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McDavid notches hat trick as Oilers overpower Canucks – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON– Connor McDavid and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers big guns, embarrassed in their home opener, feasted Thursday on the Vancouver Canucks.

McDavid scored a hat trick and added an assist as the Oilers beat the Canucks 5-2 for their first win of the NHL season.

Leon Draisaitl, the NHL’s top scorer last season, added four assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and added a helper, taking the sting out of a 5-3 loss to the Canucks Wednesday.

McDavid said all phases of the game were working, adding that high scores and defensive lapses may be a feature of the truncated 56-game season.

“The power play was good. The (penalty kill) was good,” said McDavid

“I think the hockey games have gone the way I kind of expected, a little bit more high scoring than they might be at this time of year if it was a normal year, and that’s across the league.”

Draisaitl said, “I thought it was a very solid game.

“Yesterday was not the way that we want to show up and we want to play. I thought it was a great response tonight.”

The game was held in front of no fans and empty stands at Rogers Place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mikko Koskinen, making his second start in two nights, turned back 38 shots for the win. Mike Smith was supposed to start but was declared inactive, forcing Koskinen into back-to-back starts.

Nate Schmidt and Tyler Motte replied for Vancouver and Thatcher Demko stopped 41 shots in the loss.

Both teams now have one win and one loss in what will be an abbreviated regular season, with all seven Canadian teams playing each other exclusively in the North Division, often on back-to-back nights.

“I thought they came out a lot harder than we did to start the game, put us back on our toes early,” said Schmidt.

“We’ve got to get used to this. This is going to happen.

“You play the same team on back to back nights in their own building, it’s going to happen. You know you’re going to get a better effort out of them after we come in and win game one of these mini-series we’re going to be having all year.”

Vancouver defenceman Quinn Hughes had an assist and now has three on the season.

Draisaitl now has five points on the year — all assists.

The Oilers also got their power play back on track. They scored twice with the man advantage after going 0 for 4 on Wednesday. Edmonton had the top power play in the NHL last season at 29.5 per cent effectiveness.

The game saw Edmonton hold the edge in play, but the Canucks refuse to go away.

Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring on the power play at 7:59 of the first period. He jumped on the rebound when a Draisaitl wrist shot clanged off the post, backhanding the puck over the goal-line.

McDavid made it 2-0 on an extraordinary goal with less than one second to go in the period. Draisaitl won the faceoff to Demko’s left, drew the puck back to Kailer Yamamoto, who fired the puck off Demko’s pad. McDavid drove to the net and, with Schmidt draped all over him, flipped the puck up and under the crossbar.

There were four goals in the second period. Schmidt made it 2-1 when he blasted a low slapshot from the point through traffic that bounded in and out of the net so fast it wasn’t immediately clear it had gone in.

McDavid then restored the two-goal lead, on the power play, racing at full speed into the Canuck zone, catching Vancouver defender Alex Edler flat footed, cutting inside and delivering a no-look blazing wrist shot stick side and in.

Motte brought Vancouver back to within one, deflecting a low blue-line slapshot from Travis Hamonic past Koskinen.

Then McDavid again, jumping in front of Demko, taking a seeing-eye pass from Draisaitl and jamming the puck in on the rebound for his seventh NHL regular season hat trick.

The last time he got a hat trick was also in front of no fans, in early August against the Chicago Blackhawks in the so-called bubbled play-in round to determine the 2019-20 season playoff seeding.

After he scored in August, arena staff hustled down the stairs and honoured hockey tradition by tossing ball caps over the glass and onto the ice to mark the hat trick. McDavid later said he found the lid toss an unnecessary distraction.

This time, no hat toss.

Edmonton made it 5-2 with just over eight minutes left in the game. Nugent-Hopkins drove to the net through traffic and redirected a Yamamoto pass past Demko.

Notes: It was the second of 10 meetings between the two teams. Vancouver now heads to Calgary for games on Saturday and Monday. Edmonton hosts Montreal on those same two nights. Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner was called up from the taxi squad to back up Koskinen.

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Stastny's overtime goal gives Jets win over Habs – TSN

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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.

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Everything came up Maple Leafs in most complete win of year over Oilers – Sportsnet.ca

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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.

Well, as far as complete performances go, the precision of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-0 defeat of the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday is about as close as you’ll see.

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.”

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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Defending champion Kerri Einarson secures Scotties playoff berth – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY — Kerri Einarson took a significant step toward defending her Canadian women’s curling championship by skipping her team to a playoff berth Saturday.

Einarson’s foursome out of Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club beat Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-4 to get to a record of 10-1 with a draw remaining Saturday night.

“We’re definitely just focusing on ourselves and what we need to do,” Einarson said. “We’re in control of our own destiny.”

Ontario’s Rachel Homan (9-2), Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones (8-3) and Alberta’s Laura Walker (8-3) were in contention for the two remaining playoff spots heading into the final draw of the championship round.

The top seed emerging from the championship round earns a bye to Sunday evening’s final, while second and third square off in the afternoon semifinal.

A tie for third would be solved by a tiebreaker game in the morning.

The 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is one of four Curling Canada events to be held in a spectator-free, controlled environment at the WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

The COVID-19 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 the first back-to-back Hearts titles since Rachel Homan in 2013 and 2014.

Sunday’s victor earns $100,000 in prize money and a return trip to the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.

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.

Six-time champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba thumped Ontario’s Homan 9-1 on Saturday afternoon before facing Einarson at night.

Jones had struggled the previous evening in a loss to Alberta, but the skip and her teammates were on their game against three-time champion Homan.

“We definitely regrouped and decided we needed to step it up a little bit,” Jones said. “Last night’s loss doesn’t impact our confidence at all. I think that just comes with experience.”

It wasn’t the first time that Jones’ lead Lisa Weagle faced former skip Homan, but it was the first time at a Tournament of Hearts.

Homan, third Emma Miskew and Weagle won three Canadian titles and a world title together. They also represented Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics with Joanne Courtney.

Homan dropped Weagle from her lineup last year and replaced her with Sarah Wilkes.

Weagle met her former teammates Nov. 12 in an Okotoks, Alta., event. Homan won the game 7-1.

There was a time when Weagle might have felt extra satisfaction in beating Homan for the first time, but the all-star lead says that time has passed.

“If you’d asked me that a few months ago, or over the summer, probably,” Weagle said.

“Today, I was really just out there playing for me and I was playing for my team. I just wanted to find a new level of excellence and play really well and I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing here.

“It wasn’t really my focus today that we were playing them. I was definitely excited for the game, but I was focused more on myself.”

Quebec, Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson, and wild-card teams skipped by Beth Peterson and Chelsea Carey are out of contention with their fifth losses.

Alberta’s Walker stayed in the hunt with a 9-4 win over Saskatchewan.

The host province was to take on Carey’s Wild Card One and Homan faced Saskatchewan on Saturday evening.

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