#SportsReport: Capitals Beat Sabres; 76ers Top Heat
T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists in Peter Laviolette's debut as Washington's coach and the Capitals opened the season with a 6-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Jakub Vrana stripped Eric Staal of the puck in front of Buffalo's net and scored 46 seconds into the third period to preserve the win after the Capitals were in jeopardy of squandering a 4-1 lead. Vrana's goal came 26 seconds after defenseman Jake McCabe cut Buffalo's deficit to 4-3 by roofing a shot from the right point. John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and assist each and Brenden Dillon also scored for the Capitals.
In other ice action:
Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal scored in the opening period and the New York Islanders beat the New York Rangers 4-0 at Madison Square Garden. Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots for his 28th career shutout and third with the Islanders. Defenseman Nick Leddy added two assists. Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves as the Rangers fell in the first of eight games between the rivals.
Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist, then scored the only goal in the shootout as the Boston Bruins beat New Jersey 3-2 to spoil Lindy Ruff's debut as Devils coach. Marchand scored a power-play goal and set up another by Nick Ritchie for the Bruins, who won the Presidents' Trophy for having the best record in the NHL during the 2019-20 regular season. The teams play again in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.
Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Robin Lehner made 20 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in the season opener for both teams. The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against Anaheim since they entered the league in 2017. Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Nosek, Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas. Maxime Comtois scored Anaheim's goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marking the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years.
Kirill Kaprizov scored his first NHL goal with 1:13 remaining in overtime and finished with three points as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for both teams. The 23-year-old Russian scored on a breakaway, putting the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov is the third Russian-born player to make his NHL debut with the Wild.
Patrik Laine scored his second goal of the game in overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night in the opener for both teams. Mark Schiefele and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 23 shots. Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau scored for Calgary. Markstrom made 30 saves in his Calgary debut after signing a six-year, $36 million deal in free agency.
Nino Niederreiter scored early and Petr Mrazek had to make just 14 saves for a shutout, helping the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 in the season opener for both teams. Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss stopped 40 shots to give his offensively challenged team a chance for two-plus periods. The Red Wings played for the first time since they lost to Carolina at home on March 10, 2020. Carolina's layoff was less than half as long because it swept the New York Rangers in the playoffs after the pause before being eliminated by Boston.
Connor McDavid had a hat trick and an assist, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and added an assist and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Thursday night. Leon Draisaitl, the NHL's top scorer last season, had four assists to help the Oilers rebound from a 5-3 loss to the Canucks a night earlier in the opener for both teams. Mikko Koskinen made 38 saves for the Oilers. Nate Schmidt and Tyler Motte scored for Vancouver, and Thatcher Demko stopped 41 shots.
Filip Forsberg scored the tiebreaking goal at 5:48 of the third period to lead the Nashville Predators over the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 in their season opener. Luke Kunin and Calle Jarnkrok also scored for the Predators, who have won 11 of their last 14 home openers. Juuse Saros made 29 saves. Boone Jenner had the goal for Columbus.
In NHL news:
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss at least 10 games and 24 days after the team placed him on long-term injured reserve Thursday because of an unspecified illness. The 32-year-old Toews announced prior to the start of training camp last month he was experiencing symptoms that left him feeling "drained and lethargic" and there is no timetable for his return. The veteran center has asked for privacy while he focuses on his health. Toews helped lead the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup championships from 2010 to 2015.
St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais was suspended for two games without pay by the NHL on Thursday for an illegal check to the head of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews. Blais received a minor penalty for elbowing in the first-period incident in the Blues' 4-1 victory at Colorado on Wednesday night in the opener for both teams. The suspension will cost Blais $25,862. He had six goals and seven assists in 40 games last season.
Shake Milton scored 31 points and Ben Simmons had 10 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-108 win over the Miami Heat. The Sixers swept the two-game home set against a Heat team that continues to play with a depleted roster because of COVID-related issues. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic again sat out for the Heat. Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 22 points, and Gabe Vincent had 21.
In other Thursday action:
Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers past the Portland Trail Blazers 111-87. Malcolm Brogdon added 25 points and seven assists for the Pacers, who improved to 4-1 on the road this season and snapped an 11-game losing streak in Portland. The loss was costly: During the third quarter, center Jusuf Nurkic left the court holding his right wrist and the Trail Blazers later announced he had sustained a fracture.
Nikola Jokic scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to help Denver overcome the blazing shooting of Stephen Curry as the Nuggets beat the Golden State Warriors 114-104. Jokic also had 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his 46th career triple-double. Curry finished with 35 points on 14-of-23 shooting. He hit five 3-pointers to give him 2,545 for his career. Curry is 15 from tying Reggie Miller for second place on the league's all-time list.
Chris Boucher had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Kyle Lowry had 16 points and 12 assists, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 111-108. Pascal Siakam added 15 points and seven rebounds as Toronto ended a two-game skid and improved to 3-8. Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 22 points and P.J. Washington had 20 points and 11 rebounds. LaMelo Ball had 14 points and 11 assists as Charlotte played without leading scorer Gordon Heyward, who strained his left hip in Wednesday night's 104-93 loss to Dallas that ended a four-game winning streak.
Christian Wood had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-105 in their first game since trading away franchise cornerstone James Harden. Sterling Brown, who took Harden's spot in the starting lineup, had 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes. Spurs forward Keldon Johnson had a career-high 29 points and Lonnie Walker IV added 16 points while tying a career-high with four 3-pointers. Houston staged a 15-2 run to lead 105-101 with 1:46 left.
In NBA news:
The Celtics expect their weeklong coronavirus break to end Friday when they're scheduled to host the Orlando Magic. Three of Boston's games were postponed. In all, eight NBA games since Sunday have been postponed.
The NBA is considering even more testing if teams can enlist local labs to save time. Teams in all 28 NBA cities have been told to investigate if there is a local lab that can process PCR tests relatively quickly; the extra tests would be conducted on game-day mornings and turn in results no later than one hour before tip-off. The league regimen already includes daily PCR tests for players and coaches, and rapid tests on game days.
Corey Kispert had 23 points and eight rebounds as top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga beat Pepperdine 95-70 for its 17th consecutive victory over the past two seasons. Drew Timme scored 20, Joel Ayayi 19 and Jalen Suggs 18 for Gonzaga, which has defeated Pepperdine in 40 straight games dating to 2002. That includes 23 straight wins in Spokane. Gonzaga has also won 46 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation. Kessler Edwards scored 14 for Pepperdine, which was playing its first game since Dec. 23 because of COVID-19 protocols.
In college basketball news:
UAlbany’s women’s basketball team will finally play at home this weekend, after a positive COVID-19 test in Vermont’s program caused the America East to shift its schedule. UAlbany will host conference-leading Maine at noon on Saturday and Sunday at SEFCU Arena. Due to the change, the men’s home game against NJIT on Sunday has been pushed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The No. 3 Villanova Wildcats ended a 10-day break for COVID-related reasons and returned to practice on Thursday. Coach Jay Wright said he hoped he could field a full roster when the Wildcats play Seton Hall on Tuesday at the Pavilion. Villanova hasn't played since a Dec. 23 win at Marquette. Wright said he hoped Caleb Daniels and Jermaine Samuels would get cleared in time for next week's game. The Wildcats are 8-1 overall but just 3-0 in the Big East. The Wildcats need to play the scheduled Big East minimum of 20 games to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The Atlantic 10 Conference is pulling its men's basketball championship out of Barclays Center in Brooklyn because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The new location of the championship, which will be played March 10-14, is under review. This marks the first time since 2004 that the full championship will be contested on a campus. Barclays Center has served as the conference championship home for six years.
Michigan State is postponing a second straight men's basketball game due to a COVID-19 outbreak within its basketball program. The school says it will not host Indiana on Sunday as scheduled. The Spartans previously postponed a game at No. 5 Iowa because three players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Two more Georgetown men's basketball games -- against Providence and Marquette -- have been postponed after the Hoyas reported a positive COVID-19 test. Georgetown was supposed to play at Providence on Saturday and host Marquette on Jan. 20. Those will make it three consecutive postponements for Georgetown and five overall this season.
Georgia State has postponed its third straight game because of COVID-19. The Panthers halted all team activities for a week after multiple positive tests within the program, including athletes, coaches and support staff. That forced the postponement of two games against Sun Belt Conference rival Troy. Georgia State was scheduled to play back-to-back games against Coastal Carolina this weekend, but the Friday contest was called off. The teams are still set to play on Saturday.
South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin and two other staffers will not travel with the Gamecocks for a game Saturday night at LSU. The school said Martin, assistant coach Chuck Martin and Doug Edwards, who's in charge of student-athlete development, are staying home because of COVID-19 "health and safety protocols."
The New York Jets reached an agreement in principle with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to hire him as their head coach. Saleh replaces Adam Gase who was fired on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons. The 41-year-old Saleh is recognized as an energetic leader who is well liked by his players and had been the 49ers' defensive coordinator under Kyle Shanahan since 2017.
In other NFL news:
Urban Meyer has agreed to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He leaves the broadcast booth and returns to the sidelines after a two-year absence that followed a health scare. The 56-year-old Meyer was team owner Shad Khan's top target. Khan waited nearly a week to get it done. They met last Friday on Khan's yacht in Miami, again Wednesday and one final time at the facility Thursday. Meyer has won three college national championships with a staggering winning percentage of more than 85%. Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships signifies a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.
Quarterback Jared Goff will start the Los Angeles Rams' playoff game at Green Bay on Saturday, and John Wolford will be inactive. Coach Sean McVay announced his decision Thursday ahead of the final workout for the Rams before they travel to face the top-seeded Packers at Lambeau Field. Wolford started the Rams' last two games, but the second-year pro was injured early in Los Angeles' 30-20 win at Seattle last Saturday.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is back with his team after having COVID-19. Stefanski returned to the team's facility Thursday, 10 days after he tested positive with the virus and after he missed Cleveland's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. He'll make his playoff debut Sunday when Browns play the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are shaking up their coaching staff. The team announced offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and assistants Shaun Sarrett and Tom Bradley will not be back following a first-round playoff loss to Cleveland. The decision to not retain Fichtner could impact whether quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns in 2021. Roethlisberger and Fichtner have a close relationship dating back to 2010.
The Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with Brad Holmes to be their general manager. Holmes led the Rams' college scouting department for eight years and started his 18-year career with them as a public relations intern in 2003.
Four stars from Alabama's national championship team, including Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Mac Jones, are leaving early to enter the NFL draft. Jones, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II and defensive lineman Christian Barmore announced their intentions to leave. All are considered potential first-round picks.
A five-time Olympic swimming medalist charged with participating in a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol was released from federal custody Thursday but ordered to stay away from Washington, D.C. until after next week's inauguration. Klete Keller, who lives in Colorado, appeared during a brief hearing in Denver federal court following his arrest on charges brought by prosecutors in Washington. At the insistence of prosecutors, Keller cannot travel to Washington before Jan. 21. After that, Keller is allowed to travel to Washington for court appearances and to meet with his lawyers. Keller was charged Wednesday in federal court in Washington after a video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the Capitol last week.
Olympic hurdles champion Brianna Rollins-McNeal has been provisionally suspended for a doping rules violation. Rollins-McNeal won gold in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The 29-year-old American was also world champion in 2013. The Athletics Integrity Unit says it charged Rollins-McNeal with "tampering within the results management process." It did not specify details of the case.
Joaquin Niemann finished a lot better four days later and on a different Hawaiian island. Niemann chipped in from 50 feet for eagle on the 18th hole for an 8-under 62. That gave him a share of the lead in the Sony Open with Jason Kokrak and Peter Malnati. Niemann had to settle for a pair of pars on the par-5 18th hole at Kapalua last week. That led to a playoff loss to Harris English and he stewed about it for two days. Niemann took the positives from the week and put it to good use at Waialae.
José Martínez and the New York Mets agreed Thursday to a one-year contract that pays $1 million while he is in the major leagues and $225,000 while he's in the minors. The 32-year-old first baseman and outfielder hit .182 with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs last year for the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs.
In other MLB news:
The Philadelphia Phillies and reliever Archie Bradley have agreed on a $6 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal. The deal is pending Bradley passing a physical. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA and six saves in 16 games last season with Arizona and Cincinnati. Bradley had a career-best 18 saves in 2019.
New Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Corey Knebel has agreed to a $5.25 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration. The 29-year-old was acquired from Milwaukee on Dec. 2. Knebel was an All-Star in 2017 and a key part of the Brewers' bullpen during their run to the 2018 NL Championship Series. The right-hander missed the 2019 season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and struggled after returning.
Left-hander Alex Wood has agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. The 30-year-old Wood can make an additional $3 million in performance bonuses for games in which he gets 10 or more outs. An All-Star in 2017, Wood went 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in two starts and seven relief appearances last year, striking out 15 in 12 2/3 innings.
Right-handed reliver Mychal Givens and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a $4.05 million, one-year contract. Colorado acquired Givens in a deal with Baltimore on Aug. 30. He allowed at least a run in five of 10 appearances for the Rockies. Givens appeared in 12 game for the Orioles before the trade and allowed two runs over 13 innings. Combined, he was 1-1 with a 3.61 ERA with Colorado and Baltimore. He turns 31 on May 13.
Left-hander Nik Turley has been traded to the Athletics from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash, giving Oakland a reliable reliever for late in games after losing closer Liam Hendriks in free agency. Turley went 0-3 with a 4.98 ERA and one save over 25 relief outings — the most by any big-league rookie — spanning 21 2/3 innings for the Pirates in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
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