EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Jon Cooper might have reacted differently five years ago to losing in double overtime in Tampa Bay’s first chance to move on to the Stanley Cup Final, sulking with his head down and kicking the nearest soda can.
That’s not his or his team’s reaction now.
Sure, the Lightning didn’t close out the New York Islanders in five games in the Eastern Conference final like they did against their previous two opponents. But a year after taking the best record in hockey into a first-round sweep at the hands of Columbus, this group seems far more apt to handle adversity: The Lightning won a five OT marathon earlier this playoffs and beat the hard-working Islanders in Game 2 with only nine forwards.
”Adversity’s kicked us in the butt a ton of times in these playoffs,” Cooper said Wednesday. ”Adversity hits different ways. This is just another one. This year, I’m really at peace with the way this team is playing. They’ve got this quiet calm about them, and they’ll be all ready.”
Tampa Bay still leads the East final 3-2 going into Game 6 Thursday night but could again be without injured leading scorer Brayden Point. New York’s two victories this series have come with Point.
No on expects to know if Point will return until game time, but the Lightning would likely have him on the ice if he was ready.
”In my history, when guys have been hurt, they don’t play the same way,” Cooper said. ”Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. But in this situation, I’m hoping it’s not the last time we’re going to see Pointer, and we might be able to see him as early as (Thursday) night.”
Point’s absence makes this the Lightning’s toughest adversity yet. They have plenty of talent, but it’s impossible to replicate Point’s play that has him tied for the postseason scoring lead with nine goals and 16 assists.
”He’s been so good for us in these playoffs,” forward Alex Killorn said. ”He’s a huge part of our team. He drives our team in a lot of sense: the way we play, the energy we play with.”
Top winger Ondrej Palat said the energy is still up around the team after the double OT loss in Game 5 Tuesday night, and there is good reason for confidence. From goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to defenseman Victor Hedman, Palat, reigning NHL MVP Nikita Kucherov and even Cooper, most of Tampa Bay’s core remains from the 2015 run to the final.
‘We’ve been through this before, a lot of us in that room,” Hedman said. ”It’s how you respond to this that’s going to define you as a team. I’m not worried about how our group’s going to respond to this.”
The same can be said across the bubble for the Islanders, whom coach Barry Trotz told before Game 5, ”Let’s have fun with this.” The 2018 Cup-winning coach got a hearty response from his team facing elimination, no more noticeably than when captain Anders Lee blocked a shot in overtime with his body because he didn’t have a stick.
The Islanders woke up the next morning with a little extra jump and now feel they got a boost.
”You’ve just got to try to maintain that momentum that we earned from (Tuesday) night and carry that into the next game,” Lee said. ”Similarly, we’re on our heels – I guess our backs are against the wall a little bit – and got to come out flying.”
Each coach acknowledged the mental gymnastics that come with figuring out which team feels the most under the gun. Trotz put it simply: ”We have one life left. They have two. You tell me which has more pressure.”
That doesn’t mean the Lightning don’t have more of it now, with the Dallas Stars already waiting in the final and the conference championship trophy in the building once again.
”Pressure is what you make of it, so if you want to succumb to it, you can or if you want to thrive in it, you can,” Cooper said. ”You’ve got to make a choice. You’ve got to embrace these moments. You don’t get them that often, so enjoy them and don’t let that pressure get to you. Do your best on Thursday night and see what happens.”
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Jan Blachowicz stops Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 then called out Jon Jones
Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones vacated the 205-pound title on August 17 to pursue a title run in the heavyweight division. On Saturday, the UFC crowned a new champion.
Former title challenger Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz fought for the vacant belt in the UFC 253 co-main event at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi and resulted in the second Polish-born fighter winning UFC gold.
The two were cautious in the opening round respecting each other’s finishing ability. Reyes mounted a kicking heavy offense while Blachowicz pressed forward with combinations and targeted Reyes’ body with kicks. Blachowicz outworked Reyes in the round nearly doubling Reyes’ output.
The pace picked up in the second round. Reyes came out aggressive and the two started exchanging inside the pocket. Late in the frame, Blachowicz exploded forward with a combination. Reyes returned fire but was hit with a counter left hand during the exchange. He staggered and stumbled to the ground. Blachowicz forced the referee to step in with follow-up strikes. The official time of the stoppage was 4:36 of the second round.
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The win extended Blachowicz’ winning streak to four fights. During his post-fight interview, Blachowicz called out former champion Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones, where are you,” asked Blachowicz after the win. “Don’t be a quitter. I am here. This is how we do it in Poland. I’m waiting for you.”
King throws 2 TD passes, No. 12 Miami routs Florida State
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami avoided a lightning delay, amped up the offense and overwhelmed its in-state rival.
D’Eriq King threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns and the No. 12 Hurricanes beat Florida State 52-10 on Saturday night.
The kickoff appeared headed for a delay because of lightning near Hard Rock Stadium, but the teams received clearance to start on time.
”We get to the stadium, we’re getting ready to go through warm-ups and you find out there’s a possibility of a lightning delay,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. ”All of our guys and their ability to adjust with all that’s been thrown at them this year – they were worthy victors tonight.”
Cam’Ron Harris and Don Chaney scored twice and Brevin Jordan and Dee Wiggins each caught touchdown passes for Miami (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Miami scored touchdowns on its five possessions and built a 35-point lead at halftime. The margin of victory was the largest for Miami in the series since a 47-0 rout in 1976, the first season of Bobby Bowden’s 34-year coaching career at Florida State.
”We had a great attitude and great focus all week,” Diaz said. ”It showed the way we started the game.”
The Seminoles (0-2, 0-2) were without head coach Mike Norvell, who tested positive for coronavirus and remained in Tallahassee under quarantine. Assistant Chris Thomsen served as head coach.
”They really dominated in all phases,” Norvell said. ”Disappointed for our team, for our players, for our coaches, for our fan base. Definitely not the way we wanted to play. This is something that completely falls on me. I’ve got to do a better job of putting our guys in a position to play a better brand of football.”
King capped the Hurricanes’ game-opening drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jordan.
After Ryan Fitzgerald’s 26-yard field goal ended Florida State’s first drive, Miami responded with Harris’ 3-yard-run late in the first quarter. Harris’ second touchdown from 12 yards put the Hurricanes ahead 21-3.
Asante Samuel recovered Mark Pope’s fumble inside the Miami 40 but the Seminoles turned it over on the next play after Jaelan Phillips intercepted Jordan Travis’ pass. Three plays later, King connected with Wiggins from 40 yards to make it 28-3.
King, a graduate transfer from Houston, has completed six touchdown passes without an interception through his first three games with the Hurricanes. He also ran for 65 on eight carries against Florida State.
”We still have a lot of football but I think it’s coming together pretty good right now,” King said.
Chaney scored his first college touchdown on a 2-yard run with 3:37 late in the second quarter. Jose Borregales closed the first half with a 30-yard field goal as time expired.
”It felt so, so good,” Chaney said about his touchdown. ”You have to take advantage of your chances.”
Camren McDonald caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from James Blackman on the Seminoles’ first drive of the second half before Chaney’s 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter gave Miami another 35-point lead.
”Any time you give up 52 points, it’s never progress,” Florida State linebacker Amari Gainer said. We’ve just got to go and get better and practice harder. Whatever we’re doing, it’s not working.”
Miami won its fourth straight over Florida State and leads the series 35-30. The Seminoles enjoyed a seven-game winning streak before the Hurricanes’ current string.
SELLOUT BUT FAR FROM CAPACITY:
The attendance of 12,806 was listed as a sellout. The crowd total fell within the 20% capacity allowed at 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium to comply with coronavirus social distancing guidelines.
Florida State: Host Jacksonville State next Saturday.
Miami: At No. 1 Clemson on Oct. 10.
Betts exits after HBP, Dodgers edge Angels following outage
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mookie Betts exited early after getting hit by a pitch, giving the Dodgers a brief scare with the playoffs approaching, and Los Angeles beat the Angels 7-6 on Saturday night following a power outage in the ballpark.
Joc Pederson hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning shortly before the lights went out at Dodger Stadium. The Freeway Series resumed in the top of the seventh after a 25-minute delay.
”I panicked for two seconds, to be honest,” said Edwin Rios, who was in the dugout. ”It was dark and I couldn’t see anybody.”
Rios quickly regained his composure and homered in the seventh, and Will Smith added a solo shot in the eighth, giving the NL West champions 116 homers to lead the majors.
The Angels closed to 7-6 in the ninth. Jahmai Jones was safe at first on a fielding error by Rios at third base. Elliott Soto stroked a ground-rule double to deep right, putting Jones on third. Soto and Jones scored on David Fletcher’s double to left off Alex Wood.
Albert Pujols lined out to right, moving Fletcher to third with two outs. But then Shohei Otani grounded out to Adam Kolarek to end the game. Kolarek earned his fourth career save and first this season.
The game was already official, having completed five innings, and the Angels had been eliminated the night before, rendering the outcome meaningless. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it didn’t qualify to be called because the the outage was not due to natural causes.
”It would have been a suspended game,” he said. ”Then to pick it up where we left off tomorrow morning with a day game, we wanted to wait it out.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon called the sudden blackout ”surreal.”
”Right away you think something’s going on somewhere, but we were assured that was not the case,” he said.
The Dodgers led 3-0 in the first, when Angels starter Julio Teheran (0-5) needed 52 pitches to get through the entire nine-man lineup. Betts scored on a bases-loaded walk to Cody Bellinger, Will Smith had a RBI single, and Pederson grounded into a fielder’s choice to first that scored Max Muncy, who had walked.
Betts was plunked in the left hip by Teheran and stayed in the game until scoring the first run. He was replaced as a precaution by Kike Hernandez in right field to start the second. Roberts said Betts wasn’t seriously hurt.
The Angels tied the game and then took a 4-3 lead in the third, one night after being eliminated from playoff contention with a 9-5 loss in the series opener. Jones had an RBI single, and Jared Walsh hit a two-run triple and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Pujols.
Hansel Robles gave up a leadoff walk to Smith in the sixth, setting up Pederson’s shot to the lower left-field seats to put the Dodgers back in front, 5-4.
The third-oldest stadium in the major leagues went completely dark as players left the field after the sixth. The ballpark’s emergency generator kicked on, sending power to the ribbon boards, video boards and loge-level concourse.
”It was spooky,” Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin said. ”It got real dark, real fast.”
Eventually, the stadium’s power returned and so did the Dodgers’ muscle.
Jo Adell had Rios’ shot to center field in his glove, which hit the top of the fence, causing the ball to pop out. It was third homer this week for Rios, a defensive replacement for third baseman Justin Turner in the seventh.
”It was moments away from a spectacular play, then the ball goes over the wall,” Maddon said.
In the eighth, Smith hit his eighth homer off Luke Bard, making it 7-4.
Gonsolin (2-2) allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out six against no walks. Gonsolin hadn’t given up more than two runs in his first seven starts this season. The right-hander is vying to be the third starter behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw when the playoffs begin Wednesday at home.
Angels: INF Luis Rengifo went on the IL with a right hamstring strain.
Dodgers: Betts was hit in the left hip by Teheran leading off the bottom of the first. Betts initially stayed in and scored, but was limping in the dugout afterward.
LHP Patrick Sandoval (1-4, 5.56 ERA) pitches for the Angels on Sunday. The Dodgers had not announced a starter.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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