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Oilers' comeback over Maple Leafs further cements growth of Nurse, Turris – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — At 31, Kyle Turris can see the end from here. He’s in the fight of his hockey life to push it back, to become a player that gets counted on again, the way he used to be through most of his 748-game career.

At 26, Darnell Nurse has found a new level. A place in the game he’s never been before, right there among the best defencemen in the National Hockey League. As he approaches his 400th game, he has figured out what so many said he would never solve.

Now the play builds when he carries the puck over the blue line, where it used to fizzle out.

Each player scored for Edmonton in a crucial, 3-2 overtime win at Toronto on Monday, Nurse solidifying himself as Edmonton’s No. 1 defenceman, Turris, jabbing his claws into that third-line centreman job that he lost early this season.

“We played a stronger second and a better third. We’re coming together as a team,” said Turris.

Nurse buried a shot on a two-on-one with Connor McDavid for the overtime winner, the kind of goal Turris used to score. Turris, meanwhile, had an Adam Larsson shot carom off his pants and into the Leafs goal — the exact type of goal that went off Nurse in overtime the previous game, when Auston Matthews’ shot ricocheted off his foot and past Mike Smith for a Leafs game-winner.

“That’ll be the joke, right? Two overtime goals, back-to-back,” Nurse chuckled. “It’s good to be on the other side of it this time.”

Nurse’s goal, his 12th of the season, makes him the leading goal scorer among NHL defencemen. He’s never scored more than 10 in a season — an 82-game season — and was always that defenceman who made the right play all the way to the offensive blue-line, but incrementally the wrong one, the closer he was to the opposing goal.

What’s changed?

“I’m generating more from the chances I have,” Nurse said. “Over the years I’ve found a way to get into good scoring positions, but I haven’t really capitalized. This year I’m getting myself back to those spots, and just shooting. We have great players on our team who find you when you get open. I just try to get to those spots.”

Turris is all in on getting back to those spots, areas on the ice and places in the game that he once owned but now rents, periodically.

He came here as a free agent, billed as the right-shot, third-line centreman that would round out the Oilers’ top-nine. With the trade deadline approaching, that GM Ken Holland is shopping for a right-handed third centre who can win faceoffs tells you all you need to know about how Turris’ season has gone.

“I know I have to play better, and I want to contribute more,” the likeable veteran said, happy to have scored — even if the puck went in off his butt, just his second goal of the season. “The timing of it has all been frustrating, but the bounce tonight, I feel like my legs are starting to come around… I know I need to play better, but I feel like I’m moving in that direction.”

Nashville thought Turris was done. That’s why they bought him out.

Then he came to Edmonton and played like Predators GM David Poile was right. Turris played his best game of the season, finally, on March 8. He went into COVID protocol and didn’t play again until Monday, where he matched up pretty well against a deep, good Maple Leafs team.

“I was happy for Turris. He’s gone through a lot,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “If anybody deserved to have one go in off his ass, it’s him.”

While we are slowly beginning to hear Nurse’s name tied to the 2022 Canadian Olympic team, Turris is another ineffective half-season away from the possibility of collecting two buy-out checks from two different teams. Everyone wants to see him succeed — that’s how well-liked Turris is within the game — but it comes down to production, and the veteran knows it.

Meanwhile, that third-line centre gig is still sitting there, waiting to be claimed. Or reclaimed.

“Yes,” Turris acknowledged. “Like I said, I know I need to play better. I didn’t have a good first however many games this season. I know what I can do, and I know what I can contribute. I just need to show everyone that I can.”

And isn’t it the same with his team?

The Oilers knew they could beat Toronto — they’d beaten them twice already this season — but the cold hard fact was that a loss on Monday and Toronto would be able to lord a five-game winning streak over Edmonton, should they meet in the playoffs.

Toronto was the better team in the game’s first half, and perhaps on the whole. But Mike Smith continued his renaissance season in goal, and stoned Matthews in overtime to create the rebound that went up ice and ended up in Toronto’s net.

It closes the season series at 6-1-2 for Toronto, 3-5-1 for Edmonton. But take away that three-game Leafs sweep in Edmonton, and you likely get a better picture of the parity between the two clubs.

“We look at the body of work,” Nurse said. “The six games that we played tight, hard, are more indicative of who we are as a team. They’re good games. You never know — you may be meeting late on in the playoffs.”

There was more on the line in this game than the Oilers were letting on. You knew it, they just wouldn’t say it.

“I sat here this morning and you all had questions about if we’re a team that was afraid to play in this type of series against this type of team,” Nurse told the media. “This shows what we’re capable of as a team.”

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Olympics-U.S. women to face Australia in women’s football at Tokyo Games

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(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s national team will face Australia, Sweden and New Zealand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, while in the men’s competition 2016 winners Brazil will take on Germany following the group stage draw on Wednesday.

The American women’s team are the reigning world champions and four-time winners of the Olympic tournament and will start as favourites in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 winners Germany failing to qualify.

Team GB women have drawn 2016 bronze medallists Canada, Chile and hosts Japan. Making only their second Olympic tournament appearance, Team GB will be led by England’s interim coach Hege Riise.

On the men’s side, Brazil will take on Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.

Mexico, the 2012 gold medallists, were pitted against hosts Japan, South Africa and France.

The men’s team are usually restricted to selecting players under the age of 23, with just three overage players allowed.

However, the age bracket has been raised for the Tokyo Games in line with the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona

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Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.

 

(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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