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The Edmonton Oilers romp over the Predators 8-3 on a dominant night for Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Journal



Forty minutes in this one could have gone either way.

The Edmonton Oilers had surrendered two leads in Nashville on Monday night over the first two Periods. In years past that would have been the start of a long, sad script toward yet another Edmonton loss in the Music City.

But that was then. In the now, the club instead exploded for five 3rd Period goals in just 5:13 to bury the shell-shocked Nashville Predators 8-3 and send Pekka Rinne to the locker room with his tail between his legs. The furious comeback (led by Leon Draisaitl) vaults the Oilers within a win of the top of the Pacific.

Buried in the sparkling performance by Edmonton’s biggest stars on Monday? That Dave Tippett was able to run his bottom 2 lines for the back half of the 3rd Period. Fresher(er) legs for Lines 1 & 2 tomorrow in Dallas.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

MIKE SMITH. 7. Mike Smith stopped 25 of 28 pucks on the night. A 1st Period save off Matt Duchene was among his best. Another contender was a sharp blocker save off a charging Mikael Granlund, also early. Was all but abandoned on all 3 goals against as the Oilers suffered a couple of serious D-zone breakdowns. But all this guy does is win, lately. Mike Smith still has only 1 regulation loss since Christmas. 19-10-6 on the season. He has earned the #1 job.

LEON DRAISAITL. 10. What an absolutely dominant performance from start to finish by Leon Draisaitl. He registered his 2nd career regular season hat trick and 1st ever 4-goal game. His first was a one-timer off a lovely high slot to the bottom-of-the-circle pass by Connor McDavid. Leon’s 2nd off a slick feed from Yamamoto. His hat-trick goal was a 120-foot give-and-go with Nugent Hopkins, ending in a quick Leon release that beat Rinne 5-Hole. His 4th was a patented back-hand-fore-hand exchange with McDavid from the corner. Added an assist on Yamamoto’s 10th of the season with a great puck battle won along the wall. In the process, also Draisaitl padded his lead atop the NHL scoring race to 107 points, a 13-point bulge over teammate Connor McDavid (ow alone in 2nd spot, by the way). 32nd multiple-point game on the season for #29. Kinda goes without saying…the game’s 1st Star. MVP. MVP. MVP.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 8. Just a gorgeous back-handed pass to Yamamoto for his line mate’s 10th. Then Nugent-Hopkins was part of a splendid end-to-end dash with Draisaitl that ended in Leon’s 3rd and The Nuge’s 2nd helper. 93’s 3rd apple was a Yamamoto-Nugent-Hopkins effort that ended in Draisaitl’s 41st. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 18:59 lead all forwards and was excellent from start to finish. Man, this line is crazy dangerous together. The game’s 3rd star. 12-24-36 since December 31st.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 7. Scored his 10th by finding a quiet sliver of ice around the Pred’s net and quickly converting a Nugent-Hopkins pass short-side. Earned a filthy no-look assist on Draisaitl’s 41st. 2 shots and a block in 16:57. Yamamoto is now +17 in 22 games. Dogged on pucks as we’ve come to expect. Not bad for his first game back from injury. Didn’t look like there was much rust. As per Bob Staffer, the club is 14-5-3 with Yamamoto in the lineup.

DARNELL NURSE. 6. Earned a lovely assist on the Kassian goal with a sharp pass from the corner. Added 2 more on the night as well. Led the D-core in TOI at 26:04. Also had 4 blocked shots. I felt that Nurse could have stayed in the slot on the 2-2 instead of heading into the corner to support Athanasiou (where Sheahan had already headed). One of them should have. But in fairness to #25, it was Athanasiou’s give-away that triggered the break-down. Nurse and his young partner did have their eyes on the puck instead of their 2 men in front on the 3-3.

ETHAN BEAR. 5. An assist with a nice effort to move the puck lower into the zone and then feed Draisaitl in the corner. Was +3 21:02 of work. 1 shot, 3 blocks. On the 2-2, when a forward has a puck deep behind his own circle like that one D-man is supposed to curl back of the goal line and create a pressure valve for his teammate. That’s what Bear did. I saw it as a communication issue between he, 23 and 25. And again, none of that happens if the winger chips or even just eats that puck. Both he and Nurse were puck-watching on the 3-3 though.

CONNOR McDAVID. 9. McDavid scored his goal on his only shot of the game after taking a feed behind the net from Archibald. He then skated a half-horseshoe around all of the Nashville Predators (it seemed, at least) and slung a long, screen wrister past Rinne. Found Archibald in front on a terrific “triangle” passing play around the Pred’s net for the 1-0. A centering pass to Kassian for his marker. A beautiful high-to-low pass to Draisaitl set up the 2-1. Then fed Leon again on the PP for his 4th apple of the night. +3. The game’s 2nd star. That won’t happen often on night when McDavid puts up 5.

JOSH ARCHIBALD. 7. Deposited his 11th on a creative 3-way passing play that buzzed the Pred’s net and ended with Archibald alone in the low slot. Earned an assist on the McDavid goal by starting the play behind the net and then providing the screen in front. Also, a significant contribution (again) on the PK with 1:21 of spotless work. Not sure he’ll stay on that McDavid line but didn’t hurt his chances tonight.

TYLER ENNIS. 6. A well-earned helper on the Archibald goal with 2 nice touches down below the goal line. A “3rd Assist” on the Kassian goal for the initial zone entry. Late to the original shooter on the 3-3 (and, in fact, the goal scorer Bonino had originally been his man as he entered the zone). 2 shots of his own and a block in 14:07. Looks good alongside 97 so far.

ADAM LARSSON. 8. He’s back. Adam Larsson played just a whale of a game. 3 shots on goal and +3 on the night. He was a beast in the D-zone, winning one board battle after another. Registered 5 hits, 2 blocks, 2 take-aways. Was 27-20, 57% All Events CF. He and Jones were the Oilers best D-pairing on this night by a fair margin.

CALEB JONES. 7. But it wasn’t all Adam Larsson on this pairing. Young Caleb Jones was “on” tonight as well. Played a very strong possession game. No assist but the kept the puck in the zone on the 1-0 pay. Ended the night +3. 2 hits in 21:48. He did have a couple turnovers, one early, the other late and with the game well out of reach.

RILEY SHEAHAN. 4. Riley Sheahan was sort of a “Tale of 2 games” on this night. He was buried in terms of possession 5×5. Also-in-Photo on the 2-1. Soft play on the 2-2 goal when his man walked out of the corner on him. But also produced 1:46 of glittering work on the PK, which was a perfect 0-2. 62% on faceoffs. 2 shots.

ZACK KASSIAN. 5. Scored the game’s 6th goal on a wrister from the high slot after a nice centering pass by McDavid. That was one of 3 shots on the evening for Kassian. Landed a heavy hit on Granlund, 1 of 2. Had an early turnover and was also slow-ish to Josi on the 2-1 but shook those off and ended the night in solid enough fashion.

ANDREAS ATHENASIOU. 4. Was principally at-fault on the 2-1 goal. Instead of making a nice, safe chip of the puck behind his own net the winger tried to instead beat his man. The rubber squibbed loose and was in front and in the net in a flash. His game evened out a bit after that. 3 shots in 12 minutes of work. -1.

MATT BENNING. 4. The 3rd pairing struggled And Benning was a significant part of that. Stripped of the puck in the corner on the Josi goal. Lost the possession battle on his watch and was a -1 on a night when his team scored 8. That’s hard to do. A shot, a hit, a block in 14:06. His best work came on the PK in 1:24 of SHTOI.

KRIS RUSSELL. 5. Wasn’t on the ice or the bench for the final few minutes after a blocked shot, which is good news in that it probably is not a re-occurrence of his recent concussion. After clearing the zone with a lovely pass to Draisaitl he limped to the bench and didn’t return. Part of the pain on the 2-1.

JUJHAR KHAIRA. 5. A quiet, efficient game. Strong again on the PK, a role he probably does not get enough credit for. Drew a penalty in the 3rd when he won a board battle and got the puck safely out of the zone despite being tripped in the process. JJ’s on a run of much better performances lately.

GAETAN HAAS. 5. I still worry about how Gaetan Haas can handle the heavy going. But credit where credit due tonight. He created on the attack, played 11:16 and had one shot. Good defensive work. Just 30% on the dot.

ALEX CHIASSON. 5. The puck was headed in the right direction on Chiasson’s watch, a 5×5 CF of 13-5, 72% to pace the club.

We don’t grade the Coach in Cult of Hockey Player Grades. But a stick tap to Dave Tippett for using his time out after the 2-2 goal. It settled his players down and perhaps prevented the game from going in the wrong direction. I also liked how he sent out 97-29-56 after both 1st Period Nashville Power Plays, which helped wrestle back momentum.

This win puts the Oilers at 35-23-8. That’s 79 points, 1 off of the total this club amassed all last season. More importantly, Edmonton is now within 2 points of the Pacific Division lead. More importantly still, 3 points up on the 3rd place Flames, 6 up of the Wild Card cut.

Follow me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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Rocket advance with win in 3OT thriller | – American Hockey League



The Laval Rocket are off to the Eastern Conference Finals after a wild 6-5 triple-overtime victory over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night.

The Rocket completed a three-game sweep of the Amerks and will face either Charlotte or Springfield in the next round.

Working on a power play following a delay of game penalty against Rochester, former Amerk Jean-Sébastien Dea wristed a shot that beat Aaron Dell at 1:51 of the third OT period to give the Rocket the victory. It was the second goal of the night for Dea, and came on Laval’s 60th shot of the evening.

Rochester nearly escaped with a Game 3 victory, scoring three times in the third period to take a 5-4 lead before Jesse Ylönen netted the equalizer for the Rocket with 1:07 remaining in regulation.

Back home in front of an energetic crowd of 10,662 fans at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks struck quickly when Mark Jankowski pounced on a loose puck and scored his sixth goal of the playoffs just 1:04 into the contest.

JJ Peterka made it 2-0 in favor of Rochester with a power-play goal at 8:05, and that lead held until late in the second period, when Laval scored four goals in a span of 3:56 to swing the game in their favor.

Brandon Gignac started the comeback with 6:08 to go in the second period with a nifty deflection of a Corey Schueneman shot from the point. Danick Martel tied things up 55 seconds later, taking Gabriel Bourque’s pass from behind the net and snapping home his fifth goal of the series.

Just 76 seconds after that, the Rocket took their first lead of the night as Xavier Ouellet floated a shot from the left point through traffic that found the top corner over the glove of Aaron Dell.

And with 2:12 to go before intermission, Dea put Laval in front by two, hitting an open cage with Dell out of position following a collision with a teammate in front.

Rochester regrouped during the break and needed just 1:32 to tie things back up. Brett Murray scored 13 seconds into the third period to pull the Amerks to within 4-3, and Peterka got his second of the night 1:19 later off a slick feed from Peyton Krebs.

Murray then scored his second of the period at 8:35, getting a piece of Ethan Prow’s shot from the point and deflecting it home to put Rochester back in front.

Laval outshot Rochester 24-12 during sudden death and killed off two Amerks power plays before converting on their own for the winner.

Cayden Primeau (6-1) made 34 saves and earned his fourth consecutive victory in net for the Rocket. Dell (5-5) stopped a career-high 54 shots for Rochester.

North Division Finals (best-of-5)
N3-Laval Rocket vs. N5-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – LAVAL 6, Rochester 1
Game 2 – Mon., May 23 – LAVAL 3, Rochester 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Laval 6, ROCHESTER 5 (3OT)

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Bozak scores OT winner, Blues rally vs. Avs to stave off elimination –



DENVER (AP) — Tyler Bozak and the St. Louis Blues experienced just about every emotion imaginable over the course of a win-or-season-ends game in which they fell behind by three goals.

Ultimately, they landed on this improbable one — elation.

Bozak scored 3:38 into overtime and the Blues fended off elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, overcoming a pair of deficits in a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

Bozak, a fourth-line center, unleashed a shot from near the blueline that got past Darcy Kuemper, capping a remarkable comeback for St. Louis.

“It was an amazing hockey game,” Bozak said. “I’m sure everyone that was watching thought the same thing.”

Robert Thomas had two goals, including the tying tally with 56 seconds left in regulation, for a resilient Blues team. It’s the latest game-tying goal for the Blues when facing elimination, according to NHL Stats. Vladimir Tarasenko and Justin Faulk also scored, Nick Leddy had four assists and Pavel Buchnevich had two.

They never doubted — even down 3-0 late in the second period and 4-3 late in the third.

“You’ve got nothing to lose, you might as well throw it all out there,” Thomas said. “That was our mentality.”

The comeback offset a hat trick from Nathan MacKinnon, who looked like he might have just turned in a signature moment with goal No. 3. He went end-to-end, working his way around Blues defenseman Leddy with nifty stick work and lifting a shot over goaltender Ville Husso for a 4-3 lead. It was his second career postseason hat trick.

Hats hit the ice.

“Doesn’t matter,” MacKinnon said of his feat. “Looking to get a win.”

Thomas tied it up with Husso on the bench for an extra skater, setting the stage for Bozak, who played college hockey down the road at the University of Denver.

To think, he didn’t play much down the stretch of the third period, with the Blues rolling out just three lines. When he got his chance in OT, he made the most of it.

“There’s definitely no such thing as a bad shot,” Bozak said. “So just tried to get it through the traffic and it went in. So that’s awesome.”

Game 6 is Friday in St. Louis.

The Blues have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take a playoff series twice in their history _ 1999 against Phoenix and 1991 versus Detroit.

They’re looking to write another chapter.

“This team’s come from behind quite a bit this year in games so they don’t give up,” Blues coach Craig Berube said.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog also scored and Bowen Byram had two assists for the Avalanche, who were on the verge of advancing to the Western Conference final for the first time since 2002.

Instead, they have to wait — and wonder. The second-round has proven to be a big hurdle for the Avalanche. They’ve been eliminated at this stage in each of the last three postseasons.

“You sulk for three minutes and you move on. Simple as that,” Landeskog said. “It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy.”

Husso made 30 saves for St. Louis. He took over in Game 3 when Jordan Binnington was injured following a collision between Nazem Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen that caused Kadri to crash into Binnington.

Afterward, Kadri received racist death threats on social media, which led to increased security to protect him. He responded in Game 4 with a hat trick. On Wednesday, fans along the boards held up signs that read “Stand with Naz.”

Kuemper stopped 25 shots.

MacKinnon came out flying in the first period, taking five shots and scoring twice to give the Colorado an early 2-0 lead. Those were the first two goals of the series for MacKinnon, who has seven in the postseason.

The speedy MacKinnon also had an assist to give him 82 career playoff points. He became the fourth player in franchise history with 80 or more postseason points, joining the company of Sakic (188), Peter Forsberg (159) and Peter Stastny (81).

After Landeskog made it 3-0 just over 4 minutes into the second period, Tarasenko knocked in his first goal of the series 10 1/2 minutes later to jumpstart the Blues.

“We got on our heels a little bit,” said MacKinnon, whose team is 4-0 on the road in these playoffs. “We wanted it so bad, I guess. … Win the third, go to the conference finals, whatever. It’s one period. Got to keep our game going, stay aggressive. That’s what we’ll do.”

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Canada Soccer cancels men’s national team friendly vs. Iran in Vancouver –



TORONTO — Canada Soccer has cancelled a planned friendly with Iran in the face of growing criticism.

In a one-paragraph statement, the governing body gave no reason for the cancellation of the scheduled June 5 game at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.

But the idea of hosting the Iranian team, ranked 21st in the world, has drawn fire since it was first announced.

At issue is whether Canada should be hosting Iran given the Canadians who died on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 when it was shot down on Jan. 8, 2020, minutes after taking off from Tehran, by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. The Canadian government says 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents were among the 176 people killed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week the game “wasn’t a very good idea,” pointing the finger at Canada Soccer. The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims called for Canada Soccer “to cancel the game immediately.”

Association spokesman Hamed Esmaeilion, whose wife Parisa and young daughter Reera were among those who died on Flight 752, said in an interview last week. “What kind of friendship do we have with the Islamic Republic of Iran?

“We want the (Canadian) government to take them to international court. And instead of that, we get humiliated by them … I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back — (as well as) the other family members. After 28 months we don’t see any sign of seeking justice here. We don’t see sign of taking Iran to any international forum. And instead of that they invite the (Iran) soccer team here.”

Conservative MPs added their voice to the protest on Wednesday. And the PM said this week that it will be up to the Canada Border Services Agency whether the Iran team is allowed into the country.

The Iran game was to be the first of a two-game Vancouver homestand. The Canadian men open CONCACAF Nations League A play there against Curacao on June 9 before closing out the FIFA international window with another CONCACAF Nations League game against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on June 13.

Canada, ranked 38th in the world, and Iran are both preparing for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this November.

For Canada Soccer, the Iran contest was a rare chance to test the Canadian men against a team outside of their CONCACAF confederation, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The Canadians have played just two teams from outside their region since John Herdman took over as coach in January 2018: a 1-0 loss to Iceland in January 2020 and a 1-0 win over New Zealand in March 2018.

The FIFA International window opens Monday, with players arriving from their clubs from around the world. Now they will get extended training time rather than a match ahead of the CONCACAF Nations League fixtures.

Canada has not played on home soil since qualifying for the World Cup in a 4-0 win over Jamaica at Toronto’s BMO Field on March 27. The Canadian men last played at B.C. Place in March 2019 when they beat French Guiana 4-1 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying.

The Canadians topped the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with an 8-2-4 record. Their last game was a 1-0 loss in Panama on March 30.

Canada has a 1-2-0 all-time record against Iran, winning the most recent encounter 1-0 in April 2001 in Cairo. Iran posted 1-0 wins in 1997 and 1999 games in Toronto and Edmonton, respectively.

Canada opens World Cup play Nov. 23 against No. 2 Belgium before facing No. 16 Croatia on Nov. 27 and No. 24 Morocco on Dec. 1.

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