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Maple Leafs blow lead late, lose in overtime – Pension Plan Puppets

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So that didn’t end the way we thought it would.

After a very positive game from the Maple Leafs through two periods, they found themselves ahead by a goal after John Tavares scored his 23rd of the season in his 800th career NHL game. But then, the Habs filled the Leafs with a dozen shots to end regulation, getting one goal and sending the game to overtime. Once there, a Tyson Barrie turnover gave the Habs a breakaway, which Ilya Kovalchuk converted on.

Jack Campbell made 29 saves in a really strong effort, he just didn’t get any support in the third period and overtime. When the game counted.

First Period

Auston Matthews was really strong to start the game. Almost despite his linemates, he was able to power through the Habs defense and get a couple really good chances for himself. Both Johnsson and Marner seemed to look really uncomfortable with the puck. They didn’t seem able to settle the puck down and create some space for themselves with their feet or body positioning.

Even defensively, Matthews intercepted a couple key passes in the top of the zone, getting the puck out very efficiently. Contrast that to Jake Muzzin giving the puck away within the first minutes after a really weak pass from along the wall to the middle of the blueline in his own zone.

I loved this pass from Timothy Liljegren.

Okay, so I was waiting for more to happen in that period, but apart from Muzzin headlocking Max Domi, it wasn’t very action-packed. It was a good period that I think the Leafs were able to build on.

One performance that I liked in particular was that of Liljegren. I found it funny that people wrote him off as a third pair guy last year, because right now he looks really solid. Poised with the puck, quick in a straight line, and really talented with his stick. He had a moment in his own zone when he tripped himself up, but he was able to get the puck out quite cleanly. He made that pass in the clip above that was really creative. And on the defensive end, his poise to retrieve loose pucks and push them up the ice in a safe way really stood out to me.

After One

This was a good first period from the Leafs, who out-shot the Habs 18-12 in terms of shot attempts. The two sides were tied in shots (7-7) and scoring chances (5-5). The Leafs got a couple good chances, but this wasn’t a period where they should’ve scored a couple times but failed to capitalize.

Second Period

Rasmus Sandin drew a slashing penalty on Jonathan Drouin, giving the Leafs a power play early in the second. The power play wasn’t that great; Tyson Barrie smashed a puck off the hand of Artturi Lehkonen and Matthews broke his stick on a slap shot. The second unit didn’t do much either.

The Habs came back after killing the penalty, forcing Jack Campbell to make a couple good saves in tight. As the game ebbed and flowed, the Leafs found their feet again and earned some sustained pressure in the Habs zone, forcing a couple icings and a good chance from John Tavares.

And as you’d expect after a power play, the refs gave Travis Dermott a pretty weak tripping penalty. The penalty killers were really good, starting with Marner and Zach Hyman wasting time in the offensive zone, then Pierre Engvall and Kasperi Kapanen forcing the puck to the corners of the point. Sandin and Muzzin each had a pretty important block, the latter of which seemed to sting Muzzin.

Dermott came out of the box and had the puck in the neutral zone while the Habs were changing. He passed to the limping Muzzin and ran off. I thought that was an incredibly dumb play, especially considering Dermott had the time and space to skate to Muzzin’s spot and let him get off. Instead, Muzzin couldn’t get the puck clear and had to defend for another minute, blocking another shot in his own zone.

After Two

You know your offense is bad when you make the Leafs defense look good. That’s what the Habs did in the second. They were on the power play for two minutes and 5v5 for 14. They only managed four shots throughout the entire frame. Meanwhile, the Leafs took two shots on their two power plays, and 14 in the whole period.

Shot share was 24-9 in the period, approximately 73%. Expected goals was also heavily in Toronto’s favour as they took a mountain of shots right in front of the net. Matthews, Tavares, and Jason Spezza each had two high-danger shot attempts after two periods.

Third Period

1-0

And for his 757th point in 800 games, John Tavares opened the scoring for the Leafs with an amazing shot from the faceoff dot, fed to him by Alex Kerfoot after Zach Hyman got them in the zone. Tavares now has 23 goals this season, including five in his past four games.

It was a really nice play that directly followed a strong save from Campbell. He made a right pad save, kicking the rebound right to his own guy for a quick breakout. The differential in manpower really gave the Leafs the edge at the other end of the ice. Tavares was not close to being covered when he took his shot.

The majority of the period after that consisted of the Habs in the Leafs zone looking for chances to score. Their best one came on the power play when Campbell had to make a toe save on Ilya Kovalchuk after coming across to his post to stop the one-timer. The Leafs did a great job to weather the storm and came out of it with the lead, despite giving up 11 straight shots.

1-1

With 2:33 left in the third, Marco Scandella took a point shot that squeaked through the five hole of Campbell, ruining the shutout and the lead. The Leafs didn’t take a single shot between the Tavares goal and this one, and it took them a couple shifts after this goal to get their offensive feet moving again.

After Three

This is my only takeaway. MY ONLY ONE!

Overtime

1-2

Goal. Barrie runs himself deep without any support (HE WAS BASICALLY NEXT TO MARNER) and Nick Suzuki gets a breakaway. He gets poke checked, but Kovalchuk pots home the rebound.

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Flames open road trip with win for Sutter against his former team – Sportsnet.ca

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LOS ANGELES — Sitting in the bowels of a Staples Center arena in which he raised two Stanley Cups, Darryl Sutter was asked about the drive to win another one.

“It’s, like, all that matters to me,” said the Flames’ singularly-focused coach. “You’re trying to translate that to the players, to get to that level that it takes. And the difference it makes in a career and their lives.”

The difference Sutter helped make in Los Angeles was recognized seven minutes into Thursday’s Flames win when he and Trevor Lewis were saluted in a Jumbotron video that drew a standing ovation from a sparse crowd of 13,241.

Guiding the Kings to the franchise’s first Cup win in his first season as their head coach in 2012, Sutter became just the 19th coach in NHL lore to win multiple titles when he won again in 2014.

He’s had a similar, early impact in Calgary where his Flames continue to be the talk of the league, improving their record to a best-in-the-west 14-4-5 with a 3-2 win over his former team.

He wouldn’t say it afterward, but you can bet it meant just a little bit more for him to see his club win one at Staples.

“Some of the players that went through here before told me they probably would,” shrugged Sutter of the video. “It’s good. Good for Trevor, and good for my family.”

Although he did his best to downplay it before and afterwards, this game was important to Sutter.

And the players knew it.

“We wanted to win it for our coach, we wanted to win it for Lewis and his return, and we wanted to get our first win in our division,” said Milan Lucic, whose second power play unit played a big role in the win, with two first period goals.

“Those are all important things for us tonight. It’s always nice to start a four-game trip off in the win column.”

Lucic went five-hole for the fourth time this season to put the Flames up 2-1 in a first period that also saw Andrew Mangiapane score with the man advantage.

“I looked up and saw defence and went back to it — it’s a high percentage shot,” said a smiling Lucic of the between-the-wickets shot that has helped him score the majority of his seven goals.

“If it misses it hits the pads and stays alive, as opposed to a shot in the glove. It seems to be working out. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’d love to tell you how I set it up, but I don’t want the goalies to know what my thought process is. So we’ll just leave it at that.”

Not surprisingly, Lucic got the starting nod alongside fellow Kings alumni Lewis and Brad Richardson as part of Sutter’s gritty All the King’s Men Line.

“My buddies call us the Full Pension Line, which I thought was funny,” laughed Lewis of a nickname offered up by childhood friend and former Flame, Shane O’Brien.

“But whatever you guys want to call it.”

An Alex Iafallo redirection gave the opposition the opening goal for just the fifth time in 23 games — and first on the road — five minutes in.

Mangiapane responded with his 16th before Lucic struck.

Minutes after taking the lead Matthew Tkachuk did his best to resurrect his feud with Drew Doughty with a gritty shift on which he knocked the Kings defender down with a reverse hit before punctuating the whistle with a pair of net-side punches to Doughty’s face.

The second poke drew a penalty the Flames killed off as part of yet another perfect night that saw the unit stop both of L.A.’s man advantages.

Even scoreboard urging from Snoop Dogg couldn’t spur on the Kings.

Tkachuk wound up with the last laugh as he used Doughty as a screen to score his 11th of the season — a top-shelf beauty that stood as the winner early in the second.

“Whoever the defenceman was on that side I just tried to shoot it through him, and it worked out,” said Tkachuk. “I’m sure if you asked (Sutter) he wouldn’t want us to be extra motivated for him. He’d say he wanted us to come in here and get off on this road trip on the right foot and don’t worry about his homecoming. But it was big to get them the win.”

Alexander Edler’s first as a King narrowed the gap late in the second, setting up a third period push that saw Lewis make a key block after Jacob Markstrom made a stunning glove save on Victor Arvidsson’s point blast — one of 40 saves on the night.

The Flames play in Anaheim Friday as part of a four-game road trip that takes them through Vegas and San Jose.

“I think it’s really good for our team, and it’s another measuring stick to see where you are at when you get into the division part of it,” said Sutter before the game when asked about the trip against division rivals.

“This trip there are two we haven’t played and two we haven’t beaten.”

Make that one they haven’t beaten.

NOTES: The Flames sent Juuso Valimaki to Stockton to get some much-needed playing time, as the 23-year-old first-rounder has only been used in eight of the team’s 23 games this season.

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Prediction Time: CFL.ca writers' Div Finals picks – CFL.ca

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TORONTO — The anticipation is building by the day as we get closer to our Eastern and Western Division Finals on Sunday.

A pair of longtime rivals are the final four teams standing and on Sunday we’ll find out which of those two make it to the 108th Grey Cup next week in Hamilton.

If you’re looking for sound, stable and successful advice, look no further than our Jamie Nye. Tied for first-place with Pat Steinberg with a 39-26 record, Jamie was the only one of the six CFL.ca writers that went 2-0 last week, wisely taking the Ticats and Riders to hold court at home. This week they’re both on the road, heading into Toronto and Winnipeg, respectively, to take on the first place Argos and Bombers.

Home field didn’t carry quite as much weight in the East with the pick-makers as it did in the West this week, despite the Argos’ 6-1 record at BMO Field. Just about everyone is on board with the Bombers hosting at IG Field, a place where they haven’t had the taste of defeat all season. The last time the Bombers lost at home was Sept. 27, 2019. That Week 16 loss to Hamilton came a couple of weeks before the Bombers traded for Zach Collaros.

The Riders have a hill to climb this week and they seem to recognize that. The Ticats have a hill of their own, having dropped three of their four meetings with the Argos this season, including their Week 15 encounter that clinched first in the East for the Double Blue.

We’re just days away from having answers and knowing who will be playing for the Grey Cup, setting up a true Sunday Funday.

RELATED
» Head to Head: Who has the edge in the Eastern and Western Finals?
» CFL Pick ‘Em: Make your picks for the divisional finals!
» Weekly Predictor: Betting on the Ticats

HAM at TOR

The Argos might have one of the most underappreciated home field records in recent league history. Standing at an impressive 6-1 — the blemish coming in a meaningless end-of-season tilt with Edmonton — they won’t be an easy out at BMO Field. There’s pressure on each side to win of course, but there’s a little more on the Ticats, who beat the Argos in their first meeting on Labour Day, then dropped their next three meetings, with encounters No. 2 and 3 being one-point losses. Still, the majority of our pick makers think the Ticats can do it, coming off of a convincing win over Montreal last week. A traveling pack of supporters making the trip up the QEW might help pack the stands on Sunday and will try to even out that home field advantage.

PICK

Writers 66% Hamilton

SSK at WPG

The Riders get one last crack at the blue and gold riddle they haven’t been able to solve on Sunday afternoon. This edition of the Bombers might stand as one of the franchise’s all-time great teams, led by a defence that feasts on turnovers and miscues, and is steered on offence by Zach Collaros‘ calm and deliberate style of play. The defending Grey Cup champs come into this game as rested as can be, will have the support of a packed IG Field and have been focused on the next game in front of them since we kicked the season off back in August. The Riders will likely have to be close to perfect to take them down. Going into the game, it feels like a very tall order.

PICK

Writers 83% Winnipeg

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Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo misses game vs. Raptors for undisclosed reason – Sportsnet.ca

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was scratched from the Milwaukee Bucks‘ lineup against the Toronto Raptors for an undisclosed reason.

Antetokounmpo was not among the Bucks’ starters ahead of tipoff. Pat Connaughton was moved into his place in the starting lineup against the Raptors.

The 26-year-old is coming off a dominant performance against the Charlotte Hornets where he had 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 127-125 victory. Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists through 21 games this season.

Milwaukee’s next game is on Saturday against the Miami Heat.

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