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Hutchinson comes up big as Leafs stay hot; beat Red Wings – TSN

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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs finally earned a victory without the services of Frederik Andersen.

Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves while Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews both scored twice as Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday for its fourth win in a row, and first of the season with a back-up goaltender in net.

The crowd at Scotiabank Arena gave the 29-year-old Hutchinson a standing ovation as the final seconds ticked down on his first NHL win since Jan. 10 of last season.

“That was a special moment. Obviously I haven’t been getting the results this year so it was nice to put a win in the column and hear the fans support you,” said Hutchinson, who entered Saturday 0-5-1 with a 4.55 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in six starts.

Andersen, who has been a work horse for Toronto (19-14-4) and leads the NHL in victories, is 18-8-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage in 29 games.

“I’ve been on the bench watching Freddy make big saves, I tried not to over think things,” said Hutchinson. “I feel like I’m in a good head space right now, feeling relaxed.”

Jonathan Bernier started in net for Detroit (9-25-3) — stopping the only three shots he faced. Bernier lasted less than seven minutes before leaving with a lower-body injury that Wings coach Jeff Blashill referred to as a “sore groin” that was bothering the netminder in warmup.

Calvin Pickard came on in relief and made 16 saves for the loss.

Toronto, which was playing the second game of a back-to-back after a 6-3 win Friday against the Rangers on the road, started slow and were sloppy through the opening 10 minutes before settling down.

If it wasn’t for Hutchinson, who stopped two Dylan Larkin breakaway chances early on, the Leafs easily could have been trailing instead of going into the first intermission scoreless.

Hutchinson was there again when needed early in the second.

First he stopped Andreas Athanasiou on another breakaway chance as his teammates appeared to be a tired group for much of the first 40 minutes, and followed that up with a blocker save on Larkin, who was streaking down the wing.

“You get the chances but if one of those go in it’s a different game tonight, that’s the frustrating part for myself,” said Larkin, whose club has dropped 15 of their last 17 games.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe added: “We got the saves early, clearly we needed that.”

Toronto trailed 21-14 in shots when it caught a break for the game’s first goal with 2:50 to go in the second.

Hyman was pulled down by Mike Green on a breakaway leading to a tripping penalty. But video review showed the loose puck bounced off the trailing Red Wings defender and crossed the goal line before the Leaf forward crashed into the net, negating the penalty and giving the Leafs a 1-0 lead.

“I thought it was going to be a penalty shot when they called the trip,” said Hyman.

Toronto appeared to find its energy for the third period, with Keefe dropping William Nylander and moving Mitch Marner onto the wing with Hyman and Matthews.

Matthews doubled the lead 2:18 into the third with a snap shot that beat Pickard five-hole, and Hyman added his second of the game at 8:51 with a backhand over Pickard’s glove.

Any chance of Detroit keeping it close went out the window when Matthews finished off a Marner pass out front at 13:39.

“I just felt the need to mix it up and change the chemistry and try and spark something,” said Keefe.

“The Matthews line didn’t have much going on and I wanted to give them a chance to get going.”

Detroit forward Anthony Mantha had to be helped off the ice in the dying minutes after being thrown to the ice by Toronto defenceman Jake Muzzin near the sideboards in the Leafs’ end. Mantha hit his head on the play and was left wobbly.

Muzzin was given a 10-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct along with a two-minute minor for roughing. The Red Wings took advantage of the man advantage to spoil Hutchinson’s shutout bid on a Tyler Bertuzzi shot that got past him with just 1:44 remaining in the game.

Mantha’s teammates were upset with Muzzin’s actions, and Athanasiou appeared to be out for vengeance when he took a kneeing penalty with just 34 seconds left to play that led to the 25 year old dropping the gloves with Leafs blue liner Justin Holl.

“I think it’s preventable. I think the league really needs to look at that,” Larkin said of the Muzzin play. “A wrestling move can’t be in our game like that…. He takes his legs out and it’s dangerous, not a hockey play.”

Both Mantha and Bernier will miss Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Coyotes according to Blashill. Toronto hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.

Follow @KyleCicerella

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Dec. 21, 2019.

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Anthony Davis hits buzzer-beater as Lakers grab 2-0 lead over Nuggets – Sportsnet.ca

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Anthony Davis has never been this deep in the playoffs, never had the chance to take such an important shot.

It’s nothing new for the Los Angeles Lakers, though.

So when Davis’ 3-pointer swished through the net as time expired to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, coach Frank Vogel thought of a Laker who had done it before.

“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,” Vogel said. “To me, AD coming off, just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a Mamba shot.”

The Lakers were wearing their black Mamba jerseys. They were co-designed by Bryant, their Hall of Fame guard who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash. Davis said wearing the jerseys that mean so much to the team made his winner feel even better.

“In the jersey we wore tonight, it just makes it even more special,” he said.

Davis finished with 31 points. He scored Los Angeles’ last 10 points and had 22 in the second half to help the Lakers avoid becoming the latest victim of a Denver comeback.

“Special moment for a special player. Happy to be a part of it,” said LeBron James, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nuggets had trailed by as much as 16, but Nikola Jokic scored 11 straight Denver points down the stretch, including a basket that made it 103-102 with 20 seconds to play.

Alex Caruso then missed a 3-pointer and Jamal Murray blocked Danny Green’s shot out of bounds with 2.1 seconds to play. Rajon Rondo inbounded under the basket and found Davis curling toward the sideline, and the All-Star forward swished it to put the Lakers halfway to the NBA Finals.

Jokic said there was miscommunication on the final play, when it appeared centre Mason Plumlee let Davis drift free believing there was going to be a switch. Jokic raced out to him, but too late.

“Great players make great shots and he did it, so he’s a really good player,” Jokic said.

Jokic had 30 points and nine assists, and Murray scored 25 points.

Game 3 is Tuesday night.

James carried the Lakers early, with 20 points in the first half. But they went more in the second half to Davis, who had 37 in an easy Game 1 victory.

This one was much tighter and appeared it would be another huge rally by the Nuggets, who were down 16, 19 and 12 in the final three games against the Clippers, when they erased a 3-1 deficit.

They had climbed all the way out this hole when Murray scored for an 87-86 lead with 7:26 to play. But Green and Rondo hit 3-pointers and, after a basket by PJ Dozier, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made another 3 to make it 95-89.

It was 100-92 after another 3 by Davis before Jokic answered with nine straight, tipping in a miss by Murray to give Denver a 101-100 edge with 31 seconds to play. Davis put the Lakers back on top with a basket in the lane, but Jokic backed him down on the other end to put the Nuggets back on top with 20 seconds remaining.

James started 5 of 6 while the rest of the Lakers missed their first 12 shots before Green’s layup 7 1/2 minutes in gave them a 14-12 lead.

The lead was five midway through the second quarter before the Lakers had an 11-0 run that featured a steal and dunk and a 3-pointer by Alex Caruso that pushed it to 52-36 with about 4 minutes remaining in the half. Denver trimmed it to 60-50 at the break.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Denver is 8-8 in this post-season. … Michael Porter Jr. had 15 points. … Dozier was 1 for 5 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Lakers: Los Angeles missed nine of its first 10 shots. … Green and Caldwell-Pope both scored 11 points.

BUZZER BEATERS

The Lakers said Davis was just the seventh Laker to make a buzzer-beater in the playoffs, a list that includes playoffs. Also on the list: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Metta World Peace.

THROUGH THIRTY

This was the 30th post-season game between the Lakers and Nuggets. The Lakers lead 23-7 and have won all six series.

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Pogacar rides to victory at COVID-defying Tour de France – Sportsnet.ca

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PARIS — In a stunning performance for the ages, Tour de France rookie Tadej Pogacar won cycling’s showpiece race Sunday on the eve of his 22nd birthday, becoming the second-youngest winner of the 117-year-old event that this year braved — and overcame — France’s worsening coronavirus epidemic.

Turning him from promising prodigy into cycling superstar, Pogacar became the youngest winner since World War II and the first from Slovenia.

His victory was remarkable, too, for the way in which he sealed it: at the last possible moment, on the penultimate stage before Sunday’s finish on Paris’ Champs-Elysees. During the three-week cycling marathon over all five of France’s mountain ranges and 3,482 punishing kilometres (2,164 miles), Pogacar held the race lead and its iconic yellow jersey for just one stage — the last and most important one into Paris, with a yellow bike to match.

Pogacar KO’d the race and Slovenian countryman Primoz Roglic by snatching away the yellow jersey that he’d worn for 11 days, in a high-drama time trial Saturday.

Their 1-2 is the first for one country since British riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome also took the top spots at the 2012 Tour. Australian Richie Porte rounded out this year’s podium, at age 35, after his brilliant time trial that hoisted him from fourth to third overall.

Irish rider Sam Bennett won the prestigious final sprint on the Champs-Elysees, giving him his second stage win at this Tour. He also won the race’s green jersey, awarded for picking up the most points in sprints during and at the finish of stages.

With jets trailing plumes of red, white and blue smoke above the riders as they raced on the Champs-Elysees, lined with French tricolour flags, the Tour was also celebrating a victory — over the coronavirus.

When the race, delayed because of the epidemic from its usual spot in July, left the start town of Nice three weeks ago, it was unsure that riders would be able to stay virus-free to the finish.

But none of the 176 riders who started, or the 146 finishers, tested positive in multiple batteries of tests, validating the bubble measures put in place by Tour organizers to shield them from infection.

Roadside fans still cheered them on, mostly respecting riders’ pleas that they wear face masks, but were kept well away at stage starts and finishes.

The only COVID-19 positives touched a handful of team employees and the race director, even as infection numbers soared across the country.

The director was back after a week of self-isolation and, in a mask, signalled the start of Sunday’s stage at Mantes-La-Jolie west of Paris with a wave of his flag through the sunroof of his car.

Mask-wearing spectators waiting for the rumble of the riders’ arrival on the handlebar-shaking cobbles of the Champs-Elysees said holding the Tour had lit up a dark year and demonstrated that the coronavirus need not bring all life to a grinding halt, if health measures are respected. The famous boulevard lacked its usual fervour, a victim of the virus, with the usually rows-deep crowds limited to a socially distanced maximum of 5,000 people, clumped in pens by police and barriers.

But Pauline Bourbonnaud, a 22-year-old podiatry student, said it was nothing short of “an exploit, enormous” that the Tour succeeded in keeping riders virus-free. At previous Tours, she’d been roadside when they zoomed through her region in central France. But this year’s postponement to September, when she was back in Paris for her studies, allowed her to soak in the finish for the first time.

“It’s important to have events like this that are diverting. People needed the Tour after a year like this,” she said.

One of the most enthusiastic backers of the pandemic-defying Tour was also its most powerful: French President Emmanuel Macron. With his government trying to revive France’s COVID-battered economy, Macron praised the race as “the pride of the country” and an example of how it must learn to live with the virus and the restrictions it imposes.

“Even in September, the Tour de France is magic!” Macron tweeted Saturday after Pogacar crushed Roglic in the time trial.

Largely deprived of racing as the epidemic tore across the globe, and with those in lockdown only able to keep fit on home trainers, riders arrived at the Tour somewhat race-rusty but with the pent-up energy of caged hounds, their disrupted seasons reconfigured to make them peak physically on cycling’s biggest stage.

After a slow-burn start, with multiple crashes, the racing became increasingly furious. Roglic, the winner of last year’s Spanish Vuelta and a pre-Tour favourite, was backed by a powerful Jumbo-Visma team of star riders devoted to putting him in yellow — achieved on Stage 9 — and then keeping the prized jersey until Paris.

But UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar hadn’t read their script.

He first demolished Roglic’s 57-second lead and then built his own Tour-securing margin of 59 seconds in the time trial, an incredible reversal of fortunes.

The birth of the Pogacar supernova is now set to ripple across the cycling galaxy for years to come. His future rivals are unlikely to repeat Jumbo-Visma’s mistake of allowing him to ride his way back into contention, as he did after losing time in crosswinds in the first week, when he slumped from third to 16th.

By conquering the Tour on his first attempt, Pogacar joined an elite club of rookie winners that includes, among others, the great Eddy Merckx, who ended up winning five. He unseated Egan Bernal, who was 22 when he won last year, as the Tour’s youngest champion since World War II. And he become the race’s second-youngest winner ever, behind only Henri Cornet, who was just shy of 20 when he was crowned in 1904.

The lone Canadian in the race, Hugo Houle, a support rider for the Astana Pro Team, finished 47th. The 29-year-old from Sainte-Perpetue, Que., finished 91st in last year’s Tour.

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JONES: Gary Bettman sings praises for Edmonton as Hub City – Edmonton Sun

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Article content continued

“I think we need a better sense of when we’re going to get to normalcy before we can commit to any dates.

“As it relates to the World Juniors, I think part of the announcement was an indication from the Oilers organization was what they learned from working with us helped make them a better candidate and a more viable candidate for the world juniors and to whatever extent we can be helpful to making the world junior championships a success, we would of course be willing to do that.

“The cooperation and the expertise we got from the organization that you have here in Edmonton was a critical element in making the logistics of this work and in making this building work as everybody envisioned it could because it’s world class, state-of-the-art. We’re grateful of that support and anything we can do to replay it, you know we will.”

The session that included Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly who Bettman maintained to be the man who actively headed the entire operation, went on for more than an hour. It included a endless parade of reporters asking about next season and Bettman and Daly taking turns on answering them that they had no idea.

“Anything that anybody suggests or reads or writes or commentates about next season is nothing more than speculation,” said Bettman.

“Dec. 1 has always been a notional date. I will not be surprised if it slips into later December. It could slip into January. There’s still too much we don’t know.

“Nobody can tell me whether or not the border between Canada and the United States is going to be open by a date certain. Nobody can tell me what the state of COVID-19 is going to be. Nobody can tell me whether we can have either socially distanced or occupied buildings,” said Bettman.

He did say his intention is still to play a full 82-game schedule, plus playoffs.

One thing for sure, Gary Bettman and the NHL have so far come out of this looking brlliant.

And just for fun, because Bettman has come to have a sense of humor about it, maybe he should get Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer to put on some canned crowd noise of the fans booing, just to make it feel normal when he presents the Cup.

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