Capitals

Akers, Cundiff both could be on playoff roster

Akers, Cundiff both could be on playoff roster

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) David Akers and Billy Cundiff were taking their competition to be San Francisco's playoff kicker to Candlestick Park on Monday.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said there's a ``good chance'' both kickers will be on the roster for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, though he didn't specify whether each would be among the 46 active players but did say ``that's conceivable.'' Harbaugh indicated one of the two has already earned a lead for the job but wouldn't say who it is.

The 49ers (11-4-1) signed Cundiff on Jan. 1 to compete for a job with the struggling veteran Akers, who has made just 29 of 42 field goals this season after connecting on 44 of 52 in 2011.

``No, not a resolution. We have a leader in the clubhouse,'' Harbaugh said as his players returned to work after taking the weekend off. ``We'll see how it goes today and tomorrow. It's been good competition. We're working through it.''

Cundiff missed a potential tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC championship game that sent New England to the Super Bowl last season instead of the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh's big brother, John.

Harbaugh said he has no timetable for when to name a starting kicker. The leader emerged from two practice sessions last week.

``It will predominantly be based on how they're kicking now,'' Harbaugh said. ``I think there's a good chance they'll both be on the roster come Saturday.''

Akers missed overtime kicks twice against the Rams this season, with the 49ers losing at St. Louis and tying at home.

In a 27-13 victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale Dec. 30, Akers missed wide left on kicks from 44 and 40 yards and got booed by the sellout home crowd.

The 15th-year pro also had a 21-yard attempt blocked by Red Bryant in a 42-13 loss at Seattle on Dec. 23, and Richard Sherman returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. Yet Akers has made at least one field goal in 33 consecutive games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history.

Cundiff was released by the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9 after missing five of his 12 field goal attempts. The journeyman Cundiff joins his sixth team in 10 NFL seasons. He has also played for Dallas, New Orleans and Cleveland.

Punter Andy Lee, who is the holder on field goals, has long supported Akers in the good moments and also through the missed field goals.

Now, he must put his personal feelings aside.

``I've got to do my job, because I know if other things were going on and somebody could affect the way I play, I wouldn't want that happening,'' Lee said. ``So I've just got to swallow everything I have inside me and go out and do whatever I can to help each guy the best I can.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

When you think about Evgeny Kuznetsov in the playoffs, most probably think of his overtime-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2018 that ended the series and handed Washington a long-awaited victory over its archrival. But that wasn’t the first series-clinching goal Kuznetsov scored.

Before the Stanley Cup was brought to Washington, before the bird celebration, there was another epic moment of Kuznetsov’s career that now feels overshadowed by the 2018 run.

In 2015, the Caps returned to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. They entered the postseason as the second-place team in the Metropolitan Division, drawing the third-place New York Islanders in the first round.

A back-and-forth series, it ultimately went the distance with Game 7 being played in Washington. As even as the series had been, the Caps dominated that Game 7, suffocating the Islanders and giving up only 11 shots on goal. Joel Ward put Washington ahead 1-0, but Frans Nielsen tied it early in the third period. Despite the dominant defensive performance, Jaroslav Halak (remember him?) would not allow the Caps to the chance to put the game away.

Just when it began to feel as if Halak was going to steal away another Game 7 from the Caps, a young Russian center in just his first full NHL season took over.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the third period, Kuznetsov took a pass along the half wall, showed Frans Nielsen his back and when Nielsen bit, he spun and cut to the center of the ice. Nielsen was caught a step behind and whacked Kuznetsov in desperation, actually diving to the ice to try to keep him from breaking loose. In one slick move Kuznetsov had cut through the Islanders’ defense and was in alone on net. Halak went down to the butterfly as Kuznetsov cut to center, but Kuznetsov showed incredible patience and did not immediately shoot. Suddenly, Halak was committed and helpless. He dove to his right desperately holding up the glove as Kuznetsov kept gliding across the ice, but Halak had left too much of the net open by going down too soon and Kuznetsov hit the corner.

With 7:18 remaining in the game and the series, Kuznetsov had given the Caps the 2-1 lead.

The series was a breakout performance for Kuznetsov who returned the following season and earned a top-six role, something not all that easy for young players to do under head coach Barry Trotz. It also gave a franchise still bearing the scars of Halak’s 2010 upset a measure of revenge.

And the rest is history.

What heroics does Kuznetsov have in store for the Islanders on Saturday when the two teams meet at 1 p.m.? Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 12 p.m. for coverage.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: