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Penguins/Canadiens Recap: Missed opportunities come back to bite Pittsburgh in 3-2 OT loss – PensBurgh




The Penguins roll out as expected with the lines they have been using for most of the lead up to this first game.

No surprises either for the Canadiens.

First period

The Pens come out all guns a’blazin’! The boys are buzzin’ early, no doubt about it. Evgeni Malkin has two great shots early but Carey Price is strong to make the saves. The first 10 shots on goal in the period go 9-1 Pittsburgh as Montreal struggles to keep the Pens at bay, relying on their goalie to help them out.

Time moves on and then Jack Johnson makes his presence known in the 2020 playoffs. Unfortunately, but predictably, that means costing Pittsburgh a goal as Johnson whiffs on a hit, then collides with his own teammate and finally throws a check on a player in towards his own net, helping a bouncing puck hit off Jesperi Kotkaniemi and in past Matt Murray. 1-0 Montreal.

The Canadiens get the first power play of the game when Marcus Pettersson throws a high hit out there. MTL gets one good chance but overall it’s a pretty good kill by the Pens’ PK’ers.

Pittsburgh gets their shot at a power play when Sidney Crosby is downed by Phillip Danault. Being an excellent defensive center, this provides a double opportunity for the Pens to get a power play with Danault stuck in the box.

The first unit is brand new, Kris Letang is back replacing Justin Schultz, and Jason Zucker is in for Patric Hornqvist to join mainstays in Malkin, Crosby and Jake Guentzel. The PP plays like they’ve never played together, though they get one marquee chance when a Letang point shot comes in through traffic and clicks the post. Guentzel gets totally wiped out (in a way Hornqvist seemingly never does) and is unavailable to work for the rebound.

Shots in the first are 18-6 Pens. Carey Price was stout, a bouncing puck on a weird play provides the edge.

Second period

The Pens get caught again, Brian Dumoulin tries to pinch and hold the puck but Nick Suzuki chips it past him and is off to the races on a 2-on-1. Suzuki rushes down the left side and with his RH shot sees plenty of net when Murray drops and blows a shot over his shoulder to extend the lead to 2-0.

Finally, the Pens strike back. Sidney Crosby does Sidney Crosby things, taking a hard shot from behind the goal line and banking the puck in the net off of Price. 2-1 now.

The Pens’ get a second power play when Jonathan Drouin gets caught hooking. Murray has to make a heck of a stop on Joel Armia of a 2-on-1 the other way…And then the Pens give up another 2-on-1 that Letang makes a sprawling diving block.

It pays off and Rust ties the game on the power play with the second group after a Jared McCann shot hits Patric Hornqvist and pops out for Rust to pickle-stab home. 2-2 game.

Shots in the 2nd are 13-8 Montreal, but overall it’s 24-19 Pens. With the game tied at 2 at the most important indicator.

Third period

30 seconds into the period, defensive ace Phillip Danault takes his second penalty of the game. Then, just 28 seconds later, Ben Chariot goes for high-sticking to give the Pens an extended 5v3 power play.

They do not score in a huge missed opportunity.

McCann goes off for a puck-over-glass delay of game soon after, the Pens’ PK holds with Murray making a couple big stops like this one to cut off the cross-ice chance.

Paul Byron gets called for interference giving the Pens another PP chance and they…come up empty.

Then Conor Sheary gets in alone on a breakaway and gets hooked by Brett Kulak drawing a rare playoff penalty shot with about 3 minutes to go in a tie game and surely this is it, right?….Not so fast, Sheary can’t even hit the net when he tries to snap a shot quickly far and low on Price. Problem is it goes too far.

With that, it’s gonna take extra hockey.


Three minutes into extra time, defensive guru Danault takes his THIRD penalty of the game, putting MTL way behind the 8-ball and surely the Pens will score now with the Habs at a disadvantage of a man and a great PK’er right?


Montreal kills it off. Soon after, Jonathan Drouin gets a step on Jack Johnson who has to hook Drouin. Penalty shot in OT. My goodness. For such a great teammate like JJ, that’s a tough spot to put the goalie in. He’ll get ‘em next time!

Luckily, much like Sheary, Drouin fumbles the PS and can’t even get a shot on goal.

The Pens though are barely hanging on. Shots are 11-7 MTL in OT. The 12 MTL shot ends the game. Guess if it was the Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz pair losing form and positioning defending the rush?

(Answer: it was the Jack Johnson – Justin Schultz pair losing form and positioning defending the rush)

Here’s another look at it, notice how Tanev overskates his point-man and there’s no defensemen even in the picture. It’s only Zach Aston-Reese to try and block the shot.

And that’s a loss in a quick series. Figure it out.GIF

Some thoughts

  • Weird how the Pens’ power play fix went to…taking Hornqvist off the top group in favor of Zucker. By sheer talent, nothing wrong with that but just a strange decision given the huge body of evidence that Pittsburgh’s power play performs noticeably better when Hornqvist is in the lineup. Why take that out willingly?
  • And the Pens’ PP went 1-for 7. The only goal they scored was the second group, when a point shot hit Hornqvist in front of the net and Rust cleaned up the trash. This shouldn’t be so difficult. Zucker off the top group, Hornqvist on it. Have to figure it out at this point.
  • Malkin looked absolutely amazing early, buzzing at all times, generating a ton of chances. It’s just an eye test, but Crosby by comparison looked a bit tentative and a step slow. Who knows how bad he’s hurting and it’s only up to speculation at this point, but Sid might have to gut out a performance for as long as the Pens last.
  • But, since hockey is weird and random, it was Crosby who scored and Malkin who didn’t have a point. Sometimes it bes like that.
  • Jack Johnson was a -2, made major mistakes and that was even before he gave the opponents a penalty shot in overtime after getting dogged. Just a comically bad performance. Shouldn’t be surprising, still hurts though.
  • Carey Price was good, stopped 39/41, but it still didn’t feel like the Pens made it THAT difficult on him. Especially having a long 5v3 and a penalty shot of their own in the 3rd period. Coulda/shoulda been better.
  • Speaking of, Conor Sheary, come on man! Such a great Phase 3. Back to a pumpkin in Phase 4. Tough to take.
  • The Pens pushed the issue and earned a 7-2 PP advantage. They were the better team getting to the play more. Just couldn’t finish and got a bad bounce or two.
  • Matt Murray wasn’t the Pens problem in this one. 3 goals against in almost 74 minutes. 32 saves on 35 shots (.914 save%). You leave a long 5v3 on the table and miss a 3rd period penalty shot and the real issue isn’t the goalie.

Being down 0-1 in a best-of-five is like being down 0-2 in a best-of-seven. It’s not a good place to be.

That said, pretty much like 80% of this game was just fine, even great for the Pens. Their powerplay let them down. Their worst player let them down. The bounces didn’t work. The other goalie was really good. It’s like all the worst cases adding up. But it has to happen two more times before they’re done. So we’ll see what happens Monday. Win one game and suddenly and it’s a typical 2-2 series in a best-of-seven. Just depends how they decide to respond to the challenge.

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Olympic high jumpers overcome with emotion after sharing gold medal – Yahoo Canada Sports



This is what the Olympics are all about. (Photo by Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

All Olympic athletes arrive at the Games with aspirations to perform their best and hopefully bring home some hardware.

In addition to fierce competition, however, the Olympics are a great platform to show the world the importance of sportsmanship.

On Day 9 of the Tokyo Games, fair play was on full display in the men’s high jump final between Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.

Clearing 2.37m, both competitors successfully arrived at the 2.39m jump without any failed attempts. After Barshim and Tamberi fell short of making the jump three times apiece, an Olympic official approached the two, pitching that they compete in a jump-off to determine the winner.

What happened next, though, was truly a lasting moment of the 2020 Games.

“Can we have two gold?” Barshim asked.

The official green-lighted the request, which sent Barshim and Tamberi into pure euphoria.

“I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it. We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need,” Barshim said, according to CBC.

“He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”

What an amazing moment between two athletes at the absolute peak of their sport.

Belarussian Maksim Nedasekau, who also cleared 2.37, took home bronze via the countback.

The win marked the first gold medals for Barshim and Tamberi at the Olympics, and it created a moment that will last a lifetime.

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Belarusian sprinter 'safe and secure' in Tokyo hotel after plea to IOC for help –



A Belarusian athlete walked into a Polish Embassy in Japan on Monday, a day after refusing to board a flight at a Tokyo airport that she said she was taken to against her wishes by her team.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, will seek asylum in Poland, said a member of the local Belarus community who was in touch with her.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote on Twitter that Tsimanouskaya has been “offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses.”

An activist group said the sprinter is applying for a visa. Vadim Krivosheyev of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation said the group has bought her a ticket to Warsaw for Aug. 4.

Tsimanouskaya spent the night in an airport hotel after she went to Japanese police at Haneda airport seeking protection late on Sunday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a media conference. A number of agencies were in contact with the sprinter, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he said.

In a brewing diplomatic incident, both Poland and the Czech Republic publicly offered her assistance on Monday.

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“She has assured us she is safe and secure. We are talking again to her this morning to understand what the next steps will be,” Adams said. “We need to listen to her, find out what she wants and support her in her decision.”

The sprinter, who was due to race in the 200-metre heats at Olympic Stadium on Monday, had her Games cut short when she said she was taken to the airport to board a Turkish Airlines flight.

A removal order ‘from above’

She told a Reuters reporter via Telegram that the Belarusian head coach had turned up at her room on Sunday at the athletes village and told her she had to leave.

“The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me,” she wrote in the message. “At 5 [p.m.] they came my room and told me to pack and they took me to the airport.”

But she refused to board the flight, telling Reuters: “I will not return to Belarus.”

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors’ advice about her “emotional, psychological state.”

Belarus athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich told state television he “could see there was something wrong with her … She either secluded herself or didn’t want to talk.”

Tsimanouskaya runs in the women’s 100-metre event at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

The IOC would continue conversations with Tsimanouskaya on Monday and the Olympics governing body had asked for a full report from Belarus’s Olympic committee, Adams said.

In response to a number of questions by journalists about what the IOC would do to ensure other athletes in the village were protected, the IOC spokesperson said they were still collecting details about what exactly occurred.

Earlier seeking asylum in Japan

A member of the local Belarusian community, who had been in contact with the athlete throughout the night, told Reuters that after long talks with various officials she had petitioned for asylum in Japan.

The Japanese government said the athlete had been kept safe while Tokyo 2020 organizers and the IOC checked her intentions.

“Japan is co-ordinating with relevant parties and continue to take appropriate action,” said chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato.

WATCH | Belarusian athlete says she was taken to airport against her will:

Belarusian runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says she was removed from the national team and taken to Tokyo’s airport against her wishes because she criticized national coaches. 2:48

Poland’s Olympic committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said he considered the situation around the Belarusian “scandalous.”

“The Czech Republic is ready to help,” he tweeted. “We are offering her a visa to enter the territory so that she can apply for international protection with us. Our embassy in Tokyo is also ready to help.”

Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to board the plane, first reported by Reuters, highlighted discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state that is run with a tight grip by President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Monday, the IOC spokesperson said it had taken a number of actions against Belarus’s Olympic committee in the run-up to the Games following nationwide protests in the country.

In March, the IOC refused to recognize the election of Lukashenko’s son Viktor as head of the country’s Olympic committee. Both father and son were banned from attending the Games in December.

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Canada women's soccer team exacts Tokyo Olympic revenge against the United States after being robbed at London 2012 – The Globe and Mail



The Canadian women’s soccer team celebrates its 1-0 semi-final win over the United States at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium on Monday. Canada won on a penalty kick goal, putting Canada through into the gold medal match set for Aug. 5.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Most of the time you don’t get your revenge. Things don’t even out in the end.

Occasionally, you will get payback in some form, but it’s often cheap and out of context.

Very, very rarely in life you will get the full turnaround. That the wrong done to you is visited back on your antagonist.

That’s what the Canadian women’s soccer team got on Monday night in Kashima against the United States.

Nine years after one of the great rip-offs in Olympic history, Canada got the benefit of officiating that ran to the letter of the law, while entirely missing the spirit of the game. It directly results in this country heading to a gold medal game the Canadians were robbed of at the London Games in 2012.

Monday’s game was what the British call “absorbing” – which is to say sloppy, but even.

The U.S. hasn’t looked anywhere close to its best in Tokyo – “ripe for the picking,” Canada’s veteran captain Christine Sinclair said afterward. But they still come forward with brutal purpose.

In the second half of a scoreless game Monday, the U.S. began hitting them in waves. After 60 minutes, the Americans subbed in three new forwards, including two former world players of the year. It wasn’t looking good for our heroes.

Around the 70th minute, a ball drifted back into the American area. U.S. defender Tierna Davidson chased it down on the edge of the box and made to kick it out of bounds. But Canadian forward Deanne Rose was coming in hot. As Davidson drew back her leg, Rose burst in front of her. The American inadvertently swept out Rose’s leg, and both players went to the ground in a pile.

Canada’s Deanne Rose, left, and United States’ Tierna Davidson battle for the ball.

Martin Mejia/The Associated Press

No one on the pitch or in the stands (there weren’t many of us) reacted. The ref called for a goal kick. But then there was a pause. The Ukrainian referee signalled that the VAR (video assistant referee) would take a look at the incident. Again, no one reacted. This seemed like a brief water break at best.

Then the referee pointed to the spot. Penalty kick for Canada.

The Americans didn’t complain because none of them had seen what happened. Canada’s Jessie Fleming stepped up – a passing of the torch moment – and sank the penalty. 1-0 Canada. It would end that way.

You could certainly argue it was a penalty. Inside the area, Davidson catching Rose on the back of the leg. But you can just as easily argue that the six-second violation given against Canada in this same match-up in 2012 was a foul.

The point is this – at that time in a tight, scoreless game, against the run of play, with a gold medal opportunity on the line, that is not a penalty, just as it wasn’t a foul in 2012. VAR didn’t fix the match for Canada. But it gift-wrapped it up for them.

Jessie Fleming of Canada scores their first goal from the penalty spot against Adrianna Franch of the United States.

EDGAR SU/Reuters

Back in 2012, the Canadian team came out after the match frothing.

Nine years later, the U.S. seemed more exhausted than anything. The most animated player was veteran star Carli Lloyd.

She came into the mixed zone angry. When the volunteers tried to enforce the two metres of distance between herself and reporters, Lloyd ignored them. When they surrounded her and seemed about to lay hands on her, she moved back a step. That was as far as she’d go.

“Heartbreaking,” Lloyd said, hands on hips, sweat rolling off her.

And the call? “I couldn’t really see it.”

Well, wait until that happens. Then get back to us.

Back in 2012, the American reaction had been triumphal. The then-coach, Pia Sundhage, was asked if she felt bad for the Canadians. She smirked.

This time, the Canadians were very careful not to rub it in.

“I feel like our team is completely different from 2012,” said Desiree Scott, one of the two Canadian starters on Monday who’d been on the field at the London Games.

And Deanne Rose? How’d the penalty look from her extremely up-close perspective?

“You guys saw what happened,” Rose said. That’s as detailed as she’d get.

And how about the original soccer don? Christine Sinclair had one of the great games in the history of women’s soccer back at Manchester’s Old Trafford in 2012 – three magnificent goals in a 4-3 loss.

Immediately after that game, before Canada realized they were about to become a cult favourite, Sinclair made a promise in the locker room.

“It was totally silent,” former Canada defender Carmelina Moscato remembered years later. “[Sinclair] said, ‘This is never going to happen again,’ and, ‘We’re going to get them,’ and, ‘We’re going to get them next time.’”

At 38, Sinclair is not the player she once was. Instead, she has become the Clint Eastwood of world soccer. It took her nine years and a lot of manhunting, but she settled the score.

“It was nice to get a little revenge,” Sinclair called it, not willing to escalate a beef that has cooled recently.

That’s another change from 2012. Back then, the captain came out in the mixed zone and accused the ref of fixing the game.

Sinclair was 17 the last time Canada beat the United States, just about to begin her international career. Since then, she has established herself as arguably the finest female team athlete this country has produced. She took a program, put it on her back and dragged it from the developmental stage to developed.

On Thursday, 10 p.m. ET, she will finally play for that gold medal, against Sweden.

Reflecting on the experience of London a few years ago, Sinclair was the one member of the team who wasn’t nostalgic about it. Despite the quality of her performance, she’s never watched the video.

“It’s weird,” Sinclair said back then. “Everyone talks about that game, and I just say, ‘We lost. We lost.’ My uncle showed me a list of people that had scored a hat trick at Old Trafford. I said to him, ‘I guarantee you I’m the only one up there who lost.’”

Christine Sinclair of Canada during the women’s soccer semi-final at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium on Monday.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Canada can’t right the wrong of 2012. More than a dozen women who were there won’t share in whatever medal the team wins here in Tokyo.

But they can complete one of the most epic turnarounds in the history of Canadian sport. They can do what almost no athlete ever gets to do – spin the karmic wheel backward.

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