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Stanley Cup Finals: Avalanche blow out Lightning for 2-0 series lead – USA TODAY

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NHL Stanley Cup: Putting the Lightning’s three-peat bid in historical perspective

Mackenzie Salmon and Andy Nesbitt put into perspective how rare and impressive Tampa’s three-peat bid is and why it won’t be a cake walk to complete it against a stout Colorado team.

USA TODAY

DENVER – The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning are well-schooled in the art of erasing deficits.

They came within 11 minutes of elimination by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. They spotted two games to the New York Rangers to open the Eastern Conference final. Even in a Game 1 Stanley Cup Final loss to the Colorado Avalanche, they staggered in the face of a first-period barrage, but quickly pulled even before falling in overtime.

They will need another comeback – the most daunting one yet against their most talented opponent yet – if they are to become the first franchise in nearly 40 years to three-peat.  

Such is the case after Colorado steamrolled to a 7-0 victory Saturday night at Ball Arena, putting the Lightning on the ropes in the opening minutes, on the mat by the middle of the second period and powering to a 2-0 lead in the series.

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“We’ve shown a propensity to push back for years. Tonight we didn’t,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. “If this becomes a common theme in the series, it will probably be a short one, but I never doubt the guys in the room. Does it suck losing a game like that? For sure. We’re not used to it. It doesn’t really happen to us. Is it going to happen at times? Yeah, it is. You just hope it doesn’t happen in the Stanley Cup Final.

“We’ve been able to circle the wagons and respond. Disappointed in the way the game went tonight, no question, but I’m not questioning our team. They’re ballers.”

Cooper certainly thought Saturday night would be a circle-the-wagons moment, saying less than two hours before the puck dropped that he was confident his team would play “a heck of a lot better” over the first 10 minutes than it did Wednesday night in this building, when the Lightning fell behind 2-0 quickly and trailed 3-1 after the first period.

Instead, veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh took a roughing penalty 61 seconds into the game and the Avalanche converted near the end of the power play when Valeri Nichushkin dove in front of the net and cashed in a pass from Game 1’s overtime hero Andre Burakovsky that went right through three on-looking Tampa defenders.

“It was all downhill from there,” Cooper said.

Indeed, Colorado dominated in every facet, opening up a 23-12 shots advantage through two periods, holding the Lightning to a fistful of real scoring opportunities and playing like the thoroughly superior group across the board.

“I thought it was exceptional,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought our guys played hard right from the drop of the puck. Highly committed on the defensive side of things, dangerous offensively, tenacious on pucks, relentless puck pursuit and that was throughout our entire lineup.”

Nichushkin added another goal and an assist, while Burakovsky tallied a goal himself and another helper before leaving the game with an injury after just 7:51 of total ice time and 1:22 after the first period. Star defenseman Cale Makar added a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal in the third period for good measure.

The Avalanche again proved up to the task of beating Tampa Bay’s excellent goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got little in the way of help from his defense as Colorado dominated offensive zone time and peppered shots toward the net at will.

Even after a blowout loss in front of a frothing crowd in a city longing to return to the top of the hockey world, though, it is dangerous to count out the two-time defending champions.

“We’re not expecting that (margin of victory) to happen anymore,” Colorado forward Darren Helm said. “We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas. It’s going to be a lot tougher going into Tampa.”

Toronto could practically smell a first-round victory when, leading a first-round series 3-2, it poured in three consecutive second-period goals and carried a 3-2 lead into the third period of a potential put-away game. Instead Nikita Kucherov sent the game to overtime and Brayden Point delivered in overtime before Tampa forged a 2-1, Game 7 win.

Perhaps the Rangers also thought they had Tampa right where they wanted them, scoring nine goals in a pair of opening wins before watching Vasilevskiy find his form and surrender just five more over a powerful, four-game response from the Lightning.

“We’re in the playoffs and does it feel different? We lost one of the games 6-2 to the Rangers, we lost one 7-0 (tonight),” Cooper said. “They’re two completely different teams and two completely different series. The common factor is we’re down 0-2 to both of them. We’ve written one story, now we just have to write another. For me, it’s regardless of whether you win 7-0 or 4-3 in overtime, you still lose the game.”

Whether Colorado finishes the job and raises the Cup for the first time since 2001 remains to be seen, but this hole certainly feels deeper than the past ones for Tampa.

The Avalanche, after all, have speed and skill across the roster. They have premier players like Makar and Nathan MacKinnon, certainly, but this series has been about the likes of Nichushkin and Burakovsky, who have been too much for Tampa’s defense to handle.

“That’s been the story of our team pretty much all year,” Helm said of the lineup-wide contributions.

It’s been about Helm himself, who has racked up 22 hits through two games, won 5-of-7 faceoffs on Saturday and scored a goal on a breakaway.

“He’s playing to win,” Bednar said simply.

It’s been about goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who outside of one 48-second blip on Wednesday night, has turned in rock solid work in his return from injury.

It has not yet been about Nazem Kadri, the talented center without whom the Avs have built a 2-0 lead but who could return to action at some point in the series depending on how his surgically repaired thumb holds up to more intense on-ice work.

Regardless of who’s been in the lineup and who’s done the scoring over the past six-plus weeks, Colorado’s playoff performance at this point is undeniably dominant. The Avalanche are now 14-2 in the postseason overall and ride a seven-game winning streak to the Gulf Coast. Perhaps even more impressive: They have not yet lost away from Denver in the postseason. They staked their claim as the Western Conference’s best team in the regular season and have hardly showed signs of wavering in the playoffs.

“As you go along in the playoffs, even previous series, we’re still adapting and learning as a group,” Makar said. “For most of the guys, this is a new experience for them. So you learn from your mistakes, the things you give up in prior games, and then move forward. We learned from last game and wanted to keep that momentum, and we did our best to do that.”

Reminded of the experience discrepancy between the back-to-back champs and his team before Game 1, Bednar responded, “Obviously Tampa, third straight trip and they’ve been one of the top teams in the league for the better part of a decade, lots of experience, know how to win, we get it. …

“They may have more experience, but we’re here to try to prove that we’re the best team in the league. That’s where our mindset is at.”

They’ve dominated the series’ first periods. On the other bench is a talented side that’s been tough to kill.

If there is drama left in this series, it will likely have to begin Monday night in Tampa.  

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Stanley Cup headed for repair shop after drop by Avalanche’s Aube-Kubel – Sportsnet.ca

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It didn’t take long for the Stanley Cup to suffer some damage following the 2021-22 season.

Mere minutes after the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to claim the title on Sunday night, Avs forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel fell while skating with the Cup toward the traditional on-ice team photo.

Aube-Kubel dropped the Cup — and the result was predictable.

“I don’t even know if they even had it five minutes and there’s a dent at the bottom already,” Phil Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s keeper of the Cup, said in an NHL Twitter post.

“Right in the middle of the team photo. It’s the third time the Avalanche have won it. I guess we have a little chat with them soon and go through the process of how we’re going to repair it and that. But the Stanley Cup tour will go on.”

Like all sports trophies, the Cup has taken its share of body blows over the years. But this one was unique.

“I guess it’s a new record today, five minutes into the presentation it has happened. It’s the first time it’s ever happened on the ice,” Pritchard said.

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Alex Newhook Becomes Third Newfoundlander To Win The Cup – VOCM

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s Alex Newhook is a Stanley Cup Champion.

The Colorado Avalanche finally dethroned the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night, holding on for a 2 -1 victory and taking the series 4-2.

Newhook becomes the third Newfoundland player to win the Cup, following Daniel Cleary of Harbour Grace and Bonavista’s Michael Ryder.

Newhook had four points in 12 games this post-season and, at the age of 21, becomes the youngest player from this province to ever win the Cup.

Anticipation now builds toward this summer when it’s expected Newhook and the Cup will make the trip home.

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Andreescu's 3-year title drought extended at Wimbledon tune-up in Germany – CBC Sports

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Caroline Garcia won her first tour title in three years after coming back from a set and a break down to beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany.

Andreescu was looking for her first title since beating Serena Williams in the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows before injuries forced her to miss the entire 2020 season.

“I’m very happy. It’s been a couple of rough years but, you know, I’m putting in the work and on to the next. I’m excited for Wimbledon,” said Andreescu, who became visibly emotional while thanking her team. “You guys stuck with me through the toughest moments and that’s all anyone could ever ask for.”

She has drawn American qualifier Emina Bektas in the first round of Wimbledon next week. Garcia has Yuriko Miyazaki of Britain for her opener.

WATCH | Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final:

Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final

1 day ago

Duration 2:40

France’s Caroline Garcia battled past Canadian Bianca Andreescu to win 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in Germany on Saturday.

Garcia took a medical timeout for what seemed to be a shoulder problem early in the second set. She then went 4-2 down before winning 10 of the next 14 games to seal the match ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday.

“It was a fight [for] every point from the first to the last one,” Garcia said.

Garcia is 8-3 in career finals but her last title was almost exactly three years ago in Nottingham in the build-up to the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.

WATCH | Canadian tennis star Andreescu answers questions from kids: 

Bianca Andreescu answers questions from kids

2 days ago

Duration 4:02

Canadian tennis champ Bianca Andreescu answers questions and offers a few words of advice to young athletes from the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga.

Kvitova captures Eastbourne title

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova tuned up for the Grand Slam tournament by overpowering Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to win the Eastbourne title on Saturday in England.

The 14th-seeded Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career overall – after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve.

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the second set to stay in control of the match at 3-1.

“Playing on the grass is very special for me every time,” the 32-year-old Czech player said in her on-court interview. “It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon, as well.”

Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, plays Tuesday at the All England Club in a first-round match against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

She is now 5-1 in grass-court finals in her career. Her most recent title on grass had been Birmingham in 2018.

Injured Keys, Coric out of Wimbledon

Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, and Borna Coric withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday because of injuries.

The tournament begins Monday.

Keys, an American who was seeded 19th at the All England Club, pulled out because of a hurt abdominal muscle.

She was replaced in the field by Coco Vandeweghe, twice a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and twice a semifinalist at other Grand Slam tournaments, who lost in qualifying this week. Vandeweghe’s first-round opponent will be No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina.

“This isn’t what I was hoping to say a few days before @Wimbledon, but unfortunately I have to withdraw due to an abdominal injury,” world number 24 Keys tweeted.

“I’m so disappointed, but my health comes first and my body needs time to get back to 100%. Lots of love London fans. See you next year.”

Former world No. 7 Keys won her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament in January before reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

She was defeated in the French Open fourth round by Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.

Coric is a Croatian who got into the field thanks to a protected ranking because he has been injured. He cited a shoulder problem for his withdrawal.

He was drawn to face No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman and that spot will be filled by an as-yet-unannounced player who lost in qualifying.

Jaeger: Sexually harassed ‘at least 30 times’

Former teenage tennis phenom Andrea Jaeger said she was sexually harassed “at least 30 times” by a female Women’s Tennis Association staff member during the 1980s.

Jaeger, now 57, also told The Independent she also was unknowingly served alcohol when she was 16 by a different staff member, who drove her home and tried to kiss her.

The two-time Grand Slam finalist was on the tour from ages 14 to 19 and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 1981. Despite her success, she said she made it a habit to avoid WTA officials at tournaments during her five years on tour. Jaeger said much of the harassment occurred in locker rooms.

“I’d change in portable toilets or a bathroom stall because I didn’t want to deal with the comments, the interest or actions of people,” Jaeger said, according to The Independent. “I had at least 30 incidents with one specific non-playing staff member, physical attempts all in the locker room very, very early in my career. That particular non-playing staff employee had a major issue keeping her hands to herself.

“I avoided being in training rooms alone because an approach was made on me there as well.”

Jaeger said she was served multiple alcoholic drinks following the 1982 WTA Championships and began to get fuzzy. An official drove her home.

“When we got to my condo, she walked me to the door and tried something on with me,” Jaeger said. “She was trying to kiss me. I was so sickened that I was crawling up the stairs inside trying not to throw up so my dad wouldn’t see me.”

Jaeger said she complained to WTA officials after the incident and was threatened with reprisals.

She won 10 career titles before retiring at age 19 due to a shoulder injury.

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