Canada defeats U.S. in overtime to win gold at women’s worlds

Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in overtime to win the gold medal at the Women's World Hockey Championship in Calgary on Tuesday night.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored the game-winning goal in the extra frame. The goal was initially not called, with play resuming for moments before the buzzer sounded. This marks Canada's first gold at the tournament since 2012.

The Americans got off to an early lead after two goals from Alex Carpenter in the opening period. Canada battled back, with Brianne Jenner and Jamie Lee Rattray each scoring a goal in the second frame to tie things up.

The U.S. had won the past five tournaments, beating Canada in four of them. Last year, Canada settled for the bronze medal while the Americans beat Finland in the final.

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Ehlers: Denmark qualifying for 1st Olympics ‘one of the best feelings’

Words can't quite describe just how proud Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers was to help his home nation of Denmark qualify for its first-ever Olympics.

"It was emotional. It was one of the best feelings I've ever had," Ehlers said.

Ehlers led the way for Denmark with nine points across three qualifying games. He topped it off with a breakaway snipe with just over three minutes left in a contest against Norway.

The goal helped lift his team to a 2-0 victory and a major historical achievement. Denmark joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1946 and, after 76 years, the team will get its first taste of the Olympics in Beijing.

"The growth that has happened the last six or seven years has been pretty incredible. (Denmark) made the quarterfinals at the World Championship in 2016, we had the World Championship in Denmark in 2018, and at this year's World Championship, we beat Sweden for the first time ever. Now we're going to the Olympics," Ehlers said.

"What we're trying to do here with this team is make hockey bigger in Denmark."

Ehlers was pleased with his Danish teammates' dedication over the summer. The group met for four three-day camps as a way to train and grow as a unit.

"I'm really proud of what we've been able to do, but I'm even more proud of the commitment from the guys we had in the locker room," the 25-year-old said. "They become - as in Winnipeg - brothers to you pretty quick."

A decision on whether NHLers will be able to compete in the 2022 Olympics is reportedly looming, but at least the Danes booked their seat at the table with Ehlers' help.

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Blackhawks sign Murphy to 4-year, $17.6M extension

The Chicago Blackhawks signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a four-year extension with an annual cap hit of $4.4 million, the team announced Tuesday.

Murphy was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 campaign as he enters the final season of a six-year deal that carries an average annual value of $3.85 million.

Chicago acquired Murphy in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes during the 2017 draft. In four seasons with the Blackhawks, the 28-year-old has 61 points in 236 games.

"When we acquired Connor in the summer of 2017, we had visions of him growing as both a player and leader in our organization for many years," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He has transformed into a defenseman capable of matching up with the opponent's best players and someone we trust to help us preserve a lead in the final minutes."

Murphy shouldered the second-highest average ice time per game (22:09) among all Blackhawks defensemen during the 2020-21 campaign.

With this new deal under his belt, Murphy is now signed through the 2025-26 season. Chicago's longest-tenured active defenseman has cemented his place on the team's revamped blue line alongside Seth Jones and Jake McCabe.

The then-Phoenix Coyotes drafted Murphy with the 20th overall pick in 2011.

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McDavid on building off last season, Oilers’ moves, and the Olympics

Connor McDavid is, to put it mildly, an overachiever.

McDavid has either lived up to, exceeded, or completely obliterated lofty expectations at every level of hockey he's played. The extreme scenario unfolded most recently, with No. 97 smashing any reasonable expectations for what one NHL player might produce in a pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.

The Edmonton Oilers captain recorded 105 points over 56 contests. That's 1.88 points per game, or the highest rate since Mario Lemieux's 2.30 in 1995-96. Amazingly, a whopping 83 of those 105 points were goals or primary assists. Leon Draisaitl, McDavid's teammate, finished second in the league in points with 84 total, which means McDavid, at just 24 years old, essentially lapped the field offensively. (McDavid rightfully received all 100 first-place votes for the Hart Trophy.)

That said, when we look back on McDavid's career decades from now, let's hope '20-21 is also remembered as the first campaign he showed tangible signs of improvement in the defensive end and faceoff circle. The stud center had his finest two-way season based not only on stats but also the eye test.

And guess what? Over the past few months, McDavid has doubled down on his commitment to draws and off-puck play in an attempt to master those areas.

"When the game gets tight, and in those moments that really matter, I think those are two things that you can really dial into and focus on," McDavid told theScore. "You're never going to get in trouble out there when you're playing well defensively, winning faceoffs, and focusing on the full, 200-foot game."

Jonathan Kozub / Getty Images

McDavid spoke over Zoom on Monday afternoon from the annual BioSteel training camp, which is being staged this week in Montreal for the first time. McDavid, a company ambassador, wore a black athletic shirt featuring the word "#CAMP" while sitting in front of a backdrop filled with BioSteel logos.

The four-day event offers McDavid a legitimate late-summer tune up and a golden opportunity to test what he's learned in private sessions. For a second straight year, McDavid's offseason program has involved on-ice work with ex-pros Keith and Will Acton, a father-son duo tapped to hone his draw-taking skills.

"Honestly, I think the biggest thing is paying attention to it," McDavid said when asked what led to a career-high 49.5 faceoff percentage in '20-21.

"It's kind of the forgotten part of the game when you first come (into the NHL). You think, 'Oh, it doesn't really matter,' and you lose your draw, you move on, and you get on with your shift. But I think as you get a little older in the league, you start to realize that these little details really matter. Just paying attention, digging in, really focusing on it, and really making it a part of your game, I think, is obviously Step 1. And then I think Step 2 is mastering some of those details. Those little things like timing, or some little tricks, or things that you can do in (to outsmart the opposition), it's obviously Step 2."

Jonathan Kozub / Getty Images

Seeing as McDavid still finished last season with a sub-50% success rate in the circle, there's plenty of room to grow there. Meanwhile, he earned career bests in several even-strength defensive metrics, including shot attempts against per 60 minutes and expected goals against per 60, after flashing better positioning, awareness, and support in the defensive third. Most importantly, he made it a habit to loop deeper in Edmonton's zone to stop on pucks - versus glide by - which is no small task for such a frenetic player.

"Skating's obviously been a strength of mine, ever since I was a little kid," he said. "I've always wanted to play the game on the move, and it's tough to get pucks that way, it's tough to help win battles for your D-men or your wingers. ... As a centerman, it's important to be in the middle of the ice. You're kind of the last line (of defense) if something breaks down along the wall."

As for what has given him that extra push to develop a well-rounded game, McDavid said, "a lot of it is seeing what other guys do when they're winning. You look at Sid (Crosby) and his game, he's won Cups. A guy like Brayden Point, he's won a couple of Cups, and the details that he has in his game (are impressive). Everything I do in my game is so ultimately I can win a Cup one day, and that's obviously the main focus, and that's what drives everything."

Oilers offseason

During his end-of-season press conference back in May, McDavid talked about having "another level I can get to." It's tempting to dismiss those words as something a megastar probably feels obliged to say in defeat. How might he reach new heights? What does "another level" mean, practically speaking?

"On the ice, I think I can be better defensively. I think there are still things that I can do offensively to allow myself to create more, score more goals," McDavid said. "And then, I think for me, off the ice, being a better leader, being a better teammate. All of those types of things are things that I can focus on and continue to make myself better and continue to make our team better."

Jonathan Kozub / Getty Images

Right, the team. The Oilers, who last season finished second in the one-off North Division thanks to a 35-19-2 record, were swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs. Edmonton has made the postseason in three of McDavid's six campaigns, advancing to the second round just once, in 2016-17. Much like pal Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs, McDavid and the Oilers have thus far failed to string together a meaningful run at the Stanley Cup.

General manager Ken Holland - or "Kenny," as McDavid calls him - has been one of the NHL's busiest executives this summer. Notables arriving for the '21-22 season include defensemen Duncan Keith ("I think he's going to do a lot for our group," McDavid said, "bring his winning ways to Edmonton") and Cody Ceci, as well as forwards Zach Hyman ("great addition, he works so hard and is so prepared"), Derek Ryan, and Warren Foegele. Notables leaving: blue-liners Adam Larsson and Ethan Bear, as well as forward Jujhar Khaira.

"Mainly, you've gotta see a push from everybody. It starts at the top," McDavid added. "I think me and (Draisaitl) have to take a step, and (Darnell Nurse) and those core guys have to take a step forward and be better. The same with the young guys. Everybody's got to push each other along and make each other better, and that's how we're going to build a winning team."

Are the Oilers, as currently constructed, good enough to challenge for a Cup?

"That's a long way down the road. We haven't even started training camp. We haven't even been face to face. So, I think that's a question for another day," the captain replied. "For us, I think we've got to focus on coming in and having a great camp, start building that chemistry and building that culture, and getting off to a good start, and we go from there. That's all we can really focus on. Let the chips fall where they may."

Olympic thoughts

Andre Ringuette / Getty Images

Fact: McDavid, a generational talent, hasn't competed in a best-on-best international tournament since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He was 19.

Now, there's light at the end of the tunnel, according to a weekend report via ESPN. NHLers may be heading to the 2022 Beijing Olympics after all, with sources suggesting to the network that "an agreement between NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, and Olympic Committee is close, just down to some final items."

"As any Canadian kid, your dream is to play in the NHL, and then your dream is to play for Team Canada at the Olympics," McDavid said of the latest development. "I think that's always how it is, and I'm no different."

McDavid called the 2016 World Cup - which saw him play alongside Matthews on the gimmicky but wildly popular 23-and-under Team North America squad - "a great experience" featuring "a great group of guys."

"But," he continued, "I mean, ultimately, I think there were a couple of guys - maybe even more than a couple of guys - that could have had the opportunity to play for their country and play in a best-on-best tournament. And, obviously, with not going to the Olympics, it's been a long time since we've been able to represent our country at a best-on-best tournament. So, my last time would have been a world juniors (in 2015), so it's been a long time, and I'm certainly looking forward to, I guess, having the ability to chase down a spot and hopefully make the team and represent my country at the Olympics."

Oh no, your spot is reserved on Team Canada. Don't worry.

John Matisz is theScore's senior NHL writer.

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Canada beats Switzerland to set up gold-medal game vs. U.S.

Canada will take on the United States in the gold-medal game at the Women's World Hockey Championship after defeating Switzerland 4-0 in Monday night's semifinal.

Renata Fast put Canada on the board minutes into the contest. Melodie Daoust scored shortly after and added another goal in the second period to extend her team's lead. Rebecca Johnston capped the game off with a goal in the final minutes.

Canada outshot Switzerland 65-10, with Swiss goaltender Andrea Braendli making an incredible 61 saves.

The Americans are the defending champions in the tournament after defeating Finland in the 2019 final. Canada and the U.S. previously met in the gold-medal game of the tournament 18 straight times beginning in 1990. Canada's last victory came in 2012, while the Americans have won five straight golds.

The gold-medal clash is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night. Switzerland will take on Finland in the bronze-medal match at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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U.S. beats Finland, advances to gold-medal game at women’s worlds

The United States advanced to the gold-medal game at the Women's World Hockey Championship after defeating Finland 3-0 in the semifinal on Monday afternoon.

The game remained a scoreless tie following the first period, but Alex Carpenter put the Americans on the board early in the second.

Abbey Murphy tacked on another goal toward the end of the second frame. The team held on to close out the game, adding an empty-netter in the final minutes.

The U.S. outshot Finland 32-14.

The Americans will now take on the winner of Canada vs. Switzerland, a matchup slated for 7 p.m. ET Monday night. The U.S. defeated Finland during the 2019 tournament and is the defending champion.

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Predators sign Tolvanen to 3-year deal worth $4.35M

The Nashville Predators signed restricted free-agent forward Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.45 million, the team announced Monday.

Tolvanen enjoyed a strong first full campaign with the Predators in 2020-21, registering 22 points over 40 games. He also led Nashville with six power-play goals.

The 22-year-old put up a six-game point streak in late March, which is tied for the second-longest rookie streak in franchise history.

The Predators' 30th overall pick in 2017 played in seven NHL games across the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. Tolvanen spent 2019-20 with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, scoring 36 points over 63 contests.

He also made 25 appearances for Jokerit of the KHL before joining the Predators this past season.

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Flames’ Tkachuk: ‘It’s time for us to do something’

Calgary Flames irritant Matthew Tkachuk really wants to prove it this season.

"I know you make your personal and your team legacy in playoffs," the 23-year-old winger said in an interview with NHL Network. "So that's what I'm hoping to do this year is make a very long run in the playoffs and do something special with our team. Because I would love to do that with that group of guys there."

The Flames have made the playoffs three times in Tkachuk's first five NHL seasons, but each appearance has ended in a first-round exit.

Tkachuk has five points in 15 career playoff games and leads all Calgary skaters with 32 penalty minutes over the team's three most recent postseason appearances. He's averaged the fifth-most ice time (16:42) among Flames forwards across those three playoff stints.

"I consider myself to be a solid player that hasn't done a lot so far in the league yet," he said. "So hoping for a year where I can prove that this year."

The Flames struggled during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 campaign, finishing fifth in the realigned North Division with a 26-27-3 record and missing the postseason. The team fired head coach Geoff Ward in March, bringing back Darryl Sutter for a second stint behind Calgary's bench.

Tkachuk, meanwhile, racked up 43 points in 56 games, a 63-point pace over 82 contests. He's surpassed that clip twice in his career, notching 77 points in 80 games in 2018-19 and 61 points in 69 games in 2019-20.

"It has nothing to do with me - it's got everything to do with team success," he said. He added: "(My teammates) are very special to me, and I enjoy working with them each and every day. It's time for us to do something this year."

If Tkachuk and the Flames are to get over the hump this season, they'll have to do so without longtime captain Mark Giordano after the Seattle Kraken selected the defenseman in the July expansion draft.

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