Skinner has goal and assist to help Hurricanes hold off Maple Leafs for 3-2 win

Paul Maurice was able to breathe a little sigh of relief after the Carolina Hurricanes played their best game of the week Sunday. I am just trying to get on the plane,” the beleaguered coach said with a wry smile after a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist, and Jay Harrison and Jussi Jokinen also scored as the Hurricanes broke a two-game streak of shutouts and won for only the second time in nine games.

They found their offence against Toronto, with captain Eric Staal contributing a pair of assists. Cam Ward had 23 saves for Carolina, which peppered Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens with 41 shots.
This is big,” Staal said. “No one likes the situation we’re in and no one likes to lose. It was nice to have the same type of effort we had against Buffalo (in Friday’s 1-0 loss), and we were rewarded with some goals.”

Phil Kessel scored both goals for the Leafs, giving him an NHL-leading 16 goals and 29 points this season. Carolina has won 12 of the last 17 meetings with Toronto. We scored with plenty of time left,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “We had our chances but couldn’t find a way to finish.”

Carolina led 1-0 after the first period after outshooting the Leafs 10-4, then 2-0 after tying its season high with 19 shots in the second.

“We knew we played a good, solid game the way we wanted to but you have to have something good come from that,” said Maurice. “Everybody was understanding and playing the same game.”

Harrison gave Carolina the lead with 29 seconds left in the first period, picking up a loose puck at the top of the left circle on a rebound of a Skinner shot and blasting it past Scrivens to the glove side. The goal ended a scoring drought of nearly 155 minutes.

Jokinen made it 2-0 on the power play at 7:05 of the second, throwing the puck at the net from the right circle and getting a lucky ricochet off the skate of Luke Schenn. Justin Faulk had the primary assist for his first NHL point on the goal, which snapped Carolina’s 0-for-23 slump on the power play.

Kessel cut it to 2-1 on a 4-on-3 at 4:31 of the third, picking up the loose puck on the left doorstep and slamming it home with Dion Phaneuf on the primary assist.

The Hurricanes got the clincher on a rush with just under seven minutes to go when Skinner followed a rebound of a Staal shot and slid it in on the glove side.

“Everyone wants to win, and the biggest pressure is the pressure you put on yourselves,” Skinner said. “Especially when you’ve been going through what we’ve gone through the last few games. It’s not fun.”

Kessel scored his second on a six-on-five with a minute remaining, with John-Michael Liles getting the assist.

McMaster rallies to earn Vanier Cup birth: MONCTON, N.B.

McMaster Marauders’ trip to the Vanier Cup would once again hit a roadblock.

Quarterback Kyle Quinlan and the Marauders offence made sure that didn’t happen.

Quinlan threw for 370 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for another, and the Marauders advanced to the Vanier Cup for the 1st time in more than 4 decades after downing the Acadia Axemen 45-21 to win the Uteck Bowl on18 Nov 2011.

Receiver Matt Peressini said it’s a great feeling to put that behind them. There’s a lot of us senior guys who never even made it to a Yates Cup, never mind the Vanier Cup,” said Peressini, who started the Marauders’ comeback by running in a touchdown in the first quarter. “This is just a special feeling right now and I’m so proud of these guys.”

Axemen coach Jeff Cummins said his team started off strong, but McMaster made the right adjustments — both offensively and defensively. We didn’t get the stops when we needed to and got a couple of costly penalties and before you knew it they were up 31-14 on us,” he said. “We let it get away from us and obviously it is very frustrating to end the season the way we did.”

Acadia struck quickly, opening a two-touchdown lead on a 17-yard run by Zack Skibin and a 21-yard reception by A.J. Durling. But McMaster responded with 31 unanswered points to take a 31-14 lead at the half.

Quinlan later said he knew the Marauders had no choice but to battle hard after falling behind early. This is a great Acadia team,” he said. “We knew that coming in and they jumped all over us to start off, so we just had to battle back.”

Quinlan threw for 267 yards and had three touchdown passes by halftime, including a 75 yard pass to Bradley Fochesato. It was the first of Fochesato’s two touchdowns in the first half.

Robert Babic had the other touchdown, hauling in an eight-yard pass. It was late in the third quarter before the Marauders scored again. Quinlan — unable to find an open receiver — saw an open route through the middle and ran in 14 yards for a touchdown extending his team’s lead to 38-14.

The Axemen managed to narrow the lead to 38-21 just as the third quarter ended. Kyle Graves completed a 19-yard pass to Michael Squires for a touchdown. However a 14 yard touchdown rush by McMaster’s Joey Nemet 12:46 left on the clock capped the scoring.

The game was the first time the two teams had met in the post season, and the first time a CIS football semifinal was played in New Brunswick. It was announced last year that the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Uteck Bowl games would be held in Moncton. Ticket sales got off to a slow start for this year’s match but there were 3,726 spectators in the stands, despite the weather. It was -2 degrees and windy at kick-off.

The Marauders came into the game on the heels of a 41-19 win over Western in the Yates Cup final, while the Axemen captured the Loney Bowl final with an impressive 39-20 victory over defending four-time league champions Saint Mary’s Huskies.

McMaster now plays the winner of the Mitchell Bowl for the 47th Vanier Cup on Friday, Nov. 25 at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.

Kane takes control as Jets upset Capitals

Evander Kane scored a pair of goals and Blake Wheeler added his first of the season as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1 on  18 November 2011.
It was the first time Winnipeg recorded back-to-back wins in regulation this season and upped its record to 7-9-3 in front of 15,004 fans at the MTS Centre.
The Capitals dropped their second straight game — they lost 3-1 to Nashville on Tuesday — and sit at 10-6-1.
Kyle Wellwood had Winnipeg’s other goal, while Alexander Semin scored for the Capitals.
Semin got the game’s first goal when he scored his fourth of the season after pausing in stride before firing a shot past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec at 3:53 of the first period.
Pavelec was making his 11th-straight start (6-7-3) for Winnipeg and turned away 31 shots.
Kane replied for the Jets four minutes later with his team-leading seventh goal on a close wrist shot that beat Michal Neuvirth.
Three unanswered goals in the second period by the Jets vaulted them to a 4-1 lead.
Kane made it 2-1 at 6:38 before back-to-back goals on the power play less than three minutes apart stretched Winnipeg’s lead.
Wheeler started it off with his first goal of the season at 8:31 and Wellwood followed with his sixth at 10:54.
Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:01 late in the second period, but the Jets killed it off.
Winnipeg hosts Philadelphia on Saturday and Washington plays in Toronto.

Steen nets winner as Blues halt Wings’ streak

Alex Steen scored unassisted for the go-ahead goal in the second period, and the St. Louis Blues held the Detroit Red Wings to single-digit shots in all 3 periods of a 2-1 victory on 15 November 2011.

Matt D’Agostini added a power-play goal for the Blues, who ended the Red Wings’ four-game winning streak and halted goalie Jimmy Howard’s 5-game winning streak against St. Louis. Detroit was 0-for-6 on the power play and is 0-for-16 the last 3 games. They are 2-for-24 on road advantages.

Howard made 35 saves in his first loss against the Blues since a 4-3 shootout defeat on  9 Feb. 2010, and Drew Miller scored the game’s first goal. Detroit totalled 22 shots, but only four in the third.

The Blues are 3-0-1 since Ken Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne as coach. They have scored a power-play goal in 3 of the 4 games after totalling just 3 power-play goals the first 13 games.

The 2nd period was the Blues’ best, with a 19-9 shots advantage and Steen’s team-leading seventh goal at 17:19. Steen picked off a blind backhand clearing effort by Johan Franzen and beat Howard with a wrist shot from the left circle.

Miller tipped in a pass across the crease from Justin Abdelkader at 6:02 of the firs, beating Brian Elliott. D’Agostini tied it with his fifth of the season on a power play late in the first.

Just 12 seconds after Jonathan Ericsson was whistled for interference, D’Agostini got a loose puck in the slot after Patrik Berglund’s shot was blocked by the defence.

Blues forward Chris Stewart got a game misconduct for checking Nicklas Kronwall into the boards near the Red Wings bench midway through the first period. Kronwall was assisted off the ice but returned in the second period.

MLB players, owners close on deal

Baseball players and owners have moved closer to an agreement on a five-year labour contract that would institute new restraints on what teams can pay amateur draft picks.

The sides met Monday and still had some details remaining to reach an agreement, a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side was commenting publicly.

The agreement, which would replace the one expiring Dec. 11, would add thresholds for spending by a team each year on selections in the June amateur draft, as well make changes to the luxury tax and revenue sharing.

There would be progressive penalties for teams whose total spending on draft picks exceed the threshold, similar to the luxury-tax concept on high payrolls that has been part of baseball’s labour contracts since the 2003 season.

Commissioner Bud Selig has wanted to rein in draft spending. Teams proposed a slotting system of fixed bonuses, but players were reluctant to agree to any caps.

Small- and medium-revenue teams have complained that high-spending teams such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have priced them out of the top international amateur players. That matter could be sent to a study committee, a second person briefed on talks said, also on condition of anonymity.

Brady, Pats regain control in AFC East

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, including two to Rob Gronkowski, and the New England Patriots took control of the AFC East with a convincing 37-16 victory over the New York Jets on, 13 November 2011.

After the Jets got within a score at 23-16 early in the fourth quarter, Brady coolly led the Patriots (6-3) down the field on an 84-yard drive that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown catch by Deion Branch.

New England linebacker Rob Ninkovich sealed the victory — which snapped a two-game skid — on the Jets’ next possession with a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the final quarter.

The game was a showdown for the top spot in the division, but it was no contest as the Patriots took over sole possession by snapping the Jets’ three-game winning streak. It was also the first home loss for the Jets (5-4).

Flames falter in loss to Blackhawks

Chicago backup Ray Emery made 24 saves, and Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane scored to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on 11 November 2011.

Emery, who made his fourth start this season, lost a shutout bid with 9:10 left in the third when Olli Jokinen scored. Keith and Seabrook, Chicago’s two top defencemen, both scored their first goals of the season in the Blackhawks’ 17th game.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots and made several tough, close-in saves to keep the game close.

The Blackhawks (10-4-3) won their second straight, and the Flames (6-8-1) dropped their second in a row.

Leafs top Blues 3-2

Phil Kessel scored the lone shootout goal for Toronto, and Ben Scrivens stopped all three St. Louis shooters in the Maple Leafs’ 3-2 victory over the Blues on 10 November 2011.

John-Michael Liles and Kessel scored first-period, power-play goals, and Scrivens made 37 saves for Toronto.

The Blues got goals from Jason Arnott and Patrik Berglund. Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots.

The Maple Leafs took advantage of undisciplined penalties by the Blues in the first period, scoring on 2 of 3 power-play chances.

Liles scored from the right circle 11:27 into the game, taking a pass from Dion Phaneuf and beating Halak on the stick side.

Kessel netted his NHL-leading 12th goal of the season, deflecting Joffrey Lupul’s shot over Halak with 2:58 left in the first on Toronto’s third power play.

The Blues turned the tide in the second period, outshooting Toronto 14-5 and cutting the lead in half when Arnott scored his fourth of the season on the power play at 8:01. Arnott took a pass from Alex Pietrangelo and sent a shot from the slot past Scrivens.

Scrivens had a shaky start in which he allowed quality rebounds, but he improved as the game went on. He made key stops on Alex Steen early in the third and David Backes midway through the period to preserve Toronto’s 2-1 lead.

Ottawa, Sens can not stop Gaborik in 4th straight loss

Marian Gaborik scored twice including the game winner as the New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Wednesday.

Gaborik elected to shoot during a two-on-one with teammate Derek Stepan and beat Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson short side to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the third period.

Nick Foligno beat Henrik Lundqvist just over a minute later to cut New York’s lead to one, but the Senators were unable to tie the game.

Stepan had a goal and two assists for the Rangers (8-3-3) while Artem Anisimov picked up two assists.

Milan Michalek had the other goal for the Senators (7-8-1), who have now dropped four straight following a six-game winning streak.

Anderson only faced 19 shots while his teammates fired 31 at Lundqvist.

The Senators didn’t do themselves any favours in the second period after they took a 1-0 lead on Michalek’s goal when two breakdowns led to two Rangers’ goals in short order.

On the first, Gaborik was left unguarded and he had an easy tap into an empty net at 9:21 following a cross-ice pass from Stepan.

Just 42 seconds later the Senators’ defence was once again absent as the puck lay in the crease by the feet of Anderson who was on his back. Stepan capitalized by skating around the net and scoring into an empty net.

The Senators had controlled the play for most of the first two periods, outshooting the Rangers 21-11 in the process, but other than a great shot by Michalek that went over Lundqvist’s shoulder at 8:39 of the second period they didn’t have any good scoring chances.

Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson broke in behind the defence and got a pass from Colin Greening, but his shot from in close was snared by the glove hand of Lundqvist.

The only action of the first period was an early fight between Sean Avery of the Rangers and the Senators’ Zenon Konopka, although the posturing before the bout seemed to last longer than the fight itself.

Flames can not solve Backstrom, Fall to Wild

Niklas Backstrom stopped all 41 shots he faced to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

Dany Heatley had a goal and an assist for the Wild , which has won five straight games. Darroll Powe and Guillaume Latendresse, into an empty net, also scored for Minnesota.

The Flames had seven power-play opportunities during the game, including a five-minute man advantage in the second period, but still couldn’t beat Backstrom.

Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made 23 saves in the loss.