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Oilers’ top shooters a bit slow out of the starting gate vs. Flames – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The biggest hit of the night was Evander Kane on Connor McDavid, which aptly describes the Edmonton Oilers in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers were firing on most of their cylinders Friday. But they weren’t always sure which one was firing when, and where.

“I was trying to out of the way,” pleaded Kane, “but those type of things happened. First pre-season game — I guess that’s to be expected.”

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McDavid was slow to get up, but never missed a shift. He was flying as usual, but like the rest of his teammates his rushes ended a few feet before the goal line, with more red faces than red goal lights.

“That’s probably a good sign. You want to save a couple for the regular season,” laughed Kane. “So as long as you get your chances and you’re playing in the O-zone — our line alone probably had six or seven Grade A’s.”

With a vastly superior lineup dressed, Edmonton dominated as you’d expect. The high danger scoring chances were listed as 13-4 on naturalstattrick.com.

On a night where only one forward — Luke Esposito — registered an even-strength point, defenceman Brett Kulak delivered the winner on an innocent looking point blast with 11 minutes left to play. Kailer Yamamoto set Leon Draisaitl up for Edmonton’s other goal, a shorty.

They came to see a blowout, but “first star” Dan Vladar had other ideas, thwarting an Oilers attack that had some polish, but zero finish.

“I thought we hung in there,” said Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “We left our top three centres at home. That was a big difference.”

Edmonton dressed all of its top nine forwards, six of its top seven defencemen (minus Tyson Barrie), and started No. 1 Jack Campbell. That was the good news.

The bad news, for most of those players, was this game marked their first pre-season minutes. And the rust showed.

Edmonton’s power play was close-but-no-cigar all night, making all kinds of plays but not finishing any of them. And at regular strength, it was much of the same: Plenty of shots on goal (38), but not much finish.

“Tip your hat to the goaltender,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We had numerous good looks (on the PP). Didn’t go in.

“We zipped it around. It was exactly what we wanted it to be, except we didn’t get the (finish).”

Credit Vladar with much of that. He was the difference between a close game and a blowout, leaving the Flames in great shape in their crease, with starter Jacob Markstrom at home. They have a solid backup in Vladar, and the promising Dustin Wolf slated to be the No. 1 for the new AHL Calgary Wranglers.

Darnell Nurse fought twice with one Mitch McLain, after McLain laid a hard hit on Kane in the third period. Not exactly a risk you love for your top defenceman, but part of the package with Nurse, who tends to fight only when taking care of business for a teammate.

“I mean, the first time was awesome. Really appreciate that,” Kane said. “The second time was a surprise because I was ready to go. So I think we’re all looking at each other what was going on there.”

•••

In a league where some teams play six pre-season games, while others play eight, we often wonder how many games are truly required?

In Canada, teams like four home dates, and Friday night in Edmonton was an example of why. Rogers Place was virtually sold out, and with 18,000-plus people eating, drinking and having a good time, that kind of revenue surpasses any three regular-season home dates in Florida or San Jose

But outside of revenues — and yes, we know, it’s all about Hockey Related Revenue in the NHL — do we really need an eight-game pre-season schedule?

“I mean, I think it’s probably a little much,” admitted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “We played nine games in the past. It’s a lot of games.”

How many does Nugent-Hopkins require?

“Three to five, depending on how you feel,” he said. “You don’t want to come into the season unsure of how your game is, or unsure of how you’re feeling. But you also don’t want to come in fatigued or feeling tired. You want to be ready to go.”

McDavid says he requires three games, maybe four — depending on how he feels after the third one.

“I would tend to think that eight is too many. But, understanding that it’s a chance for lots of different guys to get looks,” opined McDavid. “I’ve had five years where you play four or five, I’ve had years where, you know, you don’t get any. You know, it’s kind of you kind of gotta be ready no matter what happens.”

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Palestinian flag waved on pitch as Morocco celebrates historic World Cup win

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Several players of Morocco’s national team unfurled a Palestinian flag on the pitch while celebrating their historic World Cup win over Spain in Qatar on Tuesday.

World Cup quarterfinals: Qualifying teams, fixtures and schedule

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Following a dramatic penalty shootout, Morocco became the first Arab side to make it to the World Cup quarterfinals.

This is the second time Moroccan players have raised the Palestinian flag after winning a match. Morocco’s player Jawad El Yamiq raised the Palestinian flag while celebrating his country’s 2-1 victory over Canada last week.

Moroccan football fans were also seen waving a “Free Palestine” banner during the North African country’s 2-0 victory over Belgium in Group E earlier in the tournament.

Morocco's team makes a group photo on the pitch, holding the Palestinian flag after beating Spain.

Regulations from FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, prohibit the use of banners, flags and fliers that are deemed to be political, offensive and/or discriminatory in nature.

“The promotion or announcement of political or religious messages or any other political or religious actions, inside or in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, by any means, is strictly prohibited before, during and after matches,” FIFA regulations state.

Israeli journalists experience chilly reception at Qatar World Cup

 

Football authorities have occasionally issued fines for displays of the Palestinian flag inside grounds.

The flag bearing move was hailed by Arabs on social media, as users from Libya, Morroco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia celebrated the Moroccan win.

Videos on social media also show Palestinians celebrating Morocco’s win in the streets of several cities in the West Bank and in Gaza.

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With CBT 'not an obstacle,' Blue Jays can avoid Judge drama with Guerrero and Bichette – Sportsnet.ca

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Matt Murray Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Dallas Stars

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DALLAS (AP) — Matt Murray made a season-high 44 saves and Mitch Marner extended his Toronto-record point streak to 20 games with an early assist as the Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 4-0 on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin and Alexander Kerfoot scored for the surging Maple Leafs, who are 9-0-3 in their last 12 games. They pulled within three points of first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division.

Dallas went 0 for 7 on the power play despite 17 shots on goal, including a four-minute double minor and a 5-on-3 for 1:38.

Toronto blocked 27 shots in its first shutout this season, and the Stars missed the net on 22 attempts.

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“Big thanks to the guys in front who did a heck of a job defensively tonight against a really dangerous team,” said Murray, who was acquired from Ottawa last summer and shares time in net with fellow newcomer Ilya Samsonov.

Murray is 6-0-2 since missing 15 games with an adductor injury following his initial start of the season.

“He was perfect,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Came up with huge saves in big moments. Obviously, the number of penalties we took today could have been a big problem.”

The Stars were shut out for the first time this season and are tied with Winnipeg atop the Central Division with 33 points. The Jets have two games in hand.

Jake Oettinger stopped 25 shots.

It was the NHL’s first game featuring two players with point streaks of at least 18 games.

The Stars’ Jason Robertson saw his run end at 18, a Dallas record. Robertson leads the NHL with 23 goals.

Marner got an assist when his wrist shot was stopped but Tavares tapped in the rebound 4:51 in for the first of two first-period Toronto goals.

“Like I’ve been saying, it’s not a one-man effort,” Marner said. “Just trying to go out there and buzz.”

Matthews took possession after his wrist shot was stopped and circled back into the slot to score at 17:36.

Sandin collected a loose puck just outside the crease and scored at 12:19 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

Kerfoot added an empty-net goal with 3:53 remaining, rolling the puck in from center ice. It was his first goal since a 3-2 overtime win at home over the Stars on Oct. 20.

Toronto played most of the game with only five defensemen. Victor Mete left with a lower-body injury after playing just 3:04 of the first period. Mete is expected to miss at least a few games.

During part of Dallas’ 5-on-3 late in the second, the Maple Leafs were further handcuffed when Marner had to give up a broken stick. He still managed to block a shot.

Maple Leafs forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev made his NHL debut, playing 7:16.

FAMILY AFFAIR

It was the second and final scheduled meeting this season matching Robertson against his younger brother, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson.

Their mother, Mercedes, traveled from Michigan to attend the game. She followed her custom in these brotherly matchups by wearing the home team’s sweater and the visitors’ cap.

Nick Robertson scored his only two goals of the season to date in the teams’ previous meeting — including the overtime winner.

“He wasn’t too happy about that,” Nick said of his brother when they visited after that game.

POWER OUTAGE

Dallas is 0 for 11 on the power play in its past two games after ranking second in the NHL at 30% going into Sunday’s game, a 6-5 shootout loss to Minnesota.

“We had some great looks,” captain Jamie Benn said of Tuesday’s effort. “We’ve got to find a way.”

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Stars: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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