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Marleau and Couture lead Sharks past Oilers 6-3

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Marleau and Couture lead Sharks past Oilers 6-3

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture each had two goals and an assist as the San Jose Sharks won their second in a row to start the abbreviated NHL season, defeating the Oilers 6-3 on Tuesday night and ruin Edmonton's home opener.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle also scored and Joe Thornton had three assists for the Sharks (2-0-0).

Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz replied for the Oilers (1-1-0).

San Jose struck first on a two-man advantage just three minutes into the match as Joe Pavelski fed it to Boyle at the top of the circle and his blast got past Edmonton's starting goalie Devan Dubnyk.

It was a 2-0 game just over a minute later as the Sharks again capitalized on the power play, this time on a Couture wrist shot that fooled Dubnyk.

Edmonton was able to respond on a power play of its own 8 1/2 minutes into the opening period as Sam Gagner passed the puck through the goalmouth to a hard-charging Yakupov, who put the puck in the net before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi could get across the crease.

It was the first NHL goal for Yakupov, who was drafted first overall in last summer's 2012 Entry Draft by the Oilers.

San Jose quickly restored its two-goal lead halfway through the first as Thornton's no-look pass from behind the net found Marleau, who sent home his third goal of the season.

Just over a minute later it was a 4-1 game for the Sharks as Marleau scored high to the glove side on a quick shot from the slot on another power play with Thornton picking up his third assist of the game.

The first period pounding wasn't over yet, however.

San Jose added two more goals to make it 6-1 after 20 minutes as Couture scored his second of the game on a rebound with just under two minutes left and Vlasic scored on a screened point shot with 40 seconds remaining.

San Jose out-shot Edmonton 17-7 in the first.

Backup goalie Yann Danis started the second in the Oilers' net.

Edmonton got a goal back on a two-man advantage of its own with five minutes left in the second as Schultz, a player the Oilers acquired as a free agent after a league-wide bidding war last summer, scored his first NHL goal to make it 6-2.

The shots closed to 26-24 Sharks after the second period.

Edmonton cut the lead in half three and a half minutes into the third as Hall sent a quick wrist shot while double-teamed that beat Niemi high to the glove side.

Both teams are back in action on Thursday as the Oilers remain at home to face the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings, while the Sharks return to San Jose for their home-opener against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Notes: The Oilers came into the game 3-0 in home-openers against the San Jose Sharks, winning in 1993, 2003 and 2008. They were also 19-8-5 in their first home game of the season all-time. ... It was the first of three meetings between the two teams this season, having split the four-game series last year, with each game decided by one goal. The Sharks entered the contest having won 11 of the last 15 meetings against Edmonton overall. ... Free agent forward Scott Gomez continues to skate with the Sharks but no contract had been signed with San Jose as of game time. Gomez, who posted just two goals and nine assists in 38 games with Montreal last season, was bought out by the Canadiens last week.

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Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

The Washington Capitals enter the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Second Round in a similar position. A Metro division championship in hand and a seven-game series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But while this year appears the same, the Caps are hoping for a different outcome. Will they finally be able to beat their arch rival and reach the conference final?

Here are three keys that will determine if this year will be different for the Caps.

Capitals vs. Penguins Preview:

Key to Victory No. 1: Discipline:

In the Capitals' two victories over the Penguins this season, Washington did not give up a power play goal. No team had a better power play unit during the regular season than the Penguins and we already saw how much foolish penalties hurt the Caps in the first round. Washington took 24 penalties in six games against the Blue Jackets and that is far too many.

They cannot win that way against the Penguins.

The problem is that in the second round with a heated rival, tempers can flare a bit. Just look at the last time these two teams played when Malkin was shooting Oshie's stick off the ice and tried to fight Kuznetsov for speaking Russian to him. Still, the Caps are going to have to keep their emotions in check.

Key to Victory No. 2:  Getting the goaltending advantage: 

The scoring depth of Pittsburgh is unmatched. The fact that a team can have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel all on the same team in the salary cap era is mind-boggling. Oh, and by the way, Jake Guentzel scores every time he touches the puck in the playoffs. Washington cannot win this series if they do not get better goaltending than Pittsburgh.

The good news is that Murray was not lights out in the first round. Yes, he had two shutouts, but there were also three games in which he let in at least four goals. A .911 save percentage is not where the Penguins really need him to be. The bad news is that while Holtby is statistically one of the best playoff netminders in NHL history, he struggles against Pittsburgh. In last year's series, Holtby managed only a .887 save percentage and 2.57 GAA.

One thing to keep in mind, on April 1 Grubauer started a critical game in Pittsburgh and was phenomenal. Could Trotz possibly think of going back to Grubauer if Holtby struggles against the Penguins?

Keys to Victory No. 3: The Mind Games

 Let's face it, there is a mental aspect to the Capitals' postseason struggles. When it comes to beating Pittsburgh or getting past the second round, this has become a mental hurdle. They have to come into this series with confidence they can win and maintain that confidence throughout, regardless of whether they get down in a game or in the series, regardless of whether there is a bad penalty call, regardless of whether Murray stands on his head again, regardless of any of the struggles they may face, they have to stay mentally confident.

When the Caps went down 0-2 against Columbus, Ovechkin said that the series would return to Washington tied at 2. The way he said it, it wasn't a guarantee or some massive proclamation, it was a statement of fact. Both he and the rest of the team believed they were going to come back and win the series. They need that level of confidence against Pittsburgh as well.

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

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USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career. 

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