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Well-rested Canadiens pounce on Oilers in dominating win – Montreal Gazette

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After a 10-day layoff forced by COVID, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored 18 seconds into the game and Montreal never looked back in a 4-0 win.

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Following a nine-day enforced layoff caused by COVID-19, the Canadiens showed no signs of lethargy Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

In one of its most-complete performances this season, Montreal defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0, winning consecutive games for the first time since the beginning of February.

The Canadiens were playing for the first time since March 20, after Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on March 22, eventually resulting in four home games — including three against the Oilers — being postponed and the team’s practice facility shuttered for a week.

The Canadiens didn’t return to practice until Monday night.

Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar scored for Montreal. Carey Price had a relatively uneventful night, blocking only 17 shots for his first shutout this season and 49th of his career.

The Canadiens improved to 15-8-9, strengthening their hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Oilers, now 22-14-1, were playing their third game in four nights.

Had this game been drawn up by a Hollywood scriptwriter, it couldn’t have begun more favourably for the Canadiens, who opened the scoring at 18 seconds on their opening shot.

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Taking advantage of a three-on-two break, Kotkaniemi pounced on a drop pass from Paul Byron, scoring his fifth goal of the season.

Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett challenged the play, believing Lehkonen was offside, but after a lengthy delay, the goal was upheld and the Oilers received a minor penalty for the unsuccessful challenge.

While the visitors killed the disadvantage, Lehkonen made it 2-0 at 3:23 with his third goal this season, converting a rebound after being left unguarded in front of the net.

Lehkonen, a potential restricted free agent this summer, has been the centre of some recent speculation, teams reportedly inquiring about his availability as general manager Marc Bergevin might be looking to create some salary-cap room before the April 12 trade deadline.

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The Oilers didn’t produce their first shot until the sixth minute, by which time Montreal had eight on Mikko Koskinen.

The closest Edmonton came to scoring in the period came in the 10th minute. Kyle Turris came out of the penalty box and broke in alone, only to hit the post on the short side.

The Canadiens increased their lead to 3-0 on Gallagher’s 13th goal of the season at 15:58. It was a typical goal by the diminutive bulldog, who converted a rebound and outmuscled defenceman Darnell Nurse as he was falling.

At that stage of the game, Koskinen had allowed 11 Montreal goals on 86 shots through seven periods.

In an attempt to shake up his team, Tippett broke up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to begin the second period. But while the Oilers had two early power plays, they couldn’t beat Price.

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Edmonton, the NHL’s fourth-highest scoring team, appeared to finally get on the scoreboard in the 14th minute, with McDavid converting a three-on-one break. But Canadiens interim head coach Dominique Ducharme successfully challenged the play, as replays showed Jesse Puljujarvi had gone offside.

Tatar put the game away with his seventh goal this season, coming at 17:54 of the period. He converted a superb cross-ice pass from Phillip Danault, beating Koskinen with a one-timer from in close.

Tatar now has two goals and five points in his last four games after being a healthy scratch earlier this season.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

  1. Sports fans watch the Montreal Canadiens play the Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre location of Cage aux Sports in Montreal on Oct. 1, 2014.

    Canadiens TV schedule in 2021 (updated with rescheduled games)

  2. Canadiens' Michael Frolik takes part in the pre-game skate ahead of his first game with Montreal Tuesday night.

    Stu Cowan: Michael Frolik excited to finally make his Canadiens debut

  3. Montreal Canadiens' Jake Allen makes a save with Edmonton Oilers' Alex Chiasson looking for a rebound during the third period of a National Hockey League game in Montreal Feb. 11, 2021.

    Oilers at Canadiens: Five things you should know

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Olympics-U.S. women to face Australia in women’s football at Tokyo Games

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(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s national team will face Australia, Sweden and New Zealand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, while in the men’s competition 2016 winners Brazil will take on Germany following the group stage draw on Wednesday.

The American women’s team are the reigning world champions and four-time winners of the Olympic tournament and will start as favourites in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 winners Germany failing to qualify.

Team GB women have drawn 2016 bronze medallists Canada, Chile and hosts Japan. Making only their second Olympic tournament appearance, Team GB will be led by England’s interim coach Hege Riise.

On the men’s side, Brazil will take on Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.

Mexico, the 2012 gold medallists, were pitted against hosts Japan, South Africa and France.

The men’s team are usually restricted to selecting players under the age of 23, with just three overage players allowed.

However, the age bracket has been raised for the Tokyo Games in line with the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona

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Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.

 

(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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