NCAA

Mason, Predators top Wild 3-1 for 1st win

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Mason, Predators top Wild 3-1 for 1st win

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Nashville Predators badly needed a break after a pair of shootout losses to start the season and a draining start to this tight game against the Minnesota Wild.

The opening was there for Martin Erat, and the veteran left wing made sure he didn't miss it.

Erat's unassisted goal with 8:15 left made the Wild pay for a late mistake and the Predators earned their first victory, 3-1 on Tuesday night over former teammate Ryan Suter's new club.

``It was just one of those things where you make one mistake, or something happens, and that's it,'' said Dany Heatley, who scored for the third time in three games for the Wild, who failed to finish their opening homestand unbeaten.

Nick Spaling scored in the first period and David Legwand added another goal with 16.2 seconds remaining, but Erat's was the highlight.

He took advantage of a rare mistake by the Wild's relentless star Zach Parise, who sent a pass out from behind his own net to a spot where none of his teammates were close enough to corral. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon was going the wrong way, and the puck kept streaking into the Wild zone with only Erat near it.

``It's a rolling puck, so it's tough,'' goalie Niklas Backstrom said, adding: ``I just have to beat him and get it outside.''

Backstrom came out quickly enough to stop the breakaway with his stick beyond the top of the left circle, but Erat blocked the clearing attempt and chased down the puck at the goal line. He maneuvered it in toward the net and dumped it in before Backstrom could recover and Spurgeon could dive to stop it.

``Marty's been around the league, and in a position like that he knows they're going to go to their forehand,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. ``He waited, and at the last minute he jumped in front of it and blocked it. It stayed with him, and he was able to put it in the net. Huge for us, because we were running on fumes.''

Erat shrugged off his shrewd move.

``It was a hard play for him, because the puck was standing on the edge,'' Erat said. ``For a goalie it's always hard to play the puck like that. It just hit me in the stomach. I was actually lucky it didn't hit me somewhere and bounce in the corner.''

Even Predators goalie Chris Mason, who was stellar in his first start this season with 29 saves, was sympathetic to Backstrom.

``That's a bad feeling because I've been on the other end of that too. When the pucks go like that you're kind of caught in between,'' Mason said.

Backstrom stopped 23 shots.

``He played a great game up to that point, and that puck couldn't have been in a worse place,'' Wild coach Mike Yeo said. ``If he doesn't come out, the guy has a breakaway. If he does come out, it's going to be tight as it is.''

The Wild had only themselves to blame, however, for being in a tie game down the stretch. They owned the first period, posting a 12-5 shots advantage.

``It's a matter of just executing and finishing the play. We had some really good chances and good opportunities,'' Parise said. ``Collectively we need to bear down a little bit and put those in, because that's a big difference in the game right there, grabbing that lead.''

Suter left the Predators, who drafted him seventh overall in 2003, for a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild that is identical to Parise's deal that was also signed last summer.

His departure angered general manager David Poile at the time, but Suter and Poile spoke genially in the morning before the teams skated.

``I'm getting better. Every game I feel more comfortable,'' Suter said. ``Obviously that's not the way you wanted it to end, but we can take some good things out of it.''

The 36-year-old Mason, in his third stint with the Predators, started for Pekka Rinne because of the back-to-back games. Rinne is 8-3-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and three shutouts in 13 games against the Wild in his career. Mason, who played for Winnipeg last season, was just 6-5-2 with a 3.20 GAA entering the game.

``We got it tied up and got out of the first period and then we said, `It's 40 minutes. Just dig in and show our character here,''' Trotz said. ``And we did.''

Notes: Heatley has 14 goals and 10 assists in 18 career games against the Predators. ... Predators C Paul Gaustad was scratched for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... The Predators started a franchise-tying seven-game road trip. ... The Wild went 0 for 3 on the power play and are 2 for 13 on the season.

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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thaamel of YAHOO Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Among some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball includes former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent, Andy Miller and his former associate, Christian Dawkins of ASM Sports were dishing out the incentives. Included were cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other player's included in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama are also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the NBA draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA released this statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!