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From top to bottom, the Oilers are finding a rhythm in the way they play – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON  — On the day we drink Guinness, the Edmonton Oilers made the perfect point. 

Fitted with a 3-0 lead for the second straight game, the Oilers proved this time that they know what to do with it, shutting ‘er down and defeating the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 in a game they controlled from the drop of the puck to the final horn. 

“It was a full 60 minutes. Maybe as good a game as we have played all year,” said defenceman Tyson Barrie, who had a goal and an assist on a plus-2 night. “After two periods we realized that we had played a pretty solid game up to that point and we made a point of coming out and drilling home that last 20 minutes —  to show us what it feels like to play the full game.” 

After leading 3-0 five minutes into the game against Detroit on Tuesday, Edmonton found itself tied 5-5 in the third period before winning 7-5. Two nights later it blunted the Sabres, who were not very good at all. 

“What I saw was what everybody else saw,” said Sabres head coach Don Granato. “That was not a very good game.” 

For his team, perhaps. But the Oilers collected another two points on a what has been a perfect four-game homestand so far, and they’ll try for five straight when they host New Jersey in a Saturday matinee. 

The Oilers rolled four lines right overtop the Sabres on St. Patty’s Day, and as they begin to get their ‘A’ team back from Injured Reserve, Edmonton is finding a rhythm in the way it plays. 

“I thought we got contributions from everybody,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “All four lines, three D-pairs, Mike Smith was excellent, the penalty kill was good, we got a shorthanded goal and we scored a power play goal. All facets of the game seemed to be firing on all cylinders, and because we had everybody going, we were able to spread the minutes out nicely tonight.” 

On a night when five different Oilers had two-point nights, Zach Hyman was perhaps their most industrious player on a line with Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi. Hyman was a catalyst all night, the buzz saw that GM Ken Holland envisioned when he lured him in as a free agent last summer. 

“Just when it looks like there are three guys on him, he finds a way to outwork them all. That’s why he was so coveted,” Barrie said. “The thing about him is that he plays the same way every night. You can rely on him.” 

The Oilers’ quest is to get the flightiness out of their game. In a league where everyone seeks consistency they’re no different, seeking an identity that they can roll out one night after the next. 

That means being a better defensive team to go along with the plethora of offence the Oilers possess, with Leon Draisaitl scoring his 40th Thursday and Connor McDavid flying around the ice, simply on a different level than his peers. 

He had two points but left early when he took a late stick in the chops. 

“Yep, sutures and he got zipped up. He’s just fine,” said Woodcroft. “I don’t think he’s getting enough credit for what he’s doing defensively. He makes a lot of really subtle good plays in his own zone. He stops on pucks, and had some really good box outs tonight as well.” 

It’s true: McDavid’s defensive game has found a new level. With him and Draisaitl both playing a proper two-way game — and each of them heating up production-wise — the Oilers are rounding into a team that can beat you. 

“The Detroit game was a good lesson for us,” Hyman said. “It was nice to have learned from that and put it to the test. I thought we were great all the way through (Thursday).” 

A subplot against the Sabres was goalie Mike Smith getting another start, as he continues the journey to finding his game with his 40th birthday set for Tuesday. It’s hard enough for a young forward to overcome the games lost to injury that Smith has endured, and catch up to the pack as everyone else rounds into playoff form. 

But a 40-year-old goalie? 

Oilers fans were wondering if the task was impossible, but they received a ray of hope Thursday on a night that was exactly what the doctor ordered — a game where the shots arrived (mostly) methodically, and rarely in succession. This was a confidence-builder for Smith, beaten only on a quality one-timer by Victor Olofsson. 

He made 28 saves, but was asked to make very few spectacular ones. It’s a game he can build on, and he can thank the skaters for applying themselves against Buffalo the way they had not against Detroit. 

“That is always the goal, to make sure you help your goalie out as much as you can,” Hyman said. “In the first (period) there was a half breakaway and drive to the net and he made the saves on both of those. He just played steady all night and I thought his ability to move the puck… 

“It was great to get him the win and he earned it.” 

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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