Capitals

Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas raced 94 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff and the fifth-ranked Ducks never looked back.

Triggered by Thomas' attention-grabbing return, Oregon raced past No. 7 Kansas State 35-17 Thursday night at the Fiesta Bowl in what may have been coach Chip Kelly's final game with the Ducks.

Teams that had that national title aspirations end on the same day, Oregon and Kansas State ended up in the desert for a marquee matchup billed as a battle of styles: The fast-flying Ducks vs. the execution-is-everything Wildcats.

With Kelly reportedly talking to several NFL teams, Oregon (12-1) was too much for Kansas State and its Heisman Trophy finalist, Collin Klein. The Ducks turned the game into a track meet and Kansas State could never catch up.

PENN STATE

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's attorney general said she granted Gov. Tom Corbett the authority to file a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA because the litigation could present a conflict of interest as her office prosecutes three Penn State administrators.

Attorney General Linda Kelly told The Associated Press that ``an actual conflict of interest could, and likely would, arise if this office were involved in both cases.''

Her office is prosecuting Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley on charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction, conspiracy, failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury. Prosecutors claim they illegally covered up complaints and suspicions about Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator who was convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including attacks inside campus facilities.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Bill O'Brien is staying at Penn State.

O'Brien's agent, Joseph Linta, said Thursday night that the Nittany Lions' head coach garnered interest from several NFL teams for vacant jobs at the next level.

But Linta said the ``heartstrings'' of O'Brien's experience from Penn State's 8-4 season in his first year outweighed the potentially big raise he could have received as an NFL head coach. He said O'Brien made the decision to stay at Penn State and not move forward with potential NFL opportunities Thursday.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell is headed to the NFL draft after a junior season in which he carried the ball 382 times.

PRO FOOTBALL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs should be quite familiar by now.

The sides spent much of the day in negotiations for Reid to become the Chiefs' coach, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation.

The discussions followed nine hours of talks Wednesday that went well enough that Reid canceled plans to interview for other openings, the person told the AP. It was unclear which details were preventing the two sides from reaching an agreement.

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Browns are among the teams courting Oregon coach Chip Kelly coming off the Ducks' Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills also are interested in signing Kelly, the offensive mastermind whose breakneck, stop-us-if-you-can system is already being copied in the pro game. There could be others courting the 49-year-old Kelly, but the Browns, Eagles and Bills seem to be leading the charge to land him.

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - With Andy Reid no longer in the picture, the Arizona Cardinals received permission to interview Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley for their head coaching job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person asked not to be identified because the situation has not been made public.

Haley, former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was offensive coordinator for Arizona in the Cardinals' Super Bowl run in the 2008 season and has a good relationship with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill.

DALLAS (AP) - An autopsy found that Dallas Cowboys practice squad player Jerry Brown Jr. was sober when he was killed in a crash that led to an intoxication manslaughter charge against the driver, teammate Josh Brent.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office reported that Brown died of head and neck trauma when their vehicle overturned. He had a dislocated neck, a severely bruised spine and a blood alcohol content of 0.056 percent, well below the Texas limit of 0.08 percent.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - San Francisco 49ers placekicker David Akers said he received death threats on Twitter and closed the account.

Akers received the death threats late last month, but is unsure at the number of posts directed at him because he did not go further back on his account to see how many.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - If there is going to be a hockey season, the NHL and the players' association can't afford many more days like this.

A long night of bargaining Wednesday that stretched into the early morning hours didn't end well and likely kept the sides apart for most of the day Thursday. No new full-scale negotiations took place, and outside of a few relatively brief, small sessions on specific topics, it was basically a lost day.

An agreement this week that could have led to a 52-game season now seems all but lost.

If the sides can't find common ground within the next week, a 48-game season - the shortest NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would play - will become impossible, too

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jeff Vanderbeek took over sole control of the New Jersey Devils and refinanced the team's debt.

The Devils said that CIT Group was the lead agency in handling the refinancing. In conjunction with the deal, the minority owners, Brick City Hockey and its related entities, no longer have a stake in the team.

PRO BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Known for getting rings, Phil Jackson finally has given one as well.

The retired coach, who won 11 NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, is engaged to longtime girlfriend and Lakers executive Jeanie Buss.

Buss posted a picture on her official Twitter account of her left hand with a diamond ring on her finger.

Buss later confirmed the engagement to ESPN.com, saying she received the ring at Christmas.

BASEBALL

LAS VEGAS (AP) - San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo is facing a misdemeanor summons in Las Vegas alleging he violated airport rules after being detained by authorities at McCarran International Airport on New Year's Day.

The federal Transportation Security Administration issued a statement saying Romo failed to provide proper identification at a document checkpoint and engaged in a dispute with TSA officers about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

TENNIS

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - Serena Williams seized her opportunities in a heavy-hitting match against Sloane Stephens to set up a semifinal against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka at the Brisbane International.

Azarenka had no trouble in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kazakh qualifier Ksenia Pervak before Williams beat Stephens 6-4, 6-3.Isner still hopes to compete at the Australian Open beginning Jan. 14.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Gael Monfils' comeback from injury took a hit when he lost to German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-1, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open.

CHENNAI, India (AP) - Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and two-time champion Marin Cilic of Croatia reached the Chennai Open quarterfinals with contrasting styles.

Berdych stopped local hope Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-1, while Cilic rallied past Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

SHENZHEN, China (AP) - Klara Zakopalova advanced to the semifinals of the Shenzhen Open by beating second-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-2.

CYCLING

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Burry Stander, a two-time Olympian from South Africa and one of the world's best mountain bikers, was killed while training when his bike collided with a taxi. He was 25.

The circumstances of the accident near his home in Shelley Beach, south of Durban, were still being investigated, Cycling South Africa said.

SOCCER

BUSTO ARSIZIO, Italy (AP) - AC Milan players walked off the field because of racist chants, abandoning an exhibition match in the first half with lower division club Pro Patria.

The game was interrupted and later ended because of chants directed at several black Milan players, despite appeals to stop from the public address announcer.

After repeated chants directed his way, Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it at a section of the crowd in the 26th minute of the first half.

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Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

The Caps are headed to the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins… again.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Yes, for the third time in three years, the Capitals will play the Penguins, hoping to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance out of the second round of the playoffs and to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 1998 season, when the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Capitals are riding momentum from their first-round series win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they fought back from an 0-2 series hole to win the series thanks to a 6-3 victory in Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.

That momentum coupled with home-ice advantage — should they choose to capitalize on that this time around — could create an ideal atmosphere for the Caps to take a 2-0 series lead before heading to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4.

A perennial problem, Sidney Crosby enters this series playing some of his best playoff hockey. In their 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pens’ captain scored six goals in six games, including a hat trick in the opening matchup.

But he’s not the only one creating havoc for goalies. Center Jake Guentzel is tied with Crosby at the top of the league in goals and points in the playoffs. The pair each had six goals and seven assists against the Flyers, as well as 17 shots on goal apiece.

Is it possible they’ll get stonewalled by Braden Holtby, who — despite not starting initially in the first two games for the Caps against the Blue Jackets — is rocking a 93.6 save percentage and ranks fourth in the league with a 1.66 goals against average among goaltenders who have played more than one postseason game.

If the Caps can find a spark in their offense with Holtby staying strong in goal, perhaps this could be the year they finally slide past the Pens.

However, history isn’t exactly on Washington’s side. In the second-round series from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Pens hold an 8-5 record over the Caps, eliminating them both years on their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Pittsburgh leads the Caps in the overall playoff game record, 38-24, and they’ve met for 10 series in the postseason, dating back to 1990-91. Four times the series was pushed to a Game 7, but the Caps never came out on top.

The one and only time the Caps have ever eliminated the Pens from the playoffs was in the 1993-94 season, when they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in the first round before losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But hey, this year could become the second time in franchise history the Caps take down the Pens.

The NHL has yet to announce when Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins series will take place, but with the Wizards playing Game 6 of their NBA Playoff series at home on Friday, the likliest start date is either Thursday, April 26 or Saturday, April 28.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps win 4th straight to beat Blue Jackets, advance to face the Penguins

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps win 4th straight to beat Blue Jackets, advance to face the Penguins

COLUMBUS—Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in the second period, and the Caps eliminated the Blue Jackets with a 6-3 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Monday night.

Washington, which closed out the series with four straight victories, will now face Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh in the semifinals for the third straight spring and the fourth time since 2009.  

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

The Caps’ captain scored the 50th and 51st playoff goals of his career in the middle frame to put the visitors in command, 3-1. His first goal came on a rebound at the top of the blue paint. The second came in a much more familiar fashion: on the power play from the Ovi Office.

2-Devante Smith-Pelly, Capitals

DSP was signed, in part, due to his reputation of coming up big in the playoffs. And he did it again in the third period, scoring an unassisted goal with a rip over Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove to put the Caps ahead 4-2…a couple of shifts after Pierre-Luc Dubois had trimmed Washington’s lead to 3-2. The tally was Smith-Pelly’s second this postseason.

3-Dmitry Orlov, Capitals

Orlov scored a goal scorer’s goal in the first period. At the point, the Dman dragged the puck around a hard-charging Artemi Panarin before rifling a slap shot past Bobrovsky, who also happens to be Orlov’s best friend off the ice. The goal was the first ever playoff tally for Orlov.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.