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Jeff Skinner Buffalo Sabres win over Montreal Canadiens

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MONTREAL — After suffering eight straight losses, the Buffalo Sabres can finally breathe.

Jeff Skinner picked up two goals and three assists as Buffalo took a resounding 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night.

“It’s taking a weight off my shoulders, I can tell you that personally,” said Sabres coach Don Granato. “It’s fun to see the guys play that way, obviously.”

Granato said the skid has been a learning experience for his young team whose last win came on Nov. 2.

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“They care and they work and we’re young,” he added. “If I had an older team, I wouldn’t be in these situations and you go through the streaks. They know where they’re at. These guys get better because of this stuff.”

Tage Thompson recorded a goal and three assists on the night while Rasmus Dahlin and Alex Tuch each notched one goal and two assists. JJ Peterka and Henri Jokiharju added the others for Buffalo (8-11-0).

Craig Anderson made 29 saves.

Cole Caufield and Sean Monahan scored for Montreal (9-9-1). Jake Allen had a rough day at the office allowing seven goals on 38 shots.

“I think it was a bad game all around,” said Montreal defenceman David Savard. “We’ve got to move past it. And obviously we’ve got some stuff to learn, which is that bad start in the first period and it put us behind.

“It’s a couple of games now and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready tomorrow to go and play our game. We’ve been in every game so far if we play our style and our system, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Canadiens struggled on the power play, going 0 for 6 with the man advantage, including a four-on-three opportunity halfway through the second period.

“I think the first two power plays had some good chances, the last four weren’t very strong,” said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. “We want to create scoring chances and I think apart from tonight, our power play in the last 10 games was still pretty good. It’s just that tonight wasn’t our night.”

The Sabres, meanwhile, jumped out of the blocks with a 3-0 lead in the first 2:13. It was their second fastest three-goal tally to begin a game in franchise history.

Thompson found Dahlin in the slot to make it 1-0 only 35 seconds after puck drop.

Seventeen seconds later, the Sabres attacked Allen’s crease and Peterka netted Buffalo’s second of the night.

In an attempt to shift the momentum, Canadiens defenceman Chris Wideman dropped the gloves with Sabres forward Tyson Jost after Montreal’s Michael Pezetta was called for boarding.

Instead, Tuch jumped on the opportunity to triple Buffalo’s lead with a wrist shot on the power play.

Tuch said the team was “on a mission” and that Anderson had a word to say on how the team helped their blue line and their performance on both sides of the ice.

“We had a lot of conversations, but Andy’s been talking about it a lot and it’s playing in the D side. I thought everyone did that tonight,” Tuch said. “And you know what, if you made a mistake, the guy backing you up is on the D side. I thought we were able to really help each other out, out there.

“That helps defensively and it leads to offence a lot of times so it’s something that I thought we did the first 10 games or so and now we got back to it tonight.”

The Habs cut the deficit to two goals when Caufield sent a slap shot past Anderson at 2:57 of the first.

Buffalo regained its three-goal cushion 11:21 into the second when Thompson found Skinner in the slot with a backhand pass and the winger scored his sixth of the season.

Montreal made it a 4-2 game when Monahan took the puck from centre ice, drove down and scored off his own rebound at 13:57.

The Sabres bumped their advantage to three when Tuch rounded the net and sent a backhand pass to Jokiharju who beat Allen for his first of the season at 3:48 of the third.

Thompson added his team’s sixth goal at 6:39 of the final frame with a wrist shot over Allen’s glove.

Skinner iced the game with a one-timer from the right face-off circle at 14:26.

DAHLIN’S COMING OF AGE

Rasmus Dahlin has had a white-hot start to his fifth National Hockey League season. The first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft has recorded 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in his last 10 games.

SKINNER VS. MONTREAL

Jeff Skinner has all the games against the Canadiens circled on his calendar. The 30-year-old winger collected two goals and three assists on Tuesday night bringing his total against the Habs to 40 points (23 goals, 17 assists) in 37 games.

“I think sometimes it’s just sort of fortunate, it just kind of happens,” Skinner said. “I think for me to have that kind of success, it usually means the team’s playing well. I think our line played pretty well tonight so you just benefit from that.

“And just the way it falls in schedule. Sometimes you have some good games and that boosts those kinds of numbers, but I think it’s just kind of fortunate and some good team play.”

NEXT UP

The Canadiens will travel to Columbus overnight to take on the Blue Jackets Wednesday.

The Sabres will head back to Buffalo to host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.

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Player grades: McD and Drai massive again as Edmonton Oilers beat Montreal Canadiens

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The Edmonton Oilers got off to a two-goal lead thanks to a three goal outburst by its killer power play, but then the Oilers did what they’ve done all year, let up defensively and allow goals against.

But a thrilling goal by Darnell Nurse put Edmonton up one goal with four seconds left in the second, the key moment of the game.

Edmonton hung on in the third for a 5-3 win, with Connor McDavid scoring the insurance goal to cap off a two goal, two assist. night.

In total, Edmonton had 13 Grade A shots, with nine 5-alarmers, Montreal ten Grade A shots, four 5-alarmers, which works out to 4.00 expected goals for the Oil, 2.83 for Montreal.

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Connor McDavid, 9. Scored two goals and two assists. Took a near phantom holding penalty in the first. He set up Drai down low on RNH’s second period power play goal. Buzzed around on Edmonton’s 5-on-3 power play before setting up Draisaitl on the glorious kind of pass-and-shoot sequence that will be forever burned into the minds of Edmonton Oilers fans. He shot when the Montreal goalie Jake Allen was expecting pass, firing in Edmonton’s third goal. Took it to Warp Ten again on his breakway goal, with thrilling finish on Oil’s insurance goal.

Leon Draisaitl, 9. One goal and three assists. Brilliant execution on the attack. Great pass to send in Hyman ten seconds into the game. He snapped a horizontal pass through the top of the crease to set up RNH for Edmonton’s power play goal early in the second. Fired home on the 5-on-3, delivering once against with his dread Executioner’s Shot. He made a few smart plays quickly giving over the puck to the Habs after a penalty call to get more time on the 5-on-3 situations. He made a typically fine pass to set up Nurse for Edmonton’s fourth goal. He won a board battle to again send off Hyman for a Grade A shot early in the third.

Zach Hyman, 7. Another solid and eventful outing. Got an early break in, but failed to drain it, then gave up the puck in the defensive slot leading to a dangerous Habs opportunity. He held his slot position and got off a 5-alarm blast early in the second on the power play. He took a nasty crosscheck to the head early in the second, drawing a five-minute penalty and game misconduct for Joel Edmundson. A great hustle play late in the second to win the puck behind the Montreal net, firing up the Virtuous Cycle leading to Edmonton’s fourth goal.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He slammed home a table top hockey goal early in the second off a Drai feed. Heck of a harpoon, that shot. Sent in Janmark with a fine pass early in the third. Was otherwise quiet on the attack.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. Maybe his most physical game of his career, with JP winning many battles. He led the team with eight hits.

Mattias Janmark, 6. He charged out fast and furious on Edmonton’s first PK, and allowed a cross-seam pass, allowing Caufiled’s power play shot off the crossbar in the first. Charged in early in the third on a partial breakaway for a 5-alarm shot.

Derek Ryan, 5. He got beat to the outside by Kaiden Guhle for a Grade A shot early in the game. He lost the PK face off, then failed to stop the pass across on a Montreal’s first period power play blast off the post. He made a key defensive play, kicking the puck out of the slot with just under two minutes left, earning a hug from Stuart Skinner. That one play pulled his mark up to a passing grade.

Klim Kostin, 5. He came out battling hard and set up Nurse charging through the slot early in the second.

Devin Shore, 5. Flashed down the wing late in the second with Malone almost putting in the rebound. He lost the puck and a battle early in the third but Joel Armia hit the crossbar.

Dylan Holloway, 5. He made a solid check on Mike Matheson to win a battle late in the third.

Brad Malone, 5.  A lost battle and a turnover early in the caused the Oilers some defensive grief. He almost jammed home Shore’s rebound shot late in the second.

Tyler Benson, 5. Some decent hustle plays.

Darnell Nurse, 7. He turned the wrong way, allowing time and space for an outside shot, kicking off the Sequence of Pain on Dadonov’s goal. Next, he squandered his own good work on the PK, shooting the puck over the glass to take a penalty. Redeemed himself charging up the ice to snipe in a slot shot with four seconds left in the second. He played a more reasonable 22:31.

Cody Ceci, 6. He lost focus for a second, allowing Dadonov to sneak by him for Montreal’s second goal, but was otherwise solid.

Brett Kulak, 7. Quiet game but he did his job well, keeping a clean sheet at even strength, not one major mistake on a Grade A shot against.

Tyson Barrie, 6. He got beat by Dach down the middle on a break-in shot late in the second. But kept a clean sheet at even strength.

Evan Bouchard, 6. He strangely abandoned his defensive post in the second allowing a hard Montreal shot and potential goal off the rebound. But was otherwise solid.

Philip Broberg, 7. Made a few slick defensive stops in the third, blocking a sure goal late in the game with a shot block in the crease. He’s slowly picking up his play, getting better each game. He stepped up in the n-zone early on to win the puck and send McD in on a rush, a solid and confident play.

Stuart Skinner, 5. Not his best night, letting out big rebounds all game. He got beat by a Grade B scoring chance shot on Montreal’s first goal, not good. He gave up a rancid rebound allowing Dadonov to score out of a nothing situation. He looked back in his net getting beat by Arber Xhekaj for Montreal’s third goal. But stopped Dach’s break in goal late in the second and threw a shut-out in the third period when it counted.

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France advance to World Cup quarterfinals with record-breaking night

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France’s Olivier Giroud, left, celebrates with France’s Kylian Mbappe, after scoring the opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland, at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

 

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — It all seems so straightforward — laughable, perhaps — for Kylian Mbappé when it comes to the World Cup.

The France forward, who scored four goals when he led his country to the title four years ago as a 19-year-old phenom, put on yet another demonstration of how devastating he can be on the soccer field.

After it was over, Mbappé almost seemed to be chuckling as Robert Lewandowski came over to congratulate him.

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Mbappé scored two goals Sunday and set up another for Olivier Giroud to give France a 3-1 victory over Poland and move the 2018 champions within three wins of successfully defending their title. He already has a tournament-best five goals in Qatar as Les Bleus have reached the quarterfinals for the third straight World Cup.

“The only objective for me is to win the World Cup,” Mbappé said. “The only thing I dream is this. I came here to win this World Cup. I didn’t come here to win the Golden Ball or Golden Boot. If I win it of course I’m going to be happy but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to win and I’m here to help the French national team.”

Lewandowski, a two-time FIFA player of the year, scored from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time for Poland.

France will play England for a spot in the semifinals. The English team beat Senegal 3-0.

Mbappé scored his first goal in the 74th minute when he was left unmarked to blast in a long-range shot following a counterattack. He added another in stoppage time when Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny could only get a weak glove on another powerful shot from the man in the No. 10 shirt.

“He can change a match in just a moment and he’s always playing with such joy and we all want to share those smiles with him,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “France needed a great Kylian Mbappé tonight and they got one.”

Having also provided two assists, Mbappé has easily been the most productive player in Qatar.

After his latest exploits, Mbappé explained why he hadn’t addressed the media in Qatar before Sunday.

“I needed to focus on the tournament and my soccer,” he said through a translator, adding that he had volunteered to pay a French federation fine for his silence. “When I want to concentrate on something that’s the way I function. And that’s why I didn’t want to come speak to you before now.

“I’ve been preparing for this tournament throughout the season, physically and mentally,” he added. “I wanted to be ready for this tournament and I am.”

Mbappé celebrated his second goal by waving his arms for the crowd to cheer louder. Then he hoisted himself up onto the crossbar shortly after the final whistle in front of France’s celebrating fans.

Mbappé already has nine career World Cup goals and if he stays healthy, he could probably play in another three editions of soccer’s biggest event — meaning he might approach the tournament’s career scoring record held by Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored 16 goals over four World Cups.

“He hurt us today but I am cheering for him because he is a real star,” Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz said through a translator. “I’m talking about (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Lewandowski. If someone is going to take over, I think Mbappé will be the player to be the best one (for) many years.”

No country has repeated as World Cup champions in six decades — since Brazil achieved the feat by claiming consecutive trophies in 1958 and 1962. Italy is the only other nation to have won two straight, in 1934 and 1938.

While Lewandowski is a prolific scorer himself, he’s never come close to winning a major title with a Poland team that struggles to get him the ball.

Mbappé, by contrast, is supported by a large array of talented players — even though half a dozen top France players are out injured.

The French team took the lead when Mbappé threaded a pass to Giroud and the AC Milan striker quickly slotted the ball into the far corner. It was Giroud’s 52nd career international goal — breaking a tie with Thierry Henry on France’s all-time scoring list.

After Mbappé leaped into Giroud’s arms to celebrate, pumping his fists, Giroud held up seven fingers to the cameras — five on one hand and two on the other for “52.”

It’s all the more sweet for Giroud because he wasn’t even supposed to be a starter on this year’s squad until Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was ruled out because of injury. Giroud also scored two goals in France’s opening 4-1 win over Australia.

On a record-setting night for France, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris matched the national team mark of 142 appearances held by Lilian Thuram.

With two European teams playing, there weren’t all that many supporters of either country inside Al Thumama Stadium except for small pockets of France fans beating drums behind one goal and red-and-white clad spectators chanting “Polska” behind the opposite goal. There were also plenty of empty seats.

JEWELRY BREAK

Play was paused briefly in the first half when France defender Jules Kounde was told by a match official to remove two gold chains he was wearing.

France coach Didier Deschamps was asked if Kounde kept the chains on because they displayed a rainbow symbol.

“I don’t know what was on his necklace,” Deschamps said. “Jules is superstitious and he usually wears that necklace even in training.”

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Ice Chips Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks healthy scratch

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Keep updated on all the injury news and roster updates from around the NHL with daily Ice Chips.


Vancouver Canucks

Forward Brock Boeser will be a healthy scratch Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji. Boeser has spent much of the past three games on the third line.

“Sometimes tough love is tough love. I know he’s capable of being much better,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We want to win and we need him over the long haul to win. We need to be better. It could have been one of a few guys.”

Boeser has three goals and 11 assists in 18 games this season. He will be replaced by Jake Studnicka in the lineup.

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Canucks lines at practice:

Höglander-Horvat-Miller
Mikheyev-Pettersson-Kuzmenko
Joshua-Dries-Garland
Lazar-Åman-Studnicka

OEL-Bear
Hughes-Schenn
Stillman-Myers

Extras: Boeser, Dermott, Burroughs

Spencer Martin will start.


Montreal Canadiens

Jake Allen will get the start in net against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, while forward Brendan Gallagher will miss his second straight game due to a lower-body injury, Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis confirmed.

Allen, 32, has gone 7-8-0 in 15 starts and has a 3.40 goals-against average and .898 save percentage so far this season.

Gallagher is suffering from a lower-body injury and will miss his second game in a row. The 30-year-old has three goals and five assists in 22 games in 2022-23.


Edmonton Oilers

Stuart Skinner will make his 12 start of the season for the Edmonton Oilers against the Canadiens.

Skinner, 24, has a record of 6-5 along with a 2.91 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

Projected lineup as per Tony Brar:

Draisaitl-McDavid-Hyman
Janmark-RNH-Puljujarvi
Holloway-Malone-Benson

Nurse-Ceci
Kulak-Barrie
Broberg-Bouchard

Skinner


Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said that centre Anthony Cirelli will make his season debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Cirelli had 17 goals and 26 assists in 76 games last season.

Lines at morning skate ahead of matchup with Leafs, as per TSN’s Mark Masters:

Hagel – Point – Kucherov
Stamkos – Paul – Killorn
Namestnikov – Cirelli – Colton
Maroon – Bellemare – Perry

Hedman – Sergachev
Cole – Cernak
Bogosian – Perbix
Foote

Vasilevskiy starts


Calgary Flames

Projected lineup vs. Washington Capitals:

Vladar starts

Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli
Dube-Kadri-Mangiapane
Ruzicka-Backlund-Coleman
Lucic-Rooney-Lewis

Hanifin-Andersson
Weegar-Tanev
Zadorov-Stone


Toronto Maple Leafs

Projected lineup vs. Lightning on Saturday, as per TSN’s Mark Masters:

Bunting – Matthews – Nylander
Robertson – Tavares – Marner
Kerfoot – Kampf – Engvall
Aston-Reese – Holmberg – Simmonds

Giordano – Holl
Sandin – Liljegren
Mete – Hollowell

Murray starts

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