WINNIPEG — Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens are feeling the holiday cheer ahead of time.
Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault each scored a pair of goals as the Canadiens won their third of four straight games on the road with a 6-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
Montreal (18-13-6) also won for the sixth time in eight games.
“It’s kind of nice to go into this (Christmas break) feeling good about ourselves,” said Gallagher, who picked up a pair of assists.
“I’ve had the opposite. You know, you lose a few games and it eats at you. You’re able to enjoy Christmas a little more this way, and then when you come back you’ve got another three very, very critical games.”
Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen both contributed a goal and assist for the Canadiens, who head out for three more road games after the break, starting against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Carey Price stopped 27 shots for the Canadiens, who also won their fourth straight game at Bell MTS Place. They last lost in Winnipeg on March 5, 2016.
The crowd at Bell MTS Place included plenty of fans wearing Canadiens jerseys and cheering when the visitors scored.
“Over this road trip, we’ve had a lot of that,” said Montreal rookie forward Nick Suzuki, who had a pair of assists. “People from all over Canada are big Habs fans so it’s awesome to have their support on the road.”
Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine scored for the Jets (21-14-2), who have lost their past three home games at Bell MTS Place. Mark Scheifele assisted on both goals.
Laurent Brossoit made 42 saves for Winnipeg, which is 2-4-0 in its past six games.
“I’m not saying we’re dominating, but their guy made some saves and it’s a real good hockey game,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said of the first period.
“A tough break at 3-1 and then a couple of mistakes and now you’re reeling a little bit. It snowballed on us a little bit there in the second.”
Winnipeg scored the game’s first goal, but Montreal ignited for four goals in a row and led 5-2 after the second period.
Laine had a goal erased after an offside coach’s challenge nine minutes into the first period, but Connor scored his 15th goal of the season at 11:30 on the power play.
Tatar notched his 14th goal at 15:06 with the man advantage and then banged in his second of the game at even strength at 16:38 to make it 2-1.
Montreal outshot Winnipeg 17-16 in the first period, and then 17-6 in the second.
“It’s a bummer. Those definitely go against us,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said of the disallowed goal. “We’ve got to put an emphasis on staying onside I guess.
“It’s too bad. It was a heck of a goal. Real pretty, great play by those guys. That one hurts to come back. Game changed in the second period.”
Danault’s first goal at 4:37 of the second came after Brossoit mishandled the puck. It went to Gallagher, who whirled around and shot it, and Danault batted in the rebound for a 3-1 score.
Danault’s 10th goal of the season came seconds after a face-off to stretch the lead at 8:56 of the second.
“(Price) was big for us,” Danault said. “He made some big saves, and by doing those big saves it gave us a chance to win the game. And obviously, we capitalized on a couple chances we had.”
Laine fired a wrist shot past Price to squeeze the gap 4-2 at 16:14, but a Winnipeg turnover led to Domi’s goal off a rebound with 40 seconds left in the middle frame.
Domi has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.
Laine has five goals in his past five games. Scheifele has racked up eight goals and seven assists in his past 10 outings.
A Winnipeg defensive turnover led to Lehkonen’s goal at 11:08 of the third. He has a goal and four assists in a three-game run.
Winnipeg hosts the defending Stanley Cup-champion St. Louis Blues on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2019.
Anthony Davis hits buzzer-beater as Lakers grab 2-0 lead over Nuggets – Sportsnet.ca
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Anthony Davis has never been this deep in the playoffs, never had the chance to take such an important shot.
It’s nothing new for the Los Angeles Lakers, though.
So when Davis’ 3-pointer swished through the net as time expired to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, coach Frank Vogel thought of a Laker who had done it before.
“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,” Vogel said. “To me, AD coming off, just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a Mamba shot.”
The Lakers were wearing their black Mamba jerseys. They were co-designed by Bryant, their Hall of Fame guard who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash. Davis said wearing the jerseys that mean so much to the team made his winner feel even better.
“In the jersey we wore tonight, it just makes it even more special,” he said.
Davis finished with 31 points. He scored Los Angeles’ last 10 points and had 22 in the second half to help the Lakers avoid becoming the latest victim of a Denver comeback.
“Special moment for a special player. Happy to be a part of it,” said LeBron James, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds.
The Nuggets had trailed by as much as 16, but Nikola Jokic scored 11 straight Denver points down the stretch, including a basket that made it 103-102 with 20 seconds to play.
Alex Caruso then missed a 3-pointer and Jamal Murray blocked Danny Green’s shot out of bounds with 2.1 seconds to play. Rajon Rondo inbounded under the basket and found Davis curling toward the sideline, and the All-Star forward swished it to put the Lakers halfway to the NBA Finals.
Jokic said there was miscommunication on the final play, when it appeared centre Mason Plumlee let Davis drift free believing there was going to be a switch. Jokic raced out to him, but too late.
“Great players make great shots and he did it, so he’s a really good player,” Jokic said.
Jokic had 30 points and nine assists, and Murray scored 25 points.
Game 3 is Tuesday night.
James carried the Lakers early, with 20 points in the first half. But they went more in the second half to Davis, who had 37 in an easy Game 1 victory.
This one was much tighter and appeared it would be another huge rally by the Nuggets, who were down 16, 19 and 12 in the final three games against the Clippers, when they erased a 3-1 deficit.
They had climbed all the way out this hole when Murray scored for an 87-86 lead with 7:26 to play. But Green and Rondo hit 3-pointers and, after a basket by PJ Dozier, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made another 3 to make it 95-89.
It was 100-92 after another 3 by Davis before Jokic answered with nine straight, tipping in a miss by Murray to give Denver a 101-100 edge with 31 seconds to play. Davis put the Lakers back on top with a basket in the lane, but Jokic backed him down on the other end to put the Nuggets back on top with 20 seconds remaining.
James started 5 of 6 while the rest of the Lakers missed their first 12 shots before Green’s layup 7 1/2 minutes in gave them a 14-12 lead.
The lead was five midway through the second quarter before the Lakers had an 11-0 run that featured a steal and dunk and a 3-pointer by Alex Caruso that pushed it to 52-36 with about 4 minutes remaining in the half. Denver trimmed it to 60-50 at the break.
Nuggets: Denver is 8-8 in this post-season. … Michael Porter Jr. had 15 points. … Dozier was 1 for 5 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Lakers: Los Angeles missed nine of its first 10 shots. … Green and Caldwell-Pope both scored 11 points.
The Lakers said Davis was just the seventh Laker to make a buzzer-beater in the playoffs, a list that includes playoffs. Also on the list: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Metta World Peace.
This was the 30th post-season game between the Lakers and Nuggets. The Lakers lead 23-7 and have won all six series.
Pogacar rides to victory at COVID-defying Tour de France – Sportsnet.ca
PARIS — In a stunning performance for the ages, Tour de France rookie Tadej Pogacar won cycling’s showpiece race Sunday on the eve of his 22nd birthday, becoming the second-youngest winner of the 117-year-old event that this year braved — and overcame — France’s worsening coronavirus epidemic.
Turning him from promising prodigy into cycling superstar, Pogacar became the youngest winner since World War II and the first from Slovenia.
His victory was remarkable, too, for the way in which he sealed it: at the last possible moment, on the penultimate stage before Sunday’s finish on Paris’ Champs-Elysees. During the three-week cycling marathon over all five of France’s mountain ranges and 3,482 punishing kilometres (2,164 miles), Pogacar held the race lead and its iconic yellow jersey for just one stage — the last and most important one into Paris, with a yellow bike to match.
Pogacar KO’d the race and Slovenian countryman Primoz Roglic by snatching away the yellow jersey that he’d worn for 11 days, in a high-drama time trial Saturday.
Their 1-2 is the first for one country since British riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome also took the top spots at the 2012 Tour. Australian Richie Porte rounded out this year’s podium, at age 35, after his brilliant time trial that hoisted him from fourth to third overall.
Irish rider Sam Bennett won the prestigious final sprint on the Champs-Elysees, giving him his second stage win at this Tour. He also won the race’s green jersey, awarded for picking up the most points in sprints during and at the finish of stages.
With jets trailing plumes of red, white and blue smoke above the riders as they raced on the Champs-Elysees, lined with French tricolour flags, the Tour was also celebrating a victory — over the coronavirus.
When the race, delayed because of the epidemic from its usual spot in July, left the start town of Nice three weeks ago, it was unsure that riders would be able to stay virus-free to the finish.
But none of the 176 riders who started, or the 146 finishers, tested positive in multiple batteries of tests, validating the bubble measures put in place by Tour organizers to shield them from infection.
Roadside fans still cheered them on, mostly respecting riders’ pleas that they wear face masks, but were kept well away at stage starts and finishes.
The only COVID-19 positives touched a handful of team employees and the race director, even as infection numbers soared across the country.
The director was back after a week of self-isolation and, in a mask, signalled the start of Sunday’s stage at Mantes-La-Jolie west of Paris with a wave of his flag through the sunroof of his car.
Mask-wearing spectators waiting for the rumble of the riders’ arrival on the handlebar-shaking cobbles of the Champs-Elysees said holding the Tour had lit up a dark year and demonstrated that the coronavirus need not bring all life to a grinding halt, if health measures are respected. The famous boulevard lacked its usual fervour, a victim of the virus, with the usually rows-deep crowds limited to a socially distanced maximum of 5,000 people, clumped in pens by police and barriers.
But Pauline Bourbonnaud, a 22-year-old podiatry student, said it was nothing short of “an exploit, enormous” that the Tour succeeded in keeping riders virus-free. At previous Tours, she’d been roadside when they zoomed through her region in central France. But this year’s postponement to September, when she was back in Paris for her studies, allowed her to soak in the finish for the first time.
“It’s important to have events like this that are diverting. People needed the Tour after a year like this,” she said.
One of the most enthusiastic backers of the pandemic-defying Tour was also its most powerful: French President Emmanuel Macron. With his government trying to revive France’s COVID-battered economy, Macron praised the race as “the pride of the country” and an example of how it must learn to live with the virus and the restrictions it imposes.
“Even in September, the Tour de France is magic!” Macron tweeted Saturday after Pogacar crushed Roglic in the time trial.
Largely deprived of racing as the epidemic tore across the globe, and with those in lockdown only able to keep fit on home trainers, riders arrived at the Tour somewhat race-rusty but with the pent-up energy of caged hounds, their disrupted seasons reconfigured to make them peak physically on cycling’s biggest stage.
After a slow-burn start, with multiple crashes, the racing became increasingly furious. Roglic, the winner of last year’s Spanish Vuelta and a pre-Tour favourite, was backed by a powerful Jumbo-Visma team of star riders devoted to putting him in yellow — achieved on Stage 9 — and then keeping the prized jersey until Paris.
But UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar hadn’t read their script.
He first demolished Roglic’s 57-second lead and then built his own Tour-securing margin of 59 seconds in the time trial, an incredible reversal of fortunes.
The birth of the Pogacar supernova is now set to ripple across the cycling galaxy for years to come. His future rivals are unlikely to repeat Jumbo-Visma’s mistake of allowing him to ride his way back into contention, as he did after losing time in crosswinds in the first week, when he slumped from third to 16th.
By conquering the Tour on his first attempt, Pogacar joined an elite club of rookie winners that includes, among others, the great Eddy Merckx, who ended up winning five. He unseated Egan Bernal, who was 22 when he won last year, as the Tour’s youngest champion since World War II. And he become the race’s second-youngest winner ever, behind only Henri Cornet, who was just shy of 20 when he was crowned in 1904.
The lone Canadian in the race, Hugo Houle, a support rider for the Astana Pro Team, finished 47th. The 29-year-old from Sainte-Perpetue, Que., finished 91st in last year’s Tour.
JONES: Gary Bettman sings praises for Edmonton as Hub City – Edmonton Sun
Article content continued
“I think we need a better sense of when we’re going to get to normalcy before we can commit to any dates.
“As it relates to the World Juniors, I think part of the announcement was an indication from the Oilers organization was what they learned from working with us helped make them a better candidate and a more viable candidate for the world juniors and to whatever extent we can be helpful to making the world junior championships a success, we would of course be willing to do that.
“The cooperation and the expertise we got from the organization that you have here in Edmonton was a critical element in making the logistics of this work and in making this building work as everybody envisioned it could because it’s world class, state-of-the-art. We’re grateful of that support and anything we can do to replay it, you know we will.”
The session that included Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly who Bettman maintained to be the man who actively headed the entire operation, went on for more than an hour. It included a endless parade of reporters asking about next season and Bettman and Daly taking turns on answering them that they had no idea.
“Anything that anybody suggests or reads or writes or commentates about next season is nothing more than speculation,” said Bettman.
“Dec. 1 has always been a notional date. I will not be surprised if it slips into later December. It could slip into January. There’s still too much we don’t know.
“Nobody can tell me whether or not the border between Canada and the United States is going to be open by a date certain. Nobody can tell me what the state of COVID-19 is going to be. Nobody can tell me whether we can have either socially distanced or occupied buildings,” said Bettman.
He did say his intention is still to play a full 82-game schedule, plus playoffs.
One thing for sure, Gary Bettman and the NHL have so far come out of this looking brlliant.
And just for fun, because Bettman has come to have a sense of humor about it, maybe he should get Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer to put on some canned crowd noise of the fans booing, just to make it feel normal when he presents the Cup.
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