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AP Source: Browns interview Rob Chudzinski

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AP Source: Browns interview Rob Chudzinski

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski might get a third shot at coaching the Browns. Maybe this time as the head man.

A person familiar with the meeting said Chudzinski, Carolina's offensive coordinator the past two seasons, interviewed Wednesday with the Browns. Chudzinski had two previous stints as an assistant with Cleveland, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Toledo, Ohio.

Chudzinski visited the team's facility in Berea, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams are not confirming any interviews. Chudzinski's interview comes one day after the Browns met with another former assistant, Marc Trestman, currently coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.

The 44-year-old Chudzinski has spent the past two seasons with the Panthers working with quarterback Cam Newton. Carolina finished fifth in total offense in 2011 and 12th last season under Chudzinski. He was Cleveland's tight ends coach in 2004, but was fired along with the rest of Butch Davis' staff. He returned to the club in 2007 as the offensive coordinator for Romeo Crennel.

Last year, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.

Chudzinski's connections with the Browns run deep.

He grew up pulling for Cleveland and was thrilled when his first NFL coaching job was on Davis' staff. After he left Cleveland the first time, he spent two seasons as San Diego's tight ends coach, working with perennial Pro Bowl standout Antonio Gates, before he was hired by Crennel in 2007.

That year, the Browns won 10 games - their most wins since 1999 - and had four players make the Pro Bowl. However, 2008 didn't go nearly as well as injuries and a six-game losing streak to close the season resulted in a 4-12 record and the firing of Crennel. Cleveland's offense sputtered in Chudzinski's second year.

He went back to the Chargers for two more seasons before he was hired in Carolina.

FOX Sports reported the team interviewed Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, the first known defensive coach to meet with the Browns. The team is also planning to meet with Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as the Browns continue looking for their sixth coach since 1999.

Zimmer, who has never been a head coach, has run the Bengals defense since 2008. Before joining Cincinnati's staff, the 56-year-old worked in Dallas and Atlanta. He coached Browns linebacker Scott Fujita with the Cowboys.

``Mike Zimmer is a damn good football coach,'' Fujita posted on his Twitter page. Fujita also worked with Zimmer's son, Adam, in New Orleans.

Under Zimmer, the Bengals finished this season sixth in yards allowed and eight in points. He has previously interviewed for head coaching jobs in Miami and Tampa Bay.

Tragedy struck Zimmer in 2009, when his wife, Vikki, died unexpectedly. The couple had been married 27 years. She made a tradition of baking treats for defensive players on Mondays after a victory.

After meeting with Chudzinski and Zimmer, the Browns are expected to interview Arians. The Colts have granted the Browns permission to speak with Arians, who was released from an Indianapolis hospital Wednesday after being treated for a medical condition that caused him to miss Sunday's playoff game.

The 60-year-old fell ill during the team's pregame breakfast and was hospitalized in Baltimore. He returned to Indiana and was admitted to another hospital as doctors tried to determine the extent of his health problem. His agent, Mike Brown, said Arians was discharged and is finalizing details to begin interviews for head coaching jobs.

San Diego, Philadelphia and Chicago are also reportedly interested in Arians, who has worked with quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and rookie Andrew Luck. Arians took over as Indy's interim coach this season while coach Chuck Pagano was being treated for leukemia. The Colts went 9-3 with Arians in charge.

Arians also has ties to the Browns, serving as their offensive coordinator from 2001-03. His only head coaching experience was at Temple in the 1980s.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are in Week 2 of their search to find a ``strong leader'' to take over the Browns, who went 5-11 this season and fired Pat Shurmur.

Haslam and Banner spent last week in Arizona, where they came close to a deal with Chip Kelly but backed away because of his uncertainty about jumping to the NFL. Kelly ultimately decided to stay at the school.

The Browns also are known to have met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien. Marrone was hired by Buffalo earlier this week while O'Brien chose to stay with the Nittany Lions.

On Monday, the Browns interviewed Trestman, who has met with the Chicago Bears about their coaching vacancy.

It's not yet known if the Browns contacted former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who told Newsday on Tuesday that he hopes to one day coach in the NFL again. Cowher worked as an assistant in Cleveland in the 1990s. He has been a broadcaster since 2006 and has teased in the past about a return to the sideline.

Cowher's background and success are no secret to Haslam, who owned a minority share of the Steelers before buying the Browns for $1 billion from Randy Lerner this summer.

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Ovechkin-less Caps win in Montreal in return from the All-Star break

Ovechkin-less Caps win in Montreal in return from the All-Star break

With Alex Ovechkin serving a one-game suspension, the Capitals still were able to pull out a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday in the team's return from the all-star break.

The power play contributed a goal despite the loss of Ovechkin and Braden Holby played well late in the game to preserve the win.

Here is how Washington won.

The power play

Coming into Monday's game, the Caps had the 30th ranked power play since Dec. 1 striking at only 14.1-percent. With no Ovechkin, it seemed unlikely that the power play would be able to suddenly find success against Montreal. Yet, the power play looked much improved with crisp puck movement that kept the Canadiens guessing. The puck movement was much quicker and more deliberate than the power play had shown of late which has looked far too slow and indecisive.
Washington cashed in with a goal from Tom Wilson as Jakub Vrana fed him from behind the net and he beat the defense to the slot.

Petry’s second goal

Jeff Petry opened the scoring with a goal for Montreal in the first period. Wilson tied the game at 1, but Petry scored again early in the second period...for the Caps.

Brendan Leipsic tipped the puck behind the net and Lars Eller grabbed it and tried to stuff it. He couldn't. Travis Boyd then tipped the puck in front of the net where Petry was trying to cover the back door to help out netminder Cary Price. Instead of helping, however, he ended up kicking the puck into his own net giving him one goal for each team and giving the Caps the 2-1 lead.

Kuznetsov on his butt

All-star defenseman Shea Weber had the puck in Montreal's defensive zone and was pressured by Evgeny Kuznetsov. In terms of a forecheck matchup, you would have to give the edge to Weber in that situation and nine times out of 10, you'd be right. This time, however, Weber lost the puck behind him with Kuznetsov pressuring. Weber turned and knocked over Kuznetsov to try to get to the puck. On his butt, Kuznetsov still managed to get a stick to the puck, passed it to T.J. Oshie who dropped it off to Jakub Vrana. Vrana netted it for his 23rd goal of the season, but the play was all started by the great forecheck by Kuznetsov.

Holtby's third period

When Holtby is feeling it, he is hard to beat. Protecting the Caps' lead, Holtby was strong in the final frame with 14 saves on 15 shots. The save of the night came when Joel Armia tried to tip a puck past Holtby and succeeded. The puck hit the post and Armia raised his arms to celebrate. Holtby, however, plucked the puck out of the air with the glove before it could cross the line which was confirmed by review.

Holtby had plenty of struggles heading into the all-star break, but was strong in the team's return with 31 saves.

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A response game for Holtby, a butt pass and some power for the power play

A response game for Holtby, a butt pass and some power for the power play

The Capitals made sure the one-game suspension to Alex Ovechkin did not cost them with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the win

Better power play

Even without Alex Ovechkin, the power play looked much improved. The most noticeable improvement was the puck movement.

One of the issues on the power play has been slow and indecisive puck movement. The Caps were much quicker with their passes on Monday and kept the puck constantly moving which kept Montreal guessing.

Washington's power play has focused largely on position over movement which is fine and was productive for several years years. Lately, however, if the passes the players want aren't open, they freeze up with the puck, hold onto it too long, then try to force passes through covered passing lanes. On Monday, each time a player took a pass, the puck was off their stick shortly after. They already knew where the puck was going when they got the puck and quickly moved it not allowing the penalty kill to get set.

The key now will be continuing that puck movement when Ovechkin returns.

A good night for Holtby

If you're going to get all over Braden Holtby for every bad game, you have to give him credit when he has a good one. Holtby allowed only two goals on Monday. The first was a 3-on-2 with Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie playing defense and Orlov misplayed it allowing Jeff Petry wide open in front of the net. The second came as Dale Weiss was also left alone in front of the net. Holtby played it awkwardly coming out to challenge Weiss, but did not extend the pads to try to force Weiss wide and gave him too much room. Still, the defense left him out to dry in both situations.

Otherwise, it was a very strong game.

Holtby made 14 saves in the third period alone and 31 saves overall for a .939 save percentage on the night. It is the first time in eight games he has managed a save percentage over .900.

Turning point

Montreal took a 1-0 lead off a Jeff Petry goal and the Canadiens were all over the Caps to start. Then Washington earned a power play opportunity and, well, it was awful with Ovechkin, surely it would be terrible without him. Instead, Wilson scored to tie the game and the power play looked much improved. Suddenly, the Caps were back in the game.

Play of the game

This is great forecheck work by Evgeny Kuznetsov on one of the best defensemen in the game, Shea Weber. He forced a turnover then made the pass from his butt to set up the goal.

Stat of the game

Lars Eller loves playing against Montreal. He recorded one assist and was one of the Caps' best players on Monday.

Quote of the game

Holtby has had struggles in the past, but he always seems to rebound at some point and return to his dominant self. Todd Reirden called Monday's game a "response" performance for the netminder after his best performance in several weeks.


Fan predictions

Close. The Caps rebounded from a 1-0 deficit and ended up winning 4-2.

Saw a lot of predictions for two goals for Richard Panik who played in Ovechkin's spot on the top line. Panik had two shots on goal, but no points in 12:35 of even-strength ice time.

No goals for John Carlson, but Holtby did have a strong game and the Caps had a two-goal win.

Bold.

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