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Raptors record biggest comeback in franchise history to beat Dallas – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors had dug themselves a 30-point hole and looked headed for their worst game of the season. The mood in the huddle, said coach Nick Nurse, was “really bad.” His team had a flight to catch to Indiana later that night, and another game to play less than 24 hours later.

The Raptors could have called it a night early. Instead, led by a remarkable fourth-quarter performance by Kyle Lowry, the Raptors recorded their greatest comeback in franchise history Sunday in a 110-107 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

“We have always been a team that fights,” Nurse said. “In my time here, we hardly ever mail it in. It’s a good characteristic to have.”

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Lowry scored 20 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors roared back from a 30-point third-quarter deficit.

“I think that was a one-off game, but you could see how hard we played, and that’s something you take from and you continue to build on,” Lowry said. “That’s the part of that game you take and say ‘Yeah, that’s a hard-playing team right there,’ no matter what, we were down whatever we were, it didn’t even feel like it, we just went out there and played.”

The all-star point guard added 10 assists and eight rebounds and, with a couple of minutes to play, the capacity crowd of 19,800 fans Scotiabank Arena broke into chants of “Low-ry! Low-ry!”

“He was unbelievable, right?” Nurse said. “And he really didn’t have that good a game going until that point, too. Then he started firing and making and driving and and-one-ing — he was doing it all. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it.”

Montreal’s Chris Boucher scored a career-high 21 points, including a huge dunk in the dying seconds. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 18 points for the undermanned Raptors (21-8), who were playing without Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder).

Jalen Brunson had 21 points for the Mavericks (19-10), who were missing star guard Luka Doncic for the fourth consecutive game (ankle). Toronto native Dwight Powell added 17 points.

Toronto’s largest comeback before Sunday came when it erased a 25-point deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons 120-116 on Dec. 11, 2010.

It’s also the first 30-point comeback in the league since Dec. 21, 2009, when the Sacramento Kings overcame a 35-point hole to beat the Chicago Bulls 102-98.

Dallas has been one of the best road teams this season, arriving in Toronto with an 11-2 away record. The Raptors played the gracious host for most of the afternoon. The Raptors had an early 12-point lead, but without any sustained energy on either side of the court, saw that quickly evaporate. When Powell slashed to the rim for a layup late in the third quarter, the Mavericks went ahead by 30.

Trailing 86-63 to start the fourth, the Raptors finally showed some life. They chipped away at the deficit and when Lowry drilled a three-pointer with 8:05 to play, glancing over at the Dallas bench as the ball dropped, the Raptors were within 10 points.

“All (Lowry) said was ‘keep pushing,”’ Boucher said. “He led us the right way, put us in great spots. Kyle does that every time. Even when people don’t see it. Kyle’s a great leader.”

Lowry’s heroics continued, and when he dropped a shoulder and drove to the hoop for a layup with 5:59 to play, it was a two-point game. Back-to-back Lowry three-pointers had the Raptors up by five with 3:05 to play. It was Lowry again with a layup with 1:18 to play to give Toronto a four-point cushion.

Dallas took a one-point lead on a pair of Kristaps Porzingis free throws, but Lowry handed off to Boucher for an emphatic dunk with 19 seconds to play to put the Raptors back on top.

“I’m surprised (Lowry) saw me,” Boucher said. “I was just running for the offensive rebound and he saw me coming through. I missed a couple of layups today so I made sure I was going to hit that one and finish strong.”

Bunson’s shot with two seconds left bounced off the rim, then Boucher headed to the line for a pair of free throws, the icing on the Raptors’ 47-point quarter.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle took “full responsibility” for his team’s loss.

“Very disappointing loss,” he said. “We got to a point where we lost our aggression. When you get hit with that kind of force, you’ve got to respond with equal or greater force, and we just didn’t do it soon enough.”

Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 16 points on the night, said it was a great lesson for Dallas.

“They were just taking it to us. Before you knew it, they cut the lead to 10 and then cut the lead to five,” he said. “It shows that whenever you’re up that much, you can’t let up, you can’t back down from the competition, you can’t ease yourself into the win because the game isn’t even over yet.”

The Raptors, who lost 110-102 in Dallas on Nov. 16, raced out to an early 12-point lead, thanks largely to the Mavericks’ poor shooting in the quarter — 21.7 per cent. But the Mavs started to find their shooting groove toward the end of the frame, and pulled to within 20-17 heading into the second.

Toronto struggled mightily in the second quarter, connecting on just one of seven shots from behind the arc. Porzingis’s three with just under four minutes left in the half capped a 16-2 Mavericks run that put the visitors up by eight points.

The Mavs had possession for just 4.1 seconds to end the half, but Porzingis still managed to launch a 30-footer at the buzzer, and Dallas headed into halftime with a 51-42 lead.

The Raptors are in Indianapolis against the Pacers on Monday, then return home to host the Boston Celtics on Christmas day.

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Rangers stay unbeaten in post-season, take 3-0 stranglehold on Hurricanes

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The New York Rangers took a stranglehold on the Carolina Hurricanes with a 3-0 lead in their second-round series thanks to a 3-2 overtime win on Thursday night.

It was an absolute heartbreaker for the Hurricanes, who tied things up with 1:36 to go in the third period, to the absolute delight of their raucous home crowd in Raleigh. But fewer than two minutes into overtime, Artemi Panarin deflected one in to give New York the win, sucking the air out of PNC Arena.

This is the seventh straight win for New York, who are perfect these playoffs after sweeping Washington in Round 1.

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Carolina badly outshot New York for the third straight game, and got nothing in return for its efforts. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was again his team’s best player.

Panarin’s tipper gives Rangers the overtime win in Game 3

Here are our takeaways from New York’s incredible seventh straight playoff win:

Good start for the Canes, Guentzel heating up

This game felt promising for Carolina early on, and it was Jake Guentzel who gave the Hurricanes the 1-0 lead midway through the first, tipping in a Dmitry Orlov point shot.

The Caniac fans lost it and the smoke machines went off after that, and PNC Arena was rocking.

The 29-year-old Guentzel is heating up, as he’s been known to do this time of year, with three goals in the last two games. He now has 65 points in 65 career playoff games.

Bad blood

There was a bit of an on-ice rumble late in the first, and it resulted in four penalties — two for each team.

Penalties handed to Rangers, Hurricanes as emotions run high

It started when Rangers centre Barclay Goodrow skated in hard and gave Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov a poke on the glove, and that set everybody off. Jimmy Vesey went after Orlov. Goodrow starting yapping at the Hurricanes bench, who had plenty to say back. A bunch of skirmishes went on, and then Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Vesey threw their gloves down to fight, but the refs quickly broke that up.

During a TV timeout, Hurricanes defender Tony DeAngelo dropped his gloves while he was standing in front of his bench, yelling at a bunch of Rangers standing in front of their bench.

Tensions were high.

Big test for Kochetkov

After two straight losses to open this series, the Hurricanes opted to give Frederik Andersen a rest, and turned to Kochetkov.

It marked Kochetkov’s first game this post-season, and his second playoff start ever. The 24-year-old Russian netminder hadn’t started a game since April 14.

He wasn’t tested a whole lot early, but Kochetkov came up with some big saves in the game, including a beautiful poke-check on Filip Chytil, who returned to New York’s lineup after being out with an injury since January.

Kochetkov gave his team a chance to win on Thursday, and had 22 saves in the loss.

Shorty equalizer

As if the Hurricanes power play wasn’t woeful enough — 0-14 in this series so far — the Rangers tied things up in the second period while a man down.

Zibanejad and Kreider connect to score shorthanded goal

Off a broken play, Mika Zibanejad picked up the puck off the boards and headed up the left wing, while Chris Kreider drove to the net like a rocket. Zibanejad hit him with a nice little saucer pass, which Kreider deflected off his backhand to beat Kochetkov five-hole.

Kreider then launched himself into the glass in celebration — a 32-inch vertical, as measured by Sportsnet’s Hockey Central panel. None of the Carolina fans in those front rows liked that jump one bit.

Kreider now has three goals in the last two games.

Quick release go-ahead goal

Panarin fought off a check and managed to shovel a backhand pass over to Alexis Lafreniere, and the 22-year-old got his wrist shot off immediately, firing it through the legs of the defender, and into the top corner, glove side, to give the Rangers their first lead in this game, 6:25 into the third.

Lafreniere gives Rangers lead with one-time snipe in Game 3

It was Lafreniere’s third goal of the post-season, and he’s now riding a four-game point streak.

There were a few Rangers fans sitting in the front row, and they were all on their feet, and an amped-up Lafreniere skated over there during his celebration and yelled, “What’s up!” while he got hugs from his teammates.

What was up? The Rangers were, 2-1.

Svechnikov comes up huge

The game-tying goal came from just the guy you expected to pot it: Andrei Svechnikov.

The winger had been buzzing all game, creating opportunities with his size and speed and hands, and this one came after Carolina had pulled their goalie, with just 1:36 on the clock and fans on their feet.

Svechnikov scores late tying goal to force OT in Game 3

Svechnikov pounced on a rebound in the slot and beat Svechnikov on the blocker side, sending those fans into an absolute tizzy and eventually sending this game into overtime.

Breadman the OT hero

Last game’s hero in double-OT, Vincent Trochek, picked up a rim around the boards and dished it over to Panarin, and with a quick deflection, that was that. This one was over just 1:43 into overtime.

Panarin ran on the ice, then pretended to kick a field goal just before his teammates covered him with hugs.

Game 4 is Saturday at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet at PNC Arena.

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Toronto pounds Minnesota with 4-0 win in PWHL playoff opening

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PWHL Toronto forward Sarah Nurse defends the puck from PWHL Minnesota defender Sophie Jaques as PWHL Toronto takes on PWHL Minnesota in the inaugural playoff game at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto on May 8.Sammy Kogan�/The Globe and Mail

For the top-seeded team from Toronto, the first playoff game in the Professional Women’s Hockey League was everything it could have asked for.

In front of a packed house of 8,473 on Wednesday night, Toronto pounded Minnesota 4-0 in the opening game of their best-of-five series – the initial glimpse of playoff hockey in this breakout new league.

Natalie Spooner etched her name in the history books for the second time this year, as the PWHL’s inaugural scoring champ scored the league’s first postseason goal. Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull had a two-goal night.

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It was the league’s first game inside Coca-Cola Coliseum – a move prompted by big ticket demand in the city to see this team. Toronto had played its regular-season home games at 2,500-seat Mattamy Athletic Centre this season and sold out each one.

The PWHL says it has not yet made any decisions about where the Toronto team will play home games next season. But it’s hard to imagine a better audition for the franchise to play more often at Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, than Wednesday’s game. The crowd was engaged, dotted heavily with blue jerseys, families, and lots of young girls with handmade signs with message such as, “MY PWHL.” Tickets for the game – ranging from $32 to $117 – were hard to secure. Most, outside a few in standing room, sold out in minutes.

The Toronto team expected to pack the place, especially after selling out the NHL rink in town for one game earlier this year.

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PWHL Toronto players celebrate forward Natalie Spooner’s first goal of the game.Sammy Kogan�/The Globe and Mail

“Having home crowds like that really helps calm the nerves,” said Turnbull. “We kind of knew what to expect, after our game at Scotiabank [Arena], and then having these games sell out just as quickly as that one did.”

The league is exploring getting Toronto PWHL into a bigger home rink next season, if even for some games. Teams had 12 home dates in the first season’s 24-game schedule, but that will grow to a 30-game schedule next season, with 15 dates at home.

Per a unique PWHL playoff rule, top-seeded Toronto got to pick its first-round opponent, either fourth-seeded Minnesota or third-seeded Boston. The team from the State of Hockey was determined to make Toronto pay for that choice, but in fact, in Game 1, Minnesota didn’t at all resemble the star-powered group they had been at times earlier this year.

The past few days had not been comfy for Minnesota. The team backed into the playoffs, not on its own win, but thanks to a loss by Ottawa on Sunday. That’s when Minnesota learned it qualified for the playoffs. Then Toronto had 24 hours to decide who to play, leaving the other three playoff teams swinging for a day, waiting to make travel plans. The PWHL’s teams travel commercially, so Minnesota left home bright and early Tuesday for Toronto.

Spooner opened the scoring midway through the first period, when the Canadian Olympic gold medalist floated in on the wing and fired a wrist shot past Minnesota goalie Nicole Hensley, nestling it just inside the post. It was the Scarborough native’s 21st of the season in Game No. 25.

The stadium DJ blared Toronto’s goal song, Lady Gaga’s Applause, by now synonymous with the PWHL’s top-scoring team. A sign from one fan celebrated the 33-year-old player who juggles a toddler son: “Spooner=Mom Power.”

Minutes later, after doing a quick on-bench interview, Spooner was back on the ice, pouncing on a mid-ice turnover and racing in for a breakaway with a defender clinging to her. Minnesota thwarted that chance and was tracking Spooner’s every step, but she wiggled loose to make things happen all night.

Emma Maltais scored Toronto’s second goal, early in the second period. Sarah Nurse carried it end to end then dished a pass to Maltais, who cajoled Hensley across her crease then tucked it in the five-hole.

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Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull had a two-goal night.Sammy Kogan�/The Globe and Mail

Spooner set up Toronto’s third goal, delivering a pass across the mouth of the net to Turnbull, who directed it in. Turnbull added another goal in the third. Toronto’s firepower was too much.

“Anytime Spooner has the puck and she’s close to the net, she’s either putting an accurate shot where the goalie is not, or she’s making a hard pass to someone’s blade,” said Turnbull. “Snytime she has the puck in the ozone, you know, she’s a threat.”

Toronto used depth, looked like a team balanced, confident and sturdy enough to weather a playoff run. Even the 13th forward got decent minutes. No need to lean too heavily on stars just yet.

“The success of our team is in the variance,” said Toronto Coach Ryan.

Minnesota – a talented squad spotted with U.S. national team stars, from Kendall Coyne Schofield to Grace Zumwinkle and No. 1 draft pick Taylor Heise – had chances. It outshot Toronto 26-19, 11-4 in just the second period.

But Toronto goalie Kristen Campbell kicked away or absorbed Minnesota’s attempts, including a slapper by Zumwinkle at close range. As Toronto fans have all season, they reacted to Campbell’s saves by hollering SOUP!

Toronto’s league-leading penalty kill was staunch again, denying Minnesota some prime opportunities.

As it has all year, Toronto blared Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 after securing the win, a nod to the women who now make a living playing hockey.

Game 2 will take place Friday in Toronto before the series swings to Saint Paul, Minn.

Boston and Montreal will play Game 1 of the other semi-final series at Place Bell, an AHL rink that seats more than 10,000, on Thursday in Laval, Que. Game 2 in the Toronto series is Friday night.

The final two teams will battle for the Walter Cup later this month.

With the playoff audience tuned in on Wednesday, the PWHL released some data on its inaugural season: total attendance of 392,259 for its 72 games; more than 40 corporate sponsorships; one million social-media followers and 238 million total impressions; plus 100,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel, with viewers from 88 countries.

 

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Canucks' Game 1 win over Edmonton Oilers raises uncomfortable question – Edmonton Journal

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In the most crucial times, with the game on the line, Vancouver was in charge. Just like they were in the regular season

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Maybe it’s nothing serious.

Then again, maybe it’s the beginning of the end.

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The picture is all kinds of blurry right now in the wake of Vancouver’s rousing 5-4 comeback victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their much-anticipated playoff series.

The Oilers said over and over again before this showdown started that their 0-4 regular season record against the Canucks didn’t mean a thing — that they are a very different team than the one Vancouver rag-dolled in October and November — and spent the first 35 minutes of Game 1 proving it.

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Their power play was clicking, their offence was cooking, they needed less than half a game to expose Vancouver’s rookie goalie and they had a commanding 4-1 lead on the road.

The universe was unfolding as it should.

Now, after a staggering four-goal collapse that had everyone who’s been watching the Oilers down the stretch and in the playoffs shaking their head in bewilderment, some unnerving thoughts are creeping into the discussion.

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Stuart Skinner #74 of the Edmonton Oilers saves a shot on goal by Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game One of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 08, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Derek Cain /Getty Images

The Canucks, whose only hope was supposed to be a suffocating defensive posture, just beat the Oilers in a nine-goal game. They dominated play when it mattered most, they showed more composure, they got better goaltending, they scored the timely goals and they closed out the lead.

Consider that when it was 4-1 Edmonton with 6:49 to go in the second period, the Oilers had 14 shots on net. When it was 5-4 Vancouver with five minutes left in the game, the Oilers still had 14 shots.

In the most crucial times, with the game on the line, Vancouver was in charge. Just like they were in the regular season. And, suddenly, those four regular season victories are back on the table.

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Suddenly it’s fair to ask if maybe the Canucks didn’t post those early wins because the Oilers were in a funk during the first 11 games of the season, but maybe the Oilers were in a funk during the first 11 games of the season because they kept playing the Canucks.

That isn’t something the Oilers faithful even want to think about right now, much less believe, but at 5-0 this year the Canucks can fully argue that they have Edmonton’s number. Combine that with fact that teams winning Game 1 end up winning the series 68 per cent of the time and it gets spooky in a hurry.

oilers canucks nhl playoffs
Vancouver Canucks’ Conor Garland, left, celebrates his goal as Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse reacts during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Photo by DARRYL DYCK Darryl Dyck /THE CANADIAN PRESS

And, if that wasn’t enough, the Canucks are starting to look like a team of destiny. They’re down to a third-string rookie goalie who closed out the last series with a shutout, they won a game with 12 shots on net, they won another one when they were losing 3-1 with 2:49 to play and now they turn 1-4 into 5-4 against the favoured Oilers in 17 wild minutes.

If you’re cheering for Edmonton, this is a lot to worry about.

Now, the Oilers were losing Game 1 of a playoff series when the Canucks were crossing their fingers at the draft lottery, so falling behind 1-0 to Vancouver isn’t going to rattle them.

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But, make no mistake about it, they are one game away from being rattled. If the Canucks give them more of the same in Game 2 and go 6-0 on the year and 2-0 in the series, it going to be a very serious problem.

Right now, this is the part where the Oilers are supposed to keep their calm and do what they did after Los Angles gave them a similar slap in Game 2 of round one. Edmonton lost that game 5-4, Stuart Skinner wasn’t good (three goals on seven first period shots) and the team needed a response.

They got it. And this team’s overall body of work (45-15-5 down the heart of their stretch drive and a complete and convincing five-game win over Los Angeles) suggests they’ll get it again.

Skinner still has some playoff demons to exorcise, but the way he fought back after losing Game 2 to the Kings has you believing Wednesday night is the exception to who he is in the post-season now, not the rule.

And they will almost certainly get a better game from their captain. Connor McDavid couldn’t get much of anything done in Game 1. He was limited to one secondary assist, zero shots on net and went 28 per cent in the faceoff circle.

And they will all be saying a silent prayer that whatever it was that kept Leon Draisaitl out for half of the second period and slowed him in the third won’t be a problem in Game 2.

One way or another, the picture comes a little more into focus Friday night. 

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  1. Stuart Skinner #74 of the Edmonton Oilers saves a shot on goal by Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game One of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 08, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Don’t look now, but the Canucks are still beating the Edmonton Oilers

  2. Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) is checked by Edmonton Oilers' Vincent Desharnais (73) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on April 13, 2024.

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E-mail: rtychkowski@postmedia.com

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