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Lightning show grit in Final, adapt after first-round sweep last season

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are three wins from a Stanley Cup championship because they were willing to change and adapt to overcome their shocking and crushing end to last season.

The Lightning were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round after tying the NHL single-season record with 62 wins (1995-96 Detroit Red Wings). Now they’re even with the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final after going 12-4 in the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a five-game win against Columbus in the first round.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Final, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“I think experience and being humbled can help right a ship,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I truly believe last year’s experience, we’re seeing the fruits of that awful setback. What do they say the definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? We couldn’t do that.”

The Lightning are bigger, tougher, stronger and grittier than they were a season ago. Former Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, who played for them last season and was a guest on the NHL @TheRink podcast Tuesday, said they have more “sandpaper.”

Tampa Bay signed forward Pat Maroon to a one-year, $900,000 contract last Aug. 24. The Lightning then bolstered their roster during the season by acquiring forwards Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman in trades, giving up a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in each, and signing defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1.3 million contract after he was placed on waivers by the Buffalo Sabres.

Goodrow and Coleman play on the aggressive, attacking, fast and physical third line with center Yanni Gourde. Goodrow has become one of Cooper’s go-to players late in close games; he took three face-offs in the final minute of a 3-2 win in Game 2 on Monday.

“I commend [general manager Julien BriseBois] because he stuck his neck out on the line,” Cooper said. “I know he was probably questioned or criticized for the amount people perceived he gave up, but to me it doesn’t matter. It’s what your assets do to build your team to win. He did that. They weren’t sexy trades, they weren’t sexy signings, but they were gutty ones, and it was what we needed.”

The third line is evidence of what is different about the Lightning: It doesn’t have to score to be effective.

“We used to be a team that it wasn’t good enough to beat you 3-0, we had to beat you 9-0,” Cooper said. “We had to change that attitude.”

For example, Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead against Columbus in the first period of Game 1 last season, got comfortable, thought it would come easy and ended up giving it away and lost 4-3.

On Monday, the Lightning took a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 2, stood in as the Stars tried to punch back, took a few blows but limited Dallas to two shots after Mattias Janmark scored to make it 3-2 at 5:27 of the third period.

Video: The Tampa Bay Lightning come away with Game 2

They are 10-2 this postseason in games decided by one goal, including 4-1 in overtime. They have won 10 games scoring three or fewer goals.

“The M.O. on the Lightning the last few years is that they’re offensive and they’re skilled and the way to beat them is to play them hard,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who is in his first season with Tampa Bay. “I think things have changed this year. The perception of our team will be changed after this playoffs is over. We make it a point to play defense and play structured, and we know that because we have all the skill in our lineup when our offensive chances do come we have the ability to take advantage of it.”

Cooper said the change in attitude came from Tampa Bay’s best players. Nikita Kucherov is the perfect example.

Last season, the forward was voted the Hart Trophy winner as NHL most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award winner as most outstanding player as voted by members of the NHL Players’ Association, and won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader with 128 points (41 goals, 47 assists). But he was suspended for Game 3 against Columbus for boarding defenseman Markus Nutivaara late in the third period of Game 2, a 5-1 loss.

This season, Kucherov has set the Lightning record for most points in a postseason with 28 (six goals, 22 assists), including two assists in Game 2. He hasn’t missed a game and is arguably setting the tone for Tampa Bay with how hard he’s playing.

“Look no further than Nikita Kucherov’s game last night, and how he was getting beat up in ways that for anybody it’s hard to come back,” Cooper said. “All he did was come back and run a power play that scored two goals and be a big part of why we won. When guys understand that it’s now what you keep out of your net and not how much you put in your net, good things will happen, and that’s what’s going on so far.”

Source:- NHL.com

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Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers with road victory – TSN

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This time, the Atlanta Falcons finished.

Matt Ryan threw for 281 yards and ran for a touchdown, Younghoe Koo made four field goals and the Atlanta Falcons held on to beat the Carolina Panthers 25-17 on Thursday night behind a strong defensive performance to avoid a series season sweep.

The Falcons (2-6) have had a penchant for squandering leads, coming into the game 1-3 when leading entering the fourth quarter. Carolina was driving late, but Atlanta stopped the rally when Blidi Wreh-Wilson intercepted Teddy Bridgewater near the Falcons’ 10-yard line with 1:04 remaining.

“That’s what we’ve been talking about, ending games with either sacks or interceptions and the guys went out today and did exactly that,” Falcons coach Raheem Morris. “The ball went up in the air and Blidi came down with it and it was awesome.”

Todd Gurley grinded out 46 yards rushing and a touchdown, Julio Jones added 137 yards receiving against a banged-up Panthers secondary and the Falcons defence limited the Panthers to 2 of 10 on third down conversions to improve to 2-1 since Morris replaced Dan Quinn as head coach.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said it felt like Bridgewater was constantly under duress.

“We had a hard time blocking their front,” Rhule said. “We weren’t able to get our receivers involved. We were 2 of 10 on third downs and we can’t live like that.”

Bridgewater tried to spur Carolina to a comeback in front of a sparse crowd of 5,240 due to COVID-19 after Koo missed an extra point that would have made it a two-possession game.

Bridgewater, who was knocked out of the game for two possessions with a neck injury following a late hit by Charles Harris — one that resulted in him being ejected — took over with the Panthers down by eight points with less than 3 minutes to play. He completed a 35-yard strike to D.J. Moore on third and 18 to move the Panthers into Falcons territory. But his final pass was easily picked.

Bridgewater was limited to 176 yards passing as the Panthers (3-5) lost their third straight game without injured Christian McCaffrey.

“I don’t think any of us played real well tonight,” Rhule said of Bridgewater’s performance.

Said Bridgewater: “Tough loss and we have to find ways to finish the game. That can’t be the common thing around here — coming up short.”

The Falcons avenged a 23-16 loss to Carolina 18 days ago in which Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and two scores and Mike Davis piled up 149 yards rushing. Davis was held to 77 yards this time on a wet field where players routinely swapped cleats to adapt to the changing conditions.

But Jones didn’t play in the first meeting.

He was a huge difference in this one, setting the tone by hauling in catches two catches for 52 yards on the game’s first two plays. Playing against a Panthers secondary that was already without two starters and lost another when Donte Jackson reinjured his toe in the first half, proved to be easy pickings for Jones.

“It’s fun, no question about it,” Ryan said of having Jones in the lineup. “The way we started the game is when we’re at our best, play-action pass. I hope it’s the start of something. I really feel like, although we’re 2-6, we’ve been in some tight ones.”

SAMUEL’S BIG DAY

The Panthers had opened a 14-6 lead in the second quarter when Bridgewater found Curtis Samuel for a 29-yard touchdown pass on a well set up flea flicker. It was Samuel’s second TD of the half, scoring earlier on a 12-yard run up the middle to give Carolina its first lead.

The 24-year-old Samuel has three career games with a TD rushing and receiving, which trails only Jerry Rice (5) among wide receivers in the Super Bowl era.

RYAN’S RUN

Ryan said he wasn’t sure if he would get to the end zone on a 13-yard TD run in the first half but knew he had a chance when cornerback Troy Pride slipped while trying to chase him down.

“Just fast enough,” Ryan said. “I feel like I’ve always been that way throughout my career, just fast enough to make them pay sometimes on third downs. It was a big score for us there. We really needed it.”

When asked about the reactions of his teammates, Ryan said, “I can’t tell if they’re laughing at me or just having a good time and excited for it.”

INJURIES

Falcons: Wide receiver Calvin Ridley left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury after making a reception in the red zone and did not return. Morris offered no update on his status after the game. … Cornerback Kendall Sheffield left the game early with a head injury, but did return.

Panthers: Cornerback Donte Jackson’s lingering toe injury forced him to leave the game early again, and the banged-up Panthers secondary had to finish with rookie Troy Pride and Corn Elder at cornerback spots.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host the Broncos on Nov. 8

Panthers: Open the second half of the season at the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Nov. 8.

___

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

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TNF: Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons 10/29/20 NFL Picks, Odds, Predictions – Sports Chat Place

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Atlanta Falcons (1-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-4)

NFL Football: Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 8:20 pm (Bank of America Stadium)

The Line: Carolina Panthers -2.5 — Over/Under: 49
Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers meet Thursday in week 8 NFL action at Bank of America Stadium.

The Atlanta Falcons look for their second road win to rebound from a ritual 1-6 start to the NFL season. The Atlanta Falcons have won five of their last seven road games. Matt Ryan is completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,181 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Ryan has one or less touchdown passes in four of his last five games. Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones have combined for 1,062 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while Russell Gage has 31 receptions. The Atlanta Falcons ground game is averaging 105.4 yards per contest, and Todd Gurley II leads the way with 485 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, Atlanta is allowing 29.6 points and 425.9 yards per game. Foyesade Oluokun leads the Atlanta Falcons with 49 tackles, Grady Jarrett has 2.5 sacks and Blidi Wreh-Wilson has one interception.

The Carolina Panthers look for a spark of consistency after splitting their last six games. The Carolina Panthers have lost six of their last seven home games. Teddy Bridgewater is completing 72.2 percent of his passes for 1,930 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Bridgewater has two touchdown passes in three of his last four games. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore have combined for 1,207 receiving yards and four touchdowns while Mike Davis has 37 receptions. The Carolina Panthers ground game is averaging 105.4 yards per contest, and Davis leads the way with 284 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Carolina is allowing 24 points and 351.1 yards per game. Shaq Thompson leads the Carolina Panthers with 60 tackles, Brian Burns has three sacks and Donte Jackson has two interceptions.

Wonder who the Top Experts Picked? Click Here To Find Out

The Falcons are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The Panthers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 home games, 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The over is 4-1 in Falcons last 5 road games. The under is 4-1 in Panthers last 5 games overall. The Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings. The home team is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 meetings.

The Atlanta Falcons continue to blow fourth quarter leads and at this point players have to be ready for the season to be finished. Frustration has to be setting in and confidence can’t be high, and the Falcons remain one of the worst defensive teams in the league, ranked 31st in total yards and passing yards. The Panthers continue to be hit or miss, but one of their three wins this season was a seven-point win on the road against the Falcons and they just took the Saints down to the wire as big underdogs last week. Neither of these clubs are worldbeaters, but the Panthers have no question shown more fight this season and look like a decent team overall. Not sure how anybody backs the Falcons with confidence given the constant collapses. 

I’ll lay the small chalk with the Panthers at home.

See Who The Experts Picked To Win This One

Randy’s Pick
Carolina Panthers -2.5

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.

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Byfield named to Hockey Canada WJC select camp roster – NHL.com

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The camp will be held at Westerner Park Centrium from Nov. 16-Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta.

Alexis Lafreniere, chosen No. 1 by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft, was not one of the 46 invitees that includes 26 forwards, 15 defensemen and five goalies. The forward played for Canada in the 2019 and 2020 WJC, and he was named the tournament most valuable player in 2020.

Lafreniere could still be added to the team; the Rangers want Lafreniere to attend NHL training camp, but Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney said more clarity on Lafreniere’s status is expected in about 10 days.

“(Rangers general manager) Jeff Gorton and I had a good chat,” Renney said, “and [I] gave Jeff the opportunity to understand our timetable of what might be coming up with respect to this camp … and well beyond that. With that being said, Jeff was certainly open-minded to the idea, was hoping that his player would have the opportunity to join the NHL team in New York as of now, actually, to begin skating with the club.” 

The event is the final step in picking the team that will play for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament, to be held Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021, will be played entirely at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans in attendance in a secure-zone bubble, similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The IIHF initially was going to utilize Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta as joint hosts.

“I think having an opportunity to be together for 51 days will be special,” Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. “Fortunately for everyone, we’ll have time to be really well prepared so we’re really grateful for it. the coaches spent so many hours on video for scouting and getting prepared. Close to 90 players had been scouting through video and I think we’re really excited and really confident with the group we will have in Red Deer. We can’t wait to get into the bubble.

“This has never happened in the past where Team Canada had the chance to meet together for this long (in a selection camp) and to grow their structure and to grow their chemistry for that long. I think it will be unique, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for us.”

Byfield, a forward, is one of six returnees who helped Canada finish first at the 2020 WJC, along with defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche, 2019 NHL Draft, No. 4) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, No. 6) and forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, No. 7), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals, 2019, No. 25) and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils, 2020, No. 18).

To ensure the health and safety of all participants and the community, Hockey Canada will be adhering to enhanced measures around testing and team protocols.

“Although this has been a difficult year for our athletes and staff, we are excited to unveil the 46 players who will compete for a spot on Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada. “We know our athletes are excited for the opportunity to defend gold on home ice this year, and we expect a highly competitive selection camp with a number of difficult decisions to be made when it comes time to select the players who will wear the Maple Leaf in Edmonton in December.”

The selection camp will include practices, three intra-squad games and six games against a team of U SPORTS all-stars before the team enters the bubble in Edmonton in preparation for the 2021 WJC. The camp will take place in a bubble and will be closed to the public and media.

Canada will be in Group A, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany. Group B will include the United States, Russia, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic. Canada plays the opening game of the round-robin portion against Germany on Dec. 26. 

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

Canada, which defeated Russia 4-3 in the 2020 championship game at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic, finished first at the event for the 18th time. 

Vancouver (Western Hockey League) coach Michael Dyck and Saskatoon (WHL) coach Mitch Love will be assistants under Tourigny, the coach of Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League. Love and Tourigny were assistants to coach Dale Hunter at the 2020 WJC.

HOCKEY CANADA WJC SELECT CAMP ROSTER

GOALIES: Brett Brochu, London, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Triston Lennox, Saginaw, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)

DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Lukas Cormier, Charlottetown, QMJHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Mason Millman, Saginaw OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Owen Power, Michigan, BIG10 (2021 draft eligible); Matthew Robertson, Edmonton, WHL (New York Rangers); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Donovan Sebrango, Kitchener, OHL (Detroit Red Wings); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)

FORWARDS: Adam Beckman, Spokane, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Dallas Stars); Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Graeme Clarke, Ottawa, OHL (New Jersey Devils); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Tyson Foerster, Barrie, OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Gage Goncalves, Everett, WHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ridly Greig, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Seth Jarvis, Portland, WHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (Washington Capitals); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d’Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Jamieson Rees, Sarnia, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Cole Schwindt, Mississauga, OHL (Florida Panthers); Xavier Simoneau, Drummondville, QMJHL (2021 draft eligible); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Shane Wright, Kingston, OHL (2022 draft eligible); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)

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