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With Thornton and Matthews out, forwards Pierre Engvall, Alex Barabanov and Adam Brooks will be inserted into the lineup. Keefe had gone with 11 forwards and seven defencemen in the past two games, but said regardless of the injuries, had made the decision to revert to the more common lineup of 12 forwards and six defencemen.
It was not clear which defenceman will be sitting. Mikko Lehtonen started each of the past two games as the seventh D-man.
Keefe wouldn’t give any hints as to how his lines will be set, but did say William Nylander will not be playing centre.
The greater issue for Keefe is his team’s lack of goals at five-on-five. The Leafs (3-2-0) were structured well defensively in a 3-1 loss to the Oilers (2-3-0) on Wednesday, limiting Connor McDavid to an assist, but had little in the way of pressure on Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen while the teams were playing even. And that won’t get much easier with Matthews and Thornton, two-thirds of the top line with Mitch Marner, in spectator roles.
“No matter who is in the lineup, what the lines are, we have to find a way to get to the net a lot more,” Keefe said. “It has been an issue for us, not just in the last game — certainly the last game highlighted it a lot because we did not get the power-play goal to supplement our offence.
“We have to find ways to get to the net more consistently. JT (John Tavares), Will (Nylander), Mitch, Hymes (Zach Hyman), all these guys, but all the way through the lineup — (Jimmy) Vesey, (Ilya) Mikheyev, all these guys have to do a better job of helping us get there, (Alex) Kerfoot.”
Ontario's Rachel Homan reaches Scotties final for 3rd straight year – CBC.ca
Rachel Homan is in familiar territory in a strange curling season.
She’ll skip Ontario in a third straight Canadian women’s curling championship final Sunday.
- Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live every day of The Scotties at 7:30 p.m. ET on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Homan’s 7-2 win over Saskatchewan and defending champion Kerri Einarson’s 10-9 loss in an extra end to Manitoba on Saturday combined to give Ontario a bye to the final.
“We really wanted to get to the final and see what we can do and to put that Maple Leaf on our back would really be another dream come true,” Homan said.
“We’re going to work and fight hard to the last rock and hopefully we can make more than the other team.”
Homan is a three-time winner of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2017, 2014 and 2013. In the third trimester of her pregnancy, she’ll try for a fourth.
Homan and Einarson owned identical 10-2 records at the conclusion of the championship round Saturday.
Homan’s 7-4 win over Einarson in a Pool A game Thursday was the tiebreaker giving Ontario the higher playoff seeding.
Einarson has a place in Sunday afternoon’s semifinal as the second seed.
The defending champs await the winner of a morning tiebreaker between Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Alberta’s Laura Walker, who were both 9-3.
WATCH | Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones sets up tiebreakers with Alberta’s Laura Walker:
“Personally, it’s pretty huge for me not to play three games tomorrow,” Homan said. “I knew we were ready to do whatever it took to be in that final.
“Thankfully the way it fell, we were able to get that bye, get some rest, get our feet up and just prepare for the final tomorrow.”
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of the competitive curling season.
Homan’s team arrived in Calgary incorporating new second Sarah Wilkes and adjusting to the shift of Joanne Courtney to lead without the benefit of 50 to 60 games behind them this winter.
“I think we’ve faced a lot of adversity like every team here trying to show up and put together the best performance we can under the circumstances,” Courtney said.
“I’m really proud of how we’ve supported each other and kind of just stayed tough. Lots of gritty wins, lots of gritty ends. Any time you get a chance to play in a final, it’s a huge honour.”
WATCH | That Curling Show celebrates Curling Day in Canada
Walker took three losses into the championship round, but won a fifth straight game Saturday to keep the host province in contention for the national women’s curling crown.
Alberta came from behind to cap the championship round with a 9-4 win over Chelsea Carey’s Wild Card One.
“I think our confidence is high,” Walker said. “To run the table in the championship round is a pretty special thing I think for us to have just done.”
Six-time champion Jones avoided elimination by drawing for the extra-end win over Einarson.
Her Winnipeg foursome must win three games Sunday for Jones to claim a record seventh title.
“Adrenalin usually takes you through those games,” Jones said. “We didn’t play a lot of games coming in. We’re well-rested.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to play three. At the end of it we’ll be tired, but I think when you’re playing, you’ll be fine.”
This is how Canadians celebrate the roaring game
The 2021 Tournament of Hearts is one of four Curling Canada events to be held in a spectator-free, controlled environment at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.
The pandemic thwarting many provincial and territorial playdowns prompted Curling Canada to add two wild-card teams to the Hearts field for a total of 18, which in turn shrunk the playoff window.
Instead of the traditional four teams in a Page playoff, only three advance.
Einarson is attempting to win the first back-to-back Hearts titles since Homan in 2013-14.
Sunday’s victor earns $100,000 in prize money and a return trip to the 2022 Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.
The runner-up earns $60,000 and $40,000 goes to the third-place team.
The winner doesn’t have a world championship, however, in which to wear the Maple Leaf.
The March 19-28 tournament in Schaffhausen, Switzerland was cancelled by the World Curling Federation because of the pandemic.
The 2020 world championship in Prince George, B.C., was called off for the same reason, so Einarson wasn’t able to represent Canada there.
Beth Peterson’s Wild Card Three (7-5) finished with a 10-3 win over Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges (6-6) on Saturday.
Wild Card One, with Carey filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury, and Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson also finished 6-6.
Stastny's overtime goal gives Jets win over Habs – TSN
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets managed to weather the storm as the Montreal Canadiens unloaded a barrage of shots. And then it took the Jets just 36 seconds in overtime to end the game.
Paul Stastny‘s overtime goal clinched Winnipeg’s 2-1 victory over Montreal, extending the Jets’ winning streak to four games.
“I think overtime is a crapshoot, especially three-on-three, right? So, you might as well just go out there and play aggressive,” Stastny said.
Nikolaj Ehlers also scored for Winnipeg (13-6-1). The Jets were victorious despite being outshot 41-21. Connor Hellebuyck made 40 saves in the winning effort at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.
“I was able to get into a good flow. I thought the guys in front of me blocked a lot of key shots tonight and really controlled where the shots were coming from. Not only that, but we were controlling the rebounds. I think the whole team’s defence was very solid down our middle tonight,” Hellebuyck said after the game.
Nick Suzuki scored for Montreal (9-6-5) while goaltender Jake Allen made 19 saves in the loss.
Montreal’s winless streak is now at five games. The streak includes back-to-back losses to the Jets. Montreal held a 3-1 lead on Winnipeg Thursday night before the Jets scored five unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 win.
Despite the loss, Suzuki says head coach Dominique Ducharme told the team they were heading in the right direction and that they deserved better Saturday night.
“I thought we played a great game. Outshot them a lot, had a lot of chances. Just didn’t come out on the right side of the scoreboard,” Suzuki said.
Ducharme is still looking for his first NHL win as head coach. The Quebecer was named interim head coach Wednesday after the Canadiens fired Claude Julien and associate head coach Kirk Muller.
Saturday night’s affair saw both teams fail to score in the opening period. Montreal, however, doubled Winnipeg’s shot total, leading 14-7.
Neither team took a penalty until the second period when each had a pair of minors, with Jeff Petry serving time for both of Montreal’s infractions.
As Petry sat in the box for his second penalty, Ehlers opened the scoring with a power play goal. Jets forward Andrew Copp won a faceoff in the offensive zone and flicked the puck behind him. Ehlers was first to it, sniping it past Allen for his 11th of the season.
Suzuki replied with his fifth of the season almost five minutes later. The goal was unassisted. The forward, while standing to the goalie’s left, banked the puck off of Hellebuyck and into the net. Hellebuyck had covered the left post, but the puck still beat him.
“It was one of those goals that you could do 99 out of 100 (times) it’s not going to go in. I got caught on the one which seems to be a theme this year.” Hellebuyck said.
The Canadiens and Jets remained deadlocked in the third, but it was Montreal that applied most of the pressure. The Canadiens outshot the Jets in every period, including the third where they led 14-2.
As the game headed into overtime it took Stastny only 36 seconds to get the puck past Allen and give the Jets the win. Ehlers fired a shot on net that was trickling towards the goal line after it beat Allen, and Stastny then pushed it in.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021.
Everything came up Maple Leafs in most complete win of year over Oilers – Sportsnet.ca
If you could, you’d bottle it.
You’d have scientists extract the formula and you’d reproduce this exact recipe of hockey every night the puck drops.
NHLers so often trot out “the full 60” objective that it doesn’t just feel cliché. That lofty achievement feels almost mythical, unattainable in a game composed of a zillion tiny mistakes on a slippery surface.
That a full 60 was executed without its No. 1 goaltender in the pipes or the league’s No. 1 sniper in uniform made Toronto’s NHL-best 16th victory all the more impressive.
“Everything really came up Leafs here tonight,” Sheldon Keefe said.
The coach began running down the checklist:
• The Leafs’ slumping power play ended its 0-for-12 stretch as William Nylander sniped through Joe Thornton’s stirred net-front havoc in the game’s lone 5-on-4 opportunity.
• Toronto did not commit a single penalty, marking the first time all season the deadly Oilers failed to draw a power play.
• Connor McDavid was limited to one shot on goal and finished the evening a dash-3, his worst stat line in more than five years. And he wore that frustration on his face.
• The Leafs scored in each period and produced even-strength goals from three different lines.
• After being sidelined for a month with a leg injury, Jack Campbell pitched his first shutout as a Maple Leaf — a 30-save gem — and improved his record to a pristine 3-0-0.
• Justin Holl instantly stuck up for Campbell when the goaltender’s head was clipped by a net-charging Tyler Ennis.
• And captain John Tavares thrived on the top unit in Auston Matthews’ absence, drawing the penalty, contributing two assists (his first multi-point effort in more than two weeks) and winning 72 per cent of his faceoffs. A seamless promotion to the Mitch Marner and Thornton line.
“John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended through this season,” Keefe said. “You ask a lot more of him here tonight, taking on tougher matchups, even more matchups, against their best players, and I thought he was outstanding. He was above the puck all night long. I don’t know how many shots he ended up with (a team-high five), but he had his own opportunities to score.”
McDavid, too, had a couple chances early — a wicked backhander off the rush blocked by Campbell, and a cut to the slot denied by T.J. Brodie’s deft stickwork — but once Toronto seized the lead, the visitors’ defensive structure took hold.
Sometime between Jason Spezza fooling Mike Smith with his patented fake-the-clapper, unleash-the-wrister snipe and Zach Hyman firing a beauty in tight, Leon Draisaitl could be seen smashing a Gatorade bottle in disgust.
Dave Tippett chucked his forwards into the Vitamix, but the consistency was off.
Edmonton entered this three-game set the hotter team with the hotter goalie.
Sweep the Leafs, and they’d seize first place. Now, the Oilers must regroup and figure out how to beat a Toronto team that has twice come out on top when Matthews takes time to rest his injured wrist.
“Even without Auston, they’re a very good team,” Tippett said. “They don’t get to be on top of the standings without being a good team.”
Campbell said Matthews was “fired up in room” when he greeted the boys in his civvies post-game and can’t wait to get back in. Maybe as soon as Monday.
“You lose a guy like that, you’re essentially taking a goal away from your lineup,” said Keefe, commending the defensive commitment. “If you’re going to score one less, you’ve got to make sure you give up one less. I think the players recognize that.
“For the most part, we had four lines, six defencemen and, certainly, the goaltender that were really on the same page here tonight.”
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 28, 2021
The fellas stepped up for Campbell, and Campbell held the fort for them.
“Man, we just played great. Every single guy on this team played amazing tonight,” said Campbell, his forever smile growing like the Leafs’ standings cushion.
“That was a full 60 minutes.”
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