Category: Sports

Bemstrom’s OT tally lifts Blue Jackets over Senators 4-3

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Emil Bemstrom scored 4:35 into overtime, and the Columbus Blue Jackets snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

Bemstrom knocked home a rebound for his seventh of the season. Nick Foligno scored twice for the Blue Jackets, and Stefan Matteau tied it with his second of the season midway through the third period.

Columbus’ first win since Feb. 7 might have been a costly one after goaltender Elvis Merzlikins departed in the second following a big collision at the net with former Jackets forward Anthony Duclair.

The Blue Jackets have been ravaged by injuries this year. Merzlikins was replaced by Joonas Korpisalo, who was just activated after sitting out with a knee injury since Dec. 29.

Merzlikins had 16 saves, and Korpisalo made 14 stops.

Connor Brown had two goals for Ottawa, which traded away two of its top offensive players at the deadline earlier Monday. Colin White also scored, and Marcus Hogberg had 41 saves in Ottawa’s third straight loss.

The Blue Jackets’ slide had reached eight, but they managed to get a point in five of the losses to stay in contention. The win enabled them to jump over idle Carolina into the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card slot.

Foligno – still sporting two black eyes from taking a puck in the face Thursday – got the Blue Jackets on the board 4:10 into the first when he swept the puck in from the slot. Gustav Nyquist got the primary assist with a sharp pass from behind the goal line.

Brown tied it at 10:48 when he banged a shot off the near post and past Merzlikins from close in.

A wrist shot by Brown from the top of the circle just 9 seconds into a power play put the Senators up 2-1 halfway through the second.

Foligno got his ninth of the season with 7:28 left in the second, a tap-in after a nice play by Boone Jenner.

The teams traded goals again in the third period, with White tapping in a rebound and Matteau getting credit for a tip-in of Scott Harrington’s long shot 29 seconds later.

Before the game, the Senators traded centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a trio of draft picks, including a conditional 2020 first-rounder. The team also dealt forward Vladislav Namestnikov to Colorado for a fourth-round pick.

Both players are eligible for free agency after the season.

The Blue Jackets made no big changes to their roster at the deadline. They dealt Sonny Milano to San Jose for Devin Shore, who will join the team on Tuesday. And they traded forward Markus Hannikainen to Arizona for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

NOTES: Columbus C Riley Nash left with an injury in the second period. … Columbus brought up C Calvin Thurkauf on emergency recall from the minors and sent D Gabriel Carlsson back down. … The Senators recalled D Christian Jaros from the minors. … Ottawa forwards Matthew Peca and Rudolfs Balcers were late arrivals to Nationwide Arena after being acquired in trades earlier Monday. Peca played in the game, but Balcers’ equipment didn’t arrive in time. Peca got an assist on White’s third-period goal.

UP NEXT

Senators: At Predators on Tuesday.

Blue Jackets: At Minnesota on Tuesday.

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Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press









Emergency goalie David Ayres helps Hurricanes pick up improbable win over Leafs

TORONTO – David Ayres was sitting in the stands with his wife at Scotiabank Arena when Hurricanes goalie James Reimer went down with an injury.

The emergency netminder for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs, Ayers left his seat and donned half his gear on the off chance something also might happen to Carolina backup Petr Mrazek.

Midway through the second period, Ayres was by himself in the bowels of the building when his phone started to buzz – Mrazek had been hurt in a scary collision with Toronto forward Kyle Clifford and was down on the ice.

Next thing the 42-year-old Zamboni driver by day knew, he was walking down the tunnel and into the spotlight.

And not long after, he had an improbable first NHL win.

Ayres allowed goals on the first two shots he faced before settling down and stopping the next eight directed his way in a suffocating defensive performance from his new teammates as Carolina picked up a stunning 6-3 victory over Toronto.

“I had a couple of text messages that told me to get in there,” Ayres said in front a throng of reporters. “I hadn’t seen the footage (of Mrazek’s injury). I was in the media room by myself and a guy came in and said, ‘Get going. Get ready.’

“It was wild, it was fun.”

Ayres, who had a kidney transplant 15 years ago and wasn’t sure if he would ever play hockey again, has been a practice goalie with the Leafs and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, for the last eight years.

The native of nearby Whitby, Ont., faces shots from professional players on an almost-daily basis during the season, but never thought he’d be called into service in an NHL game.

“These guys were awesome,” said Ayres, the oldest goalie in league history to win his regular-season debut and the first emergency backup to ever record a victory. “They said to me, ‘Have fun with it, don’t worry about how many goals go in, this is your moment, have fun with it.’”

He did more than that, and was greeted with raucous cheers from the Hurricanes in their locker room after finishing a post-game TV interview.

“I had no idea I was going to get a shower before I got in the shower,” Ayres, the game’s first star, said with a grin. “I got one.”

Not long after the final buzzer, the Hurricanes were hawking t-shirts on Twitter sporting the stand-in goalie’s No. 90.

“It’s pretty special,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I told the guys after the game, ‘Thank him because that just gave (us) an incredible memory.’”

Warren Foegele scored twice, while Martin Necas, with a goal and an assist, Lucas Wallmark, Nino Niederreiter and Teuvo Teravainen provided the rest of the offence for Carolina (35-22-4).

“He probably dreams of playing in the National Hockey League,” Foegele said of Ayres. “What a moment for him. Something he’ll never forget, and something we won’t either.”

Alexander Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall and John Tavares replied for Toronto (32-23-8), which beat the Hurricanes 8-6 at home in another wild affair at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 23. Kasperi Kapanen and Tyson Barrie picked up two assists each for the Leafs, while Frederik Andersen made 41 saves on a disastrous night for the home side.

Toronto was playing poorly before Mrazek went down with the score 3-1 for the visitors, and things didn’t get much better even though Tavares and Engvall scored on consecutive attempts to make it 4-3 through 40 minutes.

“The reality is that the game really just stayed the same,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe, whose players mustered just seven shots in the third. “When the goalie switch happened, I talked to the team and said, ‘If we don’t change how we’re playing, they don’t even need a goalie. There’re no chances, no shots, there’s nothing happening.’

“They didn’t need a goaltender the way the game was going.”

Reimer started for the Hurricanes against his former team, but left with a lower-body injury in the first after being bowled over in his crease. He was replaced by Mrazek, who made 31 saves in Friday’s 5-2 home loss to the New York Rangers. But Carolina’s second option went down after that thunderous encounter with Clifford as both players raced for the puck along the sideboards with 8:41 left in the second.

That forced Ayres, who’s been the emergency goalie in Toronto for about half the games this season and is available to either team, into action for the remainder of a matchup between two clubs battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

“You kind of think, ‘Oh well how’s this gonna end up?’” Brind’Amour said. “That’s incredible. That’s why you do this.”

After the bizarre second that saw Carolina score four times, give up two goals, lose Mrazek, and have Ayres pressed into action, the Hurricanes made it 5-3 just 53 seconds into the third after jumping on a turnover and beating Andersen in tight.

Necas then made it 6-3 at 3:44 when he picked up a loose puck to finish off a chaotic sequence as boos rained down.

The jeers continued on a Leafs power play later in the period and got louder as the period wore on, with some fans chanting “Let’s Go Raptors!” as the final minutes ticked down on an embarrassing performance from the home side.

“We obviously didn’t handle the circumstances of the game very well,” Tavares said. “Might have been our poorest night of execution.

“We seemed like the team that played last night and travelled.”

Carolina trailed 1-0 after the first, but tied it at 5:46 of the second when Wallmark scored off a scramble. Niederreiter then blasted a one-timer on a power play at 9:43 before Foegele made it 3-1 at 10:49.

Mrazek was out of the game 30 seconds later.

Teravainen made it 4-1 with Clifford in the box for charging at 13:17, but Tavares scored on the first shot against Ayres through the five-hole 19 seconds after that.

Engvall buried a loose puck on Toronto’s next shot at 15:10 to make it 4-3.

The Leafs, who were coming of an encouraging 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, then got a power play – fans screamed “Shoot!” almost every time a Toronto player had the puck anywhere near the opposition net – but the Hurricanes didn’t allow anything through.

Ayres, who signed an amateur try-out before entering the game and his gets to keep his jersey, made his first save late in the second on Auston Matthews as Carolina led 4-3 through a wild 40 minutes and shut things down in the third.

“These guys,” Ayres said of what he’ll remember most. “How great they were to me. The crowd in Toronto was unreal. Even though I was on the other team they were so receptive. Every time I made a save I could hear them cheering for me.

“Awesome.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2020.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

Oilers acquire Athanasiou, Senators deal Pageau ahead of NHL trade deadline

Ken Holland has watched his players grind through 62 regular-season games.

The general manager of the Edmonton Oilers hopes Monday’s moves prior to the NHL trade deadline help push them over the post-season hump.

“My message today is we’re trying to win,” Holland said after making three separate deals before the 3 p.m. ET cutoff. “Our players have worked extremely hard, bought into everything the coaching staff has asked of them.”

In the nation’s capital, the Ottawa Senators were at the opposite end of the spectrum for the second consecutive year with three trades of their own – including one that saw popular homegrown talent Jean-Gabriel Pageau sent packing as that franchise’s rebuild continues.

“Today was good in advancing the plan,” said Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion, who netted as many as five picks Monday. “It was important for us to do that.”

In his first season with Edmonton following a long tenure with Detroit, Holland swung two trades with the Red Wings, acquiring speedster Andreas Athanasiou and defenceman Mike Green.

The Oilers, who sit second in the tightly-packed Pacific Division and have made the post-season just once since 2006, also got depth winger Tyler Ennis from Ottawa.

“We’ve got a great nucleus, and they’ve played hard to put ourselves in this position where we compete for a playoff spot,” Holland said. “The last three years I was a seller in Detroit. We made the playoffs for 25 years before.

“It’s fun to be in the playoffs. It’s fun for the fans, for the players.”

The 25-year-old Athanasiou, who is set to become a restricted free agent July 1, cost the Oilers second-round picks 2020 and 2021, along with forward Sam Gagner. Minor-leaguer Ryan Kuffner also heads to Edmonton in the deal.

Green, 34, was acquired for winger Kyle Brodziak and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020, while Ennis, 30, went for a fifth-rounder in 2021. Both are pending UFAs.

“No risk, no gain,” Holland told reporters in Anaheim, Calif.

Selected 110th overall by Detroit in 2012, Athanasiou has 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games to go along with a league-worst minus-45 rating this season for the last-place Red Wings. The native of Woodbridge, Ont., has 83 goals and 154 points in 294 career NHL games and could slot in on a line beside Oilers captain Connor McDavid. 

“He’s got great speed, he’s got high-end skill,” Holland said. “We’re hoping that his best years are ahead of him.”

The Senators received a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a second-round selection in 2020 and a conditional third-rounder in 2022 for Pageau, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but signed a six-year, US$30-million contract extension with the Islanders a few hours after the trade was announced.

The 2020 pick heading to Ottawa will slide to 2021 if it falls in the top-3 at June’s draft, while the third-round selection in 2022 hinges on the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup this spring.

The Senators also traded Vladislav Namestnikov – like Ennis, another pending UFA – to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-rounder in 2021.

Dorion gutted his roster prior to last February’s deadline, sending star winger Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights, while centre Matt Duchene and forward Ryan Dzingel were traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The moves came after Ottawa shipped captain Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenceman, to the San Jose Sharks in September 2018.

The Senators got a haul of picks and prospects in those deals – including San Jose’s first-rounder this June, which should be in the lottery – and coupled with the Pageau trade, Dorion could have as many as 13 picks, and seven in the first two rounds, in June at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“We’ve looked at a lot of scenarios,” Dorion said during a media availability in Ottawa. “It’s always been part of the plan to have as many picks in this year’s draft because we know this draft is very deep.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs were rumoured to be looking at trading pending UFA defenceman Tyson Barrie, who was acquired in the Nazem Kadri swap last summer with Colorado, but the blue-liner remained on the roster past the deadline.

GM Kyle Dubas made three minor deals, including one that sent third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson to the Avalanche for minor-league defenceman Calle Rosen, who was traded to Colorado as part of the Barrie-Kadri trade.

In a battle for its playoff life, Toronto’s talent-loaded roster has been under intense scrutiny over the last week following a string of lacklustre performances that culminated with Saturday’s embarrassing 6-3 loss to Carolina where the Hurricanes were forced to use emergency backup goalie David Ayres – a 42-year-old Zamboni driver – after both of their netminders were injured. 

“I’m not going to come up and bulls- and tell you I have some kind of magical solution,” Dubas said of his team’s inconsistency. “We have to go through this and we have to find our way to be our best on a daily basis.”

The Vancouver Canucks acquired goalie Louis Domingue from New Jersey for a conditional seventh-rounder in 2021 in a depth move with starter Jacob Markstrom out with a lower-body injury.

The Calgary Flames got some blue-line help by acquiring Erik Gustafsson from Chicago for a third-rounder in 2020 and Derek Forbort from Los Angeles for a conditional fourth in 2021. 

In other moves of note on a 32-trade day, Carolina got centre Vincent Trocheck from Florida and snagged defenceman Sami Vatanen from New Jersey.

The Golden Knights shored up their goalie situation by acquiring Robin Lehner from Chicago to support starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, added some veteran leadership for their playoff push by acquiring winger Patrick Marleau from San Jose.

Montreal, which traded winger Ilya Kovalchuk to Washington on Sunday, dealt Nate Thompson to Philadelphia and fellow forward Nick Cousins to Vegas. Winnipeg, meanwhile, didn’t make a move of any kind Monday.

Currently six points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Buffalo acquired UFA winger Wayne Simmonds from New Jersey.

A number of teams did their shopping early, with defencemen Dylan DeMelo (Winnipeg), Brenden Dillon (Washington), Marco Scandella (St. Louis) and Alec Martinez (Vegas) getting plucked off the market last week, while Vancouver made its big move with the acquisition of winger Tyler Toffoli from Los Angeles.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider looked like one of the top prizes still on the trade board heading into Monday, but he agreed to a seven-year, $45-million extension that will keep him in the Big Apple.

Back with Holland at the Oilers, Edmonton has made the playoffs just once with McDavid, who just returned after six games out with a quad injury, and fellow star forward Leon Draisaitl in the lineup.

Holland wanted to do his part in the post-season quest.

“Our team comes to work every day,” Holland said. “I had an obligation to try to pitch in and help out.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press





Jets don’t deal Byfuglien at deadline with defenceman poised to sit out season

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets stood pat at the NHL trade deadline Monday, meaning suspended defenceman Dustin Byfuglien remains a member of the team.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said he found out a couple of weeks ago the 35-year-old wouldn’t be returning to the ice this season.

Cheveldayoff said he knew Byfuglien wouldn’t play this season earlier this month “when he should have progressed to the skating aspect of the rehab and he never did.”

Byfuglien carries a salary-cap hit of US$7.6 million both this season and next, which means the Jets haven’t been able to replace those dollars on their roster in 2019-20 with his status in limbo.

There have been reports the Jets are working toward a contract termination.

“There’s still some moving parts here,” Cheveldayoff said.

The GM added he had no sense of Byfuglien’s intentions for next season.

The Jets (32-7-5) are one point out of a playoff spot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Blue Jays top prospect Pearson feeling comfortable at first big league camp

Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Nate Pearson is feeling confident and comfortable in his first big league spring training.

The makeup of the team around him has helped ease any nerves he may have had coming in.

Pearson, a 23-year-old right-hander ranked No. 8 on MLB’s prospect list, is surrounded by players around his own age at Toronto’s camp in Dunedin, Fla., including many who held upper-level prospect status as recently as last season.

“I’m definitely pretty comfortable,” Pearson said in an interview with The Canadian Press last week. “Seeing Bo (Bichette), Vladdy (Guerrero Jr.), Cavan (Biggio), Jano (Danny Jansen) – that core group – they were just in my shoes a little while ago.

“So having them here, being able to talk to them, that has been useful. And it makes for a really loose atmosphere. You’re not walking on egg shells in a room full of veterans here. It’s been really nice.”

Pearson, who’s known for an impressive fastball velocity, threw live batting practice to some of those same players – including the 20-year-old Guerrero, formerly the top prospect in all of baseball – last week at TD Ballpark.

Pearson will start his first spring training game Tuesday, a split-squad matchup against the New York Yankees at Toronto’s newly renovated home stadium.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters last week he was excited to watch Pearson pitch in a live game for the first time.

“I saw his bullpen the other say and I said … ‘Yup. I want to see this guy,’” Montoyo said.

“He knows what he’s doing for a young guy,” Montoyo added. “I’m really looking forward to seeing him pitch.”

Pearson, a first-round draft pick (28th overall) by the Blue Jays in 2017 out of Central Florida Community College, spent the bulk of last season with the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats before ending it with three starts at triple-A Buffalo, where he went 1-0 with a 3.00 earned-run average. He was 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA through all of 2019.

The six-foot-six pitcher will likely open the 2020 season at triple-A, but he could make his way onto the big league roster at some point over the year.

Pearson said he’s trying not to put too much pressure on himself at camp though.

“I’m just treating it as a normal season,” he said. “No one has bigger expectations for myself than I do. So I’m just focused on what I need to do to get better and let the rest take care of itself.”

Pearson, who described himself as a “definitely a very powerful pitcher,” has Blue Jays fans champing at the bit for his anticipated big league debut. Seeing him light up the radar gun at the MLB Futures Game last summer – he reached 100 miles per hour during the one perfect inning he pitched in the showcase – helped raise his profile significantly.

That profile could be raised even further over the next few months thanks to a different type of exposure for the young pitcher – having his likeness appear in the latest version of the popular MLB The Show video game.

The 2020 instalment of the game, which will be released in March, includes full rosters of minor league players for the first time. Pearson was one of the prospects prominently featured in a promo video released by Sony weeks ago.

Pearson described seeing himself in a video game as “pretty surreal.”

“I grew up playing MLB The Show all the time on PlayStation,” he said. “The fact that I was in one of the intro videos, that was pretty amazing. I was very excited and I can’t wait to play, and play as myself, that will be a lot of fun.

“It’s just so cool, at this time in my career, to be on a video game and have my friends be able to play as me or have little kids that had the same dream as I did playing as me. It’s pretty cool.”

Pearson has only seen the promo videos for the game, but he said the animated player he saw wearing his No. 38 Buffalo Bisons jersey did bear a strong physical resemblance. 

The pitching motion didn’t quite match up to his though. Not yet, anyway.

“I wouldn’t say the mechanics were right, I think they kinda just threw something together there,” Pearson said with a laugh. “Hopefully in years to come they’ll get some better footage of me.”

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press

Calgary Flames acquire two defenceman, trade another on deadline day

CALGARY – The Calgary Flames made three changes to their defence prior to Monday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline, adding two blue-liners and shipping out another.

The Flames sent a conditional fourth-round pick in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for Derek Forbort and shipped a 2020 third-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Erik Gustafsson.

Later, the Flames sent defenceman Brandon Davidson to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations.

The Flames have two regular defenceman nursing injuries – captain Mark Giordano (hamstring) and Travis Hamonic (upper body).

Gustafsson had six goals and 20 assists in 59 games with the Blackhawks this season, while Forbort had one assist in 13 games with the Kings this year.

Davidson didn’t have a point in seven games with the Flames this season. He played 34 games with Stockton of the American Hockey League, Calgary’s top minor-league affiliate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Einarson wins way into Tournament of Hearts final, downs Jones 6-4

MOOSE JAW, Sask. – A team made up entirely of former skips is a win away from a Canadian women’s curling championship.

Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson downed the Jennifer Jones wild-card team 6-4 on Saturday in an all-Manitoba playoff between the top two seeds.

Einarson’s Gimli Curling Club foursome earned an express ticket to Sunday evening’s championship game.

Six-time champion Jones from Winnipeg needs to beat Ontario’s Rachel Homan in the afternoon semifinal to gain a rematch with Einarson for the title.

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur all skipped different teams in 2017-18 before joining forces.

Einarson was on her game Saturday night in Moose Jaw, Sask., shooting 94 per cent.

She’s posted 90-plus percentages in four of her last five games.

“I’m just in the zone,” the skip said. “Not thinking about anything else, but just making those shots.

“I’ve just been feeling really comfortable out there. Feeling the flow and smelling the ice. When you just step out onto the ice, you just get this feeling and it feels really good.”

If the 32-year-old from Selkirk can replicate that feeling Sunday, her team will be a formidable foe for the semifinal winner.

“There’s a few things we could sharpen up on, but Kerri played unreal,” Sweeting said. “She’s been on a roll. It was incredible to watch out there. She lets it go and you know she’s making a good one.

“If anything, just keep her rolling.”

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner represents Canada at next month’s world championship in Prince George, B.C., and returns to next year’s Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.

A berth in the 2021 Olympic trials also goes to the winner, as well as $105,000 of the $300,000 prize purse.

Three of the four on Einarson’s team have previous experience in Hearts finals with different rinks.

Einarson’s wild-card team lost to Jones in the 2018 finale. Birchard was Jones’s third that year substituting for regular vice Kaitlyn Lawes, who was playing mixed doubles in the Winter Olympics.

Sweeting skipped Alberta to back-to-back silver medals in 2014 and 2015. She lost to Jones in Moose Jaw in 2015.

“I’m grateful for the experience,” Sweeting said. “It’s also been pretty heartbreaking, so going to definitely leave everything I can out there.”

Manitoba scored deuces in the sixth and eighth against Jones ends to lead 5-3.

Einarson held Jones to a single point in the ninth to be up one coming home with last-rock advantage.

The Manitoba skip made her hit and roll for the win in the 10th.

Einarson skimmed her last stone of the eighth past a guard to tap for two.

She executed another tough tap in the sixth with her shooter just hanging onto the eight-foot rings for a second point.

“We would make one miss an end and they would just make a perfect shot,” Jones said. “We couldn’t get a deuce going. We had deuces set up and we just couldn’t capitalize on them.

“Hopefully we’ll capitalize on them tomorrow.”

Homan eliminated Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville 9-5 in Saturday’s playoff between the third and fourth seeds.

The first-team all-stars announced Saturday were Homan, Sweeting, Birchard and Ontario lead Lisa Weagle.

Einarson, Ontario third Emma Miskew and second Joanne Courtney and Team Canada lead Rachel Brown were named second-team all-stars.

Also, Curling Canada and TSN announced an extension of their broadcast rights contract for another eight years.

The agreement kicks in for the 2020-21 season through to 2027-28.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press



Vancouver Canucks acquire goalie Louis Domingue in deal with New Jersey Devils

VANCOUVER – With Jacob Markstrom nursing a lower-body injury, the Vancouver Canucks have added some goaltending insurance.

The club acquired Louis Domingue from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for minor-league goalie Zane McIntyre just before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.

Markstrom missed practice Monday and will be re-evaluated Wednesday. Thatcher Demko is Markstrom’s backup.

Since being traded to the Devils from the Tampa Bay Lightning in November, Domingue has split time between New Jersey and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y.

In 16 games with New Jersey this season, Domingue is 3-8-2 with a 3.79 goals-against average and .882 save percentage.

Domingue, 27, is 58-57-10 with a 3.05 GAA and .904 save percentage in 138 career NHL games with Arizona, Tampa Bay and New Jersey.

McIntyre has played the entire season with Utica of the AHL.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Los Angeles honours Kobe, Gianna Bryant with public memorial

LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant’s wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter Monday at a sold-out memorial service for the two, who were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.

Speaking at times through tears, Vanessa Bryant praised her husband’s devotion as she addressed thousands of fans gathered at Staples Center to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.”

The service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career.

The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs “XO” and “Halo” with dozens dozens of backup musicians. Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” later in the program.

After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family’s life with Gianna and her three siblings and then eulogized her husband. They had been together since 1999.

“He was the most amazing husband,” she said. “Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. … He was my everything.”

The mourners included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended.

Vanessa Bryant was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe Bryant was a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, and Gigi Bryant was a promising young player.

“If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,” said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant.

University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was followed by Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent before he became the Lakers’ general manager in 2017. Pelinka was Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and their families were close.

Pelinka referred to the day of the crash as “when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.”

He also revealed that Bryant had texted him only moments before the crash, asking for help in securing an internship with a baseball agent for teenager Alexis Altobelli, who lost her parents and younger sister in the crash moments later.

“Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better, all the way up to his final text,” Pelinka said.

Among the early arriving fans was Alyssa Shapiro, 27, of Huntington Beach, who said she was inspired to become a basketball player after watching countless Lakers games with her father.

The family’s love of the game – and Bryant’s work in women’s sports – prompted her to become a middle school girls’ basketball coach. Her team had played Gianna’s team and she would watch Bryant cheer for his daughter in the stands.

Holding homemade heart-shaped “Kobe” and “Gigi” signs, she said she went up to Bryant to introduce herself at a game.

“I just wanted to thank him for being such an inspiration to me,” she said. “I grew up watching him on the screen. … It made me realize he’s more than just that guy out on the court.”

The concourse was a sea of people dressed in the team colours of purple and yellow and others in black. On the scoreboard, the Bryant family’s life flashes by in pictures.

The service began just hours after Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog last month. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions.

At the arena, fans were given a program containing photos, a purple KB pin and a T-shirt with photos of the father and daughter.

Money from ticket sales was to be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

The service was a chance for a grieving city and Bryant’s worldwide fans to reflect on his impact on his sport and the world while enjoying music and retrospectives on Bryant’s on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016.

Vendors sold flowers, Lakers scarves and commemorative newspapers and jerseys. Buses drove up and down Figueroa Street with their signs lit up with “RIP KOBE.”

Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, who moved from the Forum to Staples Center when it opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death.

Bryant remained the most popular athlete in Los Angeles into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash.

Symbolic meanings ran throughout the ceremony, which was held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant chose Feb. 24 as the date in honour of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb. 7.

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Associated Press Writer Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Greg Beacham, The Associated Press











700 club: Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin scores for milestone goal

With power and a prodigious shot, Alex Ovechkin now stands where few in the NHL have been.

He became the eight NHL player to score 700 career goals, reaching the milestone in the third period of the Washington’ Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

“It’s a special moment,” Ovechkin said. “When you get closer you start thinking when it’s going to happen. Finally, it’s over so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. We’re going to move on.”

The 34-year-old Russian forward one-timed a slap shot from the right circle that went in off the left post 4:50 into the third period, tying the game 2-2. It was his 42nd goal of the season, one behind Boston’s David Pastrnak for the league lead, and came on his second shot on goal of the game.

Capitals players rushed on to the ice to congratulate their teammate, and Devils fans gave him a strong ovation.

“It was obviously a matter of time, but that was a huge goal for us at the time,” said Todd Rierden, in his second season as Capitals coach after serving as an assistant the previous four. “Amazing to be able to watch it live and in person. To be able to go through the last six years with (Ovechkin) has been amazing to watch. Certainly a superstar in my time, the best goal-scorer that I’ve ever seen.”

Wayne Gretzky leads the career list with 894 goals. He is followed by Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).

Jagr and Gartner both spent some time with the Capitals but nether reached the mark while playing for the team.

“It’s always special to be in that category,” Ovechkin said. “But I would say without my team, without my family, without the fans, the support that I have I would never reach that milestone. We have to continue to create history.”

Ovechkin had not scored in five straight games before getting No. 699 against Montreal on Thursday night. He had 14 goals, including three hat tricks, in his previous seven games before the drought.

“I knew someday even if I didn’t score today we still have 20 games, so one goal I would score,” he said. “It’s pretty good company. I am happy to be there.”

He needed 1,144 games to reach the landmark, second fastest behind Gretzky at 886 games. And the player who has been tormenting goalies since joining the league in 2005 moved from 600 goals to 700 in 154 games, the fewest among the eight players to reach the mark.

The first overall pick in the 2004 draft, Ovechkin has 1,270 points since the start of his rookie season, just ahead of Penguins star Sidney Crosby (1,256) since they both debuted that year.

Despite Ovechkin’s climb, Washington lost its fourth straight and fell to 3-7-1 in its past 11 games to remain tied with Pittsburgh atop the Metropolitan Division at 80 points – the Penguins have an edge with a game in hand. Washington hosts Pittsburgh, which lost 5-2 at home to Buffalo, on Sunday.

“We’re a little struggling right now, a little tight in our shoulders,” Ovechkin said. “We have to fight throught this and everything is going to be OK.”

Damon Severson scored the winning goal for last-place New Jersey with 1:59 left off a cross-ice pass from Nikita Gusev. Wayne Simmonds and Jesper Bratt also scored for the Devils, and Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 33 shots.

“With Ovechkin scoring 700 we could’ve easily sat back and been like ‘Wow.” Severson said. “Congratulations to him. Great player, all-time. But we got the win, we one-upped him, so it was great.”

Tom Wilson cut New Jersey’s lead to 2-1 late in the second period to set up Ovechkin’s tying score. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves.

NOTES: Gusev finished with two assists. … Blackwood is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts. … New Jersey improved to 12-6-8 when scoring first and 15-3-5 when leading after two periods. … The Devils earned a split of the four-game season series. Capitals had won two of the first three meetings. … Samsonov turned 23 on Saturday. … Washington LW Jakub Vrana extended his goal-scoring drought to 11 games after scoring eight in the previous nine.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host Pittsburgh on Sunday before a home-and-home with Winnipeg.

Devils: At Detroit on Tuesday night to open a five-game trip.

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Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

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More AP NHL: https://.apnews.com/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports

Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press