U.S. shots aren’t turning into goals in Olympic women’s hockey

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BEIJING — Hilary Knight would like to have a word with one of her former coaches, who placed an emphasis on getting shots on net.

Ultimately, the four-time U.S. Olympian said, it comes down to quality over quantity.

“There’s different types of opportunities, right?” Knight said following a 4-2 loss to Canada on Tuesday to close the Olympic women’s hockey preliminary round, in which the Americans had a 53-27 edge in shots.

“We had a coach who said, ’Get 60 shots on net and you’re going to win the game,” she said. “It really doesn’t work that way at this level.”

The Americans received a reminder of that when their five-game Olympic winning streak dating to a 2-1 loss to Canada in the preliminary round of the 2018 Winter Games was snapped.

They now have work to do to generate more offense if they intend to defend their Olympic title in what is expected to be a rematch against Canada in the gold-medal game. By finishing second in the Group A standings, the U.S. (3-1) can begin honing its scoring approach starting with a quarterfinal matchup Thursday (11:10 p.m. ET on USA Network, Peacockagainst Czechia, a Winter Games newcomer.

“I’m glad to hit the reset button and focus on a different opponent,” coach Joel Johnson said. “And if we see Canada again, great. We hope it’s an opportunity to win.”

The focus is on finishing, especially after the U.S. also had scoring issues, with five goals on 62 shots, while shutting out the Russian team on Saturday.

[2022 Olympic Women’s Hockey Guide: Full schedule, Team USA roster for Beijing Winter Games]

“We generated a bunch of offense, but that offense didn’t create enough high-quality scoring chances,” Johnson said. “Shots on net don’t win hockey games, goals do.”

Through four games, the U.S. ranks fourth of 10 teams in scoring efficiency, generating 20 goals off a tournament-leading 233 shots. Canada, by comparison, leads the tournament in efficiency, with 33 goals off 194 shots, followed by Japan (13 goals, 140 shots) and the Czechs (10, 111).

The power play is also a concern. The U.S. ranks fourth, converting four of 19 chances. Canada, meanwhile, has been the most productive, going 6 of 13 on the power play, including Brianne Jenner converting her team’s lone opportunity on Tuesday.

Jenner’s goal, capping nifty three-way passing play, came at a time when the U.S. had controlled momentum, having a 14-2 edge in shots through the first 14-plus minutes. The back-breaker for the Americans, however, came when their power-play unit gave up a shorthanded breakaway to Marie-Philip Poulin, who eventually scored on a penalty shot awarded to her after Cayla Barnes was called for hooking.

Not only did the power play blow a chance to tie the game at 3, the U.S. fell behind 4-2 with 2:35 remaining in the second period, with Poulin capping Canada’s three-goal run over a span of 5:25.

While the Canadians possess an aggressive transition attack to fit their players’ speed and play-making strengths, the Americans have a more plodding offense, more reliant on zone time and converting chances around the crease.

Canada’s defense countered by crowding the front of the net to limit most of the Americans’ chances to the outside.

“We just need to keep the pucks off the yellow and get them to the net and create that time and space that we need,” U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield said, referring to the yellow ribbon along the bottom of the boards.

Both American goals came from in close. Dani Cameranesi converted her own rebound, and Alex Carpenter was set up to the right of the net, where she backhanded a shot in.

Otherwise, Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens had a mostly an easy time stopping shots from the outside.

“It didn’t feel like a 50-something shot game,” Desbiens said.

Her best stops came when she kept the game scoreless during the opening 10 minutes. Grace Zumwinkle found a lane to the net only to have her backhander from in tight stopped. Abbey Murphy failed on a breakaway chance when her shot caught Desbiens’ pad and bounced off the post.

“I don’t know the last time we put up that many shots against them. I think that’s something that we can take away, that we had the puck a lot of the game,” Amanda Kessel said. “Just got to find a way to put more in the net than them.”

The U.S. is further hampered playing without top-line center Brianna Decker, who broke her left ankle in a 5-2 win over Finland on Thursday.

Zumwinkle’s status is in question after she appeared to hurt her hand in the closing minutes on Tuesday.

NOTES: The four goals allowed by the U.S. matched a team Olympic record, dating to a 7-4 win over Canada in the cross-border rivals’ first Olympic meeting at the 1998 Nagano Games. … With two goals and nine assists for 11 points, Canada’s Natalie Spooner is tied for second with fellow Canadians Caroline Ouellette (2010) and Hayley Wickenheiser (2010) and for most assists in one tournament. Wickenheiser holds the record with 12, set in 2006. … Canada hosts Sweden in the other quarterfinal on Friday, while on Saturday, Finland plays Group B champion Japan and Switzerland plays the Russian team.

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.

    UP NEXT

    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.