lightning skated off the UC ice in victory. 

“It’s tough,” DeBrincat said of the defeat. “They did a good job to get that shot off. I know Kaner was all over him. Just squeaks through. Unfortunate bounce. We’ve just got to come back ready to play tomorrow and hopefully get two points.”

BACK FOR MORE

The Blackhawks won’t have to wait long to try and bounce back, with Tampa Bay back in town on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. 

The overtime loss hasn’t deterred the confidence in a locker room, particularly when you contrast the first two games against the Lightning with the majority of Thursday’s performance. If anything, there’s more confidence than ever that the Blackhawks are on the cusp of the right mix given the strong stretches of the game in Chicago. 

“Coming into this series, we knew that if we keep playing our ‘A’ game, we have a chance against anybody,” Lankinen said. “I think maybe the result wasn’t there tonight, but the effort was there for sure. That’s encouraging and we want to build on that tomorrow.”

“Yes,” Colliton said when asked if he expects his team to bounce back stronger. “We need to respond with the same work ethic, the same skating, the same attention to detail that we had for most of the game and find a way to keep that detail in our game all the way home.”

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