It was the second three-TD game of his career, and first in which he scored three times rushing.Bell broke the franchise rushing record set by Willie Parker, who had 223 yards against Cleveland on Dec. Washington (7-5-1) snapped a two-game losing streak and remained in the middle of a jumbled playoff race. 7, 2006.He also extended his streak to four-straight games with 100 yards or more rushing, a span in which he’s combined for 620 yards on the ground.The Bills mustered no response on offence or defence at a time when both quarterback Tyrod Taylor and coach Rex Ryan are having their future in Buffalo questioned.Taylor finished 15-of-25 for 228 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.Lions 20, Bears 17DetroitMatthew Stafford ran for a go-ahead, seven-yard touchdown with three minutes 17 seconds left after throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score on the previous possession. The Eagles (5-8) have lost four in a row and eight of 10 after a 3-0 start.Packers 38, Seahawks 10Green BayAaron Rodgers passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns as the Green Bay Packers routed the Seattle Seahawks 38-10 on Sunday. Le’Veon Bell scored three times and set a franchise record with 236 yards rushing in finding traction on a slick, snow-covered field, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon.The Steelers overcame three interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger to win their fourth straight game to improve to 8-5 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race. Green Bay gained more than 300 yards in Seattle’s first game without former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, out for the season with a broken leg. The NFC North-leading Lions (9-4) have won five straight and eight of nine.Washington 27, Eagles 22PhiladelphiaChris Thompson’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:54 remaining lifted Washington to a 27-22 victory over Philadelphia. They’re two games back of first-place Detroit in the NFC North, but play division opponents in the last three weeks of the season. Matt Barkley completed two passes that put the Bears in a position to at least attempt a tying field goal in the final minute, but both were negated by penalties, before Chicago turned over the ball on downs from the Detroit 44. Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions and the Packers (7-6) won their third straight game to keep their playoff hopes alive. He had nine rushes for 72 yards alone and capped the 82-yard drive by waltzing into the end zone from five yards.Bell also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh. After scoring in the first half on three- and seven-yard runs, Bell put the game away on the opening drive of the third quarter. Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard toss to DeSean Jackson, and had a pick-six. The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Bills (6-7) from contention, and puts them in jeopardy of extending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 years – the longest since New Orleans ended a 20-year drought by reaching the postseason for their first time in 1987.
I don’t think we did,” Altidore said. It’s up to us now to get back in preseason, work hard and try to get the club back in position to win.”The reason for optimism is based on the fact that all three of TFC’s designated players are not the fading international stars that used to, and in some cases still do, come to MLS to wind down their careers with some easy money. History was made, all right. It was the crowning save of a night of holding off the TFC offence, which came at Seattle in waves only to be frustrated by Frei and his teammates, who rode a razor’s edge to victory. The cruel twist here is that Frei is a former TFC keeper, a five-year veteran of the team who was shipped out after the 2013 season in one of the Reds’ many house-cleanings before finally figuring things out in 2016.But there is a “but” here.This is not an old-style MLSE team, ripe for a roster blow-up. It will only make us better as we go into next year and stronger as a group as we try to get back to this and come away winners.“It’s a group that’s grown incredibly over the last two years. Altidore, Bradley and striker Sebastian Giovinco are still in their prime years. “We have a front office that’s committed to that core group of guys and committed to some stability with those guys.“This is a group that’s really close together and already thinking about how we can get together, push the envelope and get back to where we are today.” Their team was set to be the first Canadian champion in MLS history. By winning 5-4 on penalty kicks, the Seattle Sounders became the first MLS Cup champion to win without getting so much as a single shot on goal through 120 minutes of regulation and extra time, which ended 0-0. “There are a lot of lessons we can take away from this run. We’re just getting started.”Defender Drew Moor, who played a brilliant game on the back line with Eriq Zavaleta and Nick Hagglund, says of his teammates, “I hope they all stay here. It would also be the first team owned by MLSE to win a major championship. I think one of our key moves in the last couple years is we picked up designated players in their primes, not designated players who are at the end of their games.“We’ve got a very deep team, probably deeper than some people know. The only significant loss for next season is expected to be midfielder Will Johnson, 29, who is headed for free agency.“I thought we played in the playoffs like a team that really wanted to go and try and win a championship,” head coach Greg Vanney said. “I think we showed them what can be. Up to that point, Bradley was a shoo-in as the most-valuable player of the game.Instead, the award for MVP of the championship game went to Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who made not only that save on Bradley but an acrobatic one-handed stab on a header by TFC striker Jozy Altidore in the 17th minute of extra time. Bradley and Giovinco are both 29 and Altidore is 27.Supporting them is a solid mix of MLS veterans and young players from a development system that is starting to pay off. I know their heads are down now but they’ll come back fighting once we start reaching it next year. It was easy, after 120 minutes of regulation and extra time and then the agonizing penalty kicks, to confirm a widely held belief that Toronto teams, in particular Toronto teams owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, are cursed.Going into Major League Soccer’s championship game on Saturday night, fans of the heavily favoured Toronto FC were expecting history to be made. We’ll rest and recover and come back strong next season.”The 2016 campaign, during which the Reds won their first playoff game, brought the team close together, much closer than many MLS teams where players collect their cheques, put in some playing time and then go their own way.“Yeah, we have a great core group of guys,” Zavaleta said. Their first shot on goal came on their first penalty kick.Capping the penalty-kick nightmare was the sight of TFC’s star midfielder Michael Bradley shanking his penalty kick for an easy save. In the midst of the pain of losing a championship game on the wonky grounds of penalty kicks, the TFC players and their coach pointed out this is a team built for the long haul and how they expect to start preparing for a second appearance in the MLS Cup when training camp starts in about seven weeks.“I think the whole city was behind us and you can feel like we let them down. This off-season, we’ll look to make one or two moves, three moves at the most, to strengthen our team.
The Spain international is the top scorer in the Premier League with 12 goals.Last season, Costa – a striker who constantly plays on the edge – appeared to be more interested in picking fights than scoring goals and it hurt Chelsea, which finished 10th in a dismal defence of its title.Fast forward to this season and Costa is leading Chelsea’s revival under coach Antonio Conte, who reacted to the winning goal by punching the air in delight and jumping into the arms of two members of the coaching staff.Since Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation following a 3-0 loss at Arsenal on Sept. Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said the goals his team conceded “could have been avoided.” Defence is the area where Liverpool seem to be most vulnerable this season as the team fights for the title.Manchester United 1, Tottenham 0After being slowly integrated at United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is looking the part and scored the goal in a significant win for Jose Mourinho’s team against a rival for Champions League qualification.Mkhitaryan raced onto Ander Herrera’s through-ball and drove home a rising shot in the 29th minute for his first Premier League goal. Randolph flapped at Sadio Mane’s cross and the ball fell to the feet of Divock Origi, who tapped home from close range in the 48th. This was the Saints’ 24th match so far, taking in a Europa League group-stage campaign that ended Thursday with Puel’s team getting knocked out of the competition.Leading striker Charlie Austin injured his shoulder in midweek and Puel said Sunday the player would be out for 3-4 months.Middlesbrough stayed three points off the relegation zone. In his past four games in all competitions, Mkhitaryan has scored two goals and set up two others, underling his growing importance to United.An ankle injury that forced him off in the 85th minute will set back his progress, though. Mourinho expects the Armenian to be out for around two weeks.United has had problems closing out games this season but encountered few worries against Spurs, whose in-form striker Harry Kane barely threatened.United is three points below fifth-placed Tottenham and six adrift of Manchester City, which occupies the fourth and final Champions League place.Southampton 1, Middlesbrough 0Sofiane Boufal showed just why Southampton broke its transfer record to sign him in the off-season.The Morocco forward struck from 25 metres for his first Premier League goal since joining from French club Lille for £16-million ($26.4-million) in August.Southampton won despite coach Claude Puel rotating his team as he deals with a busy part of the season. Fiery striker Diego Costa used his aggression in the right way to keep Chelsea’s winning run going in the English Premier League on Sunday.Costa muscled West Bromwich Albion defender Gareth McAuley off the ball before cutting inside and curling a shot into the top corner in the 76th minute to seal a 1-0 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea has won its past nine matches in the league – the team’s best run since 2009 – to power to the top of the standings and Costa has scored in seven of them. 24, Chelsea hasn’t dropped a point and is three points clear of second-placed Arsenal.Here’s what else happened on Sunday:Liverpool 2, West Ham 2Liverpool dropped six points behind Chelsea after conceding more sloppy goals against West Ham.Under-fire goal keeper Loris Karius, who was criticized for his fumble that gifted Bournemouth an injury-time winner last weekend, got a hand to Dimitri Payet’s 27th-minute free kick but failed to keep it out as West Ham cancelled out Adam Lallana’s early goal at Anfield.Liverpool centre back Joel Matip then allowed a long ball down the middle to get through to Michail Antonio, who prodded a finish past a static Karius to put the visitors ahead in the 39th.Another mistake, this time from West Ham goal keeper Darren Randolph, earned Liverpool a point.
But it didn’t.This was a championship game and a professional reputation decided by a centimetre.Immediately afterward, Morrow was cornered for a sideline interview. It’s primal.You can’t remove that from this sport without also yanking out its most vibrant theme – agony in direct relation to ecstasy. Only Morrow didn’t put his on the net. Someone once asked French international soccer player Christian Karembeu if penalty kicks to decide elimination games are fair.“It is loading a bullet into the chamber of a gun and asking everyone to pull the trigger. Twelve men took penalties on Saturday. They define you unduly.Sport is mostly about pleasure, but there is also pain. He hit it square. “Fair? And it will reduce them to nothing,” he said. He makes one-thirtieth of Bradley’s salary.He played all two hours for Toronto on Saturday, but made little impression on the game.But because of the way this works – better players tend to go earlier – Morrow was next man up when the shootout entered do-or-die territory.On the long walk up from midfield, he didn’t look nervous. The team finally has an epic disaster to commemorate, rather than a long series of pointless ones.In Major League Soccer’s frozen final on Saturday, Bradley had one of the finest games of his fine career. “But what else is there?”He meant that from a game-management perspective. The ball hit the underside of the woodwork and bounced out.A Seattle player sealed the contest a minute later. At one point, the Italian was considered the best player in the world. It was a weak attempt and easily saved, but at least it was on target.“It can be a cruel game sometimes …” Bradley said afterward, and then let the thought trail off. He neither hurried nor delayed his preparation. That’s indelible and momentous. He had the dazed look of a man who’s trying to speed-process how badly he’s screwed up, and leaning hard on lose-with-dignity clichés in the interim.“Maybe I struck it a little bit too high,” Morrow said dully. It could be argued to the entire MLS season.And that unfairness is why penalty kicks are so perfect.Those 10 or so dramatic minutes are where sport is most like dreary, everyday life – capricious and random. “Like I said, gotta congratulate the other team.”Morrow had to hit an area of 192 square feet from 36 feet away – what might fairly be called the broad side of a barn – and missed. But it works on many other more important and telling levels as well. Someone will get the bullet, you know that. He’s been in and out of MLS over the past seven years. But nobody forgets the guy who missed. He stutter-stepped up to the ball – always a bad sign – and scuffed his shot. Fairness is not even an issue.”
Karembeu spat that out right after his team had won. Nobody will blame him out loud, but, quietly, to themselves? Mostly because the more memorable failure was still to come.Justin Morrow is a 29-year-old journeyman. He ran to the ball confidently. He beat the goal keeper. Few people outside those city limits will remember him in a couple of years. Bradley went second. He did not beat the crossbar. If it had been aimed at an angle one degree lower, or hit with a fraction less force, or if the temperature had been a bit warmer, it may have slipped in. It is an enduring mark of Cain.This morning, Michael Bradley and Justin Morrow share it in Toronto.Bizarrely, that represents progress for Toronto FC. They stick with you. Which is why everyone hates penalty kicks – even the winners – but no one really wants to see them go.“Penalties are awful, unfair,” said another great Frenchman, Laurent Blanc. Genuine disappointment – deep, hurtful defeat – inspires far more awe and, in its weird way, respect than any amount of joy.Enduring it publicly is what makes an athlete most like the people who watch him or her. He’s scored a total of four goals in that time. For statistical purposes, it wasn’t even a shot on goal. There is no more unfair way to lose in all of sport. On a field full of Pinocchios, he was Geppetto – pulling all the strings.After 120 goalless minutes, his evening ended in penalty-shootout ash. You know they will.That’s not fair on a bunch of levels – to the player, to his team (who were the better side all night long), to the title game. That’s what it makes it so compelling and necessary.Maxime Bossis, a defender who missed the penalty that cost France its chance at the 1982 World Cup, was shattered thereafter. He played for another decade and never again took a PK.“A football match should be decided by an action of play,” Bossis’s teammate, Michel Platini, fumed.“Not some contrived process whose end result is to mark a fine player such as Bossis, [Franco] Baresi or [Roberto] Baggio for the rest of his career.”Baggio may be the most awful example. No close follower of MLS will ever forget Morrow now.Still photos best captured how close his shot was to going in. “It’s not for the weak.”Bradley’s a big deal. Things go wrong that can be explained by the pressure of the moment, but often aren’t forgotten or forgiven. He’ll recover. Then he planted the last shot of the 1994 World Cup a good 10 feet over the bar.When you hear his name now, that’s all you remember – five terrible seconds out of 500 remarkable professional games.Baggio, a famously tranquil convert to Buddhism, would later say that it was the one thing in his life he wished he could change.It’s often difficult to recall the man who made the winning penalty in a big game, or which particular effort was turned away by the goal keeper.
Antoine Vermette and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist and the Anaheim Ducks scored a season-high three power-play goals to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Sunday.Joseph Cramarossa, Nick Ritchie and Sami Vatanen also scored, and John Gibson made 21 saves.Ryan Dzingel scored for the Senators, who lost their second straight game in Southern California. Mike Condon made 10 saves before being removed for Andrew Hammond in the second period. Perry has scored twice in the last three games after going 18 games without a goal.Dzingel scored at 7:53 in the first when he finished off a feed from the corner boards by former Duck Bobby Ryan, tying the game at 1.Cramarossa scored on a rebound 2:58 into play to open the scoring. Hammond stopped 16 shots. Vermette set up Ritchie’s goal with a beautiful backhand pass into the slot at 10:29 in the second period, giving the Ducks a 4-1 lead. Vermette also capitalized on the power play with 47 seconds left in the first period to make it 3-1.Vatanen closed the scoring with a power-play goal off the crossbar at 7:59 in the third period.Perry scored his first power-play goal of the season at 12:05 of the first to break a 1-1 tie.
26. Eighteen of the 31 players in camp are 19 years old and they will likely take most of the spots when the roster is trimmed to 22 at the end of camp.The go-to players will be the returnees, led by Strome, the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft who started the season with the Arizona Coyotes before being returned to the Erie Otters of the OHL.What Strome learned in Finland was how quickly the tournament can end.“You’ve got to take every day like it’s your last,” he said. And Canada is not the only country that will be missing star 18- and 19-year-olds. Now they want gold as the event shifts to Toronto and Montreal beginning Dec. “It’s probably no different from Sam Reinhart and Curtis Lazar and Connor McDavid two years ago in Toronto and Montreal.”Canada could have had even more returning players, but it seems NHL clubs are keeping more junior age players every year. “It’s pretty easy to remember,” Strome said Sunday as a four-day team selection camp opened at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau. “In a game like that, it’s back and fourth, so you’ve got to stay positive and find ways to get back out there.“We’ve got to see how good teams are in this tournament and know we’ve got to be better every day.”Two years ago, Canada was coming off a heartbreaking loss to Russia in the bronze medal game in 2014 in Malmo, Sweden, and managed to bounce back with a win on home ice.“They’re hungry, especially after not winning last year,” player personnel director Ryan Jankowski said of the returning players. “If we got those guys back, great, but we don’t, so we’re focused on the 31 players that are here.“We’ve got high end returning players, which is great. university program, Tyson Jost of North Dakota. The five players returning from Canada’s team at last year’s world junior hockey championship feel they’ve got something to prove the second time around.Dylan Strome, Mathew Barzal, Julien Gauthier, Mitchell Stephens and defenceman Thomas Chabot were on the Canadian squad that lost in the quarter-finals to host Finland and finished out of the medals a year ago. “To have those guys in the locker room to share that experience is really important.”Some players to watch for in camp include OHL scoring leader Taylor Raddysh, who is Strome’s teammate in Erie, as well as the only invitee from a U.S. Unfortunately we fell short, but we’ve got another chance this year.”The 10-team tournament for players under 20 will be played in Canada’s two biggest cities for the second time in three years and, much like in 2015 when Canada won gold on home ice, they will have a relatively experienced team. 19.“That’s what we’re faced with every year,” Jankowski said. Finland won’t have Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine, for instance.There are six Canadians eligible to play in the world juniors now playing in the NHL, including McDavid in Edmonton, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Lawson Crouse and Jacob Chycrun in Arizona, Travis Konecny in Philadelphia and Anthony Beauvillier with the New York Islanders.The NHL deadline for teams to decide whether to loan a player to a world junior team is Dec. Jost and Strome looked good playing together at the team’s summer development camp.In recent years, Hockey Canada has named its two goalies before the selection camp, but this time there are three vying for the two spots – Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips, Connor Ingram of the Kamloops Blazers and Michael McNiven of the Owen Sound Attack.“All three deserved to be here,” Jankowski said. “It’s not a good feeling.“So many friends and people in your country watch the game, so you want to be the guy who wins the gold medal. He wants the second year players to be leaders on the squad.“Those guys experienced how quickly you need to adjust your game and the little things that can make a difference,” Ducharme said. We’ve got high end players who weren’t here last year, which is great.”Another returnee is the head coach, Dominique Ducharme, who was an assistant last year under Dave Lowry.
“We didn’t execute and you’ve got to execute to have a chance to win the game.”Frank Gore and Adam Vinatieri continue climbing the NFL charts. “It was like a playoff game.”Win a couple more, and it will be a playoff game.By snapping a three-game losing streak, Houston (7-6) and Tennessee remained tied atop the AFC South, though the Texans are better positioned because of season sweeps over the Titans and Colts (6-7).The Texans won their second straight game in Indy after losing their first 13 and have won nine straight over division foes. This one sure wasn’t easy.Nick Novak made five field goals, and Lamar Miller ran 21 times for 107 yards and scored on a two-yard run late in the first half for all of the points.Osweiler, meanwhile, went 14-of-24 for 147 yards with no touchdowns despite twice starting drives inside the Colts’ 20-yard line.Still, the old-school style played right into the hands of Houston’s defence, which picked off Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble after Jadeveon Clowney beat tight end Dwayne Allen on third-and-goal from the three-yard line.They finished it off by beating the Colts with a blitz that forced an errant throw on Indy’s final play.Luck blamed himself.“Bad plays – I mean those turnovers,” he said after going 24-of-45 for 276 yards with two TD passes. He has 1,012 yards this season – a pretty good return for a team that signed the free agent to a four-year deal in March. The Houston Texans hoped to cash in on a hefty off-season investment in the offence.Turns out, their rugged defence may still be the way to the playoffs.On a day the Texans scored only one touchdown against Indianapolis, the defence forced three turnovers and stopped the Colts on fourth-and-one with 1 minute 24 seconds left in the game to preserve a 22-17 win on Sunday. Gore, the Colts’ top running back, finished with 74 yards from scrimmage to move past Terrell Owens (16,185) for No. He’s achieved that feat nine times since joining the Colts, a franchise record.Texans linebacker Brian Cushing finished with six tackles, giving him 639 in his career – breaking DeMeco Ryans’s franchise record (636).While Houston ran 41 times for 185 yards, Miller reached the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. The milestone came on a 20-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. “What the defence did is truly unbelievable,” quarterback Brock Osweiler said. 11 on the NFL’s list.And Vinatieri scored five points, ending the day with 104 to extend his NFL record to 19 100-point seasons.
But he received no help from an attack that has been blanked five times this season. Washington killed five Vancouver power plays to complete a two-game season sweep.Holtby was rarely tested in his 25th career shutout, the second this season.Ovechkin put Washington in front with his first goal in eight games, a wrist shot from the left circle at 13:46 of the opening period. He became the 18th player in NHL history with 200 career power-play goals.It was Ovechkin’s team-leading 13th goal of the season, the first since his hat trick the night before Thanksgiving.Vancouver was playing its second game in less than 24 hours and fourth in six days. Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal in the first period and Braden Holtby made it stand up, stopping 20 shots to help the Washington Capitals beat the weary Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Sunday night.Washington nursed a 1-0 lead until Ovechkin earned an assist on a goal by Justin Williams with just under 15 minutes left. Tom Wilson scored into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining to seal the Capitals’ fourth straight victory. The Canucks hastily travelled up the East Coast after losing to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.Jacob Markstrom started in goal for veteran Ryan Miller, who missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury.The 6-foot-6 Markstrom had 38 saves against Florida and followed it up with another solid performance, stopping 26 shots by Washington.
Now we’re a really confident group.“We’re not relying on a couple guys,” Tkachuk added. “We know every night something different is probably going to happen and it seems like we’re getting basically everybody involved. “We were behind the game the entire night.”“We didn’t play the game,” Ehlers said. “We didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t have that belief we could win. Two good plays by him, for sure,” said Hamilton, who’s scored four goals in the last four games. “At the beginning of the year, everybody knows it, we were finding ways to not win. After starting the season with just five wins in their first 16 games, Calgary has won 11 of its last 15 outings and is riding its longest winning streak in a calendar year.“Right now we’re playing to win and we’re finding ways to win,” Tkachuk said. As the scoreless clash neared the midway point, Hamilton received a drop pass from Matthew Tkachuk, gave his teammate time to set the screen and promptly zipped a shot through the legs of both Tkachuk and the defender and past Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson for his first of two goals on the night.It set off a four-goal outburst in the middle frame.“I yelled at (Tkachuk) pretty loud and he laid it in there perfectly for me and set a good screen. It’s been really fun the last little while when you’re having success.”Chad Johnson, who’s been paramount in the Flames’ turnaround, stopped 26 shots. “I saw their ‘D’ and him and just kind of waited until I could see some white space in there. We didn’t play smart.”Hutchinson, who started consecutive games for just the second time this season, turned aside 25-of-29 shots in 40 minutes before giving way to Connor Hellebuyck, who made six saves. The opening existed for just a split second, but Dougie Hamilton hit it perfectly.Hamilton’s thread-the-needle second-period goal sparked the Calgary Flames to a 6-2 thumping of the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night for a sixth consecutive win that’s vaulted them into top spot in the Pacific Division. We’ve just got to keep this rolling. As soon as it opened up, I tried to put it through.“I couldn’t see the goalie so I was just trying to put it through their legs and upstairs.”Hamilton’s tally opened the floodgates, with Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund also scoring for Calgary (16-13-2) before the second intermission.Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan had the other Flames goals on a night Hamilton, Backlund and Tkachuk each had three points.The three points marked a career best for Tkachuk, the rookie who celebrates his 19th birthday on Sunday.But he isn’t he only one on the Flames with reason to celebrate. His shutout bid was snapped late in the third period when Nikolaj Ehlers collected a power-play goal and Jacob Trouba rounded out the scoring with one-tenth of a second remaining on the clock.While the Flames are riding high, the Jets (13-15-3) are going in the other direction, having lost three in a row with four wins in their last 13 games.“Be real careful about the effort word here,” head coach Paul Maurice said.
That the usual soccer tradition didn’t happen was a measure of how hard the
players had taken it.So Toronto FC’s season
ended with Seattle friends and family gamboling around the Toronto FC pitch
taking selfies. Toronto FC was not just the better team in the Major League Soccer Cup final. They can sense better
than most when the tide has begun to turn.“[The game] didn’t have the greatest flow,” Vanney said.Not until then. You don’t often hear
that an hour after a man has raised a trophy.Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin didn’t make his first save of the game until
penalty kicks.That’s where it went totally wrong. By the time they’d set up the trophy
presentation, BMO Field was nearly empty.The only Toronto fans remaining were the die-hards in the southeast corner. Altidore’s was the finest, but Tosaint Ricketts scuffed a shot inches wide in the final
moments as well. Toronto quite literally lost a championship by an inch.“I’m sure it will hit me at some point and I’ll break down,” Toronto coach
Greg Vanney said
dully afterward. Every time the Italian got the ball in
space, one or two Seattle players was there to cut him down or tug him to the
ground. What they
remembered was it turning out well in ’92 and ’93.They’d forgotten that it also goes wrong just as often. It is hard not to imagine what might have been if he’d
been one of the penalty takers.That said, Toronto had their chances and missed them. Toronto dimly remembered what winning it all felt like. And, in the moment at
least, that can feel worse that never getting there at all. There were others in regulation that missed by the slimmest
margins.But after those two late misses, something drained out of the crowd. Seattle sealed it
with the next shot. This time,
they were reminded how crushing it can be when it goes the other way. Kelly called it occasionally, but seemed to lose interest as the game
stretched on. For long stretches, it felt as if they were the only team out there.Their opponents, the Seattle Sounders, could not manage a single shot on goal
through 120 minutes of regulation and added extra time. “Right now, I’m numb.”He looked it. Not even close.“I really wish we’d played better,” Seattle’s own coach Brian Schmetzer said afterward. The ball caromed back on him. They were
waiting for the team to come back out and end the season with a proper farewell. Then it had flow – most of it downhill.Morrow is the goat, Kelly is the villain, Bradley is the thwarted hero and
the real loser on the evening is the city writ large.Toronto wanted to feel what it’s like again on the biggest stages. Michael Bradley, easily the best player
on the pitch over most of the night, scuffed his shot. As soon as it ended, they followed Bradley
off the field at a quick march. It had been 23 years since Toronto had experienced that championship-game
feeling in a major North American league.On Saturday, the city was reminded there is more than one variety of
sensation. In the closing minutes, he made one of the
great saves in MLS history off a looping, point-blank Jozy Altidore
header.A close second in the voting was 41-year-old Irish referee Alan Kelly.Kelly allowed the final to become a game of remarkable permissiveness and
occasional brutality. Seattle also missed one,
sending it to the sixth man.For Toronto, that was poor Justin Morrow, a serviceable player who will now
only be remembered for one thing. A
few kids were picking confetti off the grass and tossing it in the air. Staffers
were carrying away a banner that read “One Game to Glory.”It wasn’t much of an end to a remarkable run.The Sounders most valuable player was probably goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The emblematic tackle in the early going was Seattle’s
Nelson Valdez sticking his foot into Drew Moor’s sensitive parts at high-speed. After nearly two hours of abuse, Giovinco left the game in the 103rd minute,
limping with a cramp. He beat the Seattle ‘keeper. It went uncarded.Since Toronto was the only team minded to go forward, that laissez-faire attitude tended to penalize
them.The key victim was Toronto’s best player, Sebastian Giovinco. He could not beat
the underside of the crossbar. They
were largely Torontonians, after all. So did his charges.
The NHL’s No. 1 overall draft pick last summer took a pass from William Nylander and fired a wrist shot over Rask’s left shoulder.Hyman redirected defenceman Jake Gardner’s shot from the slot, and the puck dipped and fluttered by Rask to make it 2-0 with 4:46 remaining in the period.Marchand took advantage of a turnover behind Toronto’s net, slicing it to 2-1 with 1:21 left in the second. Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.James van Riemsdyk scored in the third for Toronto, which was 0-2-1 in its last three games. … The first game between the two clubs was just over 92 years ago: Dec. … He had a second chance to clear or cover it, but Marchand beat him to it, circled and put in his own rebound.The Bruins had the best chance in the first period when David Pastrnak’s one-timer from the left point caromed off the left post early into the game.Tyler Bozak’s shot was tipped in by van Riemsdyk midway into the third.NOTES: The Bruins recalled forwards Noel Acciari and Danton Heinen from Providence of the AHL before the game and assigned F Anton Blidh to the AHL. 3, 1924, when the Toronto St. Brad Marchand had the Bruins’ goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 16 shots.Former Bruins defenceman Matt Hunwick had two assists.Boston lost to Colorado, then-the NHL’s worst team, on Thursday night at TD Garden and followed that by losing to the team that entered as the Eastern Conference’s last-place club.Boston had earned points in 12 of the last 13 meetings against Toronto (9-1-3).After getting just two shots on goal in the opening period, Toronto moved ahead on Matthews’ goal 1:44 into the second. Toronto won the only other meeting so far this season, 4-1 at home on October 15.UP NEXTMaple Leafs: Host Colorado on Sunday in the opener of five straight at home – four against teams from the Western Conference.Bruins: At Montreal on Monday night. Andersen misplayed a clearing attempt, firing the puck off a player where it dropped next to the rear boards. Pats beat the Bruins, 5-3. Connor Brown added an empty-netter and Andersen improved to 6-0-0 in his career against Boston.
Troy Stecher shot from the point, and the puck hit Sedin’s stick and was redirected into the net at 11:45 of the third.The Panthers had stretched their lead to 3-0 at 1:05 of the third. Jagr took a shot from above the right circle that was blocked by Markstrom. Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist, and Vincent Trocheck and Derek MacKenzie also scored for Florida. Seth Griffith passed from behind the net to Barkov in front, who poked the puck past Markstrom. Roberto Luongo made 37 saves, and Jaromir Jagr recorded an assist and now has 1,883 points, four behind Mark Messier for second on the NHL career list.Daniel Sedin and Jack Skille scored in the third period for the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom stopped 38 shots.With the Panthers clinging to a 3-2 lead, Trocheck scored an empty-net goal with 47.1 seconds left.Trailing 3-0, the Canucks scored twice in the third.Skille took a shot from low in the right circle that got past Luongo on the glove side at 8:06 of the third. 19, a span of 11 games. … Jim Craig, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won a gold medal, attended the game.UP NEXT:Canucks: Visit the Washington Capitals on Sunday.Panthers: Visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. … Barkov has points in 11 of his past 12 games.The Panthers went ahead 2-0 on MacKenzie’s goal. … Aaron Ekblad gave Florida a three-goal lead early in the third period and the Panthers held on for a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.The Panthers won their first home game under interim coach Tom Rowe. C Jayson Megna was born in nearby Fort Lauderdale. Paul Thompson recorded his first NHL point with the first assist on the goal.NOTES: Canucks D Erik Gudbranson, who was the first-round pick by the Panthers in 2010 and played for the Panthers for five years, received a video tribute and an ovation from the crowd in his first return since being traded to Vancouver last June. Ekblad backhanded the rebound and beat Markstrom on the stick side.Barkov gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 2:22 in. The win was the Panthers’ first in regulation since a victory over Ottawa on Nov. Skille has three goals in two games.A power-play goal by Sedin made the score 3-2. Panthers D Keith Yandle played his 580th consecutive game, tying Johnny Wilson for the ninth longest stretch in the NHL. G Thatcher Demko was called up from Utica of the AHL because of a lower-body injury to Ryan Miller. … MacKenzie corralled a bouncing puck and pushed it into the net at 9:35 of the second.
The Seattle Sounders beat the Toronto FC in the MLS Cup after a penalty shoot-out.More to come.
Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn scored on the first four shots against Semyon Varlamov. Lehkonen roofed a backhand from the edge of the crease at 7:12.Varlamov, who allowed six goals on 16 shots, was greeted by Pacioretty’s second of the night on a deflection of Andrei Markov’s point shot at 8:13. Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the Canadiens captain seven goals in his last four games.Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal (19-6-3), which has shown no drop-off on attack without injured scoring leader and first line centre Alex Galchenyuk after Thursday’s 5-2 win over New Jersey. Only 28 seconds later, Byron scored on a breakaway. While the 39-year-old didn’t figure into the scoring, he took two minor penalties for throwing punches at Alexei Emelin after the Canadiens defenceman clipped Joe Colborne with a low check with less than four minutes to play.Flynn got Montreal’s biggest offensive output since the Bell Centre opened in 1996 started when he scored on a Daniel Carr rebound at 2:56 and Pacioretty wired a wrist shot past Pickard at 5:13. John’s on Friday night, but neither dressed. Flynn’s pass intended for Carr went in off Colborne’s stick at 13:37.Comeau got one by Carey Price when he deflected Nikita Zadorov’s shot in with 17 seconds left in the first period.Radulov scored on a one-timer 11:35 into the second period and Pacioretty put one in from the left circle at 18:33. The Avs end a four-game road trip Sunday night in Toronto.Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla played his 1,500th NHL game. Montreal was on a power play when Petry’s weak shot from the point eluded Varlamov’s glove with 0.10 seconds left in the period.Pickard was back in goal to start the third and was beaten at 7:28 when Pacioretty jammed in a Torrey Mitchell rebound.Tomas Plekanec had four assists. After getting seven points in the Canadiens’ first 25 games, he has six in the last three.Montreal’s six goals in 13:47 to start a game was not a team record, which is six in 10:35 set on March 10, 1951 against Chicago.Colorado forward Rene Bourque, who celebrated his 35th birthday, was out for the opening faceoff along with Iginla.The Canadiens recalled centre Michael McCarron and defenceman Mark Barberio from St. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16.Blake Comeau got one late in the first frame for Colorado (10-15-1), which was coming off a win Thursday night in Boston that ended a six-game winless run. Max Pacioretty scored four goals while Brian Flynn tallied twice in a six-goal first period as the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen scored as Montreal put three goals past starter Calvin Pickard on 10 shots in the opening 7:12.
Mike Condon stopped 15 shots, and Zack Smith scored for Ottawa, which has lost four of six. Smith’s goal was initially credited to Jean-Gabriel Pageau and wasn’t changed until the following period. The Slovak wing missed the final two months of last season and the first six weeks of this season with injuries.NOTES: Kings coach Darryl Sutter got his 200th victory with the franchise. Devin Setoguchi also returned to the lineup, and the Kings scratched Kyle Clifford and Nic Dowd, who had played in 24 straight games. Carter scored his 12th goal early in the power play on a quick wrist shot, and Martinez scored in the final seconds with a long shot that ricocheted off Condon.Budaj, the veteran goalie who rose from the AHL to take over for injured Jonathan Quick, got an assist on Carter’s goal for his first point since April 4, 2012.Smith trimmed the lead early in the second period by ending his 13-game goal drought, but Lewis connected with 0.5 seconds left in the period, getting his fifth goal of the season.Gaborik then scored on an exceptional shot for his first goal in 10 months. Ottawa F Bobby Ryan missed part of the second period, but returned for the third.UP NEXTSenators: At Ducks on Sunday.Kings: At Sabres on Tuesday. Toffoli returned to the ice late in the first period. Borowiecki fought Matt Greene shortly after getting out of the penalty box. … Andy Andreoff returned to the Kings’ lineup after missing 17 games following an upper-body injury in late October. The Senators struggled to beat Budaj, the long-time Montreal goalie, in the second stop of their swing through California.Veteran forward Chris Neil played his 1,000th game for Ottawa, joining Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips as the only Senators to reach the mark.The Kings seized an early lead after Mark Borowiecki received a five-minute major for boarding Tyler Toffoli, who went to the dressing room after getting his face driven into the glass. … … Trevor Lewis had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter and Alec Martinez scored on the same power play early in the first period of the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.Peter Budaj made 19 saves and earned an assist, and Marian Gaborik scored his first goal since Feb. … Only Andy Murray (215) has more. 12 to cap the Kings’ final home game before a three-week, nine-game stint on the road until New Year’s Eve.