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Edmonton Oilers beat Toronto Maple Leafs

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Wayne Gretzky used to put the boots to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That was then. This is now.

Connor McDavid just did the same. He had a Gretzky of a game in Edmonton’s 6-4 win over the Leafs.

McDavid was a two-way tower of power all game, continuing on his recent run of solid play on defence and brilliant play on the attack.

The Oilers dominated the first period with superior skating and hustle, getting nine Grade A chances to just two for the Leafs. Toronto was lucky to be down just 1-0 at that point. Edmonton continued to push, though, in the second and got two quick goals.

A slow Jujhar Khaira backcheck gave Toronto a goal and some life in the second but in the end McDavid’s game was too much for Toronto to handle.

It should be said that McDavid had a lot of help from his teammates in an excellent third period where the Oilers generally thwarted the Leafs with solid checking.

But this was a night for McDavid and Oilers fans to savour and remember, when 97 stuck it to the Leafs of Toronto and did so in Toronto itself.

In total, Edmonton had 20 Grade A chances to eleven for the Leafs (running count), a decisive thrashing.

Connor McDavid, 10. He skated into Toronto and owned the Leafs. His goal, the Oil’s sixth of the game, where he faked Morgan Reilly out of Toronto and onto Baffin Island, then the Toronto goalie Michael Hutchinson to the North Pole, was one for his all-time high-light reel, which is saying a lot. McDavid made major contributions to 12 Grade A chances on the attack and made not one major mistake on a Grade A chance against. He had eight shots on net, six of them Grade A scoring chance shots. That is the definition of hockey perfection in a single game. McD came out flying and got Edmonton’s first Grade A chance on a hard cut into the slot. On that same looooong 1:39 shift, he kept the cycle going and going and going before Oscar Klefbom’s shot finally went in. On his next shift, he used his quick feet and hands to turn a nothing play into another Grade A slot shot. Late in the first, he came oh-so-close to scoring off a great Leon Draisaitl stretch pass and breakaway deke. Early in the second, he got his second assist, setting up Nurse for a goal. In the third, he and Bear both came close to scoring on the same sequence. The Grade A moments kept coming all night for McD, who ended up with a goal and three assists.

James Neal, 7. Threw a hard hit on Martin Marincin early n the game, then ripped a hard one-timer on net from a McDavid pass later that same period. Looking good on this line with McD and Kassian. He had ten hits on the night. Ten! When Neal is physical, he looks like a $5.5 million per year player.

Zack Kassian, 7. He’s been getting the job done with McD all year and did so again tonight. Came out hitting, driving John Tavares into the boards. His moving screen was a key to Nurse’s goal.

Leon Draisaitl, 8. He was mainly Very Good Leon this game, but we saw a wee bit of Bad Leon too. He came out strong and fired a nasty shot off the crossbar on Edmonton’s first power play, then set up McD on a breakaway and almost scored on a one-timer shot on Edmonton’s second man advantage. But his weak fly-by and weaker back check led to a dangerous Toronto chance late in the first. His defensive woes continued in the second when he got caught on the run and allowed a point shot, with Zach Hyman almost scoring on the rebound and then Mitch Marner almost scoring on the rebound of the rebound. Of course, just a moment later he made things all good in the world with a brilliant cross-seam pass to Caleb Jones, who fed Yamamoto for a Triple A chance and goal. And then he showed what he’s capable of on defence, leading a unit with Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom to kill off a lengthy five-on-three Toronto power play. In the third, he scored on a typically fierce and accurate snipe. In the end, he had two points and was +1.

Kailer Yamamoto, 7. He showed off one of his many skills, drawing the game’s first penalty. Then we saw a bit of what’s shaked in Bakersfield this past year, with Draisaitl and Caleb Jones setting up Yamamoto for a glorious one-timer goal.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. Was puckwatching as his check Auston Matthews cruised into the slot for Toronto’s first Grade A chance of the game. He had a solid enough game otherwise. He made a swell stop and nice pass on McDavid’s monumental goal.

Joakim Nygard, 7. His excellent screen in the first period capped off the virtuous cycle leading to Oscar Klefbom’s point shot goal. He then made a key defensive stop as the Leafs threatened to score after Mike Smith lost his stick and the Oilers were drained of energy.

Gaetan Haas, 7. He and Nygard had the speed, hustle and drive to cause the Leafs some trouble. Led his line in an effective, hustling and checking first shift, and kept up the high energy play all game. He’s earning a job right about now, just when his NHL future was in question. Can he keep it up?

Alex Chiasson, 7. Nice outside snipe on his goal, showing the kind of shooting and puck luck that led to his high goal scoring last year. Took a stick in the face to draw a penalty in the third, then set up Draisaitl’s goal with a fine pass.

Jujhar Khaira, 3. Oh man, that was not a good game for Khaira. Weak and slow backcheck on Toronto’s first goal where he allowed Toronto’s Pierre Engvall time and space to make a play in the slot. If he’s simply on his man, there’s no shot there, let alone a goal, and the whipped Leafs might never have fought back into this game period, down as they were three-to-zilch. Next Khaira went for the big hit but allowed a dangerous stretch pass leading to Frederik Gauthier’s goal.

Riley Sheahan, 4. His line fell apart in the second period. Sheahan himself took a tough, tough penalty in the second, inadvertently tripping a player leading to a five-on-three power play.

Josh Archibald, 5. He hit the post in the second after Sheahan dug out the puck for him. Not such a bad game for the hard-checking winger.

Oscar Klefbom, 7. Scored the first goal on a seeing-eye shot through a strong Nygard screen. He made a bad pinch, though, that was the worst moment in the sequence of pain on Gauthier’s goal. In the third, he set a blinding screen on Draisaitl’s goal.

Adam Larsson, 6. Solid but unspectacular game.

Darnell Nurse, 8. He contributes to more Grade A chances at even strength than any other Oilers d-man (Bear and Klefbom are close) and showed his stuff early in the second, powering in a shot off a McDavid feed. Toronto’s third goal went in off him in unlucky fashion. But a good game overall. I’m going to bump up his mark a full grade for his sound play killing that 3-on-5 situation.

Ethan Bear, 7. He had had his usual good game, playing sound defence and moving the puck adroitly. He made a veteran play drawing a penalty from a stickless Justin Holl in the first. But he lost a battle in the corner, then allowed a slot tip to Engvall on Toronto’s third goal.

Caleb Jones, 7. He and Russell got beat early on a point shot but Leafs rebounder Zach Hyman put the shot over the net. Jones finally showed more of his stuff on the attack when he attacked deep and set up Yamamoto’s goal. He was +1 in limited time, just nine minutes of ice.

Kris Russell, 7. He played his hard, tough and savvy defensive game, making not one major mistake on a Grade A chance against.

Mike Smith, 7. Started fine with a solid early save off a tricky shot from Mitch Marner, then made a tremendous save on John Tavares late in the first. He wasn’t at fault on the goals against and made the necessary saves after his team got the lead. He might have had the Matthews’ goal, just maybe, but it was Matthews doing the sniping. To end the game, Smith made a nice save off another Matthews power play snipe.

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Canadian cyclist Michael Woods just misses podium after gruelling 234-km ride – CBC.ca

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In a race that lasted nearly six hours and traversed more than 200 kilometres, in the end it came down to a matter of inches for Canadian cyclist Michael Woods.

With Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz capturing gold, Woods was among a group of five riders who were in a flat sprint over the final 100 metres, jockeying for silver and bronze. With a few metres to go, Woods appeared to get boxed out by two other riders, ultimately finishing fifth and missing out on a medal by less than a second.

“I am really happy with how I rode but just off the podium which was my big goal,” Woods told CBC Sports after the race. “I tried to get some separation as much as I could but it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Woods final time was six hours, six minutes and 33 seconds, 1.07 behind Carapaz.

Belgium’s Wout van Aert captured silver. Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar took the bronze.

Woods overcame gruelling conditions, on what riders called the toughest Olympic course ever, to be in contention at the finish.

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The 34-year-old was barely mentioned during this race before, like a coiled spring, thrusting himself into the top group with about 30 kilometres left of the 234-kilometre race.

Coming into this race, the Toronto native and Ottawa resident said the brutal course, full of deadly climbs, “really suited him.”  He was right.

“I thought I was the strongest climber today, but I had to roll the dice [and] it didn’t play out as I’d hoped,” Woods said.

“I really didn’t want it to come down to a sprint. I tried to attack several times and I wanted to get away like Carapaz did, but I just wasn’t as lucky as him and able make the move that he did.”

This race had an Olympic feel that’s been lacking here in Tokyo as for the first time athletes had a crowd cheering them on. Thousands of fans welcomed the riders as they entered the Fuji Motor Speedway two hours from Tokyo, where the race finished. Riders also received strong encouragement from locals who lined parts of the course as the race snaked through the mountains, where COVID-19 protocols aren’t as restrictive as in Tokyo.

A pack of riders goes past Yamanaka Lake during the men’s cycling road race on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

While countries like Italy and Belgium and France had five riders who were able to control the pace throughout the race before launching waves of co-ordinated attacks, Woods did much of the work on his own.

About 80 kilometres into the race, it appeared that Woods might have been involved in a crash that sidelined a pair of British riders, but he escaped contact. He did have to drop back from the pack momentarily as he appeared to have issues with one of his shoes before getting a fresh pair from his team car.

With the iconic Mount Fuji looming over many parts of the course, the 130-rider field had to navigate a series of five gruelling climbs adding up to nearly 5,000 metres, a more arduous challenge than even the most difficult mountain stages at the Tour de France.

As one commentator put it: add in the humidity and it will feel like they are climbing Mount Everest.

The toughest challenge of this race came near the end, after nearly 200 kilometres of racing, called the Mikuni Pass, the steepest climb in cycling.

Woods said before the race that the steep ascents made it a “good course for him.”

“It is a really challenging climb, really steep, but it really suits my skill set. I think with the heat, particularly with the amount of climbing in this race, it really does suit my abilities,” Woods told CBC Sports.

WATCH | The Olympians: Mike Woods

Watch CBC Sports’ The Olympians feature, on Mike Woods. 3:06

Beyond the brutal climbs, riders also had to endure the searing heat. Early this month, Woods actually decided to leave the Tour de France early so he could come to the Olympics early to help acclimate himself to the heat.

“I did three hours in the peak heat of the day, sweating profusely, and I was really happy that I got that in. I think I need a couple more days of that heat exposure and I think I’ll be good in terms of actual race day preparation,” Woods said.

The Olympic road race is usually held on a circuit, but at these Games, riders began at Tokyo’s Musashinonomori Park then passed through Kanagawa and Yamanashi Prefectures before finishing at the Fuji International Speedway. As riders wound their way through the Japanese countryside, they were treated to small slices of Japanese culture, including ancient temples and ornate fountains.

Just two weeks ago, Woods was involved in a crash at the Tour de France, where he suffered a severe road rash. But coming into these Games, Wood said he felt healthy and in great spirits.

Back home, his wife Elly is just about to have a baby boy. Despite changes coming at home and a career that has now included two Olympics, in the moments after this narrow defeat, Woods said that you may see him in Paris, the site of 2024 Olympics.

“We will have to see what the course in Paris is like,” he said. “I will be 38 at the next Olympics, So it’s difficult to say. But this has me all the more motivated and if the course in Paris is challenging, I will be there I think.”

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Canadian medal hopefuls Humana-Paredes, Pavan start beach volleyball with easy win – CBC.ca

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Under a scorching sun, brilliant blue sky and temperatures that soared above 38 degrees Celsius at the Shiokaze Park in Tokyo, Canada’s dynamic beach volleyball duo of Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes wasted no time taking it to their Dutch opponents. 

The No. 1-ranked and defending world champions took a few minutes to get their footing in the golden sand at the venue, but when they did, they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Pavan and Humana-Paredes defeated the Netherlands duo of Katja Stam and Raisa School in straight sets (21-16, 21-14) on Saturday to open their Olympics. 

“I think today we made it clear that everything we’ve been working on has paid off,” Pavan said after the victory. “The three times we’ve played that team it’s gone down to the wire. Today we took care of it.”

The duo fell behind early to the Dutch, trailing 5-2 in the first set and looking somewhat frustrated. But after an end change Canada rallied, stringing together four straight points, the fourth a huge Pavan block at the net, to take a 6-5 lead.

She pumped her fist in the air before sharing a high-five with Humana-Paredes.

“Regardless of the empty stadium I was shaking like a leaf,” Humana-Paredes said. “I was so nervous and so excited and put on a brave face.”

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The team talked about needing to feed off one another’s energy on the court because they normally thrive on the crowd. So any chance they get to ignite one another here at the Olympics, they take full advantage of it. 

Thousands of blue seats around the venue sat empty because of COVID restrictions — a similar scene at every Olympic venue in Tokyo, still in a state of emergency.

WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes win opener in straight sets:

Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan opened their Tokyo 2020 beach volleyball campaign with a straight-sets (21-16, 21-14) win over the Netherlands’ Katja Stam and Raisa School. 5:34

The Canadians started to pull away slowly from the Dutch. Pavan’s 6-foot-5 frame was a huge advantage at the net, blocking another Dutch smash to make the score 14-10. 

The Dutch were visibly frustrated by Pavan’s daunting presence at the net and started making unforced errors. The Canadian duo then cruised to a 21-16 opening-set victory.

“We came out a little slow just getting used to the environment, nerves, excitement, everything. We settled in pretty quickly,” Pavan said. 

The Dutch weren’t about to go away too easily in the second set, going shot for shot with the Canadians. Canada mounted a 12-9 lead before a technical timeout for crews to rake the sand court.

Humana-Paredes then took her defensive game to a different level and at times was seemingly all over the court, digging up balls that seemed destined to touch sand. 

Pavan’s presence at the net continually frustrated the Canadians’ Dutch opponents. (AFP via Getty Images)

The experience, poise and power of the Canadians proved to be too much for the Dutch duo. Pavan and Humana-Paredes finished off the match winning the second set, 21-14. 

“Our game plan was on point. We executed our serving game very well and our defensive system. We were very prepared,” Pavan said. 

She finished with four block points and 11 attack points. 

One of the key strengths to Humana-Paredes and Pavan’s game is their ability to communicate. Because of the silent venue their strategy could be heard very clearly throughout the venue. They were constantly talking to one another and sharing information to each other and it slowly wore down the Dutch. 

WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes headed for history:

On this week’s episode of Team Canada Today, we go behind the scenes at training while Andi Petrillo tells you all you need to know about Olympic beach volleyball. 7:57

“That’s something we’ve been working on and it’s a cornerstone of our team,” Humana-Paredes said. “Our communication on and off the court, we put so much work into that. Communication is what we always come back to.”

Pavan and Humana-Paredes now take on Germany in their second match of the tournament in Pool A. 

There are 24 teams competing at the women’s beach volleyball tournament, including another Canadian duo made up of Heather Barnsley and Brandie Wilkerson. They play China in their first game on Saturday night in Tokyo. 

There are six groups made up of four teams. The top two teams from each group advance, with four more joining them in the round of 16. Then that gets trimmed down to eight teams, four teams and then the gold medal game. 

That’s the game Pavan and Humana-Paredes are targeting and are off to a perfect start. 

“It’s such an honour to be here and surreal. It’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl. I just want to soak it all in.”

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Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland to Canucks – Arizona Sports

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes traded captain and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks, as well as forward Conor Garland, the team announced Friday.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported talks of the deal.

In return, the Coyotes will get forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft that was used to select Dylan Guenther. Arizona also receives a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round selection.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Oliver for everything that he has done for the Coyotes the past 10 years,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in a press release. “He is a tremendous player and person and we wish him and Conor the best of luck in the future.

“We are very pleased to acquire the ninth overall draft choice in this year’s NHL Draft along with Loui, Antoine and Jay. Loui and Jay are both Stanley Cup champions and along with Antoine, they are all solid veterans who will provide us with great leadership and experience.”

Ekman-Larsson, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Coyotes after being selected sixth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. The defenseman has 128 goals and 260 points over his Arizona career, for a total of 388 points.

Last season, Ekman-Larsson recorded three goals and 21 assists in 46 games. He has been the captain of the team for the last three seasons.

The Coyotes signed Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year, $66 million extension in the summer of 2018, a deal that has six more seasons left on it for $8.25 million each year. According to Gambadoro, Arizona will pay for roughly $1.2 million of that salary each of the next six years.

The 25-year-old Garland has been one of the Coyotes’ primary goal scorers in the previous two seasons. The winger had a team-high 22 goals in the 2019-20 season and 12 last season.

Garland is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Beagle, 35, had five points in 30 games last season while the 31-year-old Roussel contributed four points in 35 games. Lastly, the 36-year-old Eriksson played in only seven games.

Roussel is on an expiring deal worth $3 million next year, as are Beagle ($3 million) and Eriksson ($6 million).

The 2021 NHL Draft takes place on Friday.

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