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Drew Brees to start for Saints vs. Chiefs; Michael Thomas out – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW ORLEANS — Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees “looked good” in his first practices since returning from rib fractures and a punctured lung, and is slated to start against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, coach Sean Payton said.

“We went off how it felt as he went through a full practice week. And he’s done a good job,” Payton said after Friday’s practice.

Brees has missed four games since his injury, which occurred when he was sacked against San Francisco.

Taysom Hill has started in Brees’ place, going 3-1. Even before Brees’ injury, Hill would intermittently take snaps under centre to provide New Orleans’ with a change-of-pace, read-option QB. So he could continue to see snaps at QB as well.

“We have a number of personnel groupings to give us some flexibility and we’ll go from there,” Payton said.

Payton said Brees would be wearing a protective vest over his torso, but the coach dismissed the idea that the Saints were rushing the 41-year-old QB back from injury.

“We wouldn’t be playing him if he wasn’t healthy and able to function and feeling good and recovered,” Payton said.

Brees is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing with 79,612. He has 565 TD passes to rank second behind only one active QB, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, who has 571.

The Saints (10-3) enter the weekend tied atop the NFC with Green Bay, but the Packers would own the tie-breaker for the No. 1 playoff seeding — and the only playoff bye — in the conference by virtue of a Week 3 victory in New Orleans.

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Laine 'pissed' to miss Gordie Howe hat trick – TSN

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Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine had a productive opening game of the season, scoring the overtime winner as part of a three-point night in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.

Laine, however, was not happy to wind up with only a minor penalty for roughing after dropping the gloves with Matthew Tkachuk as part of a skirmish late in the second period.

“I was pissed off because that would have been a Gordie Howe hat trick,” Laine said after the win. “That one time when I drop my gloves, I get a two-minute penalty. So that’s kind of embarrassing.”

Laine went after Noah Hanifin after the Flames defenceman cross-checked Jets forward Kyle Connor behind the Calgary net, with Tkachuk jumping in soon after.

Hanifin received a minor penalty for cross-checking on the play, while Laine and Tkachuk both picked up roughing minors. Laine has never been assessed a fighting major. 

“It gets the team fired up,” Jets forward Nik Ehlers said of Laine’s actions. “I’ve maybe been a little bit in his head in the last week, saying he hasn’t fought yet and when is it going to happen? I think he took that a little personal. He stood up for his teammate. It fires the guys up. Patty’s a big boy, and he went in there today and showed that. It’s exciting, it gets the boys going, it always does. And he got himself buzzing, too. It’s exciting for us.”

The Jets won’t face the Flames again until Feb. 1, when they will play the first of four consecutive games against Calgary – three of which will be on home ice.

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Laine winner caps sparkling performance as Jets extinguish Flames in overtime – CBC.ca

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Patrik Laine let his play on the ice speak volumes Thursday night with a three-point performance that should squash questions about his committment to the Winnipeg Jets.

After registering a goal and an assist in regulation, the 22-year-old Finnish winger scored the overtime winner, leading the Jets to a season-opening 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.

“Hopefully I can just build off that game,” Laine said after the victory. “There’s a lot of things I need to look at. The three points isn’t going to tell the whole truth of the game. But it’s a good start.”

His big night comes after Laine’s agent made comments during the off-season suggesting that both the powerful forward and the Jets could benefit from his being traded. Laine ducked questions on the subject as training camp opened.

WATCH | Laine’s 3-point night helps Jets beat Flames:

Patrik Laine records 2 goals and adds an assist in Winnipeg’s 4-3 overtime victory over Calgary. 1:15

His commitment to the team seemed clear Thursday as Laine not only lit up the scoreboard, but stood up for his teammate.

With less than a minute to go in the second period, Calgary’s Noah Hanifin cross-checked Laine’s linemate Kyle Connor into the boards.

Laine responded by going after Hanifin and a scuffle ensued, with Laine and Flames left-winger Matthew Tkachuk exchanging blows.

“That’s just the type of guy he is. He’ll go to battle for his teammates,” Connor said. “He’s a pretty selfless guy and I think you can see that. I have his back out there and vice versa. He’s just an all-around great teammate, I’d say.”

Hanifin was called for cross-checking, and Laine and Tkachuk were each sent to the box for roughing.

It was somewhat of a disappointing result for Laine, who rarely drops the gloves and was hoping he’d register a Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight.

“The one time I drop my gloves, I get a two-minute penalty. So that’s kind of embarrassing,” he said.

WATCH | NHL season begins amid rising COVID-19 cases:

The NHL season returned to the ice on Wednesday with many questioning if it was the right decision amid rising COVID-19 cases. The league is hoping the season will go off without a hitch, as businesses that rely on the games are looking for ways to save their bottom line. 2:01

The tussle helped ignite a Winnipeg (1-0-0) side that was tepid at times on Thursday.

Calgary (0-0-1) dominated play through much of the first period, starting just 4:28 in when Tkachuk scored on the second shot of the game with a deflection in front of the Jets’ net.

Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm added goals before the end of the first frame, and the Flames held a 3-1 lead heading into the break.

During the intermission, Jets coach Paul Maurice went into the locker room and told his group to relax. His words changed the way the group played heading into the second period, said Paul Stastny.

“Sometimes when you’re kind of thinking too much, your feet are in quicksand, you’re looking around too much. Everyone was kind of hoping for things to happen,” he said. “The first game of the season it always kind of happens like that. I think it’s just nerves, in a sense.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo breaks down 9 NHL talking points:

Rob Pizzo identifies the key things to watch as the season begins. 1:54

Thirty-four seconds into the second period, Nikolaj Ehlers took a shot from the slot and, while Jacob Markstrom made the stop, he couldn’t control the rebound. The puck squirted out to Mark Schiefele who popped it in from the side of the net to make it 3-2.

Connor’s power-play goal evened the score at 3-3, and Laine buried the winner 1:18 into overtime, streaking from deep in his own end all the way past the Calgary blue line. He fanned on his first shot but quickly recovered and beat Markstrom on his second attempt.

Laine has worked harder in training camp than any other time during his career in Winnipeg, and is bigger, stronger and more mature than ever before, Maurice said.

“He’s a very driven young man. He wants to be great. And sometimes you have to learn how that unfolds,” the coach said. “What he got tonight he earned. He didn’t get lucky, he didn’t have a bunch of bounces go for him. He just worked and worked.”

Markstrom was making his debut for Calgary after signing a six-year, $36-million US deal in free agency and stopped 30-of-34 shots Thursday.

Connor Hellebuyck, the NHL’s reigning Vezina winner, had 23 saves for Winnipeg.

The game was a rematch of last year’s playoff series where the Flames dispatched with the Jets in four games in the qualifying round.

It was also the first of nine meetings between the two clubs in the pandemic-condensed 56-game season.

The Flames will host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, and the Jets are set to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo ranks the all-Canadian division:

For the first time, all 7 Canadian teams will be in one division. Rob Pizzo predicts which four will make the playoffs. 5:47

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Connor McDavid goes super-nova in 5-2 Edmonton Oilers win over Vancouver – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

ZACK KASSIAN. 6. That was more like it. Zack Kassian was skating better and was involved in the play more over-all, chipping in 3 hits and 3 shots. Unlucky to have not scored, as Thatcher Demko absolutely stoned him in close with a terrific glove save on an early chance. Set up McDavid for a chance a shift later. Part of a 3-way sequence that led to Nugent-Hopkins ringing one off the post. More, please.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse will be asked to carry a heavier load this year with Oscar Klefbom on the shelf for the season. If tonight is any indication, Nurse is up to it. 2 shots, 5 hits, 2 blocks in a team-leading 23:54 of TOI. A nifty take-away and shot in the 1st. 61% CF (30-19 at even strength). He was a tower of power. +3.

ETHAN BEAR. 7. Had a terrific game. Always on the right side of his man. Made a number of nice, crisp outlet passes. A key clear on a 1st Period PK, again on a 3rd period penalty kill. A shot, 2 blocks, and played in all 3 disciplines across 23:44. Nurse nudged him out in ice time by 10 seconds. +3.

LEON DRAISAITL. 9. Dominant on both sides of the puck. Put up 4 assists, the first a shot off the post that Nugent-Hopkins back-handed home. Won the faceoff with just 2.5 seconds in the opening frame which led to McDavid’s 1st. His drop pass was part of the high-light reel goal by McDavid described above. Then, Leon set up Connor’s hat trick goal with a sublime, no-look backhand pass that was just out of this world. Without the puck he also chipped in 3 hits, was 71% in the circle, and also had an impressive 1st Period back-check that broke up a dangerous Canucks sortie in the 1st. What a player.

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