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Kyle Lowry available to play in Game 1 vs. Celtics – NBA.com

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Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is ready to go for Game 1 of the East semifinals against the Boston Celtics, the team confirmed on Sunday’s injury report.

Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report the news.

Lowry had been listed as questionable after suffering a sprained left ankle during the Raptors’ Game 4 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The six-time All-Star averaged 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.3 rebounds through the Raptors’ first three playoff games against the Nets.

Game 1: Celtics vs. Raptors (1 ET, ESPN)

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Craig Anderson’s time in Ottawa comes to an end – TSN

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A few minutes into Wednesday’s video conference call with reporters, Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion mentioned the club would not be offering a contract extension to veteran goalie Craig Anderson.

It was a low-key, modest announcement – almost a throwaway nugget of information in a session dominated by talk of the upcoming NHL Draft and the opening of free agency.

But in a strange twist, it was the perfect exit for the netminder who never sought the limelight of the No. 1 goalie job in a Canadian market. The 39-year-old would not have wanted a splashy farewell press conference or an emotional goodbye with fans and media.

At some point, Anderson should get an opportunity to re-connect with the Ottawa fan base for an emotional evening. His Senators resume, which boasts more than 400 games and 200 wins, has certainly etched his name as a future addition to the club’s Ring of Honour inside Canadian Tire Centre.

But beyond the dominating statistical profile – which includes virtually every meaningful goalie record in franchise history – Anderson singlehandedly transformed the way Ottawa fans viewed the position in their own market

Prior to Anderson’s arrival, Senators fans often felt nervous about their situation in the crease. Ottawa had earned the reputation of being a goalie graveyard – a place where netminders melted under the pressure of playing in a hockey-mad market.

There was Patrick Lalime’s infamous Game 7 meltdown against Toronto.

The ill-advised, splashy free agent signing of Martin Gerber.

The tumultuous tenure of Ray Emery.

The injury-plagued career of Pascal Leclaire.

Even Stanley Cup-winning goalies such as Tom Barrasso and Dominik Hasek couldn’t seem to shake the curse.

Ottawa was a place that offered job security for public service workers, not goaltenders.

But when Bryan Murray pulled off a trade in February of 2011, sending Brian Elliott – himself a victim of Ottawa’s haunted crease – to Colorado for Anderson, all of that changed. 

In many ways, Anderson’s departure from Ottawa was as understated as his arrival.

Murray brought in Anderson for a test drive – hoping that he could convince the pending free agent to sign with the Senators before hitting the market in the summer of 2011.

Anderson immediately endeared himself to Ottawa fans, posting a 47-save shutout in Toronto on a Saturday night in his first start in a Senators jersey.

Anderson sparkled in his first stint with the Senators down the stretch of the 2010-11 campaign, with an 11-5-1 record and a .939 save percentage. Some fans grumbled that Anderson’s stellar play in that run cost the club the first-overall draft pick – ultimately dropping them down to the sixth spot.

But in hindsight, that was a small price to pay to land a franchise goalie.

For almost a decade, Anderson was the epitome of cool and calm in a tumultuous environment that would have tested the mental resolve of any netminder. While the roster was overhauled around him multiple times, Anderson never once publicly demanded a trade to a better situation, even as veteran teammates were being jettisoned all around him.

Anderson was at his best in the playoffs, establishing himself as a reliable postseason netminder. In 41 career playoff games with Ottawa, he boasted a .928 save percentage – a metric that should have earned him more than just one trip to the conference final.

He held his own in playoff series against the likes of Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist – goalies with Hall of Fame resumes who made nearly double what Anderson was being paid.

Even when his team would lose a playoff series with Anderson in net – and they did on four different occasions – nobody pointed a finger at the goaltending position. It was a stark departure from the previous playoff meltdowns in Ottawa, where the No. 1 goalie was often the prime culprit.

But when Ottawa fans think of Anderson’s signature performance with the club, their minds don’t immediately jump to a high-stakes playoff game.

Instead, most Ottawa fans remember the night of Oct. 30, 2016, when Anderson posted a 37-save shutout against the Edmonton Oilers. With the hockey world aware that his wife, Nicholle, was battling cancer, Anderson turned aside every Edmonton shot during the game – then had to turn aside tears as he was feted by the Edmonton crowd afterwards.

The image of his Oilers counterpart Cam Talbot cheering him on the bench remains one of the most powerful moments in Senators history.

Anderson authored so many memorable moments in the blue paint in Ottawa, but none come close to having the impact of that singular start in Edmonton four years ago.

In the months that followed, Anderson cemented his status as a fan favourite – ultimately taking the Senators to double-overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against Pittsburgh that spring.

You would be hard-pressed to find a Senators fan who put any blame on Anderson for the Chris Kunitz game-winning goal, which serves as a firm reminder of how far the pendulum has swung when it comes to goaltending in Ottawa.

Before Anderson came along, it would have been unfathomable for the Senators to suffer a crippling Game 7 loss without a significant share of the blame landing on the goaltender’s shoulders.

But over the course of a decade Anderson managed to change the narrative on goaltending in Ottawa –  a feat that is more impressive than anything on his goaltending resume.

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Lightning, Stars resume punishing Stanley Cup Final as Stamkos nears return – Sportsnet.ca

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Steven Stamkos has been out so long, there’s probably a “believe it when I see it” element to his potential return for fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The coach of the Dallas Stars, however, is operating on the assumption No. 91 could be cocking his stick from the top of the circle any moment now.

“I bumped into him the other day in the hallway,” Stars bench boss Rick Bowness said with a chuckle before Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. “When I see him walking out to the ice surface in full gear, I know where he’s going and he can’t be that far away [from playing]. We’re prepared.”

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

Tampa coach Jon Cooper said his team’s captain is “inching closer” to skating in his first NHL game since Feb. 25. While acknowledging a lot would go into Stamkos’s return in terms of shaking the rust, Cooper also emphasized the obvious: Put a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner back in the lineup and it’s bound to move the needle.

“He’s a threat,” Cooper said. “So he’s just another thing for a team to think about when he’s out there. Whether that’s on the power play or five-on-five, you get another player who, if the puck gets on his stick in the offensive zone, it might go in the net.”

Preventing the Bolts from scoring in Game 3 could actually get easier for the Stars. Regardless of whether or not Stamkos comes back, Dallas will be the home team for the first time in the 1-1 series, giving Bowness the last-change advantage of lining up his preferred defence pair against whoever Tampa is throwing at him.

“We’ve always put more emphasis on getting the right D out there [compared to matching forward lines],” Bowness said. “Some of these matchup decisions are based on score, time on the clock, if you need a goal you put your offensive guys out. A lot of factors come into play, but the constant one will be getting the right ‘D’ out there against the top lines.”

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One person Bowness hopes can become a tougher defensive matchup for the other squad is his leading goal-scorer from the regular season, Denis Gurianov. The 23-year-old Russian — though still second on the team with nine playoff goals — has hit the net just once in his past 10 outings. He played fewer than 11 minutes in Game 1 and just over 13 in Game 2.

“Nervous,” is how Bowness assessed Gurianov’s play from the most recent contest. “He was nervous.”

When people aren’t speculating about the possibility of a Stamkos sighting, much of the talk through two games has been on how punishing the series has been as both games featured over 100 hits apiece. Early in Game 2, superstar Tampa right winger Nikita Kucherov took a couple of serious knocks before setting up a pair of goals in his side’s 3-2 win. Dallas’s Blake Comeau was rocked by Ryan McDonagh in the second period and did not return. Bowness said Comeau is a game-time decision for Wednesday’s tilt.

Tampa’s Tyler Johnson was asked if the suppressed existence everyone is experiencing with bubble life could be contributing to the nastier scene once the puck drops, as the teams kick off a particularly gruelling stretch of three games in four nights.

“I think everyone is [feeling] couped up a little bit, so you let your anger out on the ice,” Johnson said, perhaps only slightly kidding. “Going into this, I think a lot of people [were wondering] what the playoff hockey would be like: I think the questions have been answered that the guys are competing and working hard and it’s been physical and guys are doing everything they can to win.”

Few in the league have a longer history of mixing it up when it matters most than Dallas veteran Corey Perry. Back in the Final for the first time since winning a ring with the Ducks in 2007, Perry had no trouble identifying the root of the acrimony.

“We’re battling for the Stanley Cup — plain and simple,” he said. “Nobody is going to give you any room on the ice, you’re going to have to earn it. They’ve been here before and we have some guys in our room who have been here before, so we know what it takes as well.”

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3 Keys: Lightning vs. Stars, Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final – NHL.com

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Lightning vs. Stars

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars each will try to take a step toward winning the Stanley Cup when they play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday.

The Lightning evened the best-of-7 series with a 3-2 win in Game 2 on Monday after the Stars’ 4-1 victory in Game 1.

The winner of Game 3 when a best-of-7 Final is tied is 22-7 (75.9 percent) in the series. 

“We now are in a best three-out-of-five to win the Stanley Cup,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. 

The Stars are 6-2-0 following a loss this postseason, including 5-1 when goalie Anton Khudobin starts. Khudobin is expected to make his 10th straight start.

The Lightning have not won back-to-back games since Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders, going 3-3 in their past six postseason games. 

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos could make his postseason debut. The forward, who hasn’t played since Feb. 25, sustained a lower-body injury before the Lightning returned in July for training camp in advance of the postseason.

“There’s a lot of things that are going to have to go into this beforehand, but he’s getting closer,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.

Here are 3 keys to Game 3:

1. Hit and be hit

There have been 207 hits in Games 1 and 2, with the Lightning holding a 107-100 advantage.

The series figures to remain physical, so the first team to give an inch in this area could find itself getting knocked off the puck enough to lead to chances the other way.

“It’s been physical and guys are doing everything they can to win,” Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson said Wednesday. “Dallas is a bigger team, strong, and they play good defensively, structured. We do too. When you get two teams like that, it’s going to be a hard-fought battle. Both teams, going this far, you’re so close yet you’re still far away and you’re literally doing everything right now. We’ve had some good games so far and we’re just trying to keep that compete up.”

2. Stars maintaining discipline

Each team has been on the penalty kill seven times, but it’s Dallas that needs to be more wary about the penalties it takes and when it takes them because the Tampa Bay power play clicked in Game 2, going 2-for-4 after it was 0-for-14 in its previous four games.

The Stars were shorthanded three times in the first period of Game 2, including two penalties in a span of 2:13. The Lightning scored on each power play.

Dallas was shorthanded three times in the third period of Game 1 protecting a two-goal lead. The Stars killed all three penalties.

“I didn’t like the [undisciplined] penalties we took (in Game 2),” Bowness said. “Maybe you take one of those per period. What we’ve done the last two games is taken three in a period, one after another after another, and that just kills our team. And clearly that power play is going to score if you keep giving them undisciplined opportunities.”

3. Start on time

The team that has scored first has won each game, partly because the goal was part of a strong first period.

The Lightning were up 3-0 and outshot the Stars 14-6 in the first period of Game 2. Game 1 was tied 1-1 after the first period, but Dallas was controlling the game defensively and led to a game-changing second period on the way to taking a 3-1 lead.

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

Alex KillornAnthony Cirelli — Tyler Johnson

Barclay GoodrowYanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Pat MaroonCedric PaquetteCarter Verhaeghe

Victor HedmanJan Rutta

Ryan McDonaghKevin Shattenkirk

Mikhail SergachevErik Cernak

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, Alexander Volkov, Braydon Coburn, Scott Wedgewood, Luke Schenn, Zach Bogosian

Unfit to play: Steven Stamkos

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlexander Radulov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov

Joel KivirantaRoope HintzCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoJason DickinsonBlake Comeau

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen

Andrej SekeraJoel Hanley

Anton Khudobin

Jake Oettinger

Scratched: Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Jason Robertson, Gavin Bayreuther, Thomas Harley, Landon Bow, Justin Dowling, Taylor Fedun

Unfit to play: Stephen Johns, Ben Bishop, Radek Faksa

Status report

Comeau, who did not participate in the morning skate Wednesday, will be a game-time decision. He left Game 2 in the second period after an open-ice hit by by McDonagh and did not return for the third period. Caamano, a forward, could replace Comeau if he does not play. It would be his NHL postseason debut.

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