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Former Cardinals coach is new Chargers OC

Former Cardinals coach is new Chargers OC

SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Chargers hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Thursday to serve as the team's offensive coordinator.

New Chargers coach Mike McCoy lauded Whisenhunt's experience with the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying Whisenhunt has a ``very creative mind'' and will be a great asset for San Diego.

Whisenhunt was fired by the Cardinals on Dec. 31 after six mostly losing seasons but he also led the franchise to its lone Super Bowl appearance in 2009. The Cardinals started the 2012 season 4-0, but lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.

Before coming to Arizona, he was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2004 to 2006, winning a Super Bowl in his final season in Pittsburgh.

Whisenhunt interviewed for the head coaching job with the Chargers last weekend. McCoy was hired on Tuesday.

``It's really kind of a unique opportunity and some of the other times that I've interviewed, it's been always been in the position of the offensive coordinator, so if you don't get the job, you're obligated to go back to the team you were with and you're actually looking forward to that,'' Whisenhunt said.

``But since I really didn't have a team anymore, then I think you have a chance to look at the opportunities that were there. And I was excited about this organization and the way that they treated me and the way that they handled everything.

``As far as I was involved with that, you ask a lot of questions in those situations and I was very impressed with the answers that I got. And that's part of it, but once again, coach McCoy, knowing Mike and having the opportunity to work with him I think is an important piece of it.

Whisenhunt will work with quarterback Philip Rivers, who was sacked 49 times this season and committed 22 turnovers, giving him 47 turnovers in two seasons.

Asked about Rivers' decline, and if he can turn it around, Whisenhunt said: ``I don't see it that way because when Philip came out I had the unique opportunity of working for a coach that actually went to NC State. Coach (Bill) Cowher went there. We spent a lot of time preparing for Philip coming out and had a very good feel for him.

``I've seen him play a couple of different times and watching crossover tape and have been very impressed with how he handles himself. I love the competitive nature of him. I'm excited to really get in and spend some time with Coach McCoy, and really look at him and see where he is. In my opinion, I've always seen him as a very good football player.''

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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.