In sports, you’re never the winner ’til it’s over


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Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

One of the great things about sports is that everyone accepts the premise that the game ends when the rules say it ends. No one argues they should be declared the winner because they were leading through three quarters, or two periods, or after Game 3 of a best-of-seven series. We keep counting the points until it’s actually over.

So here, for no reason at all, are three famous examples of teams losing their leads — not because they were “stolen,” but simply because there was more game left to play.

1972 Summit Series: Canada vs. Soviet Union

In one of the great surprises in hockey history, the mysterious Soviet national team found itself 3-1-1 through the first five games against Canada’s collection of NHL stars. But, even at the height of the Cold War, the teams had agreed to play eight games, and so they did. Canada won the next two and the series looked like it might end in a deadlock with Game 8 in Moscow knotted at 5-5 in the final minute. But, in an early example of Russian meddling, the Soviets sent word that they’d claim victory because they were plus-1 in goal differential for the series. Luckily for democracy, Paul Henderson rendered that argument moot.

1993 NFL wild-card playoff game: Houston vs. Buffalo

Warren Moon threw four touchdown passes as the visiting Oilers raced out to a 28-3 halftime lead on the Bills, and they made it 35-3 with a pick-6 just after the break. But 28 minutes still remained, so the game continued and Buffalo backup quarterback Frank Reich threw four touchdowns to engineer an epic 41-38 comeback win capped by Canadian Steve Christie’s field goal in overtime.

2014 Olympic women’s hockey gold-medal game: Canada vs. United States

As the clock dipped under four minutes left in the third period, the Americans led 2-0 and could taste their first Olympic gold in 16 years. But the bitter rivals kept playing because, well, that’s just the way it works, and Brianne Jenner cut Canada’s deficit to 2-1 with 3:26 left. After Canada pulled its goalie for an extra attacker, the U.S. almost sealed the win with an empty-netter, but the puck hit square off the post and stayed out. Marie-Philip Poulin then scored the tying goal with 55 seconds left and potted the winner in overtime to give Canada its fourth consecutive Olympic gold.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored the tying goal against the United States with seconds remaining in the gold medal game. Poulin would later score the game-winning goal in overtime. (Getty Images)

Quickly…

The NBA took another step toward returning before Christmas. As expected, players’ union reps voted last night to approve the league’s plan for a 72-game regular-season schedule that begins Dec. 22 and allows for the Finals to be completed before the Summer Olympics open on July 23. Training camps are expected to open Dec. 1, which is only 25 days away. Several key details still need to be worked out, including what the salary cap will be for next season and what portion of players’ salaries will be held in escrow and likely kept by the owners to defray the massive financial hit they’ll take if/when fans aren’t allowed in arenas (about 40 per cent of expected revenue will be lost, the league claims). Read more about the framework for the season here and how the schedule could be problematic for Canada’s hopes of qualifying for the Olympic men’s tournament here.

Milos Raonic made the semifinals of the Paris Masters tournament. The Canadian survived two match points to beat Frenchman Ugo Humbert in a final-set tiebreaker, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7). Raonic’s next opponent is Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who’s ranked fifth in the world. Raonic is ranked 17th and has lost both his meetings with Medvedev. The winner will likely face Rafael Nadal in the final. The Paris Masters is equal in quality to Canada’s Rogers Cup. Both are worth 1,000 rankings points to the champion, which is the most you can earn outside of the Grand Slams and the season-ending ATP Finals. Read more about Raonic’s quarter-final win and watch highlights here.

Canadian swimming star Kylie Masse won another 100-metre backstroke race. The reigning (and back-to-back) world champion at that distance prevailed again in today’s final session of an International Swimming League match in Budapest. Yesterday, Masse won the 50m backstroke and finished third in the 200 back. Her team, the Toronto Titans, placed third among the four teams in the match. Watch her latest win here.

Major League Soccer’s regular season wraps up on Sunday and two of the three Canadian teams are still alive. Toronto FC is definitely going to the playoffs, and it can win the Supporters’ Shield for the league’s best regular-season record. Toronto and Philadelphia lead MLS with identical 13-4-5 marks. But Philly has an insurmountable edge in goal differential, so Toronto needs a better result in its match vs. the New York Red Bulls than Philadelphia gets vs. New England. Meanwhile, the Montreal Impact sit ninth in the Eastern Conference and need to avoid dropping below 10th in order to qualify for a play-in match. A win on “Decision Day” vs. 13th-place D.C. would ensure that. A draw or a loss and they’ll need help. The Vancouver Whitecaps have already been eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference.

And finally…

The Red Sox pulled a Steinbrenner. Less than a year after firing manager Alex Cora because of his involvement in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, Boston is reportedly rehiring him for the job. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred identified Cora as the ringleader of Houston’s scheme to steal opposing catchers’ signs during its run to a World Series title in 2017, when he was an assistant coach, and suspended him for the 2020 season. The ban expired about a week ago, and the Red Sox wasted no time in bringing back the guy who led them to a franchise-record 108 wins and a World Series championship in 2018. Still, they’ve got a long way to go to match the five times Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hired and fired manager Billy Martin in the ’70s and ’80s.

Tonight and tomorrow on CBC Sports

Women’s golf: The third round of the Korean LPGA Tour’s Hana Financial Group Championship is streaming live Saturday from midnight-3 a.m. ET, with a replay from noon-3 p.m. ET. The final round starts Saturday at 11 p.m. ET, with a replay Sunday at noon ET. Watch all the streams on CBCSports.ca or the CBC Sports app.

Grand Prix of Figure Skating — Cup of China: The second Grand Prix of the season (Skate America was two weeks ago, then Skate Canada was cancelled) began Friday. It concludes Saturday with the free skates in each competition, beginning with the ice dance at 1:30 a.m. ET. Watch them all here or on the CBC Sports app.

International Swimming League: Road to the Olympic Games is replaying races from the two ISL matches that happened this week. Watch the shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the CBC TV network. Check local listings for times.

FIG Gymnastics Friendship and Solidarity Competition: Live stream Saturday at 11 p.m. ET, replay Sunday at noon ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

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