The Edmonton Oilers played a great game for two periods, they really did. But then the Oil collapsed in the third period with the defensive pairing of Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson on for three straight goals against.
The United States forfeited Tuesday’s world junior championship game against Switzerland after two of its players tested positive for COVID-19 and were placed in quarantine, along with the rest of Team USA.
Switzerland won the game 1-0 as a result of the forfeit.
The two players haven’t been identified and the team’s quarantine status will be re-evaluated ahead of its next game against Sweden on Wednesday.
This was always going to be one of the risks of playing a major tournament outside of a bubble with the Omicron variant leading to an ascending number of COVID-19 cases throughout December across basically every pro and amateur sports entity.
In a move that seemed resoundingly hypocritical, the IIHF canceled the upcoming women’s U18 tournament under the guise of player safety but allowed for the men’s competition to continue, with the medal round scheduled for January per usual. There are still 19 games remaining in the tournament.
As it stands, the United States, Switzerland and Russia all hold 1-1 records with three points each, while Sweden sits atop Group B with a 2-0 record and six points.
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Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening after losing his final bid to avoid deportation and play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19. A court earlier unanimously dismissed the No. 1-ranked tennis player’s challenge to cancel his visa.
Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling but respected it.
A masked Djokovic was photographed in an Melbourne airport lounge with two government officials in black uniforms. He left on an Emirates flight to Dubai, the same United Arab Emirates city he flew to Australia from.
He has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, but this time won’t even get the chance to try.
“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said in a statement.
Djokovic said he was “uncomfortable” that the focus had been on him since his visa was first cancelled on arrival at Mebourne’s airport on Jan. 6.
“I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love,” he said.
The national federation that runs the tournament, Tennis Australia, said it respects the decision of the Federal Court. “We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best of luck,” it said in a statement.
A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.
In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said the hearing was “a farce with a lot of lies.”
“They think that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they actually humiliated themselves. If you said that the one who was not vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak would not come or would be vaccinated,” Vucic told reporters.
He said he told Djokovic after talking to him “that we can’t wait to see him in Serbia, to return to his country, to come where he is always welcome.”
He did not say whether Djokovic said he would first go to Serbia after his deportation.
Chief Justice James Allsop said the ruling came down to whether the minister’s decision was “irrational or legally unreasonable.”
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke welcomed the decision. His office did not immediately provide detail of how or when Djokovic would leave.
“Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world,” Hawke said.
I welcome today’s unanimous decision by the Full Federal Court of Australia, upholding my decision to exercise my power under the Migration Act to cancel Mr Novak Djokovic’s visa in the public interest. <br><br>I can confirm that Mr Djokovic has now departed Australia. <a href=”https://t.co/8CapwFeDCS”>pic.twitter.com/8CapwFeDCS</a>
“Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safe-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic,” he added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed what he described as the “decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”
But opposition spokesperson on the home affairs portfolio, Kristina Keneally, said Djokovic was being deported for what he said and did publicly overseas before the government gave him a visa in November.
“This mess isn’t a failure of our laws. It’s a failure of Morrison’s competence & leadership,” Keneally tweeted.
The pandemic response has become politically charged with Morrison’s conservative coalition seeking a fourth three-year term at elections due by May.
Infection rates have soared across much of Australian since December when Morrison’s government relaxed what had been some of the democratic world’s toughest restrictions on international travel.
“I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this,” he said.
The court process that Djokovic had hoped would keep his aspirations alive for a 21st Grand Slam title was extraordinarily fast by Australian standards.
Within three hours of Hawke’s announcement on Friday afternoon that Djokovic’s visa was cancelled, his lawyers went before a Federal Circuit and Family Court judge to initiate their challenge to the decision. The case was elevated to the Federal Court on Saturday and submissions were filed by both sides that same day.
The three judges heard the case over five hours on Sunday and announced their verdict two hours later.
There was evidence that Djokovic was to be deported based on Hawke’s assessment that he was considered a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”
Hawke’s lawyer Stephen Lloyd took aim at Djokovic’s anti-vaccination stance and his “history of ignoring COVID safety measures.”
Lloyd raised the example of Djokovic giving a French newspaper journalist an interview last month while he was infected with COVID-19 and taking off his mask during a photo shoot. Djokovic has acknowledged the interview was an error of judgment.
The minister cancelled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”
Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months.
Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian who won the 2014 Wimbledon men’s doubles title and has worked with Djokovic to form an association to represent players, tweeted: “There was a political agenda at play here with the [Australian] elections coming up which couldn’t be more obvious. This is not his fault. He did not force his way into the country and did not `make his own rules’; he was ready to stay home.”
Pospisil wrote that Djokovic wouldn’t have tried to go to Australia at all and “been home with his family” had he not received the medical exemption.
Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis.
Djokovic’s dominance of late has been particularly impressive, winning four of the last seven major tournaments and finishing as the runner-up at two others.
The only time he did not get at least to the final in that span was at the 2020 U.S. Open, where he was disqualified in the fourth round for hitting a ball that inadvertently hit a line judge in the throat after a game.
Because Djokovic has withdrawn from the tournament after Monday’s schedule was released, he has been replaced in the field by what’s known as a “lucky loser” — a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before competition has started.
That player is Italian Salvatore Caruso, who is ranked 150th in the world.
Associated Press writers John Pye in Melbourne, Australia, Howard Fendrich in Washington D.C., and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.
The Toronto Maple Leafs fly home having swiped five of a potential six points against three of the West’s best five teams — Colorado, Vegas and St. Louis — on this road trip.
But after earning then losing 3-1 leads in every one of those heavyweight tests, the path to secure those points was anything but tidy.
To dish the Blues their first regulation home loss in 14 games Saturday, Toronto needed to come from behind twice. They needed to win the first third period of this rocky roadie. And they needed one more save than the other guys in an 11-goal thriller waged by two of the top three teams by save percentage in the NHL.
“I don’t know when’s the last time, if ever, Jack Campbell in a Leafs jersey given up five in 22 shots,” said a bewildered Sheldon Keefe, after a wild 60 minutes of swearing and emoting.
Both head coaches blew their timeout before the game was half over. Momentum shifted violently. And the stars came to play in Toronto’s edgy and entertaining 6-5 victory.
“It’s crazy. I mean, roller coaster ride,” Mitch Marner said post-game, still abuzz. “Third period, dug in. We knew it wasn’t gonna be easy, and it’s a hell of a road win.”
“Just back and forth, up and down, bit of roller coaster,” Auston Matthews agreed. “But we found a way to win, and we’re going home with two points — which is all that matters.”
So what if Marner hadn’t scored a goal since November? Hadn’t registered a point since suffering a fluke shoulder injury at practice? Or hadn’t played a game in a week due to COVID protocol?
When he rejoined the group for Friday’s practice in Arizona, his teammates commented on how refreshed and upbeat the video-game junkie looked after all that time stuck at home playing virtual-reality tennis and golf on the new Oculus system he treated himself to.
“A lot of pep, a lot of energy. I think he really missed the guys,” Matthews said. “If anybody can kind of bounce back and be as much of himself as possible, it’s definitely him.”
Marner made good on his linemate’s prediction, beating Jordan Binnington high-glove with a pretty unassisted effort and cueing up Matthews’ third-period tying goal on the power-play with a deceptive pass from behind the net.
“I thought he was great tonight. Don’t forget, he hasn’t played in a while,” Keefe praised. “Good legs. Whether it was his goal or the big-time pass he makes on Matthews’ power-play goal to tie the game, that’s what Mitch does. He’s a game-breaker like that.”
As ever, the pass-first Marner wants to be a dual-threat because he believes that if goalies respect his shot, that can only present Matthews with more quality looks, too.
“I know I can score. I’ve done it a lot of times, and I got to make sure I get that mindset that I can score,” Marner said.
“I can be that threat.”
Promoted to the top four alongside Jake Muzzin with Justin Holl in COVID protocol, rookie Timothy Liljegren picked a fine time to register his first NHL goal — a one-timed blast from the point that sailed through so much traffic, he didn’t even see it bend twine.
“That’s a bullet. Good for him,” Marner exclaimed. “He’s always kind of stone-faced, but he comes with great energy. He’s a fun guy to be around. It’s a hell of a goal. It’s a rocket.”
The Leafs bench erupted. Jason Spezza made sure to go fetch the puck, which Liljegren says he’ll find a special place for in his condo back in Sweden. And buddy Rasmus Sandin rubbed Liljgren’s head while Sandin’s father, Patric, tweeted in celebration:
Meanwhile, Keefe was oblivious to the goal’s personal significance.
The coach has been on the bench for the vast majority of the defenceman’s North American games since being drafted in 2017 and had seen him score for the Marlies on multiple occasions.
“I wasn’t really even aware that it was his first one, but it certainly was a great one,” Keefe smiled. “And we’re thrilled for him.
“He played a great game today. Moved the puck really well. Helped us on the breakout. Got us out of trouble sometimes. At times got himself in trouble, but then bailed himself out. Yeah, it was great for him.”
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 16, 2022
Yes, Ryan O’Reilly may have outscored Auston Matthews heads-up 2-1 on this night, but there was no mistaking whose line felt better about the result.
The Bunting-Matthews-Marner unit out-chanced the opposition 14-6 at even-strength; Matthews himself whipped a game-high eight pucks on net; and all three members of Toronto’s top line scored.
Matthews now has a ridiculous road streak of goals in 10 straight (12 total), and his 25th of the season vaults him into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for second overall in the Rocket race.
“It starts with myself. I was horrendous defensively tonight. Wasn’t hard enough to play against,” O’Reilly said. “We got what we deserved.”
Matthews’ most noteworthy play was by design.
On an offensive draw, the Leafs centre knew the onetime Selke winner would try to pull hard and inside on the backhand, so he instructed Bunting to charge to the net and whacked the faceoff forward toward Binnington’s crease.
The quick surprise caught the Blues off-guard and worked like a charm.
“It was a great play by him. It was really smart,” O’Reilly said. “It was a tough one to eat.”
TIE GAME! FIRST IN 10! pic.twitter.com/fzWjtwseCN
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 16, 2022
On a seesaw night that packed plenty of high-end skill and creativity into the first 10 goals, the 11th was a weak one by a player enjoying a strong season.
Hard on the puck all night, Ilya Mikheyev threw a puck toward Binnington with under four minutes in regulation that seemingly went right through the goaltender.
Mikheyev himself didn’t realize it was a good goal until he saw John Tavares celebrate. Keefe didn’t either, until he saw the referee point and caught Binnington’s dejected body language.
“Funny how that one ends up being the difference-maker. We’ll certainly take it,” Keefe said. “Those are the types of goals that go in when you have a season [2020-21] full of basically no luck.”
Is luck the difference this year, Mikheyev?
Feels better, doesn’t it?
“I think so, yes.”
Even though the Maple Leafs don’t have a home game on the docket until Jan. 26, the club flew home after this western swing for some family time and practice days prior to jetting to New York City for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers.
After switching time zones four times in eight days, Keefe says it was “a no-brainer” to squeeze in some quiet time in Toronto before heading back to the States.
“It’s a nice little reset. Get to see your family and the cats,” Jack Campbell said.
Sandin has something else fluffy in mind.
“I can’t wait to get home to my own bed — my own pillow especially,” the Sandman said. “I’ll tell you, they can be very different. I need to learn from this and bring my own for next road trip. I can’t wait to get home to my own. It’s just perfect.”
Meanwhile, down in the AHL, Josh Ho-Sang executed a celebration even more entertaining than his go-ahead goal…
The Edmonton Oilers played a great game for two periods, they really did. But then the Oil collapsed in the third period with the defensive pairing of Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson on for three straight goals against.
Lagesson and Bouchard first allowed an odd-man rush and a goal against.
Then young goalie Stu Skinner coughed up the puck for a goal.
Then Bouchard screened Skinner on Ottawa’s fourth goal.
Edmonton tied it up, but after Cody Ceci took a penalty, Ottawa won it on a power play goal, with the final score 6-4.
Brutal loss and brutal way to lose it.
“We come in, work ourselves to a 3-1 lead and we just five it away,” Connor McDavid said after the game.
The scoring chances were 21 for the Oilers, just nine for the Sens ( running count ).
Connor McDavid, 7 . He made major contributions to 10 Grade A shots but didn’t get one point. This wasn’t his night. His puck control was iffy to start, including him losing the handle on a break-in chance. But his hard charge up the ice led an Ottawa penalty and a 5-on-3 power play. He could not beat a sprawling Matt Murray in the first on an open 5-on-3 slot shot. How did he miss? Maybe some rust. On Ottawa’s fourth goal, he got in to deep to his own zone, allowing the Sens to move the puck easily into shooting position.
Leon Draisaitl, 8. He also was great on the attack, making major contributions to ten Grade A shots. He was dangerous on the 5-on-3 but got it done on the 5-on-4 in the first, winning a huge battle in the corner, then feeding Kassian for a goal, one of many such battles won and great feeds he made all game.
Zack Kassian, 6. Excellent slot shot in the first to score Edmonton’s first goal. Solid game.
Ryan McLeod, 5. Sweet feed to Bouchard in the first. He made a fine defensive stop on Brady Tkachuk in the second. He failed to cut out the pass to the slot on Ottawa’s third goal.
Jesse Puljujarvi, 6. He and Hyman came out strong on the forecheck, popping and protecting pucks. He won the puck to kick off the sequence leading to Kass’s power play goal in the first. His stretch pass was crucial to Edmonton’s fourth goal.
Zach Hyman, 7. One of his better games. His hard work in the first saw him puck protect to set up McLeod, who sent a cross ice dart to Bouchard for a shot off the post. On Edmonton’s 5-on-3 in the first, he jammed two shots on net from the crease and set up McD in the slot, but no goals. He made a huge cross-ice dart to Nurse on Edmonton’s fourth goal.
Derek Ryan, 4 . Bad mistake on the first PK, allowing a wide open slot shot to goal scorer Josh Norris. He was one of four Oilers in the corner there. Everybody on the ice, in other words. But Ryan and his mates did better on Edmonton’s second kill in a tense and close game. And he was decent at even strength.
Warren Foegele, 6 . His high flying flip pass sent in Yamamoto for a breakaway and goal in the second. He almost clicked on a wrap-around shot in the third.
Kailer Yamamoto, 6. He made a failed and early o-zone pinch that led to an early 3-on-2 rush for Ottawa, which was not a great way to start his game. He almost scored in the second off a sweet Duncan Keith feed. Scored a great breakaway goal. He lost a battle leading up to Ottawa’s second goal.
Devin Shore, 4. He barely played, did little.
Colton Sceviour, 4 . He allowed the cross-ice pass on Ottawa’s winning power play goal. You can’t allow that pass at that moment.
Brendan Perlini, 6. He gobbled up and snapped in a slot shot in the second for Edmonton’s third goal. A sniper’s snipe.
Darnell Nurse, 8. He ripped nine shots on net to lead his team. I liked this new partnership with Ceci, in part because I pushed it hard two weeks ago. But it makes sense to give the most minutes to Edmonton’s two best defenders on the left and right side. Brilliant rush through the Sens in the first but the new Edmonton Express could not score. He darted into the slot again later in the second for a solid shot. Huge goal, obviously, to tie it up in the third.
Cody Ceci, 5. The pass went right through him on Ottawa’s first goal. Tipped on net a tricky shot off a great Draisaitl backhander on the second. His battle won in the defensive slot kicked off the scoring sequence on Nurse’s goal. But he got his stick up trying to lift Josh Norris’s stick and took a tough third period penalty, leading to Ottawa’s winning goal.
Duncan Keith, 7. Super solid game. He made a wickedly fine cross ice dart of a pass to set up Yamamoto for a slot shot in the second. Even better he walked the line like Johnny Cash late in the second, then fed it into the slot to Perlini for a goal. He kept a clean sheet on defence at even strength, not making a mistake on one Grade A shot against, but it would have been swell if he had blocked the shot on Ottawa’s fifth goal.
Tyson Barrie, 6. He and Keith snapped the puck around smartly all game, but Barrie had a few hiccups. Bapped the puck out of the rink, took an early penalty and the Sens scored. His early turnover let to Tyler Ennis moving in and cracking it off the top bar.
Evan Bouchard, 3. He put a slot shot off the post after moving in deep in the first. He got sucked over a bit to the puck carrier on Ott’s second goal, allowing the pass over to Adam Gaudette. On Ottawa’s fourth goal, he screened Skinner.
William Lagesson, 2 . He lost an n-zone battle to allow Ottawa in for its second goal. Big mistake in a big moment. He also failed to take the man on Ottawa’s third goal. If his agent wonders why he’s not in the line-up more often, it is plays such as these two.
Stuart Skinner, 3. An iffy game. Not good enough. He got beat on one of Ottawa’s two Grade A shots in the first but made a tricky save to start the second off a tipped shot. A moment later he fought off a slot shot. But after having little traffic in the first two periods, he got beat twice early in the third, first on an Ottawa fast-break, then after he made a wretched turnover behind the Edmonton net. Ottawa’s fifth goal was a tough shot but if Skinner had been sharper he might well have had it.
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