Jan Jenik had a goal and an assist as the host Czech Republic opened the world junior hockey championship with a 4-3 win over Russia on Thursday.
The 19-year-old Jenik — an Arizona Coyotes prospect playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs — scored what turned into the winner with just under three minutes to go in the second while on a 5-on-3 power play.
Simon Kubicek, Jan Mysak and Matej Blumel also found the back of the net for the Czech Republic (1-0-0), which finished seventh in 2019 after bowing out in the quarterfinals against the United States.
Lukas Dostal made 33 saves for the win in the Group B matchup.
Yaroslav Askarov allowed four goals in two periods of work to take the loss for the Russians. Amir Miftakhov came in to play the third.
Boston Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko of the Czech Republic injured his knee in the opening minute of the game and didn’t return.
Later, Canada plays its first Group B game against the United States, and Finland faces Sweden in a Group A tilt.
Swiss topple Kazakhstan
Matthew Verboon scored twice while Gian-Marco Wetter potted the eventual winner midway through the third as Switzerland toppled Kazakhstan.
Jeremi Gerber and Joel Salzberger also scored for the Swiss (1-0-0) in the Group A matchup.
Maxim Musorov struck twice and Ruslan Demin added the other for Kazakhstan (0-1-0).
Report: Raptors' Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and three more players ruled out in Wednesday's rescheduled game vs. Pistons – NBA CA
The Raptors have been cleared to return to the floor and face the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday – a game that was originally slated for Tuesday and tentatively postponed pending additional test results.
With multiple days of no new cases, the team was able to step on the floor on Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday.
“It’s been a tough couple of days,” general manager Bobby Webster said. “To get to here and be able to practice, we had to clear a number of hurdles.”
However, the team will be severely shorthanded, as they have five players ruled out due to health and safety protocols, including starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw are also out.
The five players will be out against the Pistons along with head coach Nick Nurse, who entered the protocols with five other members of his staff last week.
20 PTS | 11 REB | 10 AST | 4-5 3PM pic.twitter.com/cLhhKRvPrC
– NBA (@NBA) February 27, 2021
The Raptors will look forward to taking care of business against the Pistons before hosting the Celtics 24 hours later in the team’s final games before the All-Star break.
Given the short turnaround between these next two games, it seems unlikely that the five players ruled out will be able to suit up against Boston.
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Tuesday night’s win showcased how good Jesperi Kotkaniemi can be – Habs Eyes on the Prize
When you’re in the middle of a five-game losing streak, just fired the head coach and associate coach (then, oddly, the goaltending coach), you need a win of any kind to right a careening ship. It looked like the Montreal Canadiens might win on Saturday, but a poor overtime decision washed that away. On Tuesday Montreal got the victory. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win.
It was dominant in terms of possession metrics, where Montreal doubled up Ottawa’s scoring chances at five-on-five en route to the 3-1 victory. What stood out the most is that even with a lead, or when the Senators drew back within a goal, the Canadiens never strayed for their new playing style.
Montreal stayed aggressive on pucks, hounding defenders with a relentless forecheck that Ottawa had no answers for. Every time a Hab was on the puck, they were supported by at least one other red sweater, giving the attack ample chances to start out of the defensive zone.
Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi: “I like [the new system] a lot… I think it’s pretty similar to what we did in Laval last year. I’m feeling pretty comfortable with a lot of things already” #GoHabsGo #THW
— Ryan Szporer (@rszporer) March 3, 2021
Anyone who has followed the AHL team even in passing should recognize Ducharme’s offensive attack as very similar to that of Joël Bouchard’s in Laval. Jesperi Kotkaniemi spent just a dozen games with Bouchard and thrived, so to see his confidence growing inside a similar system isn’t surprising.
Kotkaniemi finished the night with one assist, a 72% Corsi-for percentage, and saw 10 scoring chances, while allowing just two against in his minutes. He looked easily the best he has all year, and if he’s already adapted to the new system under Ducharme, it’s not hard to believe he’s going to continue to get better. It’s no secret that Kotkaniemi sometimes struggled to adjust to Claude Julien’s defence-first mentality, showing brief glimpses of what his potential can be.
With a few games like this under his belt in the last two weeks, and a crucial swing in Western Canada coming up, the time is right for a Kotkaniemi breakout. He battled hard against a Senators team that doesn’t break against Montreal and came out on top. With more games like the one on Tuesday, he is going to be knocking on the door for a much larger role soon.
Canadiens vs. Senators recap: Habs get back on track in convincing fashion – Habs Eyes on the Prize
The Dominique Ducharme era hasn’t started the way many could have hoped for the Montreal Canadiens. Though the on-ice product did show improvement over their two games against the Winnipeg Jets, they left Manitoba with just one point out of a possible four. There were encouraging signs therein, but clearly still a lot of work to do in order to get where they want to be.
The team’s home record has been particularly problematic, so they took to Bell Centre ice for the first time against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday looking to reverse that trend and get their new coach his first win.
Another problematic aspect of these Habs has been their constant parade to the box. It didn’t take long for that problem to rear it’s ugly head, as Joel Armia would sit four minutes for a high stick. Ottawa had some quality chances early, but the Canadiens ultimately succeeded in killing the entire double-minor.
Outside of that, the first period was all Montreal. They were clearly the better team at five-on-five, and could have had at least a few on the board if not for some stellar goaltending from Joey Daccord. A scoreless frame, but an encouraging start for the Tricolore.
In the second period, Montreal would eventually get their own power play chance, and they would make the best of it. Very early in the minor penalty, Brendan Gallagher would find himself nearly alone out front, and scored despite being high-sticked in the process.
As a bonus for his efforts, Gallagher drew a double-minor against Erik Gudbranson, so the Habs were right back on the power play. The first half of that minor didn’t pay off, but in the second, Jeff Petry walked in from the right point and fired a perfect shot off the post and in to make it 2-0.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Habs game without their customary puck-over-the-glass penalty, which they took almost immediately after the Petry goal. Once more, they were able to execute a solid kill, and keep the score 2-0.
Also, a Habs versus Sens game must usually have a little ugliness. Austin Watson took a healthy run straight at the back of Jonathan Drouin in open ice, and the latter had to head off looking worse for wear. No call was made on the play, and though he left briefly, Drouin would end up finishing the game and looking healthy in the process.
Not long after the missed call, the Sens would reduce the deficit. After a weird play involving several incidental collisions, Artyom Zub found himself with more space than he could hope for, and walked in to beat Price and make it 2-1. And so we had ourselves a game heading into the third.
But the Canadiens kept convincing control of the game despite the late second-period goal. They controlled possession, limited Ottawa’s chances, and most importantly stayed out of the box. Though the penalty kill had been quite good on the night, they could scarcely afford to give the Senators an opportunity to get back in a g
Ottawa would eventually pull Daccord for the extra skater, but Tyler Toffoli was sent in alone on the empty net, and Montreal rewarded Dominique Ducharme with his first win in convincing fashion.
- In my opinion, Austin Watson should be suspended for his hit on Jonathan Drouin. It was a hit squarely to the numbers of a stationary player. Charging, and hitting from behind all in one. Of course, the department of player safety will likely rule it a hockey play because that’s about all they ever do. Hopefully Drouin has no lingering effects, as he did look good finishing the game afterwards.
- If the Habs could clone Artturi Lehkonen seven times, he would solve their penalty kill issues permanently. The hustle that he displays on the kill is impressive, and he had a major hand in disrupting anything the Senators tried to do when they had their chances. If the rest of the killers can take queues from him, they’ll keep being better on that front.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi was unbelievable. He clocked in with an assist, at 72.00% Corsi-for at even strength, and he was a perpetual thorn in the Senators sides. When he’s on top of his game he’s not only hard to separate from the puck, he’s voracious in his efforts to take it from the opposition. He was at the top of his game last night, and it’s a great game for him to build off moving forwards.
- Speaking of players who will look to build from last night’s game… Carey Price has struggled of late, but he was relatively solid against Ottawa. I think he’d probably like a second crack at the Zub goal, though it wasn’t a glaringly bad one to let in. It was surprising to see him have some puck-handling issues, but overall a solid performance and hopefully a sign of things to come.
- Overall, you have to be encouraged with this showing. They dominated at 5-on-5, and though they ran into an impressive goaltender, their power play was able to pick up the slack. More often than not, a performance like that will get you the even-strength goals as well, so no need to change much heading into Thursday against the Jets.
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