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Matthews scores in OT, Leafs complete comeback to down Oilers –



TORONTO — Auston Matthews has seen shots clank off the post and others seemingly destined for the back of the net plucked out of mid-air time and again in recent weeks.

So, the NHL’s leading goal scorer can be excused for feeling he was owed a bounce.

Matthews scored on a double deflection 54 seconds into overtime Saturday as the Maple Leafs roared back from a 3-1 deficit with under eight minutes to go in the third period to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3.

The star centre took a pass from Morgan Rielly in the extra period and fired a shot that hit the stick of Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl before bouncing in off defenceman Darnell Nurse’s skate for his 22nd goal of the season.

Matthews, who had scored just three times on 46 shots in his last 12 games coming into the showdown of North Division heavyweights, hit his league-high eighth post in the second period and had six other attempts denied by Oilers netminder Mike Smith before finally connecting.

“I’m going to take that, for sure,” said Matthews, who also had an assist. “It’s frustrating when the puck’s not going in, but as long as I’m getting chances I just try to stay positive and continue to push and shoot the puck and continue to think, ‘The next one’s going in, the next one’s going in.’

“Not really how I drew it up or ever envisioned it, but I’ll take that.”

William Nylander, with a goal and an assist, John Tavares and Pierre Engvall also scored for Toronto (22-10-2), which extended its winning streak to three games. Jack Campbell made 17 saves, while Alex Galchenyuk added two assists in another strong performance as the Leafs improved to 6-1-1 against the Oilers this season.

“Resiliency,” Matthews said of what stood out about his group. “We just stuck with it.”

Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for Edmonton (21-13-1), while Tyson Barrie, with a goal and an assist against his former team, and Nurse also scored for the Oilers. Mike Smith made 27 saves. Connor McDavid, who tops the NHL scoring race with 62 points, including 21 goals, added two assists.

“It’s a good team,” Draisaitl said. “We’re a really good team. It’s always tight games.”

The Leafs and Oilers will play their ninth and final meeting of the regular season Monday back at Scotiabank Arena.

Edmonton saw live action for the first time in a week after their three-game series in Montreal was postponed when two members of the Canadiens were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Monday.

“Our energy was all right,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “Our execution was poor.”

Toronto swept Edmonton three straight in a series that saw the Leafs boss proceedings by a combined 13-1 scoreline and hold McDavid without a point the last times the teams met.

The Oilers have rebounded nicely since that troubling stretch, going 7-2-1 to close the gap in the division thanks in large part to McDavid’s seven goals and 15 assists over that span. Toronto, meanwhile, improved to 4-6-0 since that series at Rogers Place.

Down 3-1 in the third, Tavares got the home side within one with 7:39 left in regulation when he took a between-the-legs feed from Galchenyuk, who returned to Toronto’s second line after starting the game on the fourth unit, and snapped his 10th past Smith.

“It’s a big part of my game,” Tavares said of contributing offensively. “This year it hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like.

“Nice to get it and help the team get back in it.”

Nylander then fired home his 13th with 3:22 remaining off another feed from Galchenyuk to tie it before Matthews made the decisive play in OT.

“I’m feeling better and better,” said Galchenyuk, the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft now with his seventh organization since 2018. “The more you play, the more comfortable you get.

“I’m happy with the progress I’m making.”

Toronto grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:14 of the second on a strange sequence. Engvall scooped a shot towards the Edmonton net in tight, tried to swipe at it with his glove and saw the puck bounce off Smith’s helmet and in for his third of the campaign.

The play was initially ruled a goal, then waived off after the officials judged Engvall touched the puck with his hand before the call was finally reversed a final time following a video review.

Edmonton got that one back at 6:47 when Nurse joined the rush, took a pass from McDavid and beat Campbell through the five-hole for the defenceman’s career-high 11th goal.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” said Campbell, who improved to 6-0-0 this season. “I just didn’t have it tonight. That’s what a really great team does — they pick guys up.

“They picked me up tonight.”

Matthews then hit that league-leading eighth post on a wicked shot that beat Smith clean.

The Oilers took their first lead with 5:55 left in the period when McDavid raced down the left side against Leafs defenceman Justin Holl before finding a late-arriving Draisaitl to bury his 19th.

Barrie, who had a one forgettable season with Toronto in 2019-20 prior to signing with Edmonton in free agency, made it 3-1 with 1:54 remaining in the period when he took a no-look feed from Draisaitl in front and roofed his fifth on Campbell, who made a third straight start with Frederik Andersen still dealing with a lower-body injury.

“We stopped playing,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe of his team’s second period. “We got the goal and we just lost our legs from there. We stopped skating, we fought the puck, didn’t get through the neutral zone very well.

“We had, at 5 on 5, nearly nothing happening around the net.”

A Toronto power play on an ugly 1-for-21 run got a chance early in the third, but Smith robbed Matthews on a one-timer and Tavares hit his second post before the late fireworks.

“The second period, we definitely didn’t play our best hockey,” Matthews said. “But in the third period we just clawed our way back.”

“Not really how we drew it up in overtime, but a fortunate bounce and we’ll take that any day of the week.”

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UEFA threaten to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions



By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – European soccer‘s governing body UEFA has warned clubs linked to a breakaway Super League that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

In a joint statement–statement-by-uefa-english-fa-rfef-figc-premier-league-laliga-le with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations, UEFA said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts and bans from domestic leagues, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said it had learnt that clubs from those countries “may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League”.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we….(and) also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” UEFA said.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.

In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation” – meaning players would be banned from the World Cup.

Sunday’s UEFA statement said: “The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”


(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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Netherlands and Poland seal narrow Billie Jean King Cup playoff wins



(Reuters) – The Netherlands and Poland both needed deciding doubles wins to battle through their Billie Jean King Cup playoffs on Saturday but Britain, Italy and Canada all enjoyed easier passages.

In Den Bosch, the Dutch were without world number 11 Kiki Bertens for the second day because of injury and found themselves trailing China 2-1 after Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening singles.

But Aranxta Rus beat Wang Xinyu to level the tie and then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to defeat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan to send the hosts through.

It was equally tight in Poland where the hosts were pushed to the brink by Brazil.

Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Alves took the tie into a deciding doubles with a win over Katarzyna Kawa but the Poles prevailed 3-2 as Kawa and Magdalena Frech came back from a set down to beat Meligeni Alves and Luisa Stefani.

Kazakhstan also won a deciding rubber to see off Argentina.

Britain led 2-0 overnight against Mexico in London but Marcela Zacarias beat Heather Watson to keep alive the tie.

Katie Boulter proved too strong for Giuliana Olmos though to clinch the tie for the hosts.

Italy beat Romania 3-1 while Canada‘s teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her country’s path as she gave her side an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia thanks to a three-set win over Nina Stojanovic.

Ukraine eased past Japan 4-0 while Anastasija Sevastova secured Latvia’s 3-1 victory over India.

The eight winners move forward to next year’s qualifying round where they will hope to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

The old Fed Cup was re-branded last year and named after the American great and 12-times Grand Slam singles champion who won the inaugural tournament nearly 60 years ago.

This year’s 12-team Finals were postponed because of the pandemic and a new date has yet to be finalised.


(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year



(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.

With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.

F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.

The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.

“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.

The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.

“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”

Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.

One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.

The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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