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Aho leads Hurricanes to 3-2 win over Rangers in NHL’s return

TORONTO — Sebastian Aho scored a goal and set up another in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday in the NHL’s opening playoff game following a 4 1/2-month pause.

Jaccob Slavin scored 61 seconds in on Carolina’s first shot on goal in helping the Hurricanes gain the edge in the best-of-five preliminary round series. Game 2 is Monday.

Martin Necas sealed the win in a game the Hurricanes never trailed by one-timing a shot in off the skate of Rangers defenceman Marc Staal with 9:09 remaining.

The game was played without fans, and the NHL’s first ever played in August as the league attempts to complete a coronavirus pandemic-altered season and in a bid to award the Stanley Cup in late September or early October.

The Metropolitan Division rivals kicked off the expanded 24-team playoff format, which will feature as many as six games a day being played in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta.

Petr Mrazek stopped 24 shots, and the sixth-seeded Hurricanes defeated the 11th-seeded Rangers for just the seventh time in 38 meetings going back to the 2010-11 season. The Hurricanes had also lost five straight to New York, including being swept in their four-game regular-season series.

Mika Zibanejad tipped in Ryan Lindgren’s shot for a power-play goal in the second period, and set up Staal’s short-handed goal, which cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2 with 1:55 remaining.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for New York in starting for Igor Shesterkin, who was listed as unfit to play. For Lundqvist, it was just his sixth start since Jan. 2.

Lundqvist had little chance on any of the goals, two of which were deflected in, and with Slavin opening the scoring while he was allowed to walk in alone down the left wing. Accepting Teuvo Teravainen’s pass, Slavin lifted a shot to beat Lundqvist on the short side.

Though the Hurricanes scored on their initial shot on goal, the pace of the game was slow and at times sloppy.

The Rangers finished with just four shots on net in the opening period, with their first not coming until 7:06 in, when Artemi Panarin got off a weak shot from a bad angle.

The Hurricanes dominated much of the opening period, but showed their own rust. Forward Jordan Martinook whiffed on a centring pass from the left corner. And Warren Foegele misfired on a no-look drop pass to Jordan Staal on a two-on-one break.

Social-distancing rules went out the window very early. New York’s Ryan Strome and Carolina’s Justin Williams got into a fight in front of the Rangers bench less than three minutes in during a game in which each team was penalized nine times.

And Aho, upon tipping in Andrei Svechnikov’s centring pass in front, immediately turned and skated toward his teammate to hug him in the right circle.

The game presentation was Hurricanes-centric, with Carolina being the home team.

A Hurricanes highlight video was played on the video scoreboard before the teams took the ice, and featured the tag line, “An enormous force of nature.” Carolina took the ice with the announcer saying: “Welcome to the ice, your Carolina Hurricanes.”

Unlike a game in Raleigh, North Carolina, the U.S. anthem was sung first.

Though the piped-in music during stoppage was notably loud, the sound of a muffled crowd could be heard during play — but not loud enough to drown out players and coaches, whose voices echoed through the building.

Inside, the arena temperature was kept cold to preserve the consistency of the ice, with temperatures expected to reach the 80s.

Otherwise, with no fans allowed and only a handful of reporters inside the building, there wasn’t the usual lines outside the bathrooms or at the concession stands.

Outside the arena, Torontonians went mostly about their business, walking their dogs, making their way toward the nearby waterfront, or grocery shopping at a store across the street.

NOTES: Hurricanes All-Star defenceman Dougie Hamilton did not play due to an undisclosed injury. Coach Rod Brind’Amour on Friday said Hamilton is getting better, and hopes he’ll play at some point this series. … D Sami Vatanen made his Hurricanes debut, a little over five months after being acquired in a trade with New Jersey on Feb. 24. He missed Carolina’s seven games with a lower-body injury sustained while still with New Jersey. … Lundqvist started his 128th consecutive playoff game with the Rangers, the third-longest streak behind New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, and Patrick Roy, while with Colorado.

UP NEXT

Game 2 on Monday at noon EDT.

___

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

John Wawrow, The Associated Press

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Canada

Military to fly old rescue planes longer as COVID-19 delays new aircraft

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft.

Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay, which has left the first new search-and-rescue plane built by Airbus stranded in Spain.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says a recent analysis concluded the military has enough flexibility with its fleets to handle the delay.

Those fleets include six Buffalo aircraft and seven of the military’s older Hercules planes, all of which are around 50 years old and scheduled for retirement.

Lamirande says the military hopes to receive the new plane in the fall, which would be nearly a year later than originally planned.

The federal government first started looking at buying new search-and-rescue planes in 2002 before finally tapping Airbus to build 16 new C295Ws for $2.4 billion in 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Canada

COVID-19 blamed as work on military port first promised in 2007 sees new delay

OTTAWA — The construction of a new military refuelling station in the Arctic is facing another delay more than 13 years after it was first promised by the federal government, with one analyst raising concerns about other pressing military needs in the region.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper announced plans to build the Nanisivik deep-water port in Nunavut, along with up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels, during a trip to the Far North in 2007.

The port, considered one of the crown jewels of the Conservative government’s Arctic strategy, was intended to provide fuel to the patrol ships and other federal vessels while expanding the military’s permanent footprint in the North.

The long-standing expectation was that the port located at the site of an old mining jetty on Baffin Island, about 20 kilometres from the community of Arctic Bay, would be ready by the time the first of those ships was delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Yet while the first Arctic patrol vessel was handed over to the navy on Friday after numerous delays and cost overruns, the Department of National Defence confirmed the Nanisivik facility won’t be operational until at least 2022.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said COVID-19 scuttled this year’s construction season, which can only occur between June and September because of weather in the North.

“Due to COVID-19 delays, a small number of contractors are expected to return to the site in August to start the 2020 work season,” Lamirande said in an email.

“This means the season will be much shorter than planned and will only allow for a limited amount of work to be completed.”

COVID-19 is only the most recent challenge to plague construction of the Nanisivik facility, which was originally supposed to be up and running in 2013 and include an airstrip and be manned throughout the year.

The airstrip and year-round service were cut from the plans after the project’s original $100-million budget was found to have more than doubled to $258 million in 2013. The current price tag is estimated at $146 million, according to Lamirande.

The federal government has also faced environmental hurdles due to the need to clean up the old fuel-tank farm located on the site, which was home to a port used to ship ore from an old zinc mine. There were also structural issues with the existing jetty.

Lamirande said significant progress has been made on the facility since the first full construction season in 2015, with nearly all fuelling infrastructure in place.

But the fact the port still hasn’t been finished, despite the scope of the project having been dramatically scaled back, is both disheartening and troubling, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Canada’s relative difficulty building a single port with limited facilities in the North contrasts sharply with Russia’s massive Arctic expansion in recent years, Perry said, and bodes poorly for needed Canadian military investments in the region.

Those include upgrading the string of increasingly obsolete radars that forms the backbone of North America’s system for incoming missiles and air- and water-based threats, as well as several airstrips in the area that will be used by Canada’s new fighter jets.

Those projects are expected to start in the coming years.

“It’s kind of dispiriting how long it has taken us to develop relatively simple infrastructure at one of the most accessible parts of our Arctic,” Perry said of Nanisivik.

“The length of time it has taken us to build doesn’t leave a lot of confidence that the other projects are going to move in a relatively quick timeframe.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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Ontario

Military to fly old rescue planes longer as COVID-19 delays new aircraft

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft.

Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay, which has left the first new search-and-rescue plane built by Airbus stranded in Spain.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says a recent analysis concluded the military has enough flexibility with its fleets to handle the delay.

Those fleets include six Buffalo aircraft and seven of the military’s older Hercules planes, all of which are around 50 years old and scheduled for retirement.

Lamirande says the military hopes to receive the new plane in the fall, which would be nearly a year later than originally planned.

The federal government first started looking at buying new search-and-rescue planes in 2002 before finally tapping Airbus to build 16 new C295Ws for $2.4 billion in 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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