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Andersen will take back seat during Rose Bowl

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Andersen will take back seat during Rose Bowl

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Gary Andersen doesn't mind taking a back seat with his new team when it comes to the Rose Bowl.

Andersen was formally introduced Friday as the new head coach at Wisconsin and he made it clear right away that he will be more of a ``fly on the wall'' as the Badgers prepare for the Jan. 1 game against Stanford.

That's because his boss, athletic director Barry Alvarez, is already handling the coaching duties at the request of the players following the departure of Bret Bielema for Arkansas. That allows Andersen, who left Utah State after four years, to evaluate players and prepare for next season.

``These kids need to go win a Rose Bowl,'' Andersen said after walking past a bowing Bucky Badger mascot and pep band playing the Wisconsin fight song. ``The last thing they need for me is to hang around coach Alvarez.''

Alvarez, who won three Rose Bowls during his Wisconsin coaching career, said he interviewed three candidates in person for the job but didn't offer it to anyone but Andersen.

``Gary has impressed me as the right person who believes in the things we have done to be successful in this program,'' Alvarez said. ``It was such a great fit, it was like he was in my head.''

Andersen drew interest from California, Colorado and Kentucky last month, but decided to pass on those opportunities and received a contract extension from Utah State. Andersen said he accepted the Wisconsin job without asking any questions and pointed to a game earlier this season when his visiting Aggies missed a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds and the Badgers escaped with a 16-14 win.

``Coach Alvarez didn't have to make any pitch to this guy,'' Andersen said. ``The pitch was made when I spent three hours out on that field a long time ago.''

At Utah State, Andersen took over a struggling program and led it to an 11-2 record this season, Western Athletic Conference title and a bowl victory over Toledo. At Wisconsin, he inherits a team fresh off winning the Big Ten and headed to the Rose Bowl for the third straight year. Wisconsin finished 8-5 this year, Bielema's seventh as coach.

Andersen said he spent two days personally calling all 106 players on the Utah State team to let them know he was leaving. He said that was ``probably the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my coaching career.''

Andersen met separately with some Wisconsin players and addressed the entire team at practice Friday. He told players that he would not be a distraction at the bowl game, junior running back James White said.

Center Travis Frederick said that's unlikely to happen.

``Right now our focus is really on winning the Rose Bowl,'' he said.

Players said they were glad the search for a new coach was over and that Andersen made a good first impression.

``He seemed like a great guy,'' said junior linebacker Chris Borland. ``He's a straight shooter.''

Everyone on the Badgers roster has played only for Bielema. Borland said having a new coach gives everyone a chance to re-establish themselves or make a fresh start.

``It's a great opportunity,'' he said.

The Badgers lose running back Montee Ball, who set the major college record for career touchdowns this year and tied the single-season mark last year. Also leaving are linebacker Mike Taylor and standout defensive backs Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith.

But the team has plenty of talent returning for Andersen to work with, including White and Melvin Gordon, who rushed for a total of almost 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Andersen said he didn't anticipate any players from Utah State transferring to play for Wisconsin, but he will bring ``three or four'' coaches with him. He didn't say who. The Aggies' offensive coordinator, Matt Wells, has replaced Andersen as Utah State coach.

Andersen also said he wants to keep some Wisconsin coaches on board to keep ties with Wisconsin high school coaches and stay strong recruiting in-state. He singled out defensive secondary coach Ben Strickland, a former Wisconsin player who joined the team as a full-time assistant coach this year, as one he wanted to keep.

The 48-year-old Andersen said Wisconsin will continue to be a power-run team under his leadership.

``That will be the mindset and that's the way it's always been,'' he said. ``We're going to line up and let those big kids work. That's what they like to do. ... I sure hope my stamp at the end of the day is to have a football team that is physical, tough minded.''

Andersen, who was defensive line coach under Urban Meyer when he was coach at Utah, said he reached out to the current Ohio State coach to talk about the Wisconsin job.

``His first thoughts were, obviously it's a tremendous job and great opportunity,'' Andersen said. ``I have an unbelievable respect for coach Meyer, his family, the way he has moved himself throughout this profession.''

As for the upcoming bowl game, Andersen said he looked forward to checking out the players and being a fan.

``I and my coaches need to evaluate the young men in the program so we can get a head start building for the next year,'' he said.

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How the Caps turned a sure loss into their first home win in under 90 seconds

How the Caps turned a sure loss into their first home win in under 90 seconds

WASHINGTON -- Another sloppy defensive performance looked like it would doom the Capitals, but a furious three-goal rally in the second period turned what looked like a sure defeat into a stunning 4-3 victory, their first at home this season, over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Toronto took an early lead off a short-handed goal from Kasperi Kapanen. Jonas Siegenthaler then was slow to react to a streaking Ilya Mikheyev who torched him to put the Leafs up 2-0. Jakub Vrana made it 2-1 late in the first, but Toronto looked like they had this game well in hand.

But the Caps rallied and completely turned things around in a stretch of just 1:18 in the second period. Here's how.

Brilliant skating by Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov passed the puck up to the offensive blue line. A skating Carl Hagelin tapped it to John Carlson who entered the zone, pulled back and handed it off to Kuznetsov who took over.

When Kuznetsov gets the puck there are three Maple Leaf players in front of him. He pumps the legs once and then glides in on net and somehow he is behind all three players and in alone on Michael Hutchinson.

Kuznetsov’s speed virtually never changes during the play. There’s no frantic, choppy acceleration, just a smooth glide that allows him to skate in, wait out Hutchinson and tuck the puck around his outstretched pad all in seemingly one fluid motion.

The forecheck pays off 11 seconds later

T.J. Oshie beat out Morgan Rielly in a footrace for the puck in the offensive zone. He circled in the corner to protect the puck with his body from Rielly. He was able to find Nicklas Backstrom in the high slot and Backstrom snapped the puck in.

In a period of just 11 seconds, the Caps had changed the score from 2-1 Leafs to 3-2 Caps.

The flustered Leafs

Momentum is a real thing. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. That was on display in the second period when the Leafs were on their heels after coughing up two quick goals. Just 18 seconds after Backstrom’s goal, Nicholas SHore was called for interference on Oshie.

Do you know how you get two goals and draw an interference penalty in less than a minute? By keeping possession of the puck. Toronto could not get its hands on it at all until Cocy Ceci did on the penalty kill...and promptly threw the puck into the crowd on an attempted clearance from the defensive zone resulting in a delay of game penalty.

A 5-on-3

Ceci’s penalty came just nine seconds after Shore was booked resulting in a two-man advantage for 1:51. The Caps were too hot at that point to not convert. The power play moved the puck very effectively and, critically, managed to retain possession after every shot. The Leafs just could not get there in time to clear it allowing the Caps to take their time, set things up and attack.

The power play shifted with Carlson making his way over to the Ovechkin spot. Ovechkin was fed the puck at the point, faked the slap shot and instead tapped the pass over to Carlson. Carlson did his best Ovechkin impression and fired the one-timer past Hutchinson. That goal made the score 4-2 and capped off an incredible 1:18 stretch in which the Caps turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead, thus ultimately snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Toronto would score a late goal in a comeback attempt but ultimately fell short.

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Capitals score three goals in 90 seconds to take the lead over Toronto

Capitals score three goals in 90 seconds to take the lead over Toronto

The beginning of Wednesday's clash with the Maple Leafs was not pretty for the Capitals.

A pair of goals by Toronto gave them an early lead midway through the first period. But a snipe by Jakub Vrana towards the end of the first frame cut the deficit in half entering the first intermission.

But during the second period, all of a sudden, a switch flipped for the Capitals attack. Washington found the back of the net three times in under 90 seconds, turning a one-goal deficit into a two-goal lead.

The first came from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who finished with a beautiful move to sneak the puck past Maple Leafs' goalie Michael Hutchinson's glove.

Just 11 seconds later, Nicklas Backstrom found the back of the net on a beautiful wrister from T.J. Oshie to put the Capitals ahead.

To complete the trifecta, John Carlson's one-timer from Alex Ovechkin went right in between Hutchinson's legs, giving the Capitals a 4-2 lead. 

At the end of the second period, the Capitals hold the same 4-2 lead. Just 20 minutes separate the Capitals from their fourth victory of the season.

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