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Lehner gets another shutout, Vegas takes series lead over Canucks – TSN

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EDMONTON — Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner had the Vancouver Canucks’ number again Saturday, stopping 32 shots for his second shutout of their NHL playoff series.

Lehner backstopped the Golden Knights to a 3-0 win, giving them a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven second-round series, with Game 4 set, on a short turnaround, for Sunday night.

Lehner, acquired at the trade deadline in a three-team deal including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, stopped 26 shots for a 5-0 win in the series opener.

Vancouver came out flying in the first period, outshooting Vegas 16-10 and enjoying a 78-second 5-on-3 power play. Lehner turned aside a wealth of high-quality scoring chances: point-blank one-timers, blasts off the transition, redirects, and loose pucks bouncing through the blue paint.

“We dug in and got some big saves from Robin. I thought he was our best player in the first 10 minutes,” said Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer.

“They did get some looks (all game) and when they did Robin was right on it. He didn’t leave any pucks laying around. There was no rebounds. He was swallowing up everything.”

Lehner said it was a group effort.

“I thought everyone did a great job of pitching in and working hard and blocking shots and doing all the right things,” he said.

“It was really important for the momentum of the game to try to get out ahead and not chase the game.

“They had a little bit of a push in the first period, but I thought we took over the game after that.”

While Lehner shut the door, Alex Tuch, with his seventh goal of the post-season, Mark Stone, and Zack Whitecloud scored for Vegas.

Jacob Markstrom, in his 13th start of the playoffs, made 31 saves for Vancouver.

Tuch scored first at 4:05 of the first period. Racing in full flight through the neutral zone, he split the defence, settled down a bouncing stretch pass from Nicolas Roy and delivered a rocket shot past Markstrom into the top corner.

Just 83 seconds later, it was 2-0 when Whitecloud pounced on a loose puck at the right face-off circle, fired it through traffic and in. Early in the third, Stone roofed a fluttering puck from the faceoff circle on the power play for a 3-0 advantage. It was his second goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs.

Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said coming up empty on the 5-on-3 was a difference maker.

“We executed about as well as we could, I think. Goalie made some nice saves,” said Miller. “Easily we could have tied the game or got back to close.”

The Canucks bounced back from the Game 1 shutout to beat Vegas 5-2 in Game 2. Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said they need to return to that game plan.

“I think there were spurts of the game where we went a few minutes without a shot on net. That kind of changes the momentum a bit,” said Pearson.

He said they can’t overpass the puck: “You look at the game we won, we shoot a lot of pucks in and chased it that way and got on our forecheck and it worked out for us. When we’re down we’ve got to keep it simple and keep to our game and not try to force too much.”

The teams had not played since Tuesday. The NHL did not play its scheduled games Thursday or Friday after players in the Edmonton and Toronto playoff sites wanted to make a statement to highlight the issues of social injustice, systemic racism and police brutality.

NBA players triggered a series of postponed games across the sports world when the Milwaukee Bucks declined to play their playoff game against Orlando on Wednesday in the aftermath of the shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin last weekend.

The Golden Knights can gain a 3-1 stranglehold on the series with a win Sunday.

For Vancouver, the concern will be Markstrom and puck fatigue. The 30-year-old Swede is expected to start Sunday, which will be his 14th game in 29 days and his third back-to-back contest. He has been the backbone of the Canucks’ playoff success but has regularly been facing more than 30 shots a night in the post-season.

His backup is Thatcher Demko. Demko has started just 34 games over his first three seasons and has not played in the playoffs except for some mop-up time in the third period in the 5-0 loss.

Vegas has experienced veteran Marc-Andre Fleury in reserve. Fleury has spelled off Lehner once in the round-robin series and again for one game in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks. DeBoer has said the plan is to play both.

All games are being played in front of empty seats at Rogers Place. The players are kept in isolation between contests to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2020.

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Lakers-Nuggets Game 2 Takeaways: Davis and Jokic deliver classic battle – Sportsnet.ca

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Midway through the third quarter, it looked as though Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was going to be another laugher.

The Los Angeles Lakers, holding a 16-point lead with 8:11 to go in the period, appeared to be emulating their Game 1 performance, containing the Denver Nuggets’ go-to actions and scoring with relative ease on the back of LeBron James (who scored his club’s first 12 points) and transition opportunities.

And then the Nuggets tweaked their offence, won key minutes against the Lakers’ small ball lineups, and found some help from unexpected places (hello, PJ Dozier!) to go on a 24–12 run to close the quarter and set up a spectacular, nail-biting finish.

What follows here are some of the key takeaways from the game, including, yes, that marquee Anthony Davis shot.

Adjusting for Mismatches

It was no secret coming into this series that the Jamal MurrayNikola Jokic pick-and-roll was going to be difficult for the Lakers to defend, even with their surplus of (legitimately athletic) big men. And for the first half of this one, they did about as admirable a job as possible, having the big (whether that be Davis, JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard) drop back initially, ready to burst towards the arc if Jokic popped for a potential triple, while the guard fought through and over the ball screen to deter Murray pull-up threes and funnel him into the paint towards help.

Davis in particular showcased why he was voted All-Defensive First Team this year when involved in those actions, freely switching onto Murray if necessary and gobbling him up on drives or using his otherworldly athleticism to recover to Jokic to contest shots that typically would have been open.

Then, in the second half, the Nuggets not only adjusted well by aggressively forcing more switches than they had in the 24 minutes prior, they executed on those adjustments by attacking those switches, finding mismatches at every turn.

Suddenly, their offence roared back to life, with Jokic in particular finding himself pitted against smaller players who he could easily take advantage of.

On top of this, Denver’s two stars simply began doing what great players do, drilling tough shots against high quality defenders. Murray managed to squeeze past Davis a few times for some acrobatic layups, and Jokic hit some tough hooks and turnaround shots in the post against the opposing bigs.

In the end, of course, it wasn’t enough to get them across the finish line, but if they are able to continue to exploit the Lakers in the pick-and-roll going forward, Los Angeles is in for a tougher fight than they’ve had through the totality of two games.

Pulverizing the Paint

Again, this really was a tale of two halves.

After the first 24 minutes, the Lakers were leading the points in the paint battle 24–12. By the time the game finished, the Nuggets wound up outscoring them 38–34.

It’s not so surprising that the Nuggets gave up so many points inside—during the regular season, they had the 10th-worst mark (64.1) for defended field goal percentage at the rim in the league. They simply don’t have any particularly formidable rim protectors, and while their defence has been marginally better throughout the playoffs, the athleticism of the Lakers was always going to be problematic.

In a microcosm of these issues, the Lakers have found a pet play in backdoor lobs, with a big man (or even James, who completed the play Sunday night, for example) appearing to come up towards the arc before quickly spinning back towards the baseline and rising for a lob from a guard (often Rajon Rondo) standing up top.

The Nuggets’ interior dominance, however, was far more unexpected, as the Lakers house multiple big men who are plus-defenders. In stark contrast to their opponents, Los Angeles was the sixth-best team in terms of defended field goal percentage at the rim (61.7) this past season.

But Jokic finding his touch inside, cutters making smart reads whenever doubles appeared, and Murray managing to weave and glide his way to the hoop out of the pick-and-roll despite some tight defence surrounding him allowed Denver to erase Los Angeles’ edge in that category completely.

There would seem to be a fair amount of things that the Nuggets can take away from this game, despite the loss, and be pleased with, and their interior play will be high on that list.

No Laughing Matter



It looked as though Jokic was going to be stuck in the mud once again throughout the first half, finding it difficult to score with the Lakers doing a good job of keeping him matched up against an opposing big (Howard has been particularly good at getting beneath Jokic’s skin) to equal his size and strength, and guarding him in single coverage, thereby staying home on his teammates and lessening the chances of any potential cuts that would allow him to make use of his otherworldly passing.

In the latter half, though, that all changed, with Jokic getting loose as the Nuggets created more opportunities for him via switches, allowing him to match up with smaller players whom he could easily see over and score against. Once he’d scored once or twice in those scenarios, the Lakers’ resolve faltered, and they began to send double teams which he immediately capitalized upon, spraying pinpoint passes all across the half-court.

Once the fourth quarter came, he also simply began to nail extremely difficult looks he’d missed before and that the Lakers could only shrug at, including a massive three-pointer against a swiftly closing Davis to cut the lead to one point with 1:04 to play.

If it had been Jokic with the ball in his hands for the last shot of the game rather than Davis, the discussion right now could be about him instead (he finished with 30 points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals). He’s as potent an offensive force as there is in the league today, and if he’s able to dictate the terms of Denver’s offensive possessions, this series could turn around in the blink of an eye.

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Hero Ball

As great as Jokic was in this game, Davis seemed to have answers at every turn.

Not only was he exceptional with his individual and team defence (flying around the floor to contest shooters and switching whenever necessary without giving up an advantage), Davis found his offensive rhythm in the second half after a rough early start and closed out the game by scoring Los Angeles’s final 10 points.

And, oh yeah, he hit a pretty nifty buzzer-beating three, too.

That triple was only the second time Davis has hit a buzzer-beater in his career, and the first time he’s done so in the playoffs. It was also the first time a Lakers player had hit such a shot in the post-season since Metta World Peace back in 2010.

Davis’s performance (he finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and two blocks) was perhaps made even more enthralling by the fact that the vast majority of his buckets came either against Jokic or in response to him, generating a classic clash of superstar versus superstar. He worked Jokic in isolation all game long, taking him off the dribble to muscle his way to the rim or pulling up for mid-range jumpers and sticking them in his grill.

These are exactly the kinds of battles that elevate NBA basketball beyond any ordinary limitations, fabricating something ethereal that will stick in one’s mind forever after. And with at least two games remaining in this series, there’s plenty of room left for more.

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Wilson throws 5 TDs, Seahawks make goal line stop to beat Patriots – TSN

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SEATTLE — Russell Wilson continued his sizzling start throwing five more touchdown passes. Unheralded second-year defensive end L.J. Collier made the play that assured those five TD tosses came in a victory.

Collier stuffed Cam Newton at the 1-yard line on the final play, and the Seattle Seahawks held off the New England Patriots 35-30 on Sunday night.

Wilson and Newton — two of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL — claimed the spotlight in a wild primetime showcase. Wilson was masterful, leading Seattle to a 35-23 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining.

But Newton took over the final minutes and yet another Seahawks-Patriots matchup was decided in the closing moments on a play snapped at the 1.

This time, it was the Seahawks erupting off the sideline in celebration.

“It’s an extraordinary moment for football players and for a team. You either come through or you don’t,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s so much intensity in that moment. The guys on the field will never forget it.”

Newton led New England 80 yards in the closing moments. They reached the 1 on a pass to N’Keal Harry with 3 seconds left. On the final play, Newton tried to run power to the left, but was upended by Collier in the biggest play of his young career. Newton, who had two rushing touchdowns in the game, never got close to the goal line.

Collier and Jamal Adams said from the formation it was clear where the Patriots were going with the play.

“Just to finish it off it’s a hell of a play. Imagine if we had fans here today. It would still be shaking,” Collier said.

Newton was excellent in his first road game with the Patriots throwing for 397 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He ran for another 47 yards, but couldn’t get the last three feet to give New England a victory.

“We put ourselves in position to win. When you do that, you’ve just got to finish and we didn’t do that,” Newton said.

Wilson was masterful on the other side, completing 21 of 28 passes for 288 yards. It was his fourth career game with five touchdown passes. Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore, Freddie Swain and Chris Carson all took turns celebrating in the end zone. Carson was the last, running under a 18-yard rainbow toss from Wilson against the blitz with 4:32 left to give the Seahawks a 35-23 lead.

Wilson became the first QB in Seahawks history to throw at least four TDs in consecutive games after he had four TD tosses in Week 1 against Atlanta.

“They’ve got a great quarterback. Glad we only have to play him once every four years,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The entire night in a normal setting would have left CenturyLink Field shaking with delirium, especially after the final play. But the stadium built for noise was empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving fans to celebrate Seattle improving to 2-0 for the second straight year at home.

“You missed the fun of it all. This game is meant to be played in front of thousands and thousands of people, it’s so special,” Wilson said.

Newton did his best to spoil any celebration. His second TD run pulled New England to 35-30 with 2:16 left. It was his eighth career game with at least two rushing TDs, setting an NFL record.

New England held the Seahawks to a three-and-out after Seattle threw on third-and-1 and Wilson couldn’t connect with Lockett on a deep shot.

Newton needed just five plays to move New England from its 19 to the Seattle 36 with 41 seconds left. After a penalty, Newton hit Edelman for 18 yards to the Seattle 13 with 20 seconds left and the pair nearly connected again in the end zone but Newton’s pass was high with 9 seconds remaining. Newton found Harry but was stopped at the 1 and New England used its final timeout, setting the stage for the final play.

Edelman finished with eight catches for 179 yards.

RARE TD

Metcalf’s 54-yard TD catch came against Stephon Gilmore, the reigning defensive player of the year. It was the first TD allowed by Gilmore as the primary defender since 2018. Gilmore shadowed Metcalf most of the night and at one point the two tussled into the Seattle bench.

“Like I said, it’s a physical game,” Metcalf said.

NO WHITE

New England played without running back James White after his father was killed Sunday in a car crash in Florida, authorities said. The wreck that killed Tyrone White happened around 1 p.m. in Cooper City, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. White, who was the captain of the Miami-Dade Police Department, was pronounced dead at the scene.

SAFETY PLAN

Seattle lost its starting and backup free safeties in the first half. Starter Quandre Diggs was ejected late in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New England’s N’Keal Harry. On fourth-and-3 from the Seattle 30, Newton hit Harry on a slant for 13 yards. The rookie was immediately hit by Diggs in a violent collision that snapped Harry’s head backward. The penalty helped lead to Newton’s 1-yard TD run.

Diggs was the first Seattle player ejected since 2017 when Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson were both ejected in a loss at Jacksonville.

Marquise Blair moved from nickel cornerback to safety in place of Diggs, but left with a right knee injury in the second quarter. Blair had to be helped off the field and the team immediately ruled him out. Lano Hill took over at free safety with Blair out.

Carroll said Blair still needs and MRI but they believe it to be a significant injury.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Return home to host Las Vegas.

Seahawks: Host Dallas next Sunday.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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James White misses Sunday's game after father dies in car crash, mother in critical condition – Yahoo Canada Sports

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="New England Patriots running back James White will miss Sunday’s game after his father was killed in a car crash earlier in the day, according to Fox Sports 640’s Andy Slater.” data-reactid=”16″>New England Patriots running back James White will miss Sunday’s game after his father was killed in a car crash earlier in the day, according to Fox Sports 640’s Andy Slater.

White’s mother also was reportedly in the car and is in critical condition. His father, Tyrone, was a captain in the Miami-Dade Police Department.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The news was later confirmed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.” data-reactid=”20″>The news was later confirmed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to fly White straight to Miami after hearing the news, but White decided he would still fly home with his teammates, according to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. White is reportedly not believed to be at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium.” data-reactid=”21″>Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to fly White straight to Miami after hearing the news, but White decided he would still fly home with his teammates, according to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. White is reportedly not believed to be at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium.

James White on the field before a game last season.
James White is out Sunday for awful reasons. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots, Russell Wilson voice support for White” data-reactid=”33″>Patriots, Russell Wilson voice support for White

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots safety Devin McCourty gave his support to White with a shoutout after scoring a pick six for the first touchdown of the game, yelling “2-8, we love, bro” at the camera in the end zone.” data-reactid=”34″>Patriots safety Devin McCourty gave his support to White with a shoutout after scoring a pick six for the first touchdown of the game, yelling “2-8, we love, bro” at the camera in the end zone.

Seattle’s Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Patriots’ opponent and White’s teammate at Wisconsin, also sent a message of support.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Patriots announced White would be inactive for Sunday night’s game, which they went on to lose 35-30. After the game, Wilson again sent a message to White.” data-reactid=”40″>The Patriots announced White would be inactive for Sunday night’s game, which they went on to lose 35-30. After the game, Wilson again sent a message to White.

“My heart’s heavy because one of my teammates, James White, from Wisconsin, one of the nicest guys, teammates, one of the hardest workers, one of the best people I know, had a tough one,” Wilson said to NBC’s Michele Tafoya. “My heart’s been heavy all day thinking about him … James, I’m praying for you man if you can hear me.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Many other former teammates of White’s also came out in support of him, including Tom Brady.” data-reactid=”42″>Many other former teammates of White’s also came out in support of him, including Tom Brady.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="White had 30 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards on eight touches in the Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Without him, Rex Burkhead saw the most action in the passing game out of the Patriots backfield with four catches and 47 receiving yards.” data-reactid=”43″>White had 30 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards on eight touches in the Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Without him, Rex Burkhead saw the most action in the passing game out of the Patriots backfield with four catches and 47 receiving yards.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”46″>More from Yahoo Sports:

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