Capitals

AP Source: Pats TE Gronkowski has forearm surgery

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AP Source: Pats TE Gronkowski has forearm surgery

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) No more end-zone spikes for a while from Rob Gronkowski.

A person familiar with the process said Monday the New England Patriots tight end expects to be sidelined for four to six weeks after having surgery for a broken left forearm. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave no update on the high-scoring, free-spirited tight end, who appeared to be hurt while blocking on an extra point late in the Patriots' 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Asked during an early afternoon conference call if Gronkowski had undergone surgery, Belichick said, ``I really haven't met with our doctors and trainers yet today. I do that at the end of the day. I don't have any updates.

``Whatever the injury information is, we'll release it in a timely fashion, when we're required by the league, just like we always do.''

The Patriots gave no estimate of how long Gronkowski, who hasn't missed a game in his three NFL seasons, might be sidelined. But they have to make a quick adjustment with only three days to prepare for Thursday night's game at the New York Jets.

The Patriots (7-3) lead the other three AFC East teams, including the Jets, by three games.

Gronkowski caught seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts, becoming the first tight end in NFL history with at least 10 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. He has 53 catches for 748 yards this season.

After his first touchdown on a 4-yard pass midway through the first quarter Sunday, he spiked the ball, causing a nearby official to throw his hands in front of his body for protection. And after the first of his two touchdowns on Oct. 28 in a 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams in London, Gronkowski did a high-stepping strut to mimic a local tourist attraction then spiked the ball.

``That was a `Palace Guard,''' he joked after the game.

On Sunday, he went to the locker room with team physician Dr. Thomas Gill with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter after blocking on an extra point that increased the victory margin to 35 points.

Gronkowski has played with a hip injury this season and was listed as questionable on the injury report for each of the past seven games. But Belichick voiced no second thoughts of continuing to have him block on kicks.

``I don't think there are any quicker ways to lose a game than getting a kick blocked and run back for a touchdown,'' he said. ``Whoever does it, it's a very important job in the game.''

The extra point on which Gronkowski was hurt followed the final touchdown, a 4-yard run by Shane Vereen. After the kick, and while most of his teammates were gathering near placekicker Stephen Gostkowski to congratulate each other, Gronkowski walked straight to the sideline with his left arm hanging by his side.

On the play, Gronkowski had lined up on the far right of the tight formation. Cornerback Marshay Green charged toward a narrow gap to Gronkowski's left. Gronkowski raised his left arm, bent at the elbow. The arm bent back as it contacted Green's left side. Gronkowski's right arm did not touch anyone.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday morning that he had known about the injury but did not know its extent.

``It's part of this game,'' he said on his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. ``He's got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we've got to go out there and win some games without him.''

Gronkowski had 10 touchdown catches as a rookie in 2010, then set NFL records for tight ends last year with 17 touchdowns and 1,327 yards receiving. He caught 90 passes. But he sprained his left ankle in the AFC title game and was a nonfactor in the Super Bowl, which New England lost 21-17 to the New York Giants.

The Patriots' other first-string tight end, Aaron Hernandez, has missed the last three games - and a total of six this season - after he sprained his right ankle in Week 2. He has 17 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns in four games.

``We'll see,'' Hernandez said Monday when asked if he would play Thursday. Belichick said it might come down to ``a game-time decision.''

The Patriots will have 10 days following Thanksgiving before they play again, giving Hernandez extra time to recover if he doesn't play.

``I think that a player's availability for the game would be judged on its merits, period, for this game,'' Belichick said.

Hernandez practiced on a limited basis Monday, as he has before each of the last three games.

Gronkowski is ``one of the best players in the league,'' Hernandez said. ``It puts pressure on everybody. Not just one player can just replace him.''

The other tight ends on the roster - Daniel Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui and Visanthe Shiancoe - have a total of four receptions. Shiancoe has played just two games since being activated off the injured reserve list. Fells was healthy but inactive and Shiancoe had no catches against the Colts.

``He gets better every time he goes on the field,'' Belichick said of Shiancoe. ``He has a chance to run the plays in our system, which he missed the majority of training camp being able to do that.''

Shiancoe is not unfamiliar with a starting role. In his 10th season in the league, Shiancoe came into his own as a Viking. After four ho-hum seasons with the Giants, Shiancoe made the most of his time with Minnesota, topping 500 yards receiving three times in five seasons.

In 2008-09 and 2009-10, in fact, he caught 18 total touchdown passes.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.