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MATHESON: Nine takeaways from last night’s 5-1 Oilers win against Vegas

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You know the old chestnut: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?

After blowing the doors off the Golden Knights with a 20-shot, four-goal blast in the first period Saturday at their “Fortress,” the Edmonton Oilers likely want to take that attack back to Rogers Place for Game 3 Monday, thank you.

The walked the walk and talked the talk on the ice after their indifferent Game 1 loss, wasting Leon Draisaitl’s four goals, and got the last word in post-game too, when Evander Kane, asked about using Keegan Kolesar’s gut as a speed-bag as the Vegas player was down, came out swinging with a hands-over-your-ears-kids’ sound bite.

“If you want to (bleep) around, sometimes you’re going to find out,” said Kane.

Hmmm! Two games in and we’re talking pounds of flesh.

And if people are wondering about Vegas getting mad because they were never getting even after the first 20 minutes — heck the Oilers had the puck for the full 60 — you think the Oilers would have been any different if the skates had been on the other feet? It’s the playoffs; you don’t go quietly into the night, especially in Vegas, and if any team does, the series is over.

Kane might hear from the NHL about his actions with referee Kelly Sutherland getting his notepad out. Maybe not Marquis of Queensberry rules, exactly, with Kane angry that teammates had been put in headlocks from behind, he said.

Bottom line: these Oilers are different Oilers. Tougher.

“We like to do the punishing,” said Kane.

In Game 2, we got a whuppin’.

So, here we are then. It’s all-even, as it should be, when Vegas finishes regular-season with 111 points, the Oilers 109. Golden Knights racked up 51 wins, Edmonton 50.

Here’s some takeaways.

1. It’s Draisaitl’s puck

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers scores a first-period power-play goal against Laurent Brossoit #39 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers scores a first-period power-play goal against Laurent Brossoit #39 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

We know Wayne Gretzky’s office was behind the net where he had the puck on a string and bedevilled checkers as he found Jari Kurri or Paul Coffey but now it’s Leon Draisaitl’s puck and it’s like his signature is on the black rubber, not the commish Gary Bettman.

Who knew we would be talking about Cyclone Taylor and Newsy Lalonde today in relation to Draisaitl’s head-shaking, head-scratching scoring? With two more goals, Leon’s got nine in first five Oiler road games this spring, which ties him with Cyclone (real name Fred) in 1918 with the Vancouver Millionaires. Cyclone’s claim to fame was his speed, also that he didn’t drink or smoke or swear. How can he be a hockey player?

And with the pair on Laurent Brossoit, Leon’s got 13 in the first eight Oiler games, two more than Newsy did in 1919 (real name Eduoard, nickname because he used to be a reporter as a kid before he played for the Canadiens).

2. Draisaitl’s the muscle car

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
Leon Draisaitl (left) and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Brett Carlsen /Getty Images

More on Draisaitl. What he’s doing is beyond ridiculous. He got eight PP goals in eight games, which ties him with Mario Lemieux, Brian Propp, Tim Kerr and John Druce (how did he get in there?). Most ever in a single playoff season is nine by Mike Bossy (1981 with the Islanders) and Cam Neely (1991 with Bruins). Bossy did it in 18 games, Neely in 19. Like more than twice as many games as Draisaitl, who is the muscle car to Connor McDavid’s race-car if we’re talking big wheels.

3. Power play bazookas

Leon Draisaitl #29, Zach Hyman #18, Evan Bouchard #2, Connor McDavid #97 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate Bouchard's first-period power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Leon Draisaitl #29, Zach Hyman #18, Evan Bouchard #2, Connor McDavid #97 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate Bouchard’s first-period power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

Vegas led the NHL in league play only taking an average of 2.8 minors a game with a totally disciplined game, yet they gave the Oilers six PPs Saturday, some not very smart, and it’s nine total over two games. Considering Vegas has the second worst PK in the playoffs (only LA is worse) at 52.4 percent (10 goals on 21 tries), they absolutely have to stay out of the box with the Oilers scoring five times in nine tries. The Jets had a water-pistol PP in round 1 so they got by but the Oilers bring the bazookas.

After Draisaitl banged in a rebound on an early PP, Zach Whitecloud took an unnecessary high-stick to Derek Ryan’s face, and, bang, bang, there’s an Evan Bouchard clapper through traffic, 2-zip.

Vegas wanted to cut out the cross-seam pass for the Draisaitl’s one-timer from his office in the right circle, and they did, but the Oilers changed things up by going to Bouchard for shots. First one rattles around to Draisaitl, second one is 91 mph, and into the net. The Oilers are 14-for-25 on the PP in the post-season.

4. Bouchard’s hammer shot

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 28: Evan Bouchard #2 and Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate Bouchard’s first-period power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during of their game at T-Mobile Arena on March 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 28: Evan Bouchard #2 and Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate Bouchard’s first-period power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during of their game at T-Mobile Arena on March 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

With apologies to Tyson Barrie, who has proven he has the right stuff to play with stars (Nate MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Draisaitl and McDavid), Bouchard gives them a different PP look. His shot is a hammer in the Oiler toolbox, for goals or rebounds, because it’s so hard. He’s got 12 PP points in eight games after 13 in 82, on the second unit until Barrie was traded for Mattias Ekholm.

5. Shorthanded scoring

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers reacts after scoring a short-handed goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers reacts after scoring a short-handed goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

More special teams. The Oilers had the most shorthanded goals (18) in regular-season and made Vegas pay with a shortie after the first two PPs. McDavid squeezed the puck past Shea Theodore before holding off Theodore to slide a one-handed shot through the legs of Brossoit. Looked cheeky, as it appeared he was going upstairs with a flip shot but Theodore had 97 tied up. If there was a cartoon bubble over Brossoit’s head, it would have been full of expletives.

Frankly, Brossoit deserved better. The Oilers had 54 shot attempts through the first 40 minutes, and while he would have liked back McDavid’s bank shot off his blocker on the PP, he was hung out to dry more than underwear on an old backyard clothesline.

6. Skinner’s cool

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Stuart Skinner #74 of the Edmonton Oilers makes a save against Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Stuart Skinner #74 of the Edmonton Oilers makes a save against Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

Which brings us to his counterpart Stu Skinner, who only packed one suit (light colour, no good for coffee spills) thinking the team was going to Los Angeles for Game 6 and flying home, not staying on the road. But it’s how he looks in his work clothes, anyway. This was more like the rookie-of-the-year finalist. The breakaway stop on Chandler Stephenson at 4-0 was a calm, cool stuff. If Ivan Barbashev hadn’t made like Joe Pavelski, batting that waist-high puck home, we’re talking Skinner’s first playoff shutout.

7. All the goals

May 6, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of game two of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of game two of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Photo by Stephen R. Sylvanie /USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Brossoit has given up nine goals in five periods, but really how many could you hang on the former Oiler back-up? One, two? That said, the Oilers have 27 goals in six games against Vegas including regular-season. So, they know they’re playing against a team hasn’t proven they can win a 2-1 game against Edmonton.

8. Shot blocking Kostin

Klim Kostin #21 of the Edmonton Oilers battles with Mikey Anderson #44 of the Los Angeles Kings in the first period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 19, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Klim Kostin #21 of the Edmonton Oilers battles with Mikey Anderson #44 of the Los Angeles Kings in the first period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 19, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Lawrence Scott /Getty Images

So the Oilers have the game in the bag and Klim Kostin is still blocking shots, taking a ripper off his right skate boot by Nic Hague, the kind of shot that can break some bones, and then stopping a second with his shin-pad. Teammates don’t forget that, especially goalies, same with coaches, who might show that on video.

9. Kane, Carrier history

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Nick Bjugstad #72 and Evander Kane #91 of the Edmonton Oilers fight with Alex Pietrangelo #7 and Keegan Kolesar #55 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 06: Nick Bjugstad #72 and Evander Kane #91 of the Edmonton Oilers fight with Alex Pietrangelo #7 and Keegan Kolesar #55 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

Interesting to see Kane and Wil Carrier jawing in the penalty box. Carrier, who stepped in to wrestle with Zach Hyman after a big open-ice belt by Brayden McNab (we’re not sure why he felt he had to do that for the 220-pound McNab, but we digress) used to be on the same Buffalo team with Kane half a dozen years ago.

Carrier likes to hit too (he plastered Warren Foegele into the end boards). Kane? The man got in Matthew Tkachuk’s grill in the Calgary series last spring, and he’s noticeable again in this second-round Vegas matchup.

 

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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