Capitals

Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski's first head coaching job will be with the team he loved as a kid.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina's offensive coordinator, has been hired by the Browns as their sixth full-time coach since 1999. It's the third stint in Cleveland for Chudzinski, who worked with the Browns previously as an assistant.

The Browns hope the first-time head coach can end years of despair and constant losing, and maybe resurrect a franchise that has made just one trip to the playoffs in the past 14 years.

The team confirmed Chudzinski's hiring with a release Thursday night and said he will be introduced at an 11 a.m. news conference at the team's facility in Berea on Friday

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When he ended his life last year by shooting himself in the chest, Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease often linked with repeated blows to the head.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health said the former NFL star's abnormalities are consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The hard-hitting linebacker played for 20 NFL seasons with San Diego, Miami and New England before retiring in 2009. He died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May, and his family requested the analysis of his brain.

``We saw changes in his behavior and things that didn't add up with him,'' his ex-wife, Gina, told The Associated Press. ``But (CTE) was not something we considered or even were aware of. But pretty immediately (after the suicide) doctors were trying to get their hands on Junior's brain to examine it.''

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars fired coach Mike Mularkey after just one season, the worst in franchise history.

New general manager David Caldwell made the announcement two days after he was hired.

Mularkey, who went 2-14 this season, became the eighth head coach fired since the end of the regular season.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Tim Tebow won't be playing for his hometown team.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made it clear Thursday that they have no plans to pursue the popular and polarizing New York Jets backup quarterback.

The Jets are likely to release the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and Jacksonville native during the offseason, and many believed Tebow would land with the Jaguars.

But new general manager David Caldwell nixed that idea at his introductory news conference.

CLEVELAND (AP) - Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar says he has finally found a treatment to ease years of pain from concussions he sustained during his NFL career.

Kosar said he had more than a dozen documented concussions as a player. After more than a decade of constant headaches, insomnia and slurred speech, Kosar said he began to feel better following just a few weeks of treatments with Dr. Rick Sponaugle, who has a wellness institute in Florida. Kosar said he was skeptical about Sponaugle but he's now convinced the complex therapy, which involves nutritional supplements, works.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - David Akers is keeping his job as San Francisco's starting kicker. For now, anyway.

Coach Jim Harbaugh made the announcement after practice Thursday, two days ahead of the 49ers' NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers (12-5) at Candlestick Park.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Rookie running back Chris Rainey has run out of chances with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers cut the troubled 24-year-old following his arrest on a battery charge in Gainesville, Fla., , the latest in a series of off-the-field incidents that have threatened his career.

Gainesville police officers charged Rainey with a single count of misdemeanor simple battery after an altercation with his girlfriend.

BASEBALL

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) - Major League Baseball will test for human growth hormone throughout the regular season and increase efforts to detect abnormal levels of testosterone, a decision the NFL used to pressure its players.

Baseball players were subject to blood testing for HGH during spring training last year, and the agreement between management and the Major League Baseball Players Association expands that throughout the season. Those are in addition to urine tests for other performance-enhancing drugs.

Under the changes to baseball's drug agreement, the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Laval, Quebec, will keep records of each player, including his baseline ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, and will conduct Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) tests of any urine specimens that ``vary materially.''

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton vetoed a trade to the Seattle Mariners, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

The person asked to remain anonymous because Upton's decision had not been made public. Upton's contract gave him the power to turn down a trade to a short list of cities, Seattle included.

The Diamondbacks have a glut of outfielders and Upton, a former All-Star, is by far the most marketable. He is coming off a subpar season in which he was bothered by a thumb injury.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Although Pete Rose wasn't surprised when no players got a call from the Hall of Fame this week, baseball's career hits leader hopes to provide a few lessons in patience to the rest of his sport's tarnished superstars.

The 71-year-old Rose says he's ``a little sad'' nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Although Rose says he's a friend of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and every star of baseball's Steroids Era, he also says anything that artificially alters the game's statistics shouldn't be praised or honored.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - NHL players will have 36 hours from Thursday night until Saturday morning to vote on the new labor deal that would end the four-month lockout.

The players' association announced that electronic voting will begin Thursday at 8 p.m. EST and will last until Saturday at 8 a.m. The union said it will announce the result after voting is finished.

If a majority of the more than 700 players choose to accept the deal that NHL owners unanimously ratified on Wednesday, training camps will open Sunday, and a 48-game regular season will begin Jan. 19.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are in the same half of the draw at the Australian Open, setting up the possibility of a semifinal match between the defending champion and the title favorite.

No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion, is on the other half of the draw with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 5 Angelique Kerber and No. 6 Li Na. She could meet Venus Williams in the third round.

Novak Djokovic's bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title got a boost when No. 2-ranked Roger Federer and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray both landed in the other half when the official draw was made Friday.

SYDNEY (AP) - Agnieszka Radwanska claimed back-to-back WTA titles by dispatching Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-0 in the Sydney International final.

HOBART, Australia (AP) - Unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina defeated American teenager Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-2 to reach the Hobart International final against titleholder Mona Barthel.

GOLF

HONOLULU (AP) - Scott Langley made a rookie debut on the PGA Tour he won't soon forget.

Russell Henley wasn't too shabby, either.

Langley thrived on a penetrating ball flight and a pure putting stroke for an 8-under 62 that gave him a one-shot lead over Henley after the first round of the Sony Open.

SKIING

Lindsey Vonn's divorce from her husband of more than four years has become official.

Thomas Vonn confirmed the information in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday night. The couple announced their separation more than a year ago.

In the email, he said: ``I wish Lindsey all the best in her new life. I hope she finds the happiness that she's looking for - that's all I've ever wanted for her.''

Vonn returned to the World Cup circuit with a downhill training run in St. Anton, Austria, after a three-week absence caused by an intestinal illness.

SOCCER

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - David Villa scored twice to raise his season total to 10 goals and Alexis Sanchez got his second and third goals of the season to lead defending champion Barcelona over Cordoba 5-0 and into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

Resting Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona won the total-goals series 7-0 and will play against Malaga in the next round. Barcelona also plays at Malaga in the Spanish league on Sunday.

AUTO RACING

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Al-Attiyah's buggy led the first Chilean stage all the way from Arica on the coast inland to Calama, beating defending champion Peterhansel in his Mini by more than eight minutes to cut the Frenchman's overall lead to an insignificant 1 minute, 18 seconds.

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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.