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Nylander scores in OT to send Maple Leafs past Wild

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TORONTO — William Nylander lost the puck before quickly stealing it back.

Then his eyes lit up.

Wild forward Matt Boldy was the only skater standing in the way of a game-clinching moment in Friday’s extra period.

The Maple Leafs winger didn’t miss.

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Nylander stripped Frederick Gaudreau before dangling around Boldy and outwaiting Filip Gustavsson on a jaw-dropping individual effort at 1:05 of overtime as Toronto defeated Minnesota 2-1.

“I knew there was a forward there,” Nylander said after bagging his 33rd goal of the season. “Just tried to take it to the net. I saw that he was kind of flat-footed.

“It was gonna be hard if I came with some speed.”

Impossible, it turns out, on a night with little action at either end until the decisive sequence.

“Our forwards have that quality — they can strip guys of pucks,” Leafs defenceman Mark Giordano said of Nylander’s thievery. “Willie’s one of the best in the league at it. You’re never safe around him when he’s behind you like that. Then the play, the move to the net, was pretty incredible.

“Nice one to see from the bench.”

David Kampf had the other goal for Toronto (36-15-8), which got 24 saves from Ilya Samsonov. Nylander added an assist to cement his second consecutive 70-point campaign.

“No surprise for me right now,” Samosonov said of his talented teammate’s numbers. “He scores all the time … I’m so happy (to) play with these guys.”

The Leafs improved to 6-8 in OT in 2022-23 after starting an ugly 1-6. That forced head coach Sheldon Keefe to tweak his approach in 3-on-3 by putting a defensive forward out to take the initial faceoff.

Toronto lost Friday’s draw against Minnesota, but got the puck back and was able to change against some tired legs on the other side.

Nylander jumped into the action and did the rest.

“Overtime was an issue for us,” Keefe said. “We changed our strategy a little bit in terms of how we started, how we deploy the guys. The luck has gone our way a little bit in terms of getting us more time with the puck.

“It’s given more opportunities for players like Will to make plays like that.”

Brandon Duhaime replied for Minnesota (32-21-6). Gustavsson made 22 stops as the Wild saw their four-game winning streak snapped after beating Columbus 2-0 on Thursday.

“Absolutely everything,” Minnesota head coach Dean Evason said when asked what he liked about his team’s performance against a rested, high-powered roster. “We liked everything about our game tonight — except missing one point.”

The Leafs, who are set to head out on a five-game road trip that includes their annual swing through Western Canada, won’t play again at Scotiabank Arena until March 11.

“We’re going to be in a lot of those games down the stretch and in the playoffs,” Giordano said of Friday’s razor-thin margin. “You gotta take what’s there and not force it, not get frustrated.”

The third organization involved in last week’s three-team trade that saw the Leafs acquire forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from St. Louis, the Wild opened the scoring in the first period on a strange sequence that saw Duhaime’s centring pass go off Toronto’s Calle Jarnkrok and sneak by Samsonov for his seventh.

The Leafs responded before the period was out when Kampf scored his sixth from in tight off a Nylander setup.

Playing their first game against an opponent in a post-season spot at the start of play since Feb. 1 against Boston, the Leafs got a power play in the second, but were unable to find a way past Gustavsson, whose only other appearance against Toronto came in May 2021 in a 4-3 overtime victory when he was with Ottawa.

The Leafs’ fifth-ranked man advantage got another opportunity with under eight minutes left in the third, but the Minnesota goaltender was equal to a Nylander one-timer.

The Wild went to their first power play with less than four minutes remaining in regulation only to have Samsonov and Toronto’s penalty killers hold firm to force OT.

“Patience is huge,” said Nylander, whose three OT goals this season are tied for the league lead. “We’re 1-1 through 60 minutes. We don’t want to worry and try to force plays.

“We’ll grind them out.”

And then on nights like Friday, win it on a breathtaking moment late.

BLOCK PARTY

Giordano entered play three blocked shots short of Kris Russell’s NHL record of 2,044.

The 39-year-old was credited with three through 40 minutes against the Wild, but will have to wait a little longer to set the new mark in a category the NHL only started tracking consistently in 2005-06.

“Something I’ve done all my career,” Giordano said of putting his body on the line. “I play a lot of penalty kill, so you’re gonna be in those positions.”

COOKIE MONSTER

Acciari shared the story this week about how he got the “Cookie” nickname from Florida teammate Keith Yandle.

“There were no cookies at pre-game meal,” said the Johnston, R.I., product. “I didn’t throw a fit, but was a little upset.

“Keith helped me get that in the pre-game meals.”

So what’s the cookie situation in Toronto?

“Very good,” Acciari said with a smile. “Very happy with them.”

UP NEXT

Leafs: Visit Seattle on Sunday.

Wild: Host Columbus on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

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Switzerland win LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023

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Defending champions Switzerland beat Norway by 6-3 in Sunday afternoon’s gold medal final at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023.

This was a fourth successive world title for skip Silvana Tirinzoni, fourth player Alina Paetz and second Carole Howald. For Paetz and Howald it is a sixth world women’s championship title.

After blanking the first end, Switzerland’s fourth player Alina Paetz opened the scoring with a single point in the second end when she played a raise take-out.

Team Norway © WCF / Jeffrey Au

The Swiss still led by 1-0 in the fourth end when Norway’s fourth player Kristin Skaslien had a complete miss on an attempt to blank the end and gave up a steal of one point to double Switzerland’s lead to 2-0.

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In the fifth end, Skaslien made amends with a draw to put two points on the board for Norway, that levelled the score at 2-2.

After another blank end in the sixth, Switzerland took the lead again in the seventh end when Paetz brought her last stone draw inside three Norwegian stones to score one (3-2).

Norway levelled again at 3-3, in the eighth end when Skaslien played a hit to promote one of her own stones into scoring position.

In the ninth end, Switzerland’s Paetz played her final draw precisely onto the button and inside three Norwegian stones, to score one and nudge her team into a 4-3 lead.

In the tenth end, Norway’s Skaslien had a draw to tie the game and force an extra end, but her shot came up short to hand Switzerland a steal of two points and a 6-3 win.

Swiss celebration after the final © WCF / Jeffrey Au

The gold medal winning Swiss team are: skip and third player Silvana Tirinzoni, fourth Alina Paetz, second Carole Howald and lead Briar Schwaller-Huerlimann, supported by their coach Pierre Charette.

The silver medal winning Norwegian team are: skip Marianne Roervik, fourth Kristin Skaslien, second Mille Haslev Nordbye, lead Martine Roenning and alternate Maia Ramsfjell, supported by their coach Rune Steen Hansen.

Gold medal game result

Norway-Switzerland: 3-6

Engage with the World Curling Federation about the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023 on TwitterInstagramFacebook and Weibo and be searching the hashtags #WWCC2023 #curling

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Despite 17 birdies, Rory McIlroy needs two trips to ‘friendly’ No. 18

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Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele were deadlocked in their quarterfinal match Saturday afternoon at Austin Country Club when both players yanked their tee balls at the par-4 finishing hole.

The closest ball had found the left rough, just 74 yards from the hole but with a large tree blocking a straightforward wedge shot.

McIlroy was pretty sure that ball was his.

“I was walking up there expecting it to be a TaylorMade ball and I saw a Callaway on it, and I was as surprised as anyone, because mine was further left than Xander’s off the tee,” McIlroy said. “Look, you need a little bit of fortune in these things, and that was a bit of luck for me today.”

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McIlroy’s tee ball had trundle farther down the hill, about 30 yards away. Schauffele, meanwhile, was forced to punch his second shot under and to the left of the tree. He missed the birdie chip, leaving McIlroy, who had pitched to 12 feet, a chance to win a match on No. 18 for the second time in one day.

And McIlroy buried it to advance to the semifinals of the final WGC-Dell Match Play.

“It’s sort of been friendly to me all week,” McIlroy said of the last hole, which he’s now played in 4 under in three trips this week. He eagled after driving the green with a 375-yard shot in Thursday’s group-stage win over Denny McCarthy.

“Yeah, hopefully if I can play a little bit better, I don’t need to play 18 tomorrow. But we shall see.”

McIlroy was certainly joking. His closing birdie against Schauffele marked his 17th of the day. He carded nine of those in a 2-up victory over Lucas Herbert in the Round of 16.

“Both ends of the bag are working pretty well,” McIlroy said, “and the stuff in the middle is not too bad, either.”

McIlroy has seemed to get everyone’s best shot so far, and that figures to continue in his semifinal bout opposite Cameron Young on Sunday morning.

Young played 32 holes in 12 under on Saturday.

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Hab posts video showing frustration with punishment for Bruin – CTV News Montreal

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Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman took to social media Friday to vent his frustration with a decision by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

“So I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet. A full-blown intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmm,” a bloody-chinned Hoffman says in a video shared online.

Hoffman is referring to the one-game suspension given to Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer, who cross-checked Hoffman in the face during the first period of the Bruins-Canadiens game Thursday night.

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The incident occurred after the players slashed each other’s sticks leading up to a faceoff.

Greer was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct. Hoffman was able to complete the game sporting a bloodied face and a mask covering the injured area.

In addition to the suspension, Greer will forfeit US$4,121.62 in salary.

The Canadiens lost the game 4-2.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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