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Game Recap: Mike Smith shuts out Canadiens for third loss in four games – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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After having dropped their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs the night before due mostly to a sluggish effort, the Montreal Canadiens were back in action Thursday night at the Bell Centre against Connor McDavid & the Edmonton Oilers. Though the game was delayed an hour due to Jesse Puljujarvi being put on the NHL’s COVID protocol, the two teams played on. Jake Allen was in goal for the Canadiens and Corey Perry was placed on the taxi squad in favour of Paul Byron.

The Canadiens had the chance to set the tone for the night, take control, and open the scoring less than three minutes into the game, but Mike Smith rose to the challenge. Jonathan Drouin sprung Nick Suzuki on a breakaway with a nice stretch pass, but Suzuki’s wrister went off of Smith’s glove and fell close enough to the Edmonton netminder for him to get his hands on the rebound faster than Suzuki could get his stick on it.

The Oilers nearly got on the board themselves a minute later during a two-on-one, but Allen, who made 28 saves in the Canadiens’ loss, followed the play perfectly and got his pad on the puck to keep the game tied at zero.

McDavid nearly put his team on the board in the first as well as he almost pulled off an impressive end-to-end goal. He took the puck from behind his own net, and with his speed and hands got by all five Canadiens skaters before trying to slip the puck between Allen’s legs. The netminder managed to squeeze his pads shut at the last second to deny a goal.

However, Edmonton did get on the board first by period’s end thanks to a well-placed wrist shot from Jujhar Khaira. A smooth pass off the boards from Tyler Ennis went perfectly onto Josh Archibald’s stick, who waited until there was clear path to Khaira, allowing him to score his second of the season.

Leon Draisaitl nearly doubled Edmonton’s lead shortly after Khaira’s goal as well but rang the puck off the post instead. The first period ended with the Oilers having put 11 shots on Allen and with Montreal having given up eight turnovers.

A couple of unfortunate bounces gave the Oilers their second of the night just 1:27 into the second period. Allen made a pad save on a Darnell Nurse wrist shot, though the rebound trickled behind him. Shea Weber, in an attempt to clear the puck from the crease, whacked the puck right onto Phillip Danault’s skate, sending it back toward the net. In a desperate attempt to clear the puck once more, Weber accidentally hit it into his own net.

The bad luck continued for the Canadiens in the second frame as Byron took a Joel Edmundson slapshot to the side of the head, knocking him down and sending him to the dressing room for a brief period of time before returning to the Canadiens’ bench.

Allen was forced to come up big in the second period to prevent the Oilers from heading into the third with a 3-0 lead as well, with Edmonton’s most dangerous scoring chances coming on their first power play of the game. Right after Ben Chiarot’s tripping penalty expired, another ping of the post rang through the arena announcing that the score would stay locked at 2-0 after 40 minutes of play.

Less than five minutes into the third period, the Canadiens had already given the Oilers two more power play chances to put the game away. Danault was called for obstruction 55 seconds in and a scrum between Josh Anderson and William Lagesson resulted in another power play for Edmonton 4:10 into the final frame, on which they netted their third and final goal of the night. Tyson Barrie slapped his third of the season top corner on Allen’s blocker side, with the assists going to Draisaitl and McDavid.

The Canadiens, who sent 38 shots on Smith during the game, had one power play opportunity of their own a little over halfway into the third but were unable to generate any goals, locking in the final score of 3-0.

The Canadiens will have to find some offence in time to play the Leafs again on Saturday night or they risk dropping their third game in a row. In a shortened season with only seven teams in the North Division, every point matters, and Montreal needs to get out of their slump soon.

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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Andreescu splits with coach Bruneau after French Open exit

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World number seven Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday announced she has split with longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau, a week after falling in the first round of the French Open.

The pair had worked together for four years as Andreescu made her breakthrough with three titles in 2019, including the U.S. Open.

“It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach, mentor and friend, Sylvain and I, have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship,” Canadian Andreescu wrote on Twitter

“Our friendship will live forever … I am very grateful for everything we accomplished together and all of our great memories.

“Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”

Andreescu, 20, returned to action at this year’s Australian Open, having missed 15 months due to a knee injury.

A positive COVID-19 test subsequently ruled Andreescu out of both Madrid and Rome before an abdominal injury forced her to pull out of Strasbourg at the quarter-final stage.

Her most recent appearance at Roland Garros ended with a 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 defeat by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.

 

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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