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Muller must redeem himself, lean on Canadiens’ leaders in must-win Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — A few hours after the Montreal Canadiens suffered a devastating loss that put their season on the rocks, the Western Conference’s 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks attempted to stave off elimination against the Vegas Golden Knights.

They were unsuccessful in their bid, but at least they went down swinging.

Guess who their two most-used forwards were in the 4-3 loss? Jonathan Toews played 24 shifts and Patrick Kane played 26. The former opened the scoring, the latter gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead in the second period and both players double shifted after Alex Tuch scored what proved to be the winner for the Golden Knights early in the third.

Why? Because when it’s all on the line, you invariably go with the players you pay to deliver in those situations. The players who have proven time and time again they’re willing to do anything to put the puck in the net and make the difference.

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No disrespect to Dominik Kubalik, the 24-year-old rookie who scored 30 goals to earn a Calder Trophy nomination before starting off his Stanley Cup Playoff career with a record-breaking five-point game, but his 16 minutes versus the 18 and 22 Toews and Kane respectively played was perfectly justifiable.

We wonder if Brendan Gallagher was still brooding in his hotel room as the Blackhawks were packing their bags to exit the Edmonton bubble. The heart-and-soul forward for the Montreal Canadiens, their leading goal scorer in each of the last three seasons, had seen the ice for just over 13 minutes in a game the Flyers led for all but six-and-a-half-minutes and won by a score of 2-0. He had been benched for much of the second period, and for all but four shifts in the third, and he appeared furious as he sat and answered questions about it afterwards.

“I guess if the coach feels other guys are going to do the job better than you, that’s his job,” Gallagher said.

He didn’t have to tell us how he felt about Kirk Muller’s decision to play rookie Jake Evans — he of two goals and four assists in 17 NHL contests, regular season and post-season combined — in his spot; about how frustrated he was to not be given a chance to make the difference, a chance to get his first goal of these playoffs in the most crucial game of the year. It was written all over his face.

Understanding that Gallagher isn’t Toews or Kane — he’s never won a Stanley Cup, let alone three of them, and he hadn’t performed at nearly the same level for the Canadiens as either player did for Chicago in the lead up to Tuesday’s games — it’s impossible to agree with how was used in Game 4.

In fact, Muller’s itchy trigger finger misfired huge on a multitude of changes he made to stimulate a Canadiens goal for the first time since halfway through the third period of Game 2. The interim head coach of the Canadiens, filling in for the convalescing Claude Julien who had a cardiac episode in the hours that followed Game 1, repeated multiple times after his team was shutout in Game 3 that he was just trying to identify “who was going” and get them on the ice as frequently as possible.

That meant putting 20-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi out for the final two minutes of the loss while Gallagher looked on from the bench. In Game 4, it meant parking Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin while Joel Armia, who has one lucky goal and five penalties in these playoffs, jumped on the ice for nine third-period shifts.

We asked Muller how his most reliable players can be expected to carry the team if they can’t get on the ice.

“I think what we’ve got to do is wake up tomorrow — this game’s over — and get ready to find a way to win a hockey game tomorrow night,” he responded, avoiding the question. “So, we’ve got good pros there, they’re proud guys, and I expect them to get up tomorrow and be ready to go and come with a real good fight for tomorrow’s game.”

It’s a game that offers Muller a chance to redeem himself as well, a chance to find a better balance between going with the hot hand and relying on the guys who more often than not will deliver. He’s right about moving on; Game 4 is in the past, as are all the other games of these playoffs in which Gallagher shot but couldn’t score.

Game 5 is on the horizon, and a coach who played 19 seasons in this league and won two Stanley Cups along the way surely knows that this is the time to lean on your leaders.

If Muller doesn’t do it, these Canadiens are likely going down looking instead of swinging.

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James White misses Sunday's game after father dies in car crash, mother in critical condition – Yahoo Canada Sports

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="New England Patriots running back James White will miss Sunday’s game after his father was killed in a car crash earlier in the day, according to Fox Sports 640’s Andy Slater.” data-reactid=”16″>New England Patriots running back James White will miss Sunday’s game after his father was killed in a car crash earlier in the day, according to Fox Sports 640’s Andy Slater.

White’s mother also was reportedly in the car and is in critical condition. His father, Tyrone, was a captain in the Miami-Dade Police Department.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The news was later confirmed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.” data-reactid=”20″>The news was later confirmed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to fly White straight to Miami after hearing the news, but White decided he would still fly home with his teammates, according to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. White is reportedly not believed to be at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium.” data-reactid=”21″>Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to fly White straight to Miami after hearing the news, but White decided he would still fly home with his teammates, according to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. White is reportedly not believed to be at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium.

James White on the field before a game last season.
James White is out Sunday for awful reasons. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots, Russell Wilson voice support for White” data-reactid=”33″>Patriots, Russell Wilson voice support for White

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Patriots safety Devin McCourty gave his support to White with a shoutout after scoring a pick six for the first touchdown of the game, yelling “2-8, we love, bro” at the camera in the end zone.” data-reactid=”34″>Patriots safety Devin McCourty gave his support to White with a shoutout after scoring a pick six for the first touchdown of the game, yelling “2-8, we love, bro” at the camera in the end zone.

Seattle’s Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Patriots’ opponent and White’s teammate at Wisconsin, also sent a message of support.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Patriots announced White would be inactive for Sunday night’s game, which they went on to lose 35-30. After the game, Wilson again sent a message to White.” data-reactid=”40″>The Patriots announced White would be inactive for Sunday night’s game, which they went on to lose 35-30. After the game, Wilson again sent a message to White.

“My heart’s heavy because one of my teammates, James White, from Wisconsin, one of the nicest guys, teammates, one of the hardest workers, one of the best people I know, had a tough one,” Wilson said to NBC’s Michele Tafoya. “My heart’s been heavy all day thinking about him … James, I’m praying for you man if you can hear me.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Many other former teammates of White’s also came out in support of him, including Tom Brady.” data-reactid=”42″>Many other former teammates of White’s also came out in support of him, including Tom Brady.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="White had 30 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards on eight touches in the Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Without him, Rex Burkhead saw the most action in the passing game out of the Patriots backfield with four catches and 47 receiving yards.” data-reactid=”43″>White had 30 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards on eight touches in the Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Without him, Rex Burkhead saw the most action in the passing game out of the Patriots backfield with four catches and 47 receiving yards.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”46″>More from Yahoo Sports:

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Nikola Jokic Says Nuggets Miscommunicated On Defense During Final Play – RealGM.com

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Nikola Jokic said that the Denver Nuggets miscommunicated on defense on Anthony Davis’ game-winning three during their 105-103 game 2 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Mason Plumlee started the final possession guarding Davis, with Jerami Grant guarding LeBron James.

Plumlee and Grant both ended up on James, giving Davis space to receive and shoot the ball.

“Either going to be him or LeBron [James to take the last shot], so we kind of knew it. Just happened, a little bit of miscommunication. I think I had a really good contest, to be honest. I think I was right there. As soon as he shot the ball, he shot it really well. Like, I kind of felt it going in,” said Jokic of Davis’ shot.

The Nuggets are now down 2-0 in the series.

Jokic and Michael Malone said that the Nuggets needs to continue fighting in the series, though Malone found a positive in that the Lakers needed a last second shot to win the game.

“The only thing you can talk about tonight is we were in the game. They had to rely on a great shot by a great player to beat us at the buzzer. But as long as we’re putting ourselves in position to win games, that’s all you can ask for. One thing I know about our group, even though we are disappointed, frustrated, angry, we’ll use that motivation to come out and try to take Game 3.”

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Seahawks stuff Cam Newton on final play, beat Patriots in thriller – Sportsnet.ca

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SEATTLE — Russell Wilson continued his sizzling start throwing five more touchdown passes. Unheralded second-year defensive end L.J. Collier made the play that assured those five TD tosses came in a victory.

Collier stuffed Cam Newton at the 1-yard line on the final play, and the Seattle Seahawks held off the New England Patriots 35-30 on Sunday night.

Wilson and Newton — two of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL — claimed the spotlight in a wild primetime showcase. Wilson was masterful, leading Seattle to a 35-23 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining.

But Newton took over the final minutes and yet another Seahawks-Patriots matchup was decided in the closing moments on a play snapped at the 1.

This time, it was the Seahawks erupting off the sideline in celebration.

“It’s an extraordinary moment for football players and for a team. You either come through or you don’t,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s so much intensity in that moment. The guys on the field will never forget it.”

Newton led New England 80 yards in the closing moments. They reached the 1 on a pass to N’Keal Harry with 3 seconds left. On the final play, Newton tried to run power to the left, but was upended by Collier in the biggest play of his young career. Newton, who had two rushing touchdowns in the game, never got close to the goal line.

Collier and Jamal Adams said from the formation it was clear where the Patriots were going with the play.

“Just to finish it off it’s a hell of a play. Imagine if we had fans here today. It would still be shaking,” Collier said.

Newton was excellent in his first road game with the Patriots throwing for 397 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He ran for another 47 yards, but couldn’t get the last three feet to give New England a victory.

“We put ourselves in position to win. When you do that, you’ve just got to finish and we didn’t do that,” Newton said.

Wilson was masterful on the other side, completing 21 of 28 passes for 288 yards. It was his fourth career game with five touchdown passes. Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore, Freddie Swain and Chris Carson all took turns celebrating in the end zone. Carson was the last, running under a 18-yard rainbow toss from Wilson against the blitz with 4:32 left to give the Seahawks a 35-23 lead.

Wilson became the first QB in Seahawks history to throw at least four TDs in consecutive games after he had four TD tosses in Week 1 against Atlanta.

“They’ve got a great quarterback. Glad we only have to play him once every four years,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The entire night in a normal setting would have left CenturyLink Field shaking with delirium, especially after the final play. But the stadium built for noise was empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving fans to celebrate Seattle improving to 2-0 for the second straight year at home.

“You missed the fun of it all. This game is meant to be played in front of thousands and thousands of people, it’s so special,” Wilson said.

Newton did his best to spoil any celebration. His second TD run pulled New England to 35-30 with 2:16 left. It was his eighth career game with at least two rushing TDs, setting an NFL record.

New England held the Seahawks to a three-and-out after Seattle threw on third-and-1 and Wilson couldn’t connect with Lockett on a deep shot.

Newton needed just five plays to move New England from its 19 to the Seattle 36 with 41 seconds left. After a penalty, Newton hit Edelman for 18 yards to the Seattle 13 with 20 seconds left and the pair nearly connected again in the end zone but Newton’s pass was high with 9 seconds remaining. Newton found Harry but was stopped at the 1 and New England used its final timeout, setting the stage for the final play.

Edelman finished with eight catches for 179 yards.

RARE TD

Metcalf’s 54-yard TD catch came against Stephon Gilmore, the reigning defensive player of the year. It was the first TD allowed by Gilmore as the primary defender since 2018. Gilmore shadowed Metcalf most of the night and at one point the two tussled into the Seattle bench.

“Like I said, it’s a physical game,” Metcalf said.

NO WHITE

New England played without running back James White after his father was killed Sunday in a car crash in Florida, authorities said. The wreck that killed Tyrone White happened around 1 p.m. in Cooper City, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. White, who was the captain of the Miami-Dade Police Department, was pronounced dead at the scene.

SAFETY PLAN

Seattle lost its starting and backup free safeties in the first half. Starter Quandre Diggs was ejected late in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New England’s N’Keal Harry. On fourth-and-3 from the Seattle 30, Newton hit Harry on a slant for 13 yards. The rookie was immediately hit by Diggs in a violent collision that snapped Harry’s head backward. The penalty helped lead to Newton’s 1-yard TD run.

Diggs was the first Seattle player ejected since 2017 when Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson were both ejected in a loss at Jacksonville.

Marquise Blair moved from nickel cornerback to safety in place of Diggs, but left with a right knee injury in the second quarter. Blair had to be helped off the field and the team immediately ruled him out. Lano Hill took over at free safety with Blair out.

Carroll said Blair still needs and MRI but they believe it to be a significant injury.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Return home to host Las Vegas.

Seahawks: Host Dallas next Sunday.

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