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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have hit the reset button on the season.

Connor McDavid and Jujhar Khaira each had a goal and an assist as the Oilers extended their winning streak to a season-high four games, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Saturday.
There was a bit of a scare for Edmonton late in the game when McDavid limped off the ice after blocking a shot with his foot late in the third period, but Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said post-game that it doesn’t appear to be an injury that could cost his star player any time off the ice.

“The doctor’s have X-rayed it and it came back negative,” McLellan said. “His foot is a little sore obviously from blocking it, but he’s in good spirits. The three days (break) will help him and I fully expect him to play in Winnipeg (on Dec. 27).”

Ryan Strome and Milan Lucic also scored and Leon Draisaitl had three assists for the Oilers, who have reached the .500 mark for the first time since their second game of the season, sitting at 17-17-2.

“I think we’ve been playing some really good hockey lately,” Draisaitl said. “We’re back to playing the way we were playing last year. We have all four lines going right now. It’s nice to take that into the break.”

Oilers goal Cam Talbot, who made 29 saves to pick up his career-high seventh consecutive win in the Edmonton net, explained the Oilers reversal of fortune of late.

“It says we are a resilient group,” he said. “We could have folded our hand after we got down and everybody said we had no chance of making the playoffs and counted us out. But we still believed in this room. Obviously .500 isn’t where we wanted to be at this point, but it is a good place to start from after the break.”

Andrew Shaw replied for the Canadiens (16-16-4), who had a two-game winning streak ended.

“We were playing a good hockey team and we made key mistakes at certain times of the game,” said Habs forward Brendan Gallagher. “We had our chances. Their goalie made some saves, it’s nothing to hang our head about, the effort.”

Edmonton got the game’s first goal with six minutes left to play in the third as Khaira got the puck across to a hard-charging Strome, who beat Montreal goalie Antti Niemi with a one-timer for his seventh goal of the season.

The Oilers made it 2-0 two minutes later as McDavid went for a skate before sending a long wrist shot through a screen and in for his 14th.

Edmonton added to its lead four minutes into the middle period with a power-play goal as Draisaitl made a perfect feed in front to give Lucic a wide-open net to deposit the puck into.

Montreal got on the board with seven minutes left in the second period on a power-play goal of its own as a Paul Bryon shot his Shaw and trickled into the net behind Talbot. The Oilers unsuccessfully challenged for goaltender interference on the play.

Edmonton put the game away with an empty-netter by Khaira.

Both teams are off until Dec. 27, when the Oilers head to Winnipeg to face the Jets, while the Canadiens are on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Notes: It was the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Edmonton won the first contest 6-2 on Dec. 9 in Montreal… Both teams were missing key defenceman as Montreal was without Shea Weber (foot) and Edmonton was without Oscar Klefbom (upper body).

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SAN ANTONIO — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 19 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the undermanned Los Angeles Clippers 109-91 on Monday night in Kawhi Leonard’s home debut this season.

Tony Parker had 16 points and seven assists in 23 minutes, his second-longest stint after missing the first 19 games while recovering from left quadriceps tendon surgery.
San Antonio is taking a similar incremental approach with Leonard, limiting his minutes after he missed the first 27 games of the season due to right quadriceps tendinopathy.

Leonard did not play in the second half against the Clippers after scoring seven points in 16 minutes during the first half, ending his streak of 110 straight games scoring in double figures.

The 6-foot-7 forward made his first attempt, pulling up from 13 feet in the lane for his first points in the AT&T Center since May 9. Leonard gave the crowd and the Spurs’ bench a scare when he tumbled awkwardly to the court on a contested layup, but he got up quickly while shaking his head over the non-call as San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich screamed at the officials.

The Clippers were without five players, including leading scorers Blake Griffin and Lou Williams.

Los Angeles rookie Jamil Wilson had a season-high 13 points. DeAndre Jordan also had 13 points along with 14 rebounds.

The Spurs built a double-digit lead in the first seven minutes as the Clippers shot 20 per cent and fell behind 22-12.

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Austin Rivers was cleared to play after suffering a concussion Dec. 13 against Orlando. … Griffin missed his 10th game with a sprained left MCL. The Clippers were also without Patrick Beverley (right knee surgery), Danilo Gallinari (left glute contusion), Wesley Johnson (sore left foot) and Williams (sprained right foot). . Jordan is donating $100 for every rebound he has this season. He raised his season total Monday to $43,000. . The Clippers are 7-2 when holding opponents below 100 points.

Spurs: Popovich said Kyle Anderson is expected to travel with the team on its upcoming three-game road trip. Anderson has been out with a sprained left MCL. . G Danny Green missed his second straight game with tightness in his left groin. . Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jeff Hornacek and Larry Bird are the only players in the past 30 years to shoot 50 per cent from the floor and 40 per cent on 3-pointers at home. . Patty Mills joined Manu Ginobili and Malik Rose as the only Spurs in franchise history to score 3,000 points off the bench.

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Mike Babcock doesn’t like to field too many questions about Auston Matthews. Not when he’s playing well, not when he’s playing poorly and certainly not when he’s not playing at all.

But that’s been the reality for Babcock throughout this young season. Matthews will miss his seventh game of the year on Thursday, and his third straight with an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh. Toronto is 5-1-0 overall without Matthews, but 1-1-0 since he’s gone down this second time.

“I know you guys [miss him], that’s all you talk about or ask me about every day,” Babcock said. “The team is playing tonight, we plan on winning. I think that’s really important. I’ve coached in the league a long time. We’ve had players injured every year and that’s the way it is. Now, do you want to have all hands on deck? Absolutely. But when you don’t, that’s where you find players.”

The opportunity to step up and take on a bigger role is open to each of the Leafs’ players, but Toronto has struggled to generate offence over their last two games. Over that span, the Leafs have scored just three goals and been outshot by a combined 80-45 by the Edmonton Oilers and Flyers.

“We miss Auston every day. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the league,” said Tyler Bozak. “He’s a big hole to fill and one you can’t fill with one guy; everyone kind of has to step up. Definitely we’re a worse team without him in our lineup, but we have found ways to win without him and we have to keep that going until he’s healthy and ready to go.”

When that will be is anyone’s guess. Matthews is with the Leafs on their current three-game road trip, which ends on Friday in Detroit. It seems unlikely Matthews will made his return without a practice or skate in between, which means the Leafs will also have to tackle their second back-to-back in as many weeks without the 20-year-old’s offensive prowess.

“The hard part is every day everyone is asking you how you’re doing and stuff like that,” added Bozak. “But it’s all part of the game. Everyone is going to get injuries throughout their career. You just have to stay positive. He’s a guy who works extremely hard, and will come back even better than he was before. We’re excited whenever he does come back to have him.”

—-

The Leafs’ loss to Philadelphia was only really by one goal (plus an empty netter), but the mood around the team was as if they had been blown out.

There was an unmistakable feeling amongst the players that they let at least one point slip away by allowing issues to fester for too long. Until Tuesday, the Leafs had won five of their previous six games, and confidence was high even if their stats hadn’t been good.

As soon as that winning stopped, it became impossible to ignore the glaring deficiency that is Toronto’s lack of offensive zone time. The Leafs’ possession totals over their last two games were 39 per cent (versus Edmonton) and 43 per cent (versus Philadelphia).

“There’s a number of things – faceoffs, execution in the d-zone, speed through the neutral zone, hanging onto the puck in the offensive zone,” said Babcock of what’s hindering offensive zone time. “I don’t know which one of those you want to talk to, but I only have so much time before the (team) meal.”

The biggest factor in the Leafs survival without their offence firing has been their goaltending. Frederik Andersen owns a .948 save percentage over the last month that paces all starters in the league in that span. Backup Curtis McElhinney has a .951 save-percentage in two starts over the same four-week stretch. Subconsciously or not, the Leafs became too dependent on good goaltending to bail them out.

“We’re relying on [them] too much to save our butts in most of our games,” said Marner. “So we want to get more o-zone play. We haven’t been doing that as much of late. We want to be a team that doesn’t sit back like that. We gave them opportunities and they didn’t miss on them.”

Andersen has faced 214 shots over his last six starts, an average of 35.6 per game. While he’s been terrific since the start of November, what the Leafs require of their goalie lately is perfection. Andersen didn’t deliver that on Tuesday, essentially causing a goal when he misplayed the puck on a clearing attempt that ultimately sent the disc back behind him.

Bozak joked that it’s natural for goalies to enjoy seeing a lot of shots, but the Leafs could stand to take a little of the pressure off.

“They’ve given us a chance to win every night,” he said. “But if we’re able to limit those opportunities – the Grade-A scoring chances – we’re going to have a better opportunity to win.”

—-

Babcock has been breaking out his blender less frequently lately, but he did make one minor adjustment at morning skate ahead of facing the Wild: Marner moved up to the top line with Patrick Marleau and Zach Hyman, while Connor Brown moved down to play with James van Riemsdyk and Bozak.

It’s nothing out of the ordinary this season for either right winger to get a look on a different line, but it does come just when Marner seemed to be finding a groove offensively. He’s produced four assists in his last three games on what looks to be an upswing.

“I’m feeling better now,” he said. “Just trying to get more chances, help out defensively more and I think just start maybe pushing the pace a bit more on offence and create more chances and hold onto the puck a little bit more.”

Marner has seen time next to Marleau before when Babcock was experimenting with combinations earlier in the season. Along with Matthews, Marner and Marleau have formed a tight bond off the ice as well since the start of the year. Even after morning skate on Thursday, Marleau popped his head out into the dressing room to check on Marner before leaving so they could go to the team bus together.

If anyone can help Marner keep the positive momentum going, it’s Marleau.

“He’s got a lot of speed, obviously he’s played a long time and he’s got a lot of veteran poise out there,” Marner said. “There’s a calm thing about his game that’s passed onto others. Any time you get to line up with him on your line, it’s pretty spectacular to see him work.”

—-

Some games end up being a turning point for a team. The Minnesota Wild found that in their first contest against the Leafs.

Toronto won the game on Nov. 8 in their building, 4-2. Minnesota has gone 11-4-1 since that loss, and head coach Bruce Boudreau felt it was knowing they deserved more out of that meeting in Toronto that helped adjust the Wild’s mindset about what they were capable of.

“It seemed to get us going,” he said. “We played a good game where we thought we could have had a better result. We played better the next night, and I think since that date we’re like [11-4-1] so it was a good jump-start for us.”

The Wild do have history on their side as they welcome Toronto in – the Leafs haven’t won a game in St. Paul since March 22, 2011. Only two current Leafs players skated for the team in that contest (Bozak and Nazem Kadri).

One current Leaf Boudreau knows very well is Andersen, having coached him while they were both in the Anaheim Ducks organization. Back then, Andersen ended up being used in regular tandem with Jonas Hiller and then John Gibson. Boudreau isn’t surprised the netminder has flourished in his expanded role with the Leafs.

“I remember telling Mike [Babcock] and Lou [Lamoriello] at the [2016 Entry Draft] when they traded for him, I said, ‘You guys don’t know it yet, but you’ve got a real winner there,’” Boudreau said. “I think Freddie is great. He’s had a couple rough starts at the beginning of seasons there in Toronto, but overall he’s a guy you can count on. He’s such a big, strong body that he can play 60, 65 games.”

In just five days, the Leafs will mark the official 100th anniversary of the team with their Next Century Game at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19. As a Toronto native, Boudreau didn’t hide his affection for the franchise as it prepares to hit an important milestone.

“Born in Toronto, I got to watch them on TV since the early 1960s from [television host] Ward Cornell right through until today,” he said. “The Leafs are an institution in Canada and still a team I watch every chance I get to this day. They’re you’re favourite team growing up, they’re you’re favourite team when it doesn’t mean anything to us to want to win. I think their history is proud and great and I don’t think Canadian hockey would be anything near what it is without them.”

—-

* Projected lineup vs. Minnesota:

Hyman-Marleau-Marner
Komarov-Kadri-Nylander
van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Brown
Martin-Moore-Leivo

Rielly-Hainsey
Gardiner-Zaitsev
Borgman-Polak

Andersen
McElhinney

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With both the Giants and Cardinals officially eliminated from trade discussions for Giancarlo Stanton, the Giants are turning their attention elsewhere. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the club has expressed interest in Brewers’ outfielder Domingo Santana and speculates that they could also pursue the Indians’ Jay Bruce, while sources tell MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that they’re still in on free agent Lorenzo Cain.

Santana, 25, is coming off of his best career season to date. He slashed .278/.371/.505 in his third campaign for the Brewers, producing 30 home runs and a .227 ISO in 607 plate appearances. He saw a promising spike in value, too, jumping from -0.1 fWAR in 2016 to 3.3 fWAR in 2017, and perhaps best of all, is still under team control for the next four years.

It’s no surprise that the Giants are interested in another hybrid slugger/outfielder to beef up a thin lineup and a thinner outfield, and they clearly won’t be the only ones vying for Santana’s services. Rosenthal adds that all of the Brewers’ outfielders have drawn some level of interest this offseason, with Ryan Braun and his full no-trade clause the least likely to be moved. Further reports from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy indicate that while the Brewers are open to offers, they may not want to compromise the depth of their outfield unless and until they can be assured of a substantial return. With the Winter Meetings around the corner and Milwaukee’s rotation, bullpen and infield all ready for some upgrades, serious trade talks could begin sooner rather than later.