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'YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE': Jumbo effort as Maple Leafs edge pesky Senators – Toronto Sun

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Alex Kerfoot’s third-period tally holds up in Battle of Ontario

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If the high-flying Maple Leafs have to grind out wins some nights, they’ll have to go Jumbo.

Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over the pesky Ottawa Senators was all about Frederik Andersen in Toronto’s goal, but the large presence of Joe Thornton at the other. Thornton was causing Matt Murray grief and though two goals were disallowed, he played steamroller in the slot on Alex Kerfoot’s third-period winner.

The win allowed the Leafs some breathing room after they were attacked left, right and centre for blowing a four-goal lead to the Sens on Monday in a 6-5 overtime defeat.

“You see the difference Joe makes,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe praised. “Two get called back, but he’s right there doing all the right things, stays with it and he clears the way for Kerfoot. It’s the difference in the hockey game.

“It wasn’t just for him, but our whole team. Such a tight game, tough to generate offence. I really liked how we responded to the two (non-goals), we didn’t get rattled.”

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The 41-year-old Thornton’s famous good humour was likely needed to calm the room after the Monday meltdown, which was his first game back after three weeks away with a rib injury. Mostly, Thornton has been beating the drum for the Leafs doing a better job protecting Andersen, who had to be sharp when the Leafs lagged and their power play was 0-for-3.

“If we’re going to go a long way this year, we have to play better defence,” Thornton urged. “The offence will always be there, but we have to look after Freddy.”

Speaking of goals, linemate Auston Matthews scored to increase his points streak to 11 games, while he and Mitch Marner joined Thornton with some good back-checks and cycles.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray thwarts a scoring chance by Maple Leafs’ Joe Thornton during the first period at Scotiabank Arena. JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS

“There’s probably two or three guys I’ve played with who do what (Matthews) does, but he’s on a different level,” Thornton said. “He just competes so hard. For the 18 games we’re in now, he should be up for the Selke (best defensive player), Hart (most valuable) and Rocket (Richard, most goals). He does so many things and plays the game the right way. He’s the complete package.”

The clubs traded middle-period goals, Toronto striking after Thornton goals were waved off, one when he shoveled both the covered puck and Sens’ keeper Murray over the line, the second a high stick tip. On the bench, Keefe had no solid evidence to challenge either call. But on the same shift as the latter, Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl set up Matthews in his wheelhouse for a one-timer. In grudging praise of the Sens, a few Leafs have muttered they’re a team that “just won’t go away.” That’s been true of all four games in the Battle of Ontario and two of the three this week, with one to go before they finally head to the airport.

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After Monday, last-place Ottawa once more gave the Leafs little room to work with.

A third failed power play had just elapsed in the third period before Kerfoot knocked in the winner with Muzzin getting his 200th NHL assist on the play. The four games have now been split, with a goaltending change to Michael Hutchinson possible after Andersen’s 10 straight starts.

The goal moved Matthews to 17 goals in 19 games versus Ottawa. But Ottawa was able to once again get a late second-period goal. Right after killing a minor to Travis Dermott, who’d gone rogue on a solo rush and took a holding call trying to recover, the Leafs got caught pressing too deep. Brady Tkachuk, on 2-on-1, scored on the Sens’ 22nd shot against Andersen.

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As Keefe predicted, play at puck-drop didn’t at all resemble the scramble of late Monday. Only a few shots made it through after the initial 11 minutes, however Andersen wound up making 10 saves by the end.

John Tavares, whose 5-on-5 numbers have come under scrutiny as he and linemate William Nylander both struggle, at least has been looking faster this season and showed that on an early partial breakaway, a high backhand that Matt Murray snagged.

“You can tell he’s fighting it a bit right now,” Keefe said of Tavares before the game. “But I focus on a lot of the positive things that have come out of his game so far. The first 10 games he was skating as well as I’ve seen in my time here.

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“We’ve asked all our players to be more responsible and aware defensively and to me, he’s been terrific in that regard. His numbers are down, but his goals against when he’s on the ice are down. When you give up less defensively, you don’t have to score as much.”

Keefe put Nylander, another highly-paid forward, in the same boat. He has two goals since opening night.

“(Defensively) Will is right there, too, the number of goals he’s given up when on the ice is reduced. We have high expectations for those two guys and they have high expectations of themselves. You look at 16 games (so far) and again, it’s way too early to make any statistical determinations, but their production is right there with a lot of teams in the league in terms of their (best) players in 5-on-5 production.”

lhornby@postmedia.com

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Sunday best: Tiger Woods thanks golfers for red shirt tribute – CBC.ca

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Tiger Woods offered a heartfelt thanks to his fellow golfers for their tribute on Sunday, where many donned the 15-time major champion’s signature Sunday red and black for the final round.

Woods suffered a car accident on Tuesday and was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with a fractured right leg and a shattered ankle, calling into question the future of the 45-year-old’s historic career.

An 82-time PGA Tour winner, Woods famously wears a red shirt and black trousers on Sundays.

“It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts,” Woods said in a Twitter post shortly after the conclusion of the World Golf Championships event in Florida.

WATCH | Golfers pay tribute to Tiger Woods by wearing red shirts:

Various PGA Tour players at the World Golf Championship event in Bradenton, Florida wear red and black in support of golfer Tiger Woods. 0:25

“To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”

With his win on Sunday, rising star Collin Morikawa joined Woods as the only two golfers to win a major championship and a World Golf Championship event before turning 25 years old.

Morikawa, 24, took time after his victory to thank Woods directly.

“Tiger means everything to me,” Morikawa said.

“He had the crash and thankfully he’s alright and hopefully he has a quick and great recovery, but I don’t think we say thank you enough.

“So, I want to say thank you to Tiger. Sometimes you lose people too early. Kobe, I lost my grandpa about a month ago, and you don’t get to say thank you enough.

“So thank you, guys.”

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Auston Matthews limited in practice, but not ruled out for Monday's game against Edmonton Oilers – TSN

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The Maple Leafs practised in Edmonton on Sunday. 


For the first time since aggravating a wrist injury on Wednesday, Auston Matthews practised with his teammates. But Toronto’s No. 1 centre was limited during the workout. He didn’t skate on a regular line and didn’t take part in all the drills. He also didn’t appear to let loose with any shots. 

“He’s progressed here today compared to where he’s been the last few days so that’s very positive,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe, who chatted with Matthews on the ice at the end of the session. “He’s not ruled out for tomorrow. We’re just going to have to see how he is.”

John Tavares continued to skate between Joe Thornton and Mitch Marner on the top line. 

“I played a lot with Mitch over my time here,” Tavares said, “so obviously have a good feel for him, but my first real time playing with Jumbo. We’re trying to spread the opponent out and do a good job of moving the puck quick and trying to find open space. Obviously, you’re talking about one of the best passers of all time so a real treat to play with Jumbo. It’s amazing what he’s doing at his age (41) and great to have the opportunity.”  

Tavares picked up two assists and fired five shots on net (matching a season high) on Saturday while helping hold Connor McDavid to one shot. Per NaturalStatTrick, shot attempts were even between the Leafs and Oilers in the nine minutes the pair of captains shared the ice in five-on-five play. 

“John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended,” Keefe said after the game. “His efforts defensively have been a real big part of our success as a team. You ask a lot more of him taking on even tougher match-ups [with Matthews out] and I thought he was outstanding. He was above the puck all night long.”

‘Rock solid’ Tavares helps Leafs contain McDavid and win without Matthews

The Leafs beat the surging Oilers on Saturday without leading goal scorer Auston Matthews in the lineup. John Tavares filled in as the top-line centre producing two assists and helping keep Connor McDavid off the board. “John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended through this season,” said coach Sheldon Keefe. “He was outstanding.”

Frederik Andersen took part in a full practice for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury in Montreal on Feb. 20. Will he start on Monday? 

“Ah, it’s not looking that way, if we’re being honest,” Keefe revealed. “Today he was on the ice for the better part of an hour and took lots of shots and we’re essentially​ just waiting for him to feel comfortable and we don’t really know when that’s going to be. But today was a very positive step towards that. So, whether it’s, you know, goaltending or Auston up front, we got a lot of question marks that we probably won’t get answered until game time tomorrow.”

Jack Campbell returned from a leg injury on Saturday and pitched a 30-save shutout. However, he was slow to get up and flexed his leg after getting run into by Tyler Ennis late in the first period and Campbell was absent from practice on Sunday. 

“We gave him the day off,” Keefe said. “Coming off the injury that he has, we want to make sure we manage that properly.”

Keefe was noncommittal when asked if Campbell was the likely starter on Monday. 

“Between Campbell and Fred and their situations, we got a lot of things to sort through here that I don’t suspect we’ll get sorted out until tomorrow night,” Keefe said.

Michael Hutchinson and Joseph Woll were the other two goalies on the ice at practice. 

Leafs still waiting for Andersen to get comfortable; Campbell misses practice

Sheldon Keefe provided an update on the status of Frederik Andersen, and explained why the team feels confident playing in front of Jack Campbell while they await Andersen’s return.

The Leafs shut down the high-flying Oilers on Saturday without Matthews and Andersen and now they may have to do it again. 

“We’re being real here,” said Keefe. “I mean, we had a great game and that’s good and we like a lot about it but, you know, the puck is going to drop again tomorrow night. The scoreboard is going to be back to zeroes and you got to be able to do it again. I mean, we didn’t come here just to get one win so we better continue to refocus and get better.”

Sunday’s practice was geared toward tidying up breakouts and pressuring the puck better in certain situations.  

“We know they’re going to be coming hard if not harder, because of last night’s game,” said defenceman Travis Dermott. “We got to be prepared and take it to them like we did last game and just kind of give them no option, but to follow our game plan.”

Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie, who spent last season in Toronto, was impressed with the Leafs’ performance. 

“That was what we were trying to do last year,” Barrie said. “That looked like the team we were trying to be last year. They played a great game. They’ve got a ton of skill and a ton of poise on that team. They’re a puck-possession team and they played that to a tee last night and unfortunately we were on the other end of it.” 

Of course, last year the Leafs had plenty of good games. What’s been really impressive this season is they’ve been able to maintain a strong baseline effort in winning 16 of 22 games.

“We’re really focused on being focused and showing up every day whether we’re playing or practising or it’s an off day and we have to be taking care of ourselves at home,” Dermott said. “Everyone is just buying into a team plan that we’re going to be ready to go every day.”

Barrie praises Leafs: ‘That looked like the team we were trying to be last year’

Tyson Barrie spent last season with the Maple Leafs before signing in Edmonton in the offseason. When asked about whether Toronto has taken strides since last year, Barrie praised his former team’s improvements and weighed in on how their style of play compares to the Oilers.

Even with a healthy Matthews and Andersen, slowing down McDavid and Leon Draisaitl​ is a tall task. McDavid, the NHL points leader, has only been held off the scoresheet in five games and never in consecutive outings. 

“We have to continue to have the level of commitment defensively when the puck changes hands,” noted Keefe. “We got to be in really good spots and look to slow them down when we can … We’re expecting them to be more like themselves tomorrow and we’ve got to be prepared to be even better.”

How did the Leafs frustrate Edmonton’s two-headed monster up front on Saturday? 

“We just played a smart, five-man game,” said defenceman T.J. Brodie. “The forwards did a really good job of staying above them and trying to take away their speed. They’re guys who can get up to top speed real quick and they like to pull up [in the offensive zone] so if you have the pressure coming back you can sort of try and pinch them and take that time and space away. When they do pull-up that’s when they make their plays and they’re really good at it.” 

Brodie’s subtle stick work thwarted McDavid on multiple occasions. 

“He had a couple awkward plays that he looked like he was almost beat and then he brought that stick out of nowhere and disrupted the play,” Dermott raved.

Shot attempts favoured the Leafs (12-9) in the nine minutes that Brodie and McDavid shared the ice in five-on-five play, per NaturalStatTrick. It was 8-4 Leafs in the nearly nine minutes that Brodie faced Draisaitl​.

Despite logging tough minutes, Brodie has been whistled for just one penalty this season. 

“He’s a smart player,” Keefe said earlier this week. “He doesn’t put himself in bad spots. He’s got a really good stick. His stick is on the ice a lot and disrupts a lot of plays, which at times can lead to getting in people’s feet and tripping or hooking or whatever it might be, but he does a really good job with it. A lot of the game that he plays is methodical and that helps keep himself out of trouble.”

The Oilers’ power play didn’t get any chances on Saturday. It was the first time all season that happened. 

“There’s probably a little bit of luck attached to it, but I thought we did skate and we worked,” Keefe said. “We really skated well yesterday and used our body to establish positioning instead of our stick. The more consistently we can do that it’s going to help, but some of it probably is just flat out luck and circumstance.” 

‘We need to have more drive’: Oilers eyeing a better effort in rematch vs. Leafs

The Maple Leafs shut out Edmonton on Saturday night in the first of three straight meetings between the two teams. Speaking to the media on Sunday, the Oilers discussed what went wrong in the loss and stressed the importance of staying even-keeled regardless of the results.

The return of stalwart defenceman Jake Muzzin also boosted the Leafs on Saturday. 

“He’s unreal on the ice in shutting plays down and being a defensive mastermind out there, but his voice in the room is equally as important,” said Dermott. 

“We did a good job of sticking to our game plan,” Muzzin said. “Even when we were up a few we stayed with it. We had great goaltending and commitment from everyone on the defensive side of play so it was a good start to the road trip.”

Muzzin, who missed two games with a facial fracture, is wearing a full face shield for the first time in his career.  

“With sweat coming down, it’s tough to clean,” Muzzin said, “you got to unclip it so it’s just more annoying than anything.” 

‘Just praying the eye was OK’: Muzzin returns from scary injury with full shield

Jake Muzzin admits he was pretty scared when he was initially hit in the face by Tyler Toffoli’s stick, but he’s thankful he didn’t get hit in the eye. Now he’ll have to adjust to wearing a full shield, nothing he’s had experience with in the past.

Lines at Sunday’s practice: 

Thornton − Tavares − Marner
Barabanov − Kerfoot − Nylander
Mikheyev − Engvall − Hyman
Petan − Boyd − Spezza
Vesey − Agostino − Sabourin
Matthews  

Rielly − Brodie
Muzzin − Holl
Dermott − Bogosian
Lehtonen − Liljegren
 
Andersen
Hutchinson
Woll

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Kane scores 400th NHL goal as Blackhawks dominate Red Wings – Sportsnet.ca

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CHICAGO — No. 400 for Patrick Kane was just like so many others.

A slick move, and then one well-placed shot.

Kane scored his 400th career goal, Kevin Lankinen made a career-high 44 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks closed out a successful February with a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.

Kane and Alex DeBrincat got loose for a 2-on-1 midway through the third period. The 32-year-old Kane kept the puck, waited for sprawled Detroit defenceman Filip Hronek to slide by him and then beat Thomas Greiss on the stick side for his team-best 11th of the season.

“I think the biggest thing is once you start reaching these types of milestones, 400 goals and 1,000 games coming up, it leaves you wanting more,” Kane said. “It’s exciting to achieve them.”

Kane pumped both of his arms after becoming the 100th NHL player to reach 400 goals. The three-time Stanley Cup champion is the fourth player in franchise history to reach the milestone with the club, joining Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita and longtime star Steve Larmer.

“Tonight was all about Kaner,” teammate Ryan Carpenter said. “It’s nice for him to get that goal, and we all admire him for it.”

Carpenter, Pius Suter, Dominik Kubalik and DeBrincat also scored in the third as Chicago broke open a tight game against lowly Detroit. Carpenter also scored in the first, DeBrincat added three assists and Kane posted a three-point night in his 996th NHL game.

Bouncing back nicely from a 5-3 loss to the Red Wings on Saturday night, the Blackhawks closed out a 9-3-1 February with their third win in four games.

“Our team, it’s coming together,” Kane said. “We have a lot of young guys that are just going to keep getting better and better.”

Evgeny Svechnikov scored for the second straight game for Detroit, which had won two in a row. Sam Gagner also scored.

The Red Wings played without captain Dylan Larkin for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. They went 5-8-1 in February.

“It’s disappointing, obviously. I think (Greiss) battled really hard for us and kind of hung him out to dry there at the end,” Gagner said.

Chicago jumped in front on Nikita Zadorov’s first goal since he scored three times for Colorado in the playoffs last year. The 6-foot-6 defenceman, who was acquired in an October trade with the Avalanche, got a pass from David Kampf and beat Greiss from the high slot 11:41 into the first.

The Blackhawks then caught a break when Carpenter’s shot went off Red Wings defenceman Alex Biega in front and was inadvertently kicked in by a scrambling Greiss, making it 2-0 with 2:47 left in the opening period.

The Red Wings, who put 21 shots on net in the first, got one back when Gagner redirected Jon Merrill’s shot past Lankinen with 2:09 to go. It was Gagner’s fourth goal in three games after he had a hat trick in Detroit’s 5-2 victory against Nashville on Thursday night.

CARPENTER’S WORK

Carpenter’s goal in the third period was his first career power-play goal in his 216th NHL game.

It was the highest scoring game of the season for Chicago.

UP NEXT

Red Wings: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

Blackhawks: Open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

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