Hurricanes hang on to defeat Oilers

EDMONTON — Nino Niederreiter scored his first two goals for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 7-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Sunday.

Niederreiter was acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild for forward Victor Rask on Thursday.

Lucas Wallmark scored two goals and had an assist, and Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and two assists for Carolina (23-20-5), which won for the first time in three games. Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho each had three assists, and goalie Petr Mrazek made 17 saves for his fourth win in his past six starts.

Leon Draisaitl had two goals and an assist, and Brandon Manning and Zack Kassian scored for Edmonton (23-23-3), which has lost two in a row. Connor McDonald had two assists.

Cam Talbot allowed three goals on 15 shots before being replaced by Mikko Koskinen at 11:02 of the first period. Koskinen made 15 saves.

The Oilers scored three straight goals after the Hurricanes took a 6-1 lead on Jordan Martinook‘s 10th of the season at 18:29 of the second period.

Wallmark scored into an empty net with 2:22 remaining for the 7-4 final.

Niederreiter scored on the first shot of the game 28 seconds into the first period to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

Video: CAR@EDM: Niederreiter pots first goal with Hurricanes

Svechnikov made it 2-0 at 6:35, and Niederreiter scored at 11:02 to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead.

Manning scored from the slot on a pass from McDavid to make it 3-1 with 51 seconds left in the first.

Brock McGinn made it 4-1 at 1:50 of the second period, shooting a loose puck from the right hash marks after Svechnikov played it into the crease from behind the net. Wallmark scored to make it 5-1 at 4:07.

After Martinook gave Carolina a five-goal lead, Draisaitl scored on a 2-on-1 with Jujhar Khaira to make it 6-2 with 19 seconds left in the second.

Kassian made it 6-3 when he tipped in Matt Benning‘s point shot 14 seconds into the third period.

Draisaitl scored on the power play at 7:07 to make it 6-4. He took a cross-crease pass from McDavid and lifted the puck into the net.

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Tom Brady Privately Talks to Patrick Mahomes After Patriots Win AFC Championship

FILE - At left, in a Nov. 19, 2018, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles. At right, in a Dec. 30, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. It seems football fans everywhere are suddenly on the Chiefs’ bandwagon, enthralled by their record-setting young quarterback and exciting offensive playmakers while hopeful that their amiable old coach can finally win the big one. Then again, maybe they’re just fans of anybody facing New England.(AP Photo/File)

Uncredited/Associated Press

After an incredible duel between elite quarterbacks in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, New England Patriots star Tom Brady wanted to show some respect to his counterpart. 

According to Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com, Brady found Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for a one-on-one conversation after the game.

“Tom Brady just quietly approached a security guard waiting outside the Chiefs’ locker room — and asked if he could see Patrick Mahomes. Brady was escorted into a room where he spoke briefly with him. A very clear display of respect from one incredible quarterback to another.”

The two quarterbacks battled in a 37-31 overtime win for the Patriots, with 44 of the 68 points coming in the fourth quarter or overtime. They each led scoring drives in the final minute of regulation to force the extra period.

It was the second time these teams faced each other this season. In the first meeting back in Week 6, New England came away with a 43-40 win in another dramatic battle.

While Brady is the more accomplished player with five Super Bowl wins, three MVP awards and 14 Pro Bowls, Mahomes seemingly made an impression on the veteran after throwing seven touchdown passes in two games against the Patriots.

Although we might not ever know what the two said to one another, perhaps Brady’s words will further motivate Mahomes to build off his breakout season.

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Pavelski builds on humble roots to become all-star at 34 for Sharks

His name was Joe Pavelski.

His humble beginnings should be remembered as he represents the Sharks on home ice in the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), because they helped make him who he is: one of the best players in his draft class and San Jose history, someone still striving for new heights at age 34.

“There’s nothing ever guaranteed, so you just work,” Pavelski said. “For me, it was probably better it was late round.”

 

[RELATED: Burns thriving on Sharks with kindred spirits Pavelski, Karlsson | Complete NHL All-Star Game coverage]

 

Among the 292 players selected in the 2003 draft, Pavelski ranks 13th in games played (938), sixth in goals (343), eighth in assists (394) and sixth in points (737).

In Sharks history, he ranks third in games played behind Patrick Marleau (1,493) and Joe Thornton (1,002). He’s second in goals to Marleau (508); third in assists behind Thornton (758) and Marleau (574); and third in points behind Marleau (1,082) and Thornton (996).

This season, he has 40 points (26 goals, 14 assists) in 50 games. His goals lead the Sharks, rank 13th in the League and put him on pace for 43, which would be an NHL career high.

“He might not be the biggest, he might not be the fastest, but he is getting it done as he has for years, just with his unique skill set,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “And he’s a tremendous leader.”

It goes back to the beginning. 

As a seventh-round pick, Pavelski needed more time to develop. He went back to Waterloo in 2003-04. When he went to the University of Wisconsin in 2004-05, he didn’t plan to stay for only two seasons, but he started to bloom. He turned pro in 2006-07, playing 16 games for Worcester of the American Hockey League and 46 for the Sharks.

“It was just playing the game, taking it one level at a time, and next thing you know, you’re knocking on the door,” Pavelski said. “You’re just really enjoying the game. Like, I really enjoyed my time in the American League. It wasn’t long. But when I was down there, the practice time, extra ice time just to work on your shot, just knowing that that’s all you had to do today for your job … it was pretty cool.”

It was the foundation of the work ethic he has carried through 13 seasons with the Sharks. 

To this day, he and defenseman Brent Burns are among the first on the ice whenever the Sharks practice. They dump a bag of pucks on the ice. Burns takes shot after shot from the point; Pavelski tips puck after puck in front of the net. Burns whips passes across the ice; Pavelski hones his one-timer.

While Thornton still sets the work-hard, have-fun culture in the locker room, Pavelski, who succeeded him as captain in 2015-16, leads in his own way, relating to everyone from the scrappy role players to the high-end skill guys.

“He’s the perfect professional, I think, the way he works, the way his attitude is,” Burns said. “You learn a lot from guys like that.”

Video: TBL@SJS: Burns sets up Pavelski for pretty goal

Pavelski’s goal totals declined the previous three seasons from 38 to 29 to 22. At least some of that was due to injuries. He had hand surgery prior to training camp last season and played through discomfort, then sustained a broken finger. He had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his first 23 games, 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in his last 59.

“I can remember last year, even when he started to get healthy, he’d have ones for him that are slam dunks, and he’d just miss,” coach Peter DeBoer said.

This season, his shooting percentage is 20.8 percent, which is above his NHL career high (18.2) and well above his NHL career average (12.3). That indicates his goal-scoring pace is probably unsustainable.

Then again, he’s healthy.

“Feel like I’m moving really well, as good as I’ve moved in a long time,” Pavelski said. “Hands feel good. They don’t ache.”

That has led to a virtuous cycle of confidence, better shots and more production. In a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 12, he kicked a bouncing puck to his stick blade in the left circle and whipped a wrist shot into the upper right corner, all in stride. Could he have executed that early last season?

“Probably not,” Pavelski said. “I think just mentally I’m in a better spot too because of the health and because I can do certain things out there. I’m playing the game a little bit quicker. There’s certain areas where I’m getting it and not even necessarily looking at the net, just going off feel and shooting pucks. A lot of them have been going right under the bar and in the corner. Not passing up those chances, looking for something better, and I think that’s important for me.”

Video: OTT@SJS: Pavelski roofs wrister to open scoring

This All-Star Game will be special. It’s the third in four years for a seventh-round pick in his 30s, and it is at home, the only home he has ever known in the NHL. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. It’s tricky, because the Sharks have to project how long he can keep defying the odds as he ages while trying to sign another pending UFA: star defenseman Erik Karlsson. But Pavelski’s goal is to finish his career in San Jose.

“Some of those things are out of your control, but when you get to a spot, the longer you can stay with a good team, a good organization, it’s important,” Pavelski said. “I appreciate what the fans and the city of San Jose means to me. I really enjoy going to the Shark Tank every day.”

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Tom Brady’s Heroics Send Patriots to Super Bowl 53 over Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with center David Andrews (60) after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

It’s getting difficult to remember Super Bowls without the New England Patriots.

New England clinched a spot in its third straight Super Bowl with a 37-31 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. This will be the Patriots’ ninth trip to the Super Bowl since they drafted Tom Brady in 2000.

Brady played the role of hero yet again, picking apart the Chiefs secondary on the game-winning overtime drive before Rex Burkhead plunged in for the touchdown. It mirrored New England’s final drive of regulation, when Brady set up Burkhead’s touchdown with a 25-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski before Harrison Butker forced overtime with a 39-yard field goal. 

Brady prevailed in the quarterback showdown with Patrick Mahomes, finishing 30-of-46 for 348 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Kansas City’s signal-caller went 16-of-31 for 295 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he was unable to cap his potential MVP campaign with a conference crown.

                

What’s Next?

The Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

             

This article will be updated to provide more information soon.

Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game.

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Avalanche help sergeant surprise wife, young son at game

Military spouse Sarah Villegas thought she was just getting a round of applause while being honored as the Colorado Avalanche hero of the game. Then her husband Taylor came walking down the aisle.

Sergeant Taylor Villegas returned home from deployment in Afghanistan to stun Sarah and their 2-year-old son Sebastian in a heartwarming moment during the second period of Colorado’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Avalanche were honoring Sarah for five years of service as a military spouse, but then public-address announcer Alan Roach invited her to look to the top of the aisle. Taylor came rushing down to meet her and Sebastian with a bouquet of flowers.

According to the Avalanche website, Taylor was due to return home in February but surprised his family by coming back to Colorado early. Taylor has been deployed across the country and world, but he’s from Colorado. 

And it was only fitting that their reunion came at the Pepsi Center. The Villegases celebrated their first wedding anniversary at an Avalanche game. 

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Missed Call Spoils Rams’ Win Over Saints, Further Destroys NFL’s Credibility

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) works for a coach against Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Sunday’s NFC Championship Game was fun. Drew Brees was brilliant. Jared Goff showed why he is the future of the NFL. The defensive play was intense. Everything about it was entertaining, spirited and must-watch television.

Then came the abomination.            

NFL officials will miss some calls, and they’ve missed a whole lot this year. But they absolutely must get certain calls right, because if they don’t, it can cast a pall over not just the game, but the viability of the entire league.

That’s exactly what happened in the Rams‘ 26-23 overtime win against the Saints.

The Rams are advancing to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Nothing should be taken away from them. They were resilient and mentally tough, and Goff showed why he shouldn’t be forgotten in the conversation of the league’s best young quarterbacks.

But because of one of the worst calls in recent memory, if not the entirety of the Super Bowl era, the Rams’ legitimacy as NFC champions and potentially Super Bowl champions will be questioned.

This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact. And it isn’t the Rams’ fault.

The call happened late in the game with the score tied at 20. On third down, Brees threw a pass to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly committed pass interference. And he didn’t just hit Lewis early, but he also made helmet-to-helmet contact. There was only 1:45 left in regulation.

This is one of the best views of a play you will see over and over again for years to come:

The referees did not throw a flag, but Robey-Coleman admitted after the game they should have.

In his postgame press conference, Saints head coach Sean Payton said the league office also admitted it was a blown call.

And if the officials make the right call, the Saints would likely be going to the Super Bowl, not the Rams.

The Saints would have had first-and-goal at the Rams’ 6-yard line. The Rams had only one timeout. Brian Burke of ESPN Analytics said the Saints would have been able to kneel the clock down to about 15 seconds before attempting a field goal from the 10-yard line. The proper call would have given them a 98 percent chance to win, per Burke.

Instead, the non-call meant it was 4th-and-10 at the 13. The Saints kicked the field goal and handed the ball to the Rams with 1:41 remaining. The Rams proceeded to drive down the field and make a 48-yard kick that sent the game into overtime.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints reacts against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“It’s a game-changing call,” Payton said. “For a call like that not to be made, man, it’s just hard to swallow.”

“We’ll probably never get over it,” he continued. “I hope no other team has to lose a game the way we lost this one.”

This is the NFL‘s absolute worst on-field nightmare. The weeks before the Super Bowl should be a celebration. Instead, the story around one of the participants will be a win that’s cheapened and delegitimizedAnd the scrutiny of the league and its putrid officiating will reach almost unparalleled levels. 

That’s the ripple effect of the blown call. It further erodes the credibility of game officials, which was mostly shot already. The only thing worse would be a gambling scandal. It makes the NFL look cheap, like its refs are bargain-basement and the league doesn’t know what it’s doing.

When even a casual fan sees that play and can tell it was the wrong call, that isn’t just the refs’ problem; it’s the league’s. It makes fans wonder whether they’re watching wrestling.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Here is what the Rams and their fans will say in response: Everyone needs to stop crying. The Saints blew a lead, and we made a strong comeback. Shut up.

A lot of that is true. The Rams showed grit. Their defense slowed the Saints’ passing game after Brees and Payton picked it apart early, and it held Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to 46 yards rushing on 17 carries (although Kamara also had 11 catches for 96 yards).

Goff was only 25-of-40 for 297 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but those numbers don’t do justice to the number of big throws he made late while under relentless pressure.

All of that is true.

That call, though. It changes everything.

It was so bad, it will be talked for years—maybe decades. Hell, maybe forever.

It will be remembered as one of the worst calls of all time, and one of the worst game moments in NFL history. It’s an abomination that ruined what should have been a celebration.

               

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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