Connect with us

Sports

Jets’ emotional weekend ends with hollow feeling as Oilers stymie late rally – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


WINNIPEG — There’s nothing quite like an unexpected shot to the solar plexus to end an emotional weekend.

With the Winnipeg Jets wrapping up the busiest stretch of the NHL season after the organization completed a blockbuster deal involving a guy who was viewed as a franchise cornerstone, this rollercoaster evening included a stirring rally to take the lead late in the third period but concluded with a buzzer-beater from Leon Draisaitl.

Just like that, the Jets were left to deal with a hard-luck loss as the Oilers snatched defeat from the arms of victory. Oilers 4, Jets 3.

Even earning a single point and getting the game to overtime probably would have palatable, given that this was the fifth game in seven days. Ending up with nothing left a hollow feeling for a group that had won three consecutive games against the Ottawa Senators after a lacklustre showing against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“There’s no excuses,” said Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who scored in the third period and has four goals during the past four games. “We were behind and we battled our way back and didn’t end up getting the two points. The way we played today, we deserved at least a point. That sucks, but we’ve got a game in two days and we want to get those two points so we’re gonna look forward now.”

Considering the Jets didn’t play with the lead for a single minute until the fourth game of the season, it stands to reason that slamming the door remains a work in progress.

Losing leads is something that is going to happen over the course off a season. That doesn’t take away the sting.

Nor does it take away the importance of closing out games — especially against teams that are quickly approaching in the rearview mirror.

A topsy-turvy third period saw the Jets erase a 2-1 deficit with goals from Ehlers and Blake Wheeler to take the lead with just under five minutes to play.

That ability to rally under tough circumstances is what Jets head coach Paul Maurice is going to focus in on.

Blowing a late lead doesn’t erase the resilience shown, though it’s a reminder of how difficult it is to win — especially when two of the most talented players in the NHL raise their respective level with the game on the line.

“The real positive for the game is our third (period). To come out and find that in the tank, I was really impressed with that,” said Maurice. “So, it’s a brutal way to end the game, for sure. But I will be left with how hard they pushed in the third. I’m really, really pleased with those guys finding that gear. That was just about character in the third and it’s a tough lesson, the way it ended, but I’m really, really proud of them.”

If come-from-behind wins (like the one the Jets had in the season opener or last Tuesday against the Senators, when 3-1 deficits turned into overtime wins) are something that teams use as a springboard for future success, is there any concern about lingering residue when a team suffers a heartbreaking loss?

“You always deal with the hockey part of it. That’s always the easiest part in the NHL, dealing with that,” said Maurice. “We’ll look at this next game with a real strong focus, not real happy with the way it ended and feeling that we could have been in better control of our destiny at times.

“We did an awful lot of good things, but there’s also going to be a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.”

That light at the end of the tunnel for the Jets will be closing out this stretch of six games in nine days.

But head coach Dave Tippett of the Edmonton Oilers opted for the nuclear option, tapped Connor McDavid on the shoulder and asked him to go out on the ice with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. Folks have seen this movie before and thanks to a strong offensive-zone shift, McDavid was able to thread the needle to Yamamoto for the tying goal.

Then, after the Jets killed off a minor penalty to Dylan DeMelo, Draisaitl find a quiet spot in the slot and ripped home the game-winning goal after taking a pass from McDavid.

Game. Set. Match.

“Yeah, they are good players, and they are going to do damage when given opportunities like that,” said Adam Lowry, who was frustrated by what happened on the game-winner. “So, I think I just get caught on the back-side there and vacate the slot as I’m worried about Nugent-Hopkins, and it goes right to the guy in the middle and he buries it. It’s unfortunate.”

Although the Jets did a great job of neutralizing McDavid and Draisaitl for a good chunk of the game, the late offensive eruption is precisely why the Jets went out and made the blockbuster move for Pierre-Luc Dubois, to give them another two-way weapon down the middle in the matchup game.

One of the most important decisions in this contest came late in the first period on a coach’s challenge by Tippett.

The Jets thought they had taken a 2-0 lead on a goal from Andrew Copp. After Mikko Koskinen stopped a shot from Ehlers, the puck was loose and Copp got a piece of it — but he also caught the glove of the Oilers goalie with his stick.

Although the puck appeared to already be behind Koskinen, the referees disallowed the goal because of the contact that was made.

“It’s a goal,” said Maurice. “For me, I think the puck is past his glove. I’m not even sure that there’s contact there. They felt it was close, so there’s no argument.”

Jets centre Lowry didn’t feel like the group sagged after the goal was disallowed.

“Sometimes those, I just feel like you flip a coin and see how it comes out,” said Lowry, who scored his third goal of the season. “I don’t see a whole lot on that, I feel like we’ve had ones where there’s more contact against us… They must have seen something that stopped Koskinen’s ability to make the save, so they make that ruling and we just have to regroup from there. I don’t see that we let that affect us negatively, it’s unfortunate though because (Copp) had a heck of a first period and really deserved that one.”

Tippett wasn’t sure it was goalie interference, but figured the challenge was worth the risk even if it didn’t work out, given how his team was playing.

“I was so frustrated with the way we were playing, I was going to (challenge) it anyhow,” said Tippett.

Instead of being down by a pair of goals and scrambling, the Oilers steadied themselves and then came out stronger in the second period, getting a rebound goal from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins just 21 seconds in.

Jesse Puljujarvi made the most of his promotion to the top line alongside McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins. Aside from his strong net drive and primary assist on the goal from Nugent-Hopkins, Pulujarvi was around the puck, generating scoring chances and engaged physically.

That’s the template for Puljujarvi to remain in that spot — or to get more future looks.

A lack of secondary scoring had been a major storyline for the Oilers in the early stage of the season but Kyle Turris put a dent in that well-deserved narrative with a well-placed shot over the glove of Jets backup Laurent Brossoit.

By the time the buzzer sounded on the period, the Oilers had outshot the Jets 19-6, outscored them 2-0 and had barely given up any scoring chances. The Oilers were fresh, while the Jets looked like a team that was playing for the fifth time in seven nights.

Just when you thought the Oilers had taken full control, the Jets scored twice in the third to pull ahead by a goal.

Instead of rolling over, the Oilers found a way to rally and they’ve now won two of the past three games going into Tuesday’s rematch.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Joshua Roy off to a hot start at the World Juniors – Habs Eyes on the Prize

Published

 on


The Montreal Canadiens have several prospects in action at this summer’s World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton. In today’s episode of Habsent Minded Extra, I’m taking a look at how fifth-rounder Joshua Roy has become a key member of the powerhouse Canadians in their quest for gold.

He has played most of his minutes so far on the top line with Mason McTavish and Connor Bedard. That trio has been relied upon to drive offense for the team so far, and while their initial contest against Latvia was somewhat lukewarm, they exploded against Slovakia on Thursday night.

In a selfless act, Roy gave up a chance at a breakaway and his first goal of the tournament by passing to McTavish, and insisting that the latter take his attempt at notching the hat trick, which he did.

With the game well in hand for Canada in the third period, head coach Dave Cameron brought out the line blender. This saw Roy shifted down in the lineup to play with Islanders prospect William Dufour, and Senators prospect Zack Ostapchuk. An eyebrow raiser at first given Roy’s performance, but it yielded results almost immediately.

Roy scored his first goal of the tournament, and added an assist on an Ostapchuk goal to finish with four points against Slovakia, tying him for second in tournament scoring behind McTavish.

Whether that line blending sticks or not, Roy showed in this game is that he can produce wherever they put him in the lineup. With Dufour and Ostapchuk, he actually gets to play more of a similar trigger-man role that he’s used to in Sherbrooke, and it may even help his overall production.

His selflessness, and acceptance of a checking and puck retrieval role with the top guns means they can put him right back on that top line as well. After barely missing out on the roster for the ill-fated December 2021 tournament, he has established himself as a versatile tool for team Canada.

That versatility should earn him plenty of playing time for the remainder of this tournament, and could make him a no-brainer for a big role with the team when they reconvene in December for the next one.

Click the play button below to listen to my full thoughts on Roy’s hot start ahead of tonight’s game against Czechia.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Series preview: Blue Jays head into crucial set against surging Guardians – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


We may be in the dog days of August but the American League wild-card race is intensifying to the point where every series carries weight for contending teams.

That’s been the case for the Toronto Blue Jays all month and will continue as the club opens a three-game set at Rogers Centre against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday.

Here is a look at the Guardians-Blue Jays series.

Probable pitchers

Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET: Cleveland RHP Cal Quantrill (8-5, 3.88 ERA) vs. Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (8-4, 5.19 ERA)

Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET: Cleveland RHP Triston McKenzie (8-8, 3.16 ERA) vs. TBA

Sunday, 1:37 p.m. ET: Cleveland RHP Shane Bieber (7-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. TBA

(All games on Sportsnet)

Latest on the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (60-50) currently sit atop the AL wild-card standings with a half-game lead over the Mariners and a two-game lead over the third-place Tampa Bay Rays.

The Blue Jays are coming off a 3-5 road trip through Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Baltimore. You could make the argument that Toronto got lucky when Wednesday’s game in Baltimore was rained out, given the weather prevented an opportunity to be swept in three games by the surging Orioles.

The Blue Jays’ record against teams above .500 stands at 29-38 and that will need to improve in a hurry. Following the set against Cleveland, Toronto will host the Orioles for three games and then head to Yankee Stadium for a four-game series.

It’s fair to say this is an important stretch for a Blue Jays club that lost outfielder George Springer, starter Ross Stripling and reliever Tim Mayza to the injured list on the recent road trip.

Latest on the Guardians

The AL Central-leading Guardians (59-52) arrive in Toronto fresh off a sweep of the Detroit Tigers and have won eight of their last 11 games.

In recent years, the Guardians have typically been buoyed by their pitching staff. That area has been a struggle for the team for parts of this season,but  it looks to be rounding into form.

Each of the three starters Cleveland will throw at the Blue Jays — Cal Quantrill, Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber — is coming off a dominant, scoreless outing. Since the all-star break, the right-handed trio has combined for a 3.48 ERA over 12 starts.

Reliever James Karinchak won’t make the trip to Toronto due to Canadian vaccination requirements.

Home sweet home

Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios was slated to start Wednesday’s game but because it was postponed, he’ll now take the mound on Friday. That might actually work out in his favour.

Berrios has been the author of some weird splits this season:

— In 11 starts at home, he sports a 3.23 ERA with 70 strikeouts across 64 innings.

— In 11 starts on the road, Berrios has posted a whopping 7.50 ERA with just 37 strikeouts over 54 innings.

There are times a pitcher’s bloated ERA can be explained away as the result of one or two bad outings. That’s not the case for Berrios, though.

The veteran has allowed at least five earned runs in six of his road starts. That includes his only outing against the Guardians this season — a May 5 contest in which he allowed six runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings.

The pitchers set to follow Berrios and toe the rubber in Saturday and Sunday’s games have yet to be announced by the Blue Jays.

Meaningful debuts

Remember all that hullabaloo about whether Whit Merrifield would get a COVID-19 vaccine and be allowed to travel to Toronto?

Well, shortly after he was acquired at the trade deadline by the Blue Jays, the utility player indicated that he did in fact get vaccinated. This series will feature his first home game with his new club.

Merrifield is hitting .286 (6-for-21) while playing mostly in centrefield since his trade from the Kansas City Royals.

In 15 career games at Rogers Centre, he sports a .263/.364/.421 slash line with two homers and three doubles.

This series will also mark a homecoming of sorts for a pair of Guardians players: Quantrill, of Port Hope, Ont., and first baseman Josh Naylor, a native of Mississauga, Ont.

This is Naylor’s fourth year in the major leagues and third with the Guardians, but the 25-year-old has yet to take the field for a major-league game at Rogers Centre. Quantrill, meanwhile, made his lone MLB start at Rogers Centre in 2019 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Showcasing ‘super-elite’ shot, Bedard continues to amaze in early WJC performance – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


EDMONTON — Really, Canada’s first two games at the 2022 World Junior Championship could not have been more different. The only common threads were the end result and Connor Bedard.

Canada’s opener was a tense affair with a Latvian squad that refused to go away. Its second contest, a stomping of Slovakia, was over before the first period was in the books. Step 1 in each victory, though, was a shot from Bedard less than eight minutes into the night to open the scoring. On Tuesday, it was a patented drag-and-snap beauty. Wednesday night, he finished off a wonderful give-and-go with captain Mason McTavish, taking just half a beat when the puck came back to him to make sure it ended up in the net.

[brightcove videoID=6310753238112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Wherever Bedard goes, it’s the same story: Goals get scored and jaws hit the floor over the way this projected first-overall pick — who turned 17 less than a month ago — fires pucks.

“His shot is just super-elite,” says Brennan Othmann, who played on Bedard’s line to finish up the win over Slovakia. “We all talk about it all the time. I know a lot of guys with good shots, but that guy can really shoot the puck.”

Indeed, there’s no debating what this North Vancouver kid’s super power is. And while there’s obviously a gift-from-the-heavens element to any phenom’s game, there’s also the on-the-ground reality of what it takes to perfect it. Whether in his backyard or on the ice, Bedard has been flinging pucks ever since he could hold a stick.

“It’s something I enjoy,” he said just before the tournament. “If you ask any kid what he wants to work on it’s not skating, it’s shooting pucks.”

[brightcove videoID=6289091747001 playerID=2540680026001 height=360 width=640]

Born in 2005, Bedard is basically the same age as composite hockey sticks. His weapon is extra-whippy and he uses an elongated shaft that — whether he’s wearing Team Canada’s colours or that of his Western Hockey League club, the Regina Pats — allows him to swirl the puck around way out from his body before he decides whether to let it go from the outer reaches or, in a flash, suck it back in and let fly from whatever angle he feels gives him the best chance to befuddle the goalie.

The results are getting a little ridiculous. In 11 games for Canada over two World Under-18 Championships, Bedard has 13 goals. This is now his second attempt at the 2022 World Junior Championship after the original event was cancelled four days into the competition at Christmastime. Bedard, at basically 16-and-a-half years old, scored four goals in two games then. Tack two more on now and he’s got six in four outings. It’s by no means a perfect comparison, but just for quick-and-dirty reference, here’s how some other super-duper stars from this century fared at the first world junior tournament they played in: Connor McDavid, one goal in seven games; Auston Matthews, one goal in five games; Sidney Crosby, two goals in six games; Alex Ovechkin, six goals in six games.

[brightcove videoID=6286825336001 playerID=2540680026001 height=360 width=640]

So, if you wanted to get slightly silly about it, you could point out that Bedard is even outpacing Ovechkin, a player who has a realistic shot at finishing his career as the NHL’s all-time leading goal-scorer. Sure, comparisons to active legends are inherently exuberant, but just follow Bedard’s lead and have fun with it.

“It’s pretty crazy,” he says when asked about hearing his name mentioned with the likes of McDavid and Crosby. “I haven’t played a game in the NHL or even finished a full second year of junior, so it’s wild and whenever I hear that it’s definitely an honour.”

Anybody projecting Bedard to be in that class — and you don’t have to be the tin foil hat-type to do it — knows it takes more than one signature attribute to scale those heights. The more people see Bedard play, the more they realize there are layers to his game. When he’s not the triggerman, his vision and passing ability make him a more-than-capable set-up guy. What’s more, despite falling well short of six-feet, he’s in no way afraid to mix it up. Bedard is a stout 181 pounds, meaning he’s got a very different body type than the teenage featherweights the likes of Patrick Kane or Johnny Gaudreau would have been. During a pre-tournament game versus Sweden, Bedard got tangled up with forward Ake Stakkestad for an extended stretch in the Swedish crease. Near the end of the first period against Slovakia, the entire bench seemed to be jawing at him before a neutral-zone face-off. While understanding the best place for him is on the ice, not in the box, Bedard didn’t cower from anything, visibly giving it back to people verbally and standing his ground with anyone who poked or prodded him.

“When you’re that good of a player and that talked about, players are going to want to get under your skin,” says Canadian defenceman Donovan Sebrango. “He loves it and that’s what I love about him. He’s a special player. I don’t think you can really find a weakness to his game and he’s 17 years old.”

Perhaps most horrifying for opponents right now is the fact Bedard and McTavish have hit it off like a house on fire. With two games in the books, McTavish woke up Friday morning as the tournament scoring leader thanks to a 4-4-8 line, while Bedard has a pair of assists to go with his two goals. Canada, which had the day off Friday, will likely get its stiffest preliminary-round tests in its final two contests of this stage on Saturday versus Czechia and Monday against Finland. Guess which Canadian players will be the focus of pre-game meeting for those clubs.

“On the ice, no one can really stop them right now,” Sebrango said of McTavish and Bedard. “Their chemistry on and off the ice; they act like brothers. I don’t know if anybody can stop them.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending