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ability to rise to the occasion
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Post ability to rise to the occasion 
TORONTO -- Already exhausted following a long road trip and playing the second half of back-to-back games, the last thing the Toronto Maple Leafs was another emotional pitfall. Coach Randy Carlyle had already caused a stir in Detroit a night earlier by calling James Reimers play in a loss "just OK," and then the goaltender gave up a goal on the first shot he faced Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately for the Leafs, that was just the beginning of a long game as defenceman Paul Ranger was injured and Steven Stamkos rang up a hat trick to hand them a 5-3 loss at Air Canada Centre, their third in a row. Even after the club released an update saying Ranger was "stable, conscious and alert" after his head hit the glass on a hit from Alex Killorn and he was taken to a local hospital, there were plenty of worried teammates in the home locker-room after a defeat that dropped the Leafs three points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division. With that came a notion of missing an opportunity to make something out of the impossibly difficult situation of seeing Ranger go down. "You try to use that as motivation to go out there and give yourself the best opportunity to get a chance and try to use the player, Range, get it for him," Carlyle said. "And we fell short, for sure." Against the Lightning (38-24-7), falling short meant starting terribly with a goal against 59 seconds in, taking too many penalties and giving Stamkos far too much room to operate. But Killorns hit on Ranger understandably took the lions share of the attention. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper called it "probably the turning point in the game" as his team killed off the five-minute major, while the Leafs (36-27-8) just struggled to pick their game up after watching him get wheeled off the ice on a stretcher. "We say our jobs to get ready and prepare for the next period, but thats scary," winger Joffrey Lupul said. "He obviously didnt look great when he was leaving the ice. So youre trying to clear your head and focus on the next period. But you cant lie -- obviously part of you is wondering whats going on with him." When Ranger went down, the Leafs were trailing 3-2 after Radko Gudas beat Reimer in the games first minute with a seemingly innocent shot from just inside the blue-line. Reimer didnt see the shot, and long after his Leafs came back to take the lead on goals by Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin, Carlyle didnt blame his goalie for that one. "The first goals kind of (a) fluke," Carlyle said. "What do you do? Its a seeing-eye shot, theres a screen, it hits a post and goes in. So you cant get too unravelled by that." Reimer, who gave up five goals on 30 shots, didnt unravel, but a lack of discipline and the Leafs defence was to blame for Stamkos scoring twice in the first period and then completing the hat trick early in the second. An interference penalty on David Clarkson led to the first goal, and there were missed assignments on all three. For Stamkos, who was playing in just his seventh game since returning from a four-month absence after breaking his right leg, called getting the natural hat trick in front of family and friends the highlight of his season. "I was a little disappointed there was no hats on the ice," the Markham, Ont., native said. "I guess Ill take it anyway." Though he couldnt be blamed for any of the three goals Stamkos scored, Reimer couldnt take many positives out of his performance. Because Jonathan Bernier remains out with a groin injury, Reimer became the first Toronto goalie to start on back-to-back days this season, and this wasnt the result he wanted when thrust into that situation. "I just want to come out and play well and kind of be a difference-maker, and unfortunately it wasnt the case," Reimer said. "I thought I made some good saves, but it definitely wasnt the performance I was looking for. I wanted to come out and be big and keep your team in it, and that didnt happen tonight." Reimers failings, notably on the first goal, paled in comparison to the other drama and blunders that tormented the Leafs against the Lightning. Six minor penalties led to two power-play goals by the Lightning -- the first by Stamkos and the second one in the third from linemate Tyler Johnson -- which wound up being enough to make the difference. "A lot of things come down to special teams," Cooper said. "Weve had our ups and downs all year. For us to kill off all those penalties, especially the five minutes and then get two power-play goals. Thats how youre going to win. Thats how youre going to win down the stretch and get into the playoffs." With the victory, the Lightning, who got 36 saves on 39 shots from Vezina Trophy candidate Ben Bishop, moved ahead of the Montreal Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs, who at 71 games have played the most of any team in the Eastern Conference, held onto the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference but lost a major opportunity to pick up points. Reimer lamented not doing that more than being unable to cover up the fire storm that surrounded him. "It doesnt really matter how you play or how people talk about how you play as long as you get points," he said. "As tough as things go or as good as things go, you can play a great game and still lose. The big thing is points, so as far as statement games or whatnot, I think really at this time of year its just about your team and about getting your team points, not necessarily about you making a statement." Stamkos, who scored his three goals on his only three shots of the night, made a statement that hes back and capable of carrying the Lightning. Cooper was looking forward to seeing how the 24-year-old would fare in his "backyard," and he didnt disappoint. "Theres special players out there that find a way, they have that innate ability to rise to the occasion," Cooper said. "For Stammer to come back in here to his hometown and do what he did tonight, basically put the team on his shoulders, I cant say enough about (him)." And the Leafs couldnt say enough about how things went wrong, especially when it came to not containing one of the leagues best in Stamkos. "We were getting exposed," Lupul said. "There were times today where we were good, other times we made some errors getting the puck out of our zone, once by me and then a couple times we let their best player get the puck in an area where we cant do that." And then there was a lack of desperation early on that only came in the second half of the game and showed up when Jake Gardiner cut the deficit to one with 12:40 left. Giving half of what was necessary was not enough. "I felt that our desperation level went up for the last 30 minutes of the game," Carlyle said. "Weve got to do a better job than that." NOTES -- Kessels goal was his 35th of the season, two short of his career high. ... Gardiners goal was his fifth in the past seven games and 10th of the season. ... Killorn was given a game misconduct along with the five-minute major for boarding Ranger, whom the Leafs said was taken to a hospital for a "precautionary assessment." ... Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier skated Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering a groin injury almost a week earlier in Los Angeles. Carlyle said Bernier was "coming along" and he expected the injured netminder to take shots during practice Friday. Custom New England Patriots Jerseys . They named Mark Washington as their defensive co-ordinator on Thursday and appear to be closing in on an offensive co-ordinator. Stitched Patriots Jerseys . Giants manager Bruce Bochy told The Associated Press of the decision before NL West-leading San Francisco opened a 10-game homestand Monday night with the first of three games against second-place Arizona. https://www.patriotsjerseysale.com/ .5 million contract with the right-handed reliever. Ziegler revealed the agreement via Twitter, saying hes "really excited to stay in Arizona for a couple more years, at least. Patriots Jerseys 2019 . -- Those impatient for the Stanley Cup to return to Canada will have just one team to root for in the NHL playoffs -- the Montreal Canadiens. Patriots Jerseys 2020 . -- Billy Donovans bench came up big, bailing out top-seeded Florida in a tight game against what was supposed to be an overmatched opponent.Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the NBA of Canada, New York broadcasters, Milwaukee Brewers fans and Johnny Manziel. Bruce Arthur, National Post My thumb is down to the National Basketball League of Canada, a nine-team minor league that is emphasizing the minor league, of late. Before a playoff game 7 this week between the Windsor Express and the London Lightning, Windsor owner and apparent local goofball Darton Willis ejected London Free Press columnist Morris Della Costa because he disapproved of his work, which in this case included tweeting about a Windsor player flipping off some fans. Commissioner Paul Riley cited his own experience as a journalism professor while siding with the owner, which should be taught in introduction to irony 101. If these maroons were trying to get their minor league some attention, ok, it worked. But this is what we learned: if this is how you treat the people who pay attention to you now, why should the rest of us bother? Dave Naylor, TSN My thumb is down to the trio of broadcasters at WFAN in New York, who this week criticized the Mets Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the Major League Baseball season so that he could be with his wife for the birth of their son, Noah. First a little perspective here folks; Daniel murphy played 161 games last season for New York, so it doesnt appear as if hes a slacker. Even if you happen to believe that a trio of baseball games is more important that being present for your childs birth - guess what - its a right the players collectively bargained. Can we all just admit that professioonal sports is the only place where anyone can be criticized for missing work to be there for the birth of a child.dddddddddddd And really, for those of us who love pro sports, thats kind of pathetic. Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated My thumb is down to the standing ovation brewers fans gave Ryan Braun at Milwaukees home opener. I get it. Sports, like politics, are local. Hey, Braun might be a drug cheat and liar, but hes our drug cheat and liar. But even after serving his 65-game suspension and kissing up with apologies to season ticket holders, Braun hardly seemed worthy of a love-in. In cowardly fashion, he tried to slough off a positive test on a urine sample collector. He attempted to cover his drug shame by implying he was a victim of anti-Semitism. Fans are free to choose their heroes, Milwaukee should have chosen more wisely. Dave Hodge, TSN My thumb is up to the legend of Johnny Manziel - yes, hes already a legend, perhaps too soon, so Ill stop short of saying thumbs up to Johnny Football himself. Yes, Johnny Football, or J-man or JFF, as he wants to be called if youre buying apparel with those trademarks that hes seeking. J-man, I would have thought Jay Onrait would have beaten him to that, and JFF is either just for fun or Johnny-freaking-football, Im not sure. But we love stories like his in this business, and so we look forward to the NFL draft primarily because of him. The team that picks him suddenly becomes more interesting, no matter how interesting it might be already, and it will have to inform Manziel that hes a rookie and he has veteran teammates, who wont necessarily like him as much as the media does. ' ' '

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