Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City took a step closer to a fourth title in five seasons with a 1-0 win over second-placed Chelsea on Saturday, opening up a 13-point lead over the London club at the top.
Philippe Coutinho enjoyed a dream debut for Aston Villa as he came off the bench to inspire a 2-2 comeback draw at home to Manchester United, scoring a late equaliser.
Rafa Benitez’s troubles at Everton continued as they suffered a 2-1 loss at Norwich City, who moved off the bottom of the table with their third win of the campaign.
Newcastle United conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, missing the chance to escape the drop zone.
City’s 12th win in a row, thanks to a 70th minute solo strike from Kevin De Bruyne, continues their charge towards a successful defence of their title but manager Pep Guardiola was quick to dismiss such talk.
Third-placed Liverpool are 14 points behind City but have two games in hand, including Sunday’s visit of Brentford.
“(The players) are going to listen to me that it is not true when people say it is over. In January it is impossible it is over,” Guardiola said.
“If Liverpool win the games in hand, it’s eight points. Now my job is to put in the brains of my players to not believe what the people say. But 12 wins – 36 points from 36 – hats off to them,” the Spaniard added.
DE BRUYNE WINNER
After a first half which saw few clear chances, other than Jack Grealish being foiled by Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea had an opportunity to take the lead after the break but Romelu Lukaku’s shot was well saved by Ederson.
City were well in control of the game for large spells and took the points after De Bruyne burst away from N’golo Kante and beat Kepa with a superb shot into the far corner.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was critical about the performance of his attack, in particular Lukaku, who recently had to apologise for an interview with Italian media in which he said he was unhappy with the German nL1N2TK1KT coach’s system.
“He had many ball losses without any pressure, many ball losses in very promising circumstances,” Tuchel told reporters.
“He had a huge chance. We want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, particularly in the first half, we can do much, much better.”
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick described the opening 30 minutes at Villa as the best since he took charge, but he was left struggling to find positives after goals by Jacob Ramsey and Coutinho cancelled out Bruno Fernandes’s double which had United 2-0 up with 20 minutes left.
“It feels more like a defeat,” the German said as his side remained in seventh place.
Norwich threw themselves a lifeline in their battle against relegation but sucked Everton into the mire thanks to a victory at Carrow Road that heaped pressure on Benitez.
An own goal by Michael Keane and Adam Idah’s close-range finish in the space of two first half minutes broke Norwich’s goal famine that had spanned six league games.
Richarlison halved the deficit on the hour to set up a tense finale but Norwich hung on, with Everton’s travelling fans venting their anger at Benitez.
Norwich moved up to 18th place with 13 points, six behind 15th-placed Everton who have lost nine of their last 12 league games but have two matches in hand on the Canaries.
Newcastle United had hoped the addition of 25 million pound ($34.18 million) New Zealand striker Chris Wood, signed from relegation rivals Burnley in midweek, would boost their survival chances but they had to settle for a point at home to Watford.
Allan Saint-Maximin put the hosts in front four minutes after the break with a brilliant solo effort but Watford’s Joao Pedro popped up to head home brilliantly in the 88th minute.
Newcastle are in 19th on 12 points, one ahead of bottom club Burnley, who have three games in hand of United after their fixture at home to Leicester City was postponed due to COVID-19.
“We’ve damaged ourselves to a point, but you always have an opportunity to bounce back,” Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said.
Eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers continued their good form with a 3-1 home win over Southampton thanks to goals from Raul Jimenez, Conor Coady and Adama Traore.
($1 = 0.7314 pounds)
(Reporting by Simon Evans and Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)
Instigator call the turning point in Rangers’ Game 4 win over Hurricanes – Sportsnet.ca
Yep. They picked up right where they left off.
Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes ended with tensions high and there was some obvious carryover into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden that saw the Blue Shirts even the series with a 4-1 victory.
Whistles were few and far in between during a frenetic first half of the opening period as both teams traded chances. The Rangers controlled much of the high-paced action and eventually began winning more puck battles than the Hurricanes.
Then the key turning point of Game 4 occurred.
Jacob Trouba absolutely walloped Max Domi near the penalty boxes with a hard hit at the 11:38 mark.
Steven Lorentz was in the vicinity when the open-ice hit was delivered. Instead of merely taking Trouba’s number, Lorentz immediately came to the defence of his teammate and dropped the mitts with Trouba in a rare playoff scrap.
Trouba unquestionably contacted Domi’s head, just as the Hurricanes’ forward’s feet were sliding out from beneath him mind you, yet the officials deemed it a clean hit.
The sequence resulted in an instigator call on Lorentz.
Carolina’s bench, plus head coach Rod Brind’Amour, were visibly upset when Trouba only received five for fighting.
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant told the broadcast at the first intermission “it was a great hit” before adding “Domi had his head down a little bit.”
Domi, of course, was involved in the rough stuff at the end of that heated Game 3 over the weekend.
The instigator call certainly seemed to affect the Hurricanes on the penalty kill and the Rangers capitalized with Lorentz in his team’s locker room as part of the 2-5-10 he was assessed.
Carolina was relatively sloppy while a man down and a turnover in their own end led to a missed opportunity to clear the zone. That led to Adam Fox patiently making a cross-ice saucer pass to Andrew Copp who neatly slide the puck to Frank Vatrano and the winger beat Antti Raanta low glove to open the scoring.
Brind’Amour, while wanting his players to be more disciplined, was fairly subdued in his post-game comments. He did mention he thought Trouba should’ve been given a cross-checking minor for getting his stick up on Lorentz prior to the brief punch-up.
“We’re not out there to catch guys (with their heads down) or play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said of Trouba’s hit after the game. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we’re there and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two minutes changed the course of the game. … It’s not headhunting at all. It’s a good hit and their response warranted a penalty.”
Copp added his second assist of the period moments later when Fox, who leapfrogged Cale Makar for the active post-season lead in points among blueliners, tipped in his fourth of the playoffs on a Ryan Lindgren shot.
Lindgren, who has been excellent for the Rangers since returning to the lineup, was named the second star thanks to his two-assist night. Copp and Vatrano, both acquired in March trades, were named first and third stars of the game, respectively.
While there’s plenty of blame to go around on the Carolina side of the equation, Raanta’s performance is not why the series is even as it shifts back to PNC Arena.
Raanta did allow four goals on 28 shots, sure, however he also made a handful of highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.
Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin were both separately stopped by Raanta on breakaway backhand deke attempts and he flashed the leather on Chris Kreider, yet his best of the night was against Mika Zibanejad.
The bigger concern for Carolina continued to be the lacklustre power play. It was only 5-for-43 in the playoffs prior to Game 4 where the issues persisted.
Carolina didn’t have trouble entering the zone when a man up. It’s just they couldn’t do much beyond moving the puck around the perimeter once the zone was established.
Their first man advantage of Game 4 occurred midway through the second period although the best scoring chance and only shot on goal during that PP was generated by the Rangers.
Brind’Amour’s group couldn’t get anything going with Lafreniere in the box serving a goalie interference minor early in the final frame either and they finished the night 0-for-2.
The Hurricanes were down by three goals heading into the third period and to say putting three behind Ilya Shesterkin in a single period is a tall task would be an understatement.
The soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner had his shutout bid ended by Teuvo Teravainen in the third but that’s all Carolina could muster.
Brind’Amour didn’t even bother pulling his goalie in the final few minutes with the score 4-1.
There was some more pushing and shoving at the final horn with Ryan Reeves giving Domi the business – which was likely more fallout from the Game 3 rough stuff – but nothing escalated further.
The Hurricanes are winless on the road this post-season but perfect at home so they’ll appreciate Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.
This series is now officially a best-of-three.
Oilers push Flames to brink of elimination behind Nugent-Hopkins, Kane's 4 combined goals – CBC Sports
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the night with 3:27 left in regulation as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ second-round playoff series.
Evander Kane, with his NHL-best 11th and 12th of the post-season, and Zach Hyman had the other goals for Edmonton, which got 29 saves from Mike Smith. Leon Draisaitl added three assists.
Connor McDavid also had two assists to give him a league-topping 25 points in 11 playoff outings this spring for the Oilers, who kept their foot on the gas with a third straight victory over their provincial rival.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 shots.
“The main thing was that we had to keep pushing,” Nugent-Hopkins said after Rasmus Andersson scored short-handed from 150 feet away to claw the visitors all the way back from a 3-0 deficit. “Stuff like that happens, it’s hockey. Bounces happen.
“There was no quit.”
Edmonton interim head coach Jay Woodcroft credited Nugent-Hopkins, who was playing just the 32nd playoff game of his 11-season career, for stepping up with the team wobbling.
“It’s inspiring,” said Woodcroft, whose Oilers are now one win from making the Western Conference final for the first time since 2006. “There’s room for greatness from everybody on our team.
“Tonight was Ryan’s moment.”
After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 3-2 through 40 minutes, Calgary improbably knotted things in the third on an Edmonton power play when Andersson fired a 150-foot clearing attempt from his own end that somehow fooled Smith at 10:56 and stunned Rogers Place.
WATCH | Flames’ Andersson scores short-handed goal from distance:
But with the Oilers wobbling, Nugent-Hopkins shovelled home his fourth of the playoffs from Markstrom’s doorstep to send the nervous crowd into a frenzy.
Andersson then took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 2:40 left to effectively kill off the game before Kane iced it into an empty net.
“I can laugh now, right?” a relieved Smith said as throngs of Edmonton fans cheered wildly on the street outside the Oilers Hall of Fame Room where the team conducts its media availabilities. “I don’t think there’s been a time in my career where I’ve lost the puck, where I have no idea where it went.
“You don’t want that to happen … ever. It was an unbelievable goal by Nuge at the end there … a win is a win.”
WATCH | Nugent-Hopkins leads Oilers to big victory over Flames:
Edmonton also held a 2-1 series lead in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings only to play what the Oilers described as their worst performance of the month in a 4-0 loss.
They won’t be thrilled with this Game 4 either, but got the victory for a stranglehold on the series.
“We all believe in this group,” Andersson said. “We’ve been a good team all year and we’ve been strong on home ice. We’ve just got to go home and focus on winning one game and take it from there.
“Obviously we’re in a tough situation.”
Markstrom’s struggles, Oilers’ early lead
Markstrom, who had allowed 14 goals in the series before getting pulled after two periods with Calgary trailing Sunday’s Game 3 by a 4-0 score line, played the puck behind his own net on the first shift, but put it right on Nugent-Hopkins’ stick for him to bury his third inside a deafening arena.
The goal was the third-fastest in Oilers’ playoff history, just short of McDavid (19 seconds in 2020) and Fernando Pisani (16 seconds in 2006).
Calgary winger Tyler Toffoli then took a tripping penalty and the Oilers made the visitors pay when Hyman outmuscled a hobbled Chris Tanev — back in the lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the opening round despite a suspected upper-body injury — in tight to bury his fifth goal of the series and seventh of the playoffs at 9:53.
The Flames, who topped the Pacific Division in the regular season, pushed back with a couple of decent shifts, but Kane, who was coming off a natural hat trick in Game 3, made it 3-0 with 66 seconds remaining in the period on a shot that nicked off blue-liner Nikita Zadorov.
Calgary finally showed some life on slick power play in the second with Kane off for slashing, and Lindholm eventually picked the top corner for his fifth at 9:04 after the Oilers twice failed to clear the defensive zone.
Backlund got the Flames within one at 3-2 just 36 seconds later when he stepped past Duncan Keith and fired his fourth past Smith.
Smith made a good stop on a Lindholm power-play chance early in the third before the home side got its second man-advantage with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Markstrom kept his team within striking distance with a terrific pad stop on Draisaitl, who became the first player in NHL history to register three-plus points in four straight playoff games with an assist on the Oilers’ empty-net goal.
Button believes Vasilevskiy is the best in the business: 'There's not even a debate' – TSN
A hockey podcast that doesn’t talk about last night’s scores. The BarDown podcast will investigate, uncover and explore long-form stories at the intersection of sports, pop culture, technology. We’re answering the hockey questions that no one asked.
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