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Canucks not discouraged as home stand ends with dramatic loss

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VANCOUVER — The worst officiating call of the Vancouver Canucks’ season led to their best penalty kill, which somehow felt perfectly logical given the team’s unconventional start to the National Hockey League season.

Expected to score, the Canucks are instead defending solidly but getting crushed on special teams.

But Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks, their putrid penalty killing was pumped up at the end by an influx of their most skilled players, who managed to tie the game shorthanded but with the Vancouver net empty when Elias Pettersson half-fanned on a shot that ricocheted through goalie John Gibson with 54.3 seconds remaining.

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Down 2-0 after J.T. Miller’s own goal — yes, there were several peculiar events in the final 10 minutes of the third period — the Canucks rallied for a point by losing 3-2 in overtime when Troy Terry converted Ryan Getzlaf’s pass on a two-on-one at 3:52.

The Ducks’ redemptive goal came after Gibson made breakaway saves on Miller and Bo Horvat.

So the Canucks got one point when they could have had none but nearly got two. And this, too, kind of figures in the context of their 2-4-1 homestand and 5-6-2 start to the season.

“We played a good game again,” Miller lamented. “It was a good push, but we’re here for two (points), not one. I guess you could take a lot of good tonight, though.”

“We had chances in OT to win it,” Pettersson said. “I’m not happy we lost, but I’m happy that we at least got one point and we found a way to get back into the game in the end.”

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Amid the getting back in, after Miller whipped a shot through traffic with 6:31 remaining in regulation time to start the comeback and before Pettersson scored the tying goal, referee Brad Meier made an astonishingly bad penalty call that should have sealed an Anaheim victory.

Meier whistled Canucks goalie Jaroslav Halak for tripping with 2:49 remaining when it seemed pretty clear to everyone else — and should have been clear to Meier, who had an unobstructed front-row view — that Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf simply toe-picked and fell several feet beyond Halak.

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Vancouver coach Travis Green eventually calmed himself enough to put out his most dangerous offensive players as Halak dashed to the bench to allow the Canucks to skate five-on-five.

“Yeah, maybe the ref wants that one back,” Pettersson said, before adding diplomatically, but “it’s easy for us. We can look at replays, and the ref’s just got to make a call in a split second. It is what it is. We all make mistakes.”

Canucks penalty killers have made more than anyone.

When Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler shot through a screen and into the top corner on Halak to make it 1-0 at 11:18 of the first period on Anaheim’s first power play, it was the ninth time in just 14 chances over four-plus games that the Canucks were torched while shorthanded.

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In a game when Anaheim was badly outplayed for stretches and outshot 43-30 overall, the Ducks ended up with four of the six power plays. The Canucks killed the final three, and added the positive asterisk of Pettersson’s shorthanded goal in the last minute.

The Canucks’ 31st-ranked penalty killing has been atrocious — so bad it’s darkening most of the good things Vancouver has been doing.

By getting scored on once in four opportunities on Tuesday, Vancouver’s success rate shorthanded actually “improved” to 65 per cent.

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It’s why the Canucks open a challenging three-game, four-night road trip Thursday in Denver with just 12 points from 13 games, instead of 16 or 18 points. It’s why Vancouver is three points out of a playoff spot four weeks into their season.

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“I don’t think we’re sitting around feeling like we’re close to going off the deep end or something,” Miller said. “We’ve been playing well. We have to keep evaluating ourselves honestly. And honestly, we played another good hockey game.

“We still have things to take care of on special teams… but I think those will come. We have to stay on the same page five-on-five, and trust that if we play like this, more nights than not we’re going to get four, five, maybe six goals. We’re defending really well. We’re creating our chances from good defence and it’s just a matter of time.”

The Canucks could use more bounces like Pettersson got on his tying goal or, especially, like the Ducks got on their second goal when the rebound from Halak’s save on Isac Lundestrom bounced off both of Miller’s legs and back across the goal-line.

“We certainly would take one of those, no doubt,” Miller said. “But it was pretty awesome after that. It’s easy to sit around and pout, feel bad for ourselves because it’s not going our way after we’re playing a pretty darn good game. But we found a way to get a point.”



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Aaron Rodgers to the Jets? Giants' free agency options & Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys | Ask Jay Glazer

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Jay Glazer discussed whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will head to the New York Jets, the New York Giants’ free agency options, and breaks down Mike McCarthy’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.



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Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs and Eagles will meet for title in Arizona

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Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. 

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

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Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favourite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. 

On top of that, there’s a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

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The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback. 

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

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Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai’s ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down. 

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Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

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Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games. 

They’ll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn’t do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter’s role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday’s injury. 

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Here’s a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT’S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

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Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016′s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

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Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” 

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

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“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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Ohio State hires James Laurinaitis & Tennessee extends Huepel's contract | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed Ohio State Buckeyes hiring former linebacker James Laurinaitis as a defensive GA. Joel believes that Laurinaitis can help transform the defense into a powerhouse like the offense is for wide receivers. He then discussed the Tennessee Volunteers giving Josh Huepel a contract extension after their 11-win season.



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