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Pacific Division puts aside differences to grab NHL all-star game crown – Sportsnet.ca

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ST. LOUIS — Some of the key figures in what’s once again the NHL’s most heated rivalry briefly put their differences aside at the league’s all-star game.

It’ll soon be back to regularly scheduled programming.

Tomas Hertl scored the winner — his fifth goal of the night — as the Pacific Division defeated their Atlantic counterparts 5-4 to win the 3-on-3 showcase tournament Saturday.

The victorious squad featured Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, as well as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers — combatants on teams embroiled in a war of words over the last two weeks.

The Oilers and Flames have been at odds since Tkachuk levelled Zack Kassian with two huge hits in a recent testy matchup. Kassian eventually had enough and mauled Calgary’s winger/chief antagonist to earn himself a two-game suspension.

“Nothing added to the fuel to the rivalry this weekend,” Tkachuk said in the winning locker room Saturday. “This was just a bunch of really good hockey players coming and trying to put on a show.”

Tkachuk actually set up Draisaitl for a goal with a slick no-look pass in the Pacific’s 10-5 triumph over the Central Division in the semifinal, but skated straight to the bench instead of celebrating.

“Just wanted to get off the ice,” Tkachuk said. “I was out there for a while.”

Draisaitl said after the latest instalment of the Battle of Alberta that he would “probably get off the ice” himself if he was ever out there with Tkachuk at the all-star game.

“Nice play by him,” he said with a smile. “Like I said all along, we’re all here to have fun, we’re all here to have a good time. Things like (Tkachuk-Kassian), they happen in the game, but this is not the time to be grumpy about anything or whatever it is. Everyone here had a great time.”

Draisaitl said something to Tkachuk after the goal, but the former insisted there was nothing malicious in the exchange.

“I was just joking around,” he said. “I hope everyone knows I was just joking.”

Tied in the standings with 57 points and in a battle for playoff positioning, the Flames and Oilers will renew regular-season hostilities Wednesday in Edmonton and then again three nights later in Calgary.

“It was fine,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said of sharing space with a pair of Oilers. “This is away from the regular season. It’s a different atmosphere. I thought both sides handled themselves really well this weekend. I’m sure next week when we get back to the Battle of Alberta there’ll be that fire.”

“I know it’s a big battle between us,” Calgary goalie David Rittich added. “We just want to have fun. We’re doing this for fans, for kids.”

McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, finished with a combined four assists on the night.

“I definitely didn’t feel my best out there, but it’s all for fun,” he said. “We have a couple days to get ready for the real stuff.”

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak took home the most valuable player award after the NHL’s leading goal-scorer found the back of the net once and added an assist in the final for the Atlantic. He also recorded four points (three goals, one assist) in his division’s 9-5 semifinal victory over the Metropolitan inside Enterprise Center.

Hertl, who showed his personality by wearing a Justin Bieber mask during one of Friday’s events at the skills competition, scored the winner with 2:36 left when the San Jose Sharks centre beat Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off a setup from Draisaitl and McDavid.

Vancouver Canucks centre Elias Pettersson scored two goals in the final as the Pacific battled back from a 3-1 deficit to grab the US$1-million prize at the home of the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

“I’m not going to take this for granted,” said Pettersson, who tried and failed on his attempt at what would have been a jaw-dropping lacrosse-style goal. “It’s awesome to be here. I remember I grew up watching this. Now I’m here sharing this with everybody.”

The Pacific took the all-star crown in both 2016 and 2018, while the Metropolitan captured the title in 2017 and again last year.

Tkachuk, who grew up in St. Louis when his father Keith played for the Blues, suited up against younger brother Brady, a winger with the Ottawa Senators, in the final.

He actually stole the puck from his sibling to set up one of Pettersson’s goals.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “I was humbled and honoured to be here.”

ANDERSEN’S CONNECTION TO WOMEN’S GAME

The NHL and its all-stars were overwhelmingly supportive of the 20 female players that took part in a 3-on-3 game during Friday’s skills competition. But for Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, whether or not the NHL gets involved the same way the NBA did with the WNBA hits close to home because his sister Amalia plays in the NCAA at the University of Maine. “I don’t know what the right answer is, the right solution is,” said the netminder. “Of course I want see a (league) for young girls to dream of playing in. I know first-hand with my sister, she goes to college, and after that I don’t really know what’s in the future. It’s just important we keep trying to grow it and hopefully something down the road can come up and they can have something to strive for besides playing college.”

KANE KONUNDRUM

Fans in St. Louis booed Chicago Blackhawks sniper Patrick Kane throughout the festivities. But with the star winger on the same side as their Blues in the 3-on-3 tournament, they briefly cheered when he scored for the Central in its loss to the Pacific before resuming the jeers. “It’s all in good fun,” Kane said. “Sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit … St. Louis-Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry.”

NEXT YEAR’S ALL-STAR FORMAT COULD CHANGE

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the 2021 all-star game will be hosted by the Florida Panthers. He also alluded to there being a “distinct international flavour” at the annual festivities, but didn’t provide concrete details. The all-star game format from 1998 through 2002 saw players from North America take on the rest of the world.

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Blue Jays blank Royals as Manoah makes marvellous Rogers Centre debut – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays celebrated a second win in two starts in their Rogers Centre return thanks to co-starring performances from rookie pitcher Alex Manoah and centre fielder George Springer.

Manoah tossed seven shutout innings while Springer smashed home runs in his first two at-bats in Toronto’s 4-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. The Blue Jays arrived back home in Toronto on Friday after 22 months away because of the Covid-19 pandemic, playing home games in Buffalo and Dunedin, Fla.

Manoah made a return of sorts, too. He injured himself two weeks ago, slipping on the rain-soaked steps of the Blue Jays dugout in Buffalo. He suffered a right-back contusion. He yielded only a pair of singles in his 89-pitch outing.

“It kind of got me pretty good,” Manoah said when asked about his fall. “It was a long couple of weeks, and I’m just so happy and so grateful to be back on that mound.

“Body felt really good; everything felt good. I was able to throw a lot of strikes and get the boys a win.”

The 23-year-old Manoah (3-1) knew he would be keyed up for his first Rogers Centre start. So he attempted to control his adrenaline with deep breaths. He didn’t have the velocity he exhibited earlier in the season.

However, he still managed four strikeouts and retired 16 Royals in a row between Ryan O’Hearn’s one-out single in the second inning and Hunter Dozier’s two-out base hit in the seventh.

“We thought he was going to be rusty,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya said. “But he was throwing strikes.

“This kid didn’t have his best stuff, and he still can get you out.”

If Manoah can continue to chip in as he did on Saturday, the Blue Jays should have a scary starting rotation with their top four pitchers, led by Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu and newcomer Jose Berrios. The latter was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for shortstop/outfielder Austin Martin and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson on Friday.

Berrios, scheduled to start for the Twins on Friday, was expected to arrive at Rogers Centre on Saturday evening. Montoyo plans to start his new pitcher in the series finale on Sunday afternoon if he deems himself ready.

“I’ll be waiting here for him,” Montoyo said in his post-game remarks.

The Blue Jays also had to wait for Springer to make an impact this summer. The free agent signed a six-year, $150-million US contract with Toronto last January. But a right-quadricep strain limited his playing time earlier this season.

He found his form in July. His first-pitch leadoff homer down the left-field line, for his 40th career leadoff round-tripper, and his third-inning two-run blast were his 10th and 11th home runs of the year. He now has gone 19-for-49 (.388) in his last 13 games with six doubles, six homers and 10 RBI.

“Obviously, this is where I wanted to play,” said Springer, who has reached base 50 times in his 34 outings in 2021. “This is home. For us to have a chance to come back here, to play in front of the fans, the atmosphere has been unbelievable the last couple of games. It’s exciting.”

After Manoah departed, the Blue Jays received some substantial relief pitching from lefty Ryan Borucki and Adam Cimber. Borucki got the first two outs in the eighth inning, while Cimber closed down the Royals (45-58) with four straight strikeouts to end the game.

The Blue Jays (53-48) have won three in a row and four of their last five.

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Toronto's Penny Oleksiak makes history as Canada swims to bronze in medley relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, July 31, 2021 10:23PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 31, 2021 10:23PM EDT

TOKYO — Canada’s women capped Olympic swimming with a bronze medal in the medley relay Sunday and produced a historic seventh career medal for Penny Oleksiak.

Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., Sydney Pickrem of Clearwater, Fla., Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Toronto’s Oleksiak touched in 3:52.60, a Canadian record.

Australia took gold with an Olympic-record 3:51.60. The Americans were close behind, finishing second in 3:51.73.

Oleksiak swam the anchor freestyle leg into the history books as the most decorated Olympian in Canadian history. The 21-year-old surpassed speedskater Cindy Klassen and speedskater-cyclist Clara Hughes at six medals apiece.

“Knowing that I have the best girls in the world to race with, I pretty much had a medal in the back of my mind the whole race,” Oleksiak said. “I’m racing with three of the best swimmers in the world, so why should I worry?”

The achievement says a lot about Oleksiak’s depth of talent, said Marnie McBean, Canada’s chef de mission.

“Winning one medal is hard, and multiple at one Games is all about the ability to reset and focus. Winning multiple medals at multiple Games — that is a battle against so much more,” McBean, a three-time Olympian, said in a statement.

“The notion of repeating and the burden of expectations, internally and externally, can be so disruptive. Penny figured out how to thrive all while being an amazing role model to young Canadians.”

Masse led Canada off in backstroke followed by Pickrem’s breaststroke leg and Mac Neil in butterfly.

As Mac Neil hung the medal around Oleksiak’s neck during the medal ceremony, Masse applauded and Pickrem shimmied in celebration.

“Most decorated,” they chorused during post-ceremony interviews with reporters.

Oleksiak, Mac Neil and Masse claimed their third medals at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.

Mac Neil, 21, also captured 100-metre butterfly gold. She and Oleksiak took silver in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay on the first day of finals, so Mac Neil leaves Tokyo with a complete set.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept Canada’s swim team out of the water for large chunks of the last 15 months. Mac Neil said that didn’t stop the swimmers from challenging the world in Tokyo.

“We’ve had one of the strictest lockdowns in the entire world, so it was just putting in the training that we’ve doing for the last 15 months in and showing the world what we have,” Mac Neil said.

Masse, 25, earned a pair of silver in backstroke. Oleksiak, who revealed Sunday she’d been dealing with an ongoing back injury, also claimed bronze in the 200-metre freestyle.

The women’s swim team amassed six medals in Tokyo to equal its Rio count of five years ago.

Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., Pickrem, Mac Neil and Toronto’s Kayla Sanchez posted the fastest qualification time in Friday’s heats to give Canada a middle lane Sunday.

The medley relay medal was Canada’s first since 1988 and fourth in the 61-year Olympic history of race. Canadian women were bronze medallists in 1976, 1984 and ’88.

Oleksiak won 100-freestyle gold, 100-butterfly silver and anchored Canada to a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals at age 16 in Rio.

Heats, semifinals, finals and relays added up to 10 races over nine days for Oleksiak in Tokyo, where she added a pair of relay medals and the 200 free bronze to her total.

Canada’s men’s team finished seventh in the medley relay just minutes after the women left the pool Sunday.

Markus Thormeyer (backstroke), Gabe Mastromatteo (breaststroke), Joshua Liendo (butterfly) and Yuri Kisil (freestyle) finished in 3:32.42.

The U.S. took gold in the men’s event with a world record 3:26.78. Great Britain came second and Italy captured bronze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2021.

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Kylie Masse won her second medal of the Summer Olympics – Sports – Castanet.net

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Make it an even dozen medals for Canada and a second for swimmer Kylie Masse at the Tokyo Olympics.

Masse won her second silver, finishing just behind Australian Kaylee McKeown in the women’s 200 metre backstroke.

She also won silver in the 100 backstroke.

Masse went out fast and led for much of the race. But, McKeown put on a strong kick over the final 25 metres to touch just ahead of Masse.

McKeown won in two minutes, 4.68 seconds, 74 one-hundredths ahead of Masse.

Masse’s time of 2:05.42 established a Canadian record in the event.

Kelowna-born Taylor Ruck was sixth in 2:08.24.

Masse joins Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak as double medalists at the Olympics.

Canada has a good chance for one final medal in the pool Saturday evening in the women’s 4×100 metre medley.

The team, which included Ruck, finished with the best time in their semi-final earlier in the day.

The roster for the team could change for the final.

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