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Player grades: Spirited Oilers comeback not quite enough to crawl out of yet another 0-2 hole – Edmonton Journal

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Oilers 1, Hurricanes 2

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A dream start quickly went south for Edmonton Oilers when an apparent Connor McDavid goal on the game’s first shift was overturned by an offside challenge. Minutes later McDavid was smashed in the face by an errant high stick, lost at least one tooth and went off for repairs. By the time he returned to start the second period, the Oilers had fallen into that oh-so-familiar 0-2 hole.

Missing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto who were both dinged up in Florida Saturday as well as McDavid, the Oilers were seriously outplayed in that crucial first period. They were outshot by 8-16 including a 1-3 margin during an absolutely miserable 4-minute powerplay after Brady Skjei clubbed McDavid in the mouth. The penalty kill also failed on what turned out to be the game winner, with that -1 on special teams proving to be the difference.

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The captain led a spirited comeback the rest of the way, but the short-staffed Oilers were only able to generate one goal that actually counted and ultimately fell, 2-1 to Carolina Hurricanes.

It was a different game over those final 40 minutes, apparently played under a new set of rules that more resembled rugby than hockey at times, as the previously whistle-happy zebras suddenly reverted to see-no-evil mode. The linesmen also had a bad day at the office, setting an erratic standard on both offside and icing  that included two missed calls at the blueline that were subsequently overturned by coach’s challenge.

As for the Oilers, they fought back valiantly, outshooting the Hurricanes 24-13 over the last two periods and holding an overall 13-10 advantage in Grade A scoring chances. Alas, they couldn’t solve an old nemesis, as Freddy Andersen ran his career record to 17-1-2 against Edmonton.

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Player grades

#5 Cody Ceci, 7. Played a strong two-way game that included a couple of excellent shot blocks at one end and a couple of dangerous shots at the other. Oilers outshot the ‘canes 10-3 and outscored them 1-0 during Ceci’s 16 even-strength minutes.

#10 Derek Ryan, 8. Another excellent game from the veteran, who produced Edmonton’s only goal and 3 of their best scoring chances on the day. Rang the iron with a terrific shot in the early going, then was robbed by Andersen on a shorthanded breakaway minutes later. But he solved the netminder in the middle frame with an unassisted goal, as he blocked a shot, fought through an obvious (but uncalled) hold in the neutral zone, then set a shot through the 5-hole to get Edmonton. Given a chance on the game-ending 6v5, he narrowly missed getting his stick on Draisaitl’s hard pass into the low slot in the dying seconds.

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#14 Devin Shore, 5. Played a team-low 4:43 at 5v5, but led all forwards with 2:32 on the PK where he made his biggest impact. Made a nice touch pass to send Ryan in alone. But was caught playing piggy-in-the-middle on the ‘canes powerplay goal when he was twice beaten by passes, in the process leaving the eventual shooter alone in the high slot.

#16 Tyler Benson, 5. Played 11:40 in a game the Oilers were missing a significant chunk of their forward corps. Edmonton outshot Carolina 8-4 on his watch. His slot shot led to a great Sceviour chance on the rebound.

#18 Zach Hyman, 4. Had a tough first period that saw him among the defensive culprits on both Carolina goals. In no-man’s land not covering anybody on the first tally which originated from his man on the point. Beaten twice on cross-seam passes on the second as the Oilers failed to kill a too-many-men call caused in part by Hyman jumping on the ice early, then handling the puck before his man quite reached the bench. Played well thereafter with 4 shots on net and some excellent grinding in the trenches. Drew a penalty. Played a massive 26:39.

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#22 Tyson Barrie, 4. Took a pair of marginal penalties in the first period, one of which was a flat-out blown call. But the Oilers were chasing the game on his watch, with Carolina owning a 17-6 edge in shot attempts and 7-2 in actual shots during his 14 minutes at even strength. No joy on the powerplay either, a unit that generated precious little during his 4:43 including a turnover that led to a jailbreak the other way.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. Leader of the defence played an active role in 26 minutes of action. Oilers held a 12-7 shots advantage during his 20 minutes at 5v5, with Nurse himself generating a pair of dangerous shots. Made a fine play on the penalty kill to win a puck battle, then send the play up the far wing ultimately leading to the (first) Ryan breakaway. But among those beaten by the rapid fire passing on the one Carolina powerplay goal. Drew a penalty.

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#29 Leon Draisaitl, 4. Another Oiler who struggled through a difficult first period with a couple of messy turnovers and a bad pass into the midst of a sloppy Edmonton line change. Led all Oilers with a whopping 28:08 in ice time, a lot of it heavy slogging against Jordan Staal and company as the Hurricanes took the battle to the trenches. Got blatantly picked and spilled a good two steamboats after he had dumped the puck in that somehow was missed by the stripes. Had more impact on the second half of the game when he started to hit back, going out of his way to nail Skjei with a hard hit that won instant approval in my living room. Oddly, he was the only Oilers forward with 0 shots on net, though he made good passes to set up Nurse, Hyman and Kane for Grade A shots, and a couple more to teammates (including Kane in the slot) who couldn’t hit the target. Had one of his worst games in memory on the dot, winning just 4/19=21% including 2/10 head-to-head vs Staal.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 5. Was amped up for his return to Carolina, but that quickly cost his team when he preceded the puck over the blueline to nullify an apparent McDavid goal. (Allegedly. The replay presented on TV did not actually show the puck, which was hidden by the nearside boards as Foegele crossed the line; let’s hope the officials had a more definitive angle.) Played a proactive game thereafter, and made 3 good passes which led to Grade A shots.

#41 Mike Smith, 6. A much better outing, even as he was again beaten for 2 first-period goals for the 10th time in his last 12 starts. Had no chance on the first, but made a fatal stumble on the second which left Sebastian Aho a good half of the net to shoot at. But that opening frame could have been even worse without some good early saves. Had relatively few difficult saves thereafter (just 3 Grade A shots in the final 40), though his fine stop of an Andrei Svechnikov backhand with 6 minutes to play kept his team in the game down the stretch. Caused some of his own issues with some iffy puckhandling (2 official giveaways, I counted 3 that led to a total of 4 shots against the scrambling netminder). 29 shots, 27 saves, .931 save percentage.

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#42 Brendan Perlini, 5. One hard backhand shot from a low angle, a couple of hits in 7 minutes of action.

#70 Colton Sceviour, 5. Went from the press box to the nominal second line, replacing Yamamoto who was dinged up blocking a shot on Saturday. But was soon lost in the mix of “extra forwards” as Jay Woodcroft rode his core group hard, and ultimately played just 7:40. Had perhaps Edmonton’s best chance to tie it when he deliberately banked Benson’s rebound off Andersen from below the icing line, but didn’t get the bounce he needed. Slightly slow on the backcheck against Svechnikov seconds later.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 7. The versatile young forward’s role is increasing in leaps and bounds, especially in the absence of teammates like RNH and Yamamoto. Once again he spent time at both centre and wing as well as on both special teams, logging 17 minutes of ice time. Spent 2 more in the box serving a coincidental penalty after he mixed it up with Vincent Trochek. Involved in 3 Grade A shots, 1 off his own stick, another set up by his pass to Ryan, and a third when he screened the goalie. Also made a sweet dish to Hyman who misfired, and made a splendid backcheck to break up a developing 2-on-1.

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#75 Evan Bouchard, 5. Among those beaten by a fine passing sequence on Carolina’s first goal, Bouchard nonetheless played a much stronger game than Saturday’s weak outing. Found his offensive game again, firing 11 shots toward goal including 4 on target. Alas, he just missed the short side post on his best look in the first period.

#80 Markus Niemelainen, 4. Struggled to contain the Hurricanes’ speed, heavy forecheck pressure, and quick passing game. Among those victimized on the opening goal when he was late to the shooter. Another heavy game with 6 hits to lead both teams, but did that work in the context of Oilers being outshot 8-1 during his 11 even strength minutes. Did make one fine pass to Perlini which the winger couldn’t quite control.

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#84 William Lagesson, 5. Not the problem, but not the solution either. 10 quiet minutes.

#86 Philip Broberg, 5. Ditto in 6½ minutes. Broberg is definitely #7 in the defensive rotation, but in this game performed well in spot duty. Had a rare flash of offence with a good wrist shot through traffic.

#91 Evander Kane, 4. Played 23:52 and didn’t get a lot done. Had a great look from the slot and missed the net, something that has happened too often of late. Of his 5 shot attempts just 1 was on target, as he hit Andersen in the breadbasket after being sent in on the wing by Draisaitl. 3 giveaways, just 1 hit.

#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Battling through checks is one thing, but it’s a bit much when you take the Sher-Wood sandwich 30 feet from the puck as McDavid did in the first period. This was the second misfortune to befall him in the first 6 minutes, as his apparent (gorgeous) goal on his first shift came off the board due to an offside challenge. He was dancing to that point, but wound up playing just 2 minutes in the first, and was sorely missed on the 4-minute powerplay he drew. Came back to log 20 minutes over the final two frames, leading the charge with some inspired hockey including a couple of high-speed rushes, some nifty dangling in traffic, and a splendid hard pass into space that Hyman nearly tipped home. 5 shots on net, 2 hits, and a team-best 10/14=71% on the dot. His reward? A row of zeroes and a trip to the dentist.

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Leafs-Lightning Was Always Going To Leave Someone Haunted – Defector

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Following their Game 6 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews said the plan for the series deciding matchup was simple. “We’ve just got to put our balls on the line and go for it,” he told reporters.

He wasn’t wrong about that, it just turns out the Lightning were also willing to risk life, limb and every other necessary appendage to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. And for the fifth-straight year in a row Toronto is being sent home after another first round knockout, losing 2-1 in fight that went down to the last minute.

This game was bound to be a punch in gut for one of these two teams with history on the mind entering Game 7: Tampa looking to win the cup for the third-straight year (the first team since the New York Islanders during their stretch from 1979 – 1983), and Toronto, well, just trying to just reach the second round for the first time since 2004. But if we want to be clerical about it, the Leafs were also searching for their first cup win since the Canadian Centennial and Lester B. Pearson was prime minister.

While the sting of this year’s exit may not be as bad as previous years for Toronto, it will linger all the same given the two chances at sending Tampa home after leading the series 3-2 after Game 5, which makes for the second season in a row they’ve blown that kind of lead.

Tampa is moving on thanks to third liner Nick Paul, who scored both goals on the evening and seemed to be everywhere he was needed on the ice Saturday night. Paul picked up his first career playoff goals in the win, which makes since he wound up on the Bolts roster after a March trade from Ottawa. Prior to Saturday he racked up just five goals and 14 points since saying goodbye to the Senators.

But his timing was much needed in a tight game where Tampa’s stars were running on an empty tank and the Leafs scorers were threatening most of the game. With two minutes left in the first period, Paul and Ross Colton took an odd man rush into the Leafs’ end, with Colton firing on goalie Jack Campbell and Paul turning the rebound for a score.

Whatever high Tampa had coming off that score was quickly deflated when Brayden Point, who scored the winning goal in overtime against the Leafs in Game 6, was injured after colliding with the boards near the end of the first period. Point had to be helped off the ice and tried to return at the beginning of the second period, barely making it one shift before heading to the bench.

The Leafs dialed it up from there, with Captain John Tavares scoring from the slot and putting the score even at 1-1. But the goal was called off on an interference call on Leafs defenseman Justin Holl, who caught Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli in a pick. But they got one that counts with just under 7 minutes left in the period, when Matthews charged across the blue line, dragging Tampa defenders with him before dishing to Morgan Rielly for the score.

But before the game could settle into a reset, just three minutes later Paul came back with a skate-to-stick combo that I can only describe in the most technical terms as “un-fucking-believable.” See for yourself:

It was fitting that Paul emerged as the latest legend of the moment for a Tampa team that has relied on group contributions during their latest run. Tampa Bay managed to keep a chunk of its players around over its title-winning seasons, and even if the regular cast aren’t taking lead, there always seems to be someone ready to step up when the moment comes.

That includes goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played like a fortress on skates last night, stopping 30 out of 31 shots on goal, and locking in the game for the Lightning. A crucial third period power play from the Leafs seemed like it could tip the balance of the game, instead Vasilevskiy fended off six shots and had a little bit of luck with one puck that chased directly behind him, passing through the crease in the blink of an eye.

The disappointment in Toronto will be palpable, and if it wasn’t for the skeletal-hand of fate on the shoulder of this franchise always whispering dread nightmares into their ear whenever the spring comes around, Leafs fans could look at the upside. They played like the better team most of the series, and in the deciding game they outshot the defending champions 31 to 25. Maybe this was just the shit luck of the draw. Maybe this season could have been a tipping point for Toronto based off records alone: they set a team record for points (115), Mitch Marner hit a career high 97 points on the season and Matthews netted a record-setting 60 goals. Maybe they could just get the gang back together for one last heist next season. That may not be entirely likely as they have $77.451 million already on the books, with more than a few guys facing the rough questions of life after 30 on an NHL roster and Campbell entering free agency looking for a well-deserved payday. But hey, Matthews and Marner likely aren’t going anywhere, which is nice.

Tampa moves on to play the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, the second time they face off in the last two years. The Lightning bounced them last year, so it should be another exciting series of Florida-based hockey, which is a sentence that never stops being weird to this Minnesota-born writer, no matter how good these squads are.

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Doncic helps Mavericks stun Suns with dominant performance in Game 7 – Sportsnet.ca

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PHOENIX (AP) — It was no surprise when Luka Doncic looked ready for Game 7, calmly draining his first three shots to give the Dallas Mavericks an early lead.

The stunner came over the next two hours: The top-seeded Phoenix Suns had no response.

Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks blitzed the Suns with a 123-90 knockout Sunday night, advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011.

“A lot of people said it would be a blowout,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said with a grin. “They were right.”

Of course, it wasn’t Dallas that was supposed to win on Sunday. The home team won the first six games of the series, but the Mavs broke through, dominating in a hostile environment from start to finish. Conversely, it was an embarrassing no-show for the playoff-tested Suns — who advanced to the NBA Finals last season with a very similar roster.

“We played all season to be in this situation,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “It didn’t work out for us.”

The fourth-seeded Mavericks travel to face Golden State in Game 1 on Wednesday.

“I can’t get this smile off my face,” Doncic said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”

Doncic earned the Mavs an early lead, making his first three shots, including two 3-pointers. That helped Dallas push to a 27-17 advantage in the first quarter and a whopping 57-27 cushion at the halftime break.

Doncic and Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, combined to pour in 48 of the Mavericks’ 57 points. Doncic’s 27 points in the first half matched the Suns’ team total.

Game 7 drama? Not in the desert.

“It’s still kind of shocking,” Dinwiddie said.

Simply put, the Suns looked overwhelmed by the pressure of a Game 7. They missed shots they usually make, made bad passes they usually don’t make and looked nothing like the team that won an NBA-best 64 games during the regular season.

“That group has a lot of character and integrity and I know how bad they wanted it,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We just could not execute tonight. Couldn’t make a shot early, that messed with us a little bit and Dallas played their tails of from start to finish.”

By halftime, many Suns fans were booing at the unsightly display.

The series might have been close but the individual games usually were not. Three of the first six games were decided by at least 20 points and none of the games came down to the final possession.

Game 7 followed a similar pattern, except the team doing all the damage was the road team. The Mavs led this one by 46 points.

Doncic was fantastic, making shots from all over the floor and finishing 12 of 19 from the field, including 6 of 11 on 3s. He also got some help: Dinwiddie was stellar in the first half with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

They became the eighth pair of teammates to score 30 points in a Game 7, the first since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2002.

Meanwhile, Phoenix’s All-Star backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker was never a factor. The 37-year-old Paul is a 12-time All-Star that has done just about everything possible in the game except win a championship.

After this setback, it’s fair to wonder if there will be many more opportunities. Booker finished with 11 points and shot 3 of 14. Paul had 10 points and four assists. The Suns shot just 37.9% from the field.

“You could see some of the pressure was on them early,” Kidd said. “They missed some shots they normally make.”

Dallas beat the odds with the win: After the Celtics defeated the Bucks earlier Sunday, the home team was 110-33 (77 per cent) in NBA Game 7s.

It’s the second straight year the Suns have lost a playoff series after having a 2-0 lead. They won the first two games against the Bucks in the NBA Finals last season before losing four straight games.

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Mavericks: Doncic and Dinwiddie were the first teammates to have at least 20 points in a half in Game 7 since Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston did it for the Knicks in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Suns: Phoenix shot just 6 of 23 (26.1 per cent) from the field in the first quarter. … The Suns hosted another sellout crowd at Footprint Center. Celebrities in attendance included baseball great Alex Rodriguez and rapper Lil’ Wayne. … The Suns are the second team in NBA history to win at least 64 games in the regular season and not make the conference finals. The other was the Mavericks in 2007. … Phoenix has still never won a title since coming into the league in 1968. … Deandre Ayton played just 18 minutes and finished with five points and four rebounds. When asked about Ayton’s lack of playing time, Williams responded “It’s internal.” Ayton did not speak to the media postgame.

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2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7: Rangers host Penguins and Flames take on Stars on Sunday – CBS Sports

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After three Game 7s on Saturday, the thrilling 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue Sunday with another pair of win-or-go-home matchups. Those final two games will finalize the second round, making them must-see TV for hockey fans.

To close the first round, the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames will battle at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2 and on fuboTV (try for free). The series has been a goalie showcase thus far, as Dallas’ Jake Oettinger is No. 2 in save percentage in these playoffs while Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom is second in goals against average. A Stars win would send them to the second round for the first time since their Stanley Cup final run in 2020, and Calgary is seeking its first playoff series win since 2015.

In an absolutely thrilling game, Artemi Panarin sent a shot to the right side of Tristan Jarry’s net to put the Rangers into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Panarin was assisted by Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad on the overtime game winner. Zibanejad was key for the Rangers’ success late in the game as his goal at the 14:15 mark in the third period was what sent it to overtime. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was 3-0 in Game 7s coming into this game. His team finished the night with a 45-30 shot on goal advantage. Sidney Crosby did play in the game, after missing Game 6, and recorded an assist in the loss.   

Follow here for all the live updates of what should be an extremely fun NHL Sunday night.  

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