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Oilers Takeaways: Lack of attention to detail proves costly vs. Blues – Sportsnet.ca

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It’s the little things that decide games like the one played in St. Louis Wednesday night. Little things like a missed check, or a late goal post.

Dull, tiny details, like getting pucks deep, hustling to the bench for a change instead of gliding, or bearing down on your check, instead of simply skating along behind him. St. Louis is a better team than Edmonton and they mostly dominated this game, but in the dying moments there were the Oilers, on a power play, the goalie pulled, and all over the Blues with a chance to grab at least one point.

So how, after all of that, do you lose 2-1 in St. Louis? Failure to get two pucks deep into the Blues zone, that both went the other way and behind Mikko Koskinen. A slow change on a Brayden Schenn breakaway goal, and a not-quite-good-enough checking job by Connor McDavid on MacKenzie MacEachern’s 2-0 goal. A late post by Leon Draisaitl.

Details. The Blues were that little bit better at them, and when this Blues team buckles down like they did Wednesday, they are awfully tough to beat. Just a little bit too much for the Oilers on the scoreboard, but a lot more than that to the naked eye.

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Koskinen continues to be Oilers best player

We all wondered how long head coach Dave Tippett could stick with his two-on, two-off goaltending system, where Koskinen and Mike Smith took turns playing a pair, with neither grabbing the reins and becoming the No. 1.

Well, perhaps we are there.

For the second straight game, Koskinen was Edmonton’s best player, stopping 42 of 44 shots against the Blues. On Monday in Dallas, Koskinen stole a 2-1 win when he stopped all but one of the Stars’ 35 shots on net.

That’s 76 of 79 saves in the past two games, and it’s a certainty that Koskinen will get one of two games at home this Friday and Saturday, against Pittsburgh and Montreal.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

“Koskinen was excellent,” head coach Dave Tippett told reporters in St. Louis. “He kept us in the game. It’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to manufacture a little more offence.

“When the goaltender is that good you’d like to do a little more in front of him,” said Tippett, who thought his team’s game could have been better. “We need to make a few more plays, get up the ice cleaner get ourselves up the ice with some speed.”

Mike Smith may get the Pittsburgh game, considering his finest effort this season came in Pittsburgh, where he stopped 51 shots in a 2-1 overtime win. But his saves percentage stands at .896 compared to .919 for Koskinen. If this weekend’s back-to-back at home sees more separation between the two, you may see Koskinen start the three remaining games in the rest of December, against Vancouver, Calgary and the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve.

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Quick Hits

Blues coach Craig Berube had the toughest of calls, whether to challenge the Oilers goal at 18:10 of the third period for goaltender interference, knowing that if he was wrong the Oilers would finish the game on the power play. He challenged and lost, and Edmonton very nearly tied the game. “It’s always risky,” he told reporters post-game. “ It’s tough, I don’t know — the rules kind of vary all the time. I’m not going to talk about that. There’s nothing to say. It is always tough (to make that decision), but you keep it 2-0. Whatever, our guys killed it off. It’s good.” … Adam Larsson took a puck to the mouth, then came back to block a sure goal with the score still 1-0. It was, he said afterwards, “a great hockey match.” … The final shots on goal were 44-36 for St. Louis, but the Oilers peppered Jake Allen late as they tried to come back. The Oilers had 18 shots in the first 40 minutes, and 18 in the final 20 … Edmonton’s powerplay went 0-for-5, a rare night when it let the team down. It was the first time in nine games it failed to convert … Draisaitl had eight shots on net, whistling off the post with 19 seconds to play.

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Edmonton hosts Pittsburgh on Friday, then the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Edmonton has lost five of its past six games.

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Four-goal explosion in second period powers Canadiens 7-1 over Jets – Montreal Gazette

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It was Montreal’s first win over Winnipeg in four games this season, moving them three points behind the second-place Jets in the Canadian division.

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Carey Price made 28 saves and all four lines contributed at least one goal as the Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 Saturday at the Bell Centre.

It was Montreal’s first win over Winnipeg in four games this season and the Canadiens moved three points behind the second-place Jets in the Canadian division. Montreal also enjoys a game in hand.

The Canadiens blew this game open with four goals in the second period.

After Tyler Toffoli scored his 15th goal of the season, Brendan Gallagher scored twice. Both of Gallagher’s goals — his eighth and ninth of the season — were scored from the slot after taking a couple of no-look passes from long-time linemate Phil Danault.

The Gallagher goals brought an end to Connor Hellebuyck’s evening. The 2020 Vézina Trophy winner gave up four goals on 19 shots.

Laurent Brossoit replaced Hellebuyck, but he received a rude welcome when he was beaten by Joel Armia on the first shot he faced.

The game got off to a slow start, but opened up after Mathieu Perreault was sent off for high-sticking Shea Weber midway through the first period. The much-improved Montreal power play didn’t look much-improved as it managed only one shot on goal, but it did provide the Canadiens with some momentum.

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Hellebuyck made a blocker save on Jonathan Drouin, who was sent off on a breakaway by Gallagher’s stretch pass, but Hellebuyck was out of the picture when Josh Anderson opened the scoring at 15:29.

Anderson, who returned to to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury, took advantage of a lucky bounce to give Montreal the lead. Jesperi Kotkaniemi attempted to rim the puck and Hellebuyck went behind his net to cut off the pass. But the puck never got there because it hit a stanchion in the glass and came out to Anderson, who put the puck into an empty net for his 10th goal of the season.

Fourth-liner Paul Byron and defenceman Jeff Petry added goals for Montreal in the third period, while Perreault scored a power-play goal to spoil Price’ shutout bid.

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Dominique Ducharme did some line juggling and put his two top goal-scorers, Toffoli and Anderson on a line with Kotkaniemi. The young Finn responded with what might have been his best game of the season as he distributed the puck well and was a dominant player in the faceoff circle. He won 13 of 15 draws for an 87-per-cent success rate. Danault won seven of his 12 faceoffs and Jake Evans won four of six. The Canadiens as a team won 57 per cent.

The Canadiens flew Sunday to Vancouver, where they face the Canucks to open a six-game Western Canada trip. The schedule maker has done a favour for fans in Montreal because none of the games start later than 8 p.m. ET.

phickey@postmedia.com

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Friends and family mourn Walter Gretzky at funeral in Brantford – Toronto Star

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The world’s most renowned hockey dad, remembered for having a “love for life” and being important to the “culture of Canada” by his legendary hockey son, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Walter Gretzky’s funeral took place at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brantford, Ont., but was significantly scaled back from anywhere near the scope and grandeur fitting the mark he left, with capacity limited to 30 per cent due to pandemic protocols.

“I don’t think I met a prouder Canadian than my dad,” Wayne Gretzky said of his father. Dozens of community members, including throngs of youngsters donning hockey uniforms, gathered outside the church, located near the home where Gretzky raised his family.

Wayne told the sombre gathering of family and friends that his father, who suffered a brain aneurysm in the early 1990s and had a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, had sustained a bad hip injury a few weeks ago.

Gretzky clung to life for 21 days, with his family sitting with him, similar to how he fought after numerous other debilitating health complications over the years. He died March 4. He was 82.

“We thought weeks ago that the end was here,” Wayne told the mourners. “He had a love for life and he didn’t want to leave.”

Wayne called his late father a remarkable man who had a “heart of gold.” He said the world would be better off if there were many more people like him.

“It’s been a tough time,” Wayne said.

He thanked the community for leaving food and sandwiches as the family waited for the worst.

Wayne told a fond story about how his father missed the birth of one of his sons, Brent, so that the two of them could attend a tournament in Whitby.

When bothered by family and friends about missing the birth of his boy, an irritated Gretzky responded, “Yes, but we got the trophy,” Wayne recounted.

“Every grandchild loved him,” Wayne said describing Walter’s close relationship to his grandchildren. “They understand how important he was, not only to our family but to the culture of Canada.”

Gretzky was remembered as a man of faith who cherished family, hockey and church. The gathering also heard how he treated everyone equally and was willing to volunteer his time and raise money for charities.

“Walter was great with kids, our kids, and all those kids he coached in minor league over the years, and those kids who came up to him for an autograph,” said Tim Dobbin, the former parish priest at St. Mark’s who presided over the funeral.

People lift hockey sticks to pay their respects across the street where Walter Gretzky's funeral service was being held in Brantford, Ont., on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Wayne tweeted the news of his father’s death on behalf of the family late Thursday:

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“He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years but he never let it get him down … He was truly the Great One and the proudest Canadian we know. We love you Dad.”

Walter Gretzky rose from humble beginnings to become the patriarch of this country’s most legendary hockey family.

Wayne honed his skills in a backyard rink that Walter built for his children and neighbourhood kids. It was dubbed “Wally Coliseum.” That’s where he taught his sons the basics of the game.

Walter was born on the family farm in Canning, Ont., in 1938, where his mom made “good, old country Polish food,” including perogies that were “second to none,” he wrote in his autobiography, “On Family, Hockey and Healing.” His father, from Russia, specialized in making wine.

Wayne Gretzky (centre) poses with the Stanley Cup with father Walter and brother Glen after the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton, May 19, 1984.

Walter went to work for Bell Canada as a technician after finishing school, and is reported to have lost hearing in one ear after an on-the-job injury. He stayed with the company until 1991, when he retired after 34 years.

Wayne had barely learned to walk when Walter had him out on his backyard patch of ice, teaching him to skate.

His eldest son became a child phenomenon at hockey, annually scoring hundreds of goals and skating rings around older, stronger kids.

Walter also coached two other sons. Keith Gretzky is assistant general manager of the Oilers. Brent Gretzky played 13 games in the NHL, all with Tampa Bay, and played a season in the Maple Leafs system when the top farm team was in St. John’s, N.L.

Friends recalled that Walter was also an astute coach of other boys in the Brantford minor hockey system, including former Boston Bruins tough guy Stan Jonathan.

Kids at the 2007 Wayne Gretzky international hockey tournament in Brantford knew where to go for an autograph.

In 2007, he was named to the Order of Canada, recognized for his contributions to minor hockey and support for numerous charities and non-profits, including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

In 2010, he carried the Olympic torch hours before the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Games.

That same year, an elementary school in Brantford was named in his honour.

Walter Gretzky’s wife, Phyllis, died in 2005. He leaves behind daughter Kim and sons Wayne, Keith, Glen and Brent.

With files from Star staff

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: jasonmiller@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic

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Large hits three-run homer, Jays beat Phillies – TSN

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DUNEDIN — Cullen Large belted a three-run home run to lead the Toronto Blue Jays past the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 in exhibition baseball action Saturday.

Large’s blast anchored a five-run inning for Toronto, which finished with 10 hits in a contest that was halted in the seventh.

Kirby Snead (1-0) took the win, allowing no hits and no runs over a 1 1/3 innings. He had a strikeout while issuing two walks.

Toronto used six pitchers in the game. The Blue Jays, who’ve won two straight, face the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Toronto also claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Boston Red Sox while designating right-hander Jacob Waguespack for assignment.

Toronto claimed Payamps from Boston on Feb. 11 but the Red Sox claimed him back 11 days later. The six-foot-two, 225-pound pitcher has made four career major-league appearances, allowing three earned runs over seven innings.

Payamps was originally signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 and has compiled a 41-43 record and 4.15 earned-run average in 145 minor-league games.,

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

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