Richard Panik raised his stick in the air with his left hand as he skated away from a defeated Roberto Luongo. At long last, his slump was over. Panik scored in regulation and then had the deciding goal in a shootout, helping the Chicago Blackhawks beat Florida 2-1 on Tuesday night in the Panthers’ first game since Tom Rowe took over as interim coach. Artemi Panarin also scored in the tiebreaker and Corey Crawford matched a season high with 38 saves in Chicago’s first home game in 16 days. The Blackhawks went 3-3-1 on their annual circus trip. “That was a long trip. We were excited to come back home,” Crawford said. Panarin beat Luongo with a slick backhand in the second round. After Aleksander Barkov was stopped by Crawford at the other end, Panik converted his chance with a well-placed wrist shot past Luongo on the glove side. “I’m really grateful for Corey being behind us,” Panarin said through a translator. “If it weren’t for him, the last couple games would have turned out differently. We’re lucky to have him.” Florida (11-10-2) returned to the ice for the first time since coach Gerard Gallant was fired after a 3-2 loss at Carolina on Sunday night. Jaromir Jagr scored in the third period and Luongo made 32 saves, but the Panthers lost for the third time in four games. “We got back to getting pucks to the net, getting 39 shots against a heck of a hockey club,” said Rowe, who was serving as Florida’s general manager at the time of the coaching change. “So a lot of positives and a lot to build on after tonight.” Chicago (15-6-3) played without captain Jonathan Toews, who missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. Fellow centre Artem Anisimov left in the third after teammate Duncan Keith’s shot went off the inside of his lower right leg. “We’ll see how he is. He seemed to be OK,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.” The Blackhawks carried a 1-0 lead into the third, but the Panthers made the most of 69 seconds of leftover power-play time from Niklas Hjalmarsson’s second-period hooking penalty. Jonathan Marchessault’s centring pass went off Keith, and Jagr poked it in for his fourth of the season and No. 753 for his career. Florida had a chance to grab the lead when Crawford lost his stick after he was tripped by teammate Vinnie Hinostroza. But the goalie slid over in time to stop a shot from Derek MacKenzie and then fell on the puck after it went off the post. Crawford also made a nice right pad save on Mark Pysyk with 8:09 to go, and stopped Jagr in front in the final minute. “I thought Jagr was unreal,” Rowe said. “In this building with the speed they come at you with, and Jags was really unbelievable down low.” Florida had 100 seconds of power-play time in overtime, but Chicago killed it off. Luongo turned away two nice moves by Patrick Kane, and Crawford stopped Aaron Ekblad in the final seconds of OT. It was a really nice night for each goaltender, right from the start. Luongo got over to stop Panarin, and Crawford made a great pad save on Barkov before the Blackhawks jumped in front in the first. Panik got loose for a breakaway and slipped a backhand by Luongo for his seventh goal with 2:10 left in the period. It was Panik’s first goal since Oct. 22, stopping a 17-game drought. The winger had no points and a minus-2 rating in his previous 13 games. “(Dennis) Rasmussen flipped it over and the D-man touched it,” Panik said. “So I had a breakaway and a nice score. A goal helps you with your confidence.” The Panthers and Blackhawks each killed off a penalty during a scoreless second. Crawford also made a flashy glove save on a big drive by Keith Yandle, and Luongo stopped a long shot by Gustav Forsling.
The NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons’ most glaring weakness is about to grow even more fragile.
Doctors have confirmed that the pectoral injury to Desmond Trufant requires surgery. The Falcons announced Tuesday that they have placed the Pro Bowl cornerback on season-ending injured reserve.
The hits kept coming for Atlanta on Tuesday. The Falcons will also lose defensive end Adrian Clayborn for three to five weeks as he undergoes surgery to trim a partially torn meniscus, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source.
In a corresponding move, the Falcons added former Titans third-round cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
Trufant had been holding out hope that he could play through the injury sustained in Week 9.
The loss of the fourth-year cornerback, Atlanta’s premier defensive star, is a severe blow to the team’s Super Bowl chances.
As impressive as the NFL’s No. 1 offense has been this season, Dan Quinn’s pass defense ranks dead-last in the league. Despite a significantly improved pass rush, the secondary has already allowed more passing touchdowns (25) through 11 games than they did all of last season.
With Trufant out of the mix, Quinn will need 2015 second-round pick Jalen Collins to step into a starting role, hoping he can hold his own against top receivers.
The Falcons have enough offensive firepower to keep winning shootouts throughout the regular season. Once the competition ramps up in January, though, the 32nd-ranked pass defense looms as a potential stumbling block.
Just as Lions coach Jim Caldwell is getting some much-deserved credit, he’s deflecting it back on his football team.
“You have to attribute it more to team, willingness, preparation, toughness, grittiness all the way across the board at every skill position and your lines as well protecting,” Caldwell said, via The Detroit Free Press. “So I think that more so than anything else is probably what (it’s) attributed to. It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me.”
Caldwell was asked specifically about the Lions’ success late in games. They’ve trailed in the fourth quarter in every single one, meaning that all seven victories were come-from-behind. While some may attribute that to fantastic luck, Caldwell’s level presence must have something to do with Detroit’s success late in games. It is at least fair to ask that question.
“There are times when people panic at the end of games and this chaos breaks loose and you can’t quite get your focus and bearings,” Caldwell said. “We try not to get in that situation as often as we possibly can. There are some times where it is a little bit chaotic, but I think if you work at it and you prepare enough, you at least give yourself a chance. And I just think we’ve given ourselves a chance.”
As we’ve noted in the past, the success of Caldwell and Titans coach Mike Mularkey this year set up an interesting offseason. Once thought to be bridge coaches for new general managers getting their bearings, both are squarely in the playoff hunt and are making a push for a much longer residency.
Caldwell had to have more pressure than just about any other coach coming into this season. With the knowledge that he could have been let go at the end of last year (or the middle, when Caldwell made the decision to change offensive coordinators) comes tremendous pressure. Self-doubt can creep in easily.
Instead, they are leading the Packers and Vikings atop a previously impenetrable NFC North. If Caldwell is the reason, what does Detroit do with him now?
Vladimir Tarasenko scored at 3:24 of overtime to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday night.
Tarasenko took a pass from Jori Lehtera and fired a wrist shot past Stars goalie Antti Niemi for 10th of the season and team-leading 23rd point.
Stars defenceman Jamie Oleksiak scored twice, including the tying goal with 50 seconds left in the third period. With Niemi pulled for an extra skater, Oleksiak sent the puck at the net from the left point and it got past Blues goalie Jake Allen for his fourth career goal — third against St. Louis.
Robby Fabbri, Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron also scored for St. Louis, and Allen finished with 18 saves.
Jamie Benn had the Stars’ other goal and Niemi stopped 27 shots.
St. Louis improved to 3-3 in games beyond regulation and Dallas fell to 1-6.
The Blues took a 3-2 lead with 6:48 remaining on a goal by Perron as he took a pass from Jaden Schwartz and beat Niemi. Perron has the longest active point-scoring streak in the NHL at eight games (three goals, eight assists).
The Blues improved to 6-1-0 over their past seven games. St. Louis has won its last five home games and is 8-0-2 in the last 10 at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis took a 2-0 before Dallas rallied.
The Blues scored with 6:24 left in the first period when Fabbri took a pass from Robert Bortuzzo in the right circle and sent a low wrist shot past Niemi. It was Fabbri’s first goal in six games.
Pietrangelo poked in a loose puck under the Niemi’s pad at 4:17 of the second period for a power-play goal. Patrick Berglund redirected the shot by Pietrangelo but Niemi never completely covered it. Charging the net, Pietrangelo pounced and knocked it in for a 2-0 lead.
Dallas cut the lead in half with 3:39 left in the second when Oleksiak beat Allen with a wrist shot from the right circle. Oleksiak skated around Perron and Pietrangelo to score.
The Stars tied it 2-2 on a power play when Benn, who also had two assists, scored 1:47 into the third. It was his third goal in his last five games.
St. Louis had two power-play opportunities in the third period and did not put a shot on goal.
This is the second of four meetings between the Stars and Blues this season. Dallas won the first meeting, 6-2, in Dallas on Nov. 3.
NOTES: Oleksiak has three goals in the Stars’ last four games after not dressing in the previous three. … Dallas recalled D Stephen Johns from the Texas Stars of the AHL. Johns played in 16 games with Dallas earlier this season before being sent to the minors. … Blues F Alexander Steen (upper body) and D Joel Edmundson (upper body) are day to day. … The Blues have won seven of the last nine regular-season meetings with the Stars, including four consecutive wins at Scottrade Center. … Dallas is now 0-9-1 when trailing after two periods and St. Louis improved to 7-0-1 with the lead after two periods.
Coach Todd Bowles is not ready to throw in the towel on the 2016 season following the New York Jets’ hard-fought Week 12 loss to the New England Patriots.
Bowles announced Monday that veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the starting quarterback for next Monday night’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Fitzpatrick made a series of big throws to Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall on Sunday, but fumbled on the Jets’ final offensive possession, short-circuiting a chance to lead the winning scoring drive. Ill-timed turnovers have haunted Fitzpatrick throughout the past two months.
“I’ll evaluate everything this week going forward,” Bowles said after the game. “I’m not going to make a decision today, or a rash decision one way or another.”
After watching the game film, Bowles was impressed enough with Fitzpatrick’s performance to tell reporters there was “no debate” about his Week 13 quarterback.
While a portion of the fan base has been clamoring for a chance to audition 2015 fourth-round pick Bryce Petty for next season, Bowles has been steadfast in his belief that Fitzpatrick gives his team the “best chance to win.”
It’s hard to argue with that stance. Bowles has to prevent a veteran locker room from checking out, a viable concern if the offense is turned over to a raw second-year signal-caller with a disturbing penchant for checking down and not progressing through his reads in his first career start versus the Los Angeles Rams.
Petty isn’t Jared Goff. The Jets didn’t surrender a treasure chest of draft picks to secure his services as the face of the franchise. The history of fourth-round quarterbacks suggests he’s a developmental project who might someday emerge as a capable backup.
If Bowles wants to experiment with the offense, he can audition Petty in late December — when the page is naturally turning to 2017.
Michael Leighton is back in the NHL. Gerrard Gallant is out.
Leighton but made 31 saves for the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night in 3-2 victory over Florida that turned out to be coach Gerrard Gallant’s last with the Panthers.
Florida fired coach Gallant after the game, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Tom Rowe, who was promoted to general manager before the season, will assume the coaching duties, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the moves.
Leighton hadn’t been in an NHL net in four years and hadn’t won in six. He shrugged off a two-goal deficit as his teammates scored three goals in the second period, stopping 31 shots.
Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist to spark the rally, which stopped a two-game losing streak and a six-game slide in the series.
Viktor Stalberg and Derek Ryan also scored for Carolina, with Ryan getting his first of the season.
“Leighton was outstanding,” said Carolina coach Bill Peters said, whose team has won five straight home games. “Once it was 3-2 he made four or five good saves. He made a great glove save on (Alexsander) Barkov coming across the middle, made a save on a penalty kill on (Aaron) Ekblad coming around the back door. He made some great saves.”
Cam Ward had started the previous nine games in goal for Carolina. Regular backup goalie Eddie Lack has been on injured reserve under concussion protocol for six days, with Leighton called up from Charlotte of the American Hockey League to serve as backup.
Jonathan Marchessault and Ekblad scored for Florida, and Barkov had two assists.
“I’m happy to be back and happy to get a win,” Leighton said. “I felt better as the game went on. The first two goals were kind of fluky. As a team we knew we had to play better in the second period. We came out flying and that made my job a little easier.”
Florida goalie James Reimer had 24 saves.
Florida’s Jaromir Jagr played in his 1,651st NHL game, tying him with Chris Chelios for fifth in NHL history. The 44-year-old Jagr had a first-period assist.
Jagr is a game behind former Pittsburgh teammate and former Hurricane Mark Recchi for fourth place. The Czech star has 1,127 assists and is eight behind former Hurricane Paul Coffey for fifth on that list.
“For five minutes we let them come back in the game,” Gallant said in his final interview as Florida coach. “They scored three goals, and that was disappointing because we played 55 good minutes tonight, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return.
Florida took a 2-0 lead in the first period, outshooting the Hurricanes 16-9.
Marchessault scored at 5:41 on a power play, picking up his 10th of the season when he followed Jagr’s shot to beat Leighton. The goal broke Carolina’s NHL-best streak of 25 consecutive penalties killed.
Ekblad followed at 9:51, with Barkov earning an assist.
Stalberg cut the lead in half at 5:21 of the second, beating Reimer glove-side.
At 7:12, Skinner tied it on a breakaway, taking a lead pass from Rask and roofing the puck past Reimer glove side. And then at 8:49, Ryan scored his first goal of the season, a power-play marker with the assist from Skinner after Ryan won a faceoff.
“It’s a big win,” Skinner said. “The last couple of games we’ve been right there and haven’t really found the way to get the result. Tonight after the first period we had a good response. We found a way to dig deep and get the result.”
NOTES: Florida alternate captain Jussi Jokinen played in 288 games for the Hurricanes from 2008-13. … Carolina D Noah Hanifin played in his 100th NHL game. … Hurricanes LW Brock McGinn (upper body) missed his second straight game, and D Klas Dahlbeck and D Ryan Murphy were healthy scratches. . Florida LW Shawn Thornton and D Dylan McIlrath were healthy extras. … The teams will play twice more this season, both in Florida on Feb. 28 and March 21.
Gerard Gallant stood outside Raleigh’s PNC Arena on Sunday night, suitcase in-hand, waiting for a taxi after being unceremoniously kicked to the curb by the Florida Panthers.
An hour earlier, Gallant was behind the bench of a 3-2 loss. His Panthers entered the night winners of five of their last seven games.
Five months ago, Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year after leading Florida to a franchise-best 103-point season and just their second division title in 23 years.
His run under the Panthers’ new analytics-based regime lasted just 22 games.
Gallant became the NHL’s first coaching casualty of the season when he was fired on Sunday night in rather bizarre fashion. Coaching changes happen all the time, but rarely so publicly, with Gallant awaiting his own transportation with reporters and cameras gathering around him while the Panthers left for Chicago.
“I was let go,” Gallant told reporters.
Panthers GM Tom Rowe will reportedly take over as interim head coach – the team’s fourth head coach since 2013-14. Rowe, 60, has never been an NHL head coach.
The Panthers landed in Chicago before midnight on Sunday but did not make any comment on the changes. Assistant coach Mike Kelly was also fired.
Under Gallant, the Panthers were 11-10-1 this year and just two points back of a wild card position, despite missing three of their top nine forwards (Jonathan Huberdeau, Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad) for the bulk of the young season. Jokinen and Huberdeau were the team’s second and third leading scorers last season. Florida had beaten two of the game’s best teams, the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, on the road in the last 10 days.
Yet, as strange as Sunday’s scene was, the sense is the tension between Gallant and Florida’s front office had been bubbling under the surface for some time.
Gallant, 53, represented the “old school” hockey mentality from which the Panthers have been so clearly trying to distance themselves. He was brought on by then-GM Dale Tallon in 2014. Despite two of the most successful seasons in team history, Tallon was pushed up to president of hockey operations last May, paving the way for Rowe to take over as GM.
Rowe headlined a tumultuous spring front office shakeup which included a “new age” approach led by assistant GMs Eric Joyce and Steve Werier, who were hired by new owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu. United States Military Academy connections run deep between Viola and Joyce – a former Army hockey player and military captain. Joyce, Werier and Brian McDonald, the team’s director of analytics, are using analytics as the primary driver of hockey decisions with the support of ownership.
Apparently, the writing was on the wall for Gallant with the new regime. He received a two-year contract extension through 2018-19, but quipped he wouldn’t last that long.
“There’s no guarantee I’ll be here,” Gallant told reporters. “But at least I have the contract.”
Viola’s new Panthers front office has thrived on being comfortably uncomfortable, questioning the status-quo, which is how he made his billions on Wall Street.
“That’s one of the things Vinnie encourages more than anything,” Joyce told the Globe and Mail this month. “He calls it positive friction. He doesn’t want people to sit around and hold hands at the Florida Panthers.”
That “positive friction” obviously wasn’t all that positive for Gallant. The new and old schools were clashing. He held the team together through a rough spell of injuries, and the fact that Florida had replaced four of its top six defencemen from last season.
Out were Brian Campbell, Dmitry Kulikov, Eric Gudbranson and Willie Mitchell. In were Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Mike Matheson and Mark Pysyk.
The move will seemingly be an unpopular one within Florida’s dressing room. Gallant was known as a well-liked and well-respect coach who took care of his players.
From Kansas City’s 44-yard line, Gary Kubiak had a choice to make on fourth-and-10 with the game locked up in a 27-27 tie late in overtime.
Kubiak could have gone for it. He could have punted. Instead, the Denver coach sent Brandon McManus out for a 62-yard, game-winning field goal try.
McManus’ 62-yard swing wasn’t close. It was short and wide left. The Chiefs got the ball back in prime field position because of the miss, promptly marched down to the Denver 16-yard line and booted their own field goal to win a pivotal AFC West game in Denver.
“The fact that we had no timeouts probably made it — made me want to go in that direction,” Kubiak said after the game. “If you did have your timeouts, maybe, maybe you think about punting it down there and see if you can get the ball back. I don’t know. But we’re going to try to win, and I’ve seen B-Mac do that many times in practice.”
“It’s on me,” Kubiak added. “I just gave him a chance, thought we could do it, but we didn’t get it done. Give them credit.”
The safe play for Kubiak obviously was to punt. With the Chiefs struggling to move the football for most of the night and less than a minute and a half left on the clock, a punt would have almost certainly guaranteed at least a tie for the Broncos. Yet Kubiak played for the win, something he looked at peace with after the loss.
“My thing is we’re going to try to win around here and I made that decision and it just didn’t work out,” Kubiak said. “But I got a lot of confidence in Brandon, a lot of confidence in our football team. That’s why I made that decision.”
The Houston Texans are coming back to the pack in the AFC South after their first home loss of the season, a 21-13 defeat to the San Diego Chargers in Week 12. Here’s what we learned:
1. Don’t count out the 5-6 Chargers just yet. The Chargers managed to earn a somewhat routine victory for the first time all season because of their massive advantage at quarterback. Philip Rivers connected on his twelfth play of over 40 yards this season, good for second in the NFL and second most in Rivers’ career. He deserves bonus points for pinpoint throws, leading to three scores, against a Texans defense that was previously undefeated and ferocious at home.
2. How much lower is the bar for Brock Osweiler? He threw two bad interceptions (and another on a Hail Mary) and led the Texans to only 13 points, yet this still felt like one of his better games. He made some nice throws evading pressure and moved the offense relatively well, with the Texans gaining 353 yards of offense. Houston will take glimmers of hope where they can in the passing game, but it’s hard to remain optimistic.
3. This game ended on a few Hail Marys from Osweiler because Mike McCoy coaches not to lose. Faced with a fourth-and-1 in enemy territory with the chance to put the game out of reach, McCoy didn’t trust his offense to pick up a yard and his punter booted it into the end zone. Next possession, McCoy wouldn’t even let Rivers throw the ball to ice the game. The Chargers take their cautious fourth quarter cues from their coach.
4. After two quiet games before the bye, Joey Bosa’s Defensive Rookie of the Year candidacy is back on the track. He had seven tackles, two QB hits, two tackles for loss and a half sack. He also drew some key penalties and made an enormous diving tackle of Osweiler. With journeyman linebacker Korey Toomer playing outstanding and bruiser Denzel Perryman back, this front seven is a joy to watch.
5. Now 6-5, the Texans have wasted their cushion in the AFC South. Three teams are within a game at the top of the division and Houston has to go on the road the next two weeks.
The Patriots will be pretty close to full strength on offense.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is active for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, the team announced. Gronk missed last week’s win over the 49ers with a perforated lung, but will be back in the lineup as expected.
Tom Brady, who was on the injury report as questionable with a knee injury, also will play. Wideouts Julian Edelman (foot), Chris Hogan (back) and tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) also are active, the Patriots announced.
Here are some other injury updates heading into Sunday’s game:
1. Bills wideout Sammy Watkins is officially active and, according to Rapoport, he will start against the Jaguars. His playing time will depend on how his foot feels. Watkins has been out since Week 2.
Running back LeSean McCoy, who is also active, will get more carries than usual despite coming off a dislocated thumb because fellow running back Mike Gillislee is out, Rapoport reported.
2. Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is active for Sunday’s tilt against the Cardinals. He missed the last few weeks with a shoulder injury.
3. Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree is trending towards playing against the Panthers, Rapoport reported. He was limited all week with an ankle injury and will test it in pregame. Running back Latavius Murray (ankle) is going to play, Rapoport reported.
4. Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) is active against the Bills. He didn’t practice all week.
5. Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin will play against the Texans. He was listed as questionable as he dealt with a PCL sprain.
6. The 49ers will have veteran wideout Torrey Smith back in the lineup after he missed last week with a shoulder injury.
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7. Miami wideout DeVante Parker is questionable to return with a back injury.
Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil is inactive because of a torn muscle in his shoulder, Rapoport reported, per a source. Fellow offensive linemen Mike Pouncey (hip) and Branden Albert (wrist) also won’t play against the 49ers. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Mario Williams will play.
8. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) is active despite being listed as questionable after being limited in practice Friday. JPP told NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones on Friday he would play against the Browns. Wideout Roger Lewis (concussion) is active, as well.
In addition, the Giants are eyeing a December 11 return for running back Shane Vereen (triceps), who’s on injured reserve, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Sunday.
9. Saints running back Mark Ingram (concussion) is active against the Rams.
10. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (shoulder) will not play against the Titans, the team announced. He was listed Friday as doubtful for the game. Matt Barkley will start at quarterback.
11. Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (torn pectoral) will not play against the Cardinals. The team announced Trufant has another doctor’s appointment scheduled and potentially could have season-ending surgery this week.
12. Bills cornerback Ronald Darby was shaken up after a tackle on Chris Ivory, and walked under his own power to the locker room. He will not return for the remainder of the game as he is in concussion protocol.
Wideout Walt Powell (ankle) was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
13. The Giants have ruled out safety Nat Berhe (concussion) for the remainder of the game.
14. 49ers wideout Quinton Patton (concussion) will not return against the Dolphins.
15. Panthers nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson, who was listed as questionable with a chest injury, is active against the Raiders.
16. Raiders cornerback David Amerson (knee) is inactive for Sunday against the Panthers after being listed as questionable Friday.
17. Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn suffered a knee injury against the Cardinals and is questionable to return.
18. Bengals safety Josh Shaw is questionable to return with an ankle injury.
19. Cardinals wideout John Brown (hamstring) is out for the remainder of the game against the Falcons.