Nationals

Brunner's shootout goal wins it for Wings, 4-3

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Brunner's shootout goal wins it for Wings, 4-3

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Swiss rookie Damien Brunner scored in the fourth round of the shootout to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night before 19,206, the largest regular-season crowd at Nationwide Arena in the Blue Jackets' 11-plus seasons.

Brian Lashoff scored in his NHL debut and fellow defenseman Ian White also scored for Detroit, which finally got on the board twice in the second period after being humiliated 6-0 in their opener on Saturday night in St. Louis. Pavel Datsyuk had a goal to send the game into overtime with 6 minutes remaining in overtime, and also had an assist.

Cam Atkinson, James Wisniewski and Vinny Prospal scored goals during regulation for Columbus, which was coming off a 3-2 shootout win at Nashville on Saturday night.

Columbus was playing its first home game without Rick Nash, the team captain and franchise record holder for games, goals and points, since the end of the 2001-2002 season. He was sent to the New York Rangers along with a minor-league defenseman and a conditional third-round pick for forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.

Jimmy Howard had 30 saves for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky matched him stop for stop for Columbus with 39 saves.

Down 2-1 entering the third period, the Blue Jackets pulled even on a power play. Wisniewski's one-timer from just inside the blue line - a low, rising shot - beat Howard on the glove side.

They then took the lead on another man-advantage after Kyle Quincey was called for interference on R.J. Umberger - the Blue Jackets' third consecutive power play in the third period.

Cycling the puck, the Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin blasted a big one-timer that sailed over the cage and off the glass. It filtered all the way through congestion in front of the net. Prospal collected it at the right hash mark and scored.

The Red Wings weren't done however. As a power play was ending, Henrik Zetterberg dug the puck out of the corner and fed Niklas Kronwall who faked and then fed Datsyuk who had crept in behind Bobrovsky and the defense to score easily with just over 6 minutes remaining.

In the shootout, Atkinson opened with a goal for the Blue Jackets but it was disallowed after a video review.

Neither team scored through three rounds. After Howard stopped Matt Calvert, Brunner skated to the right and then pulled the puck back to his left and forced it under the right leg pad of Bobrovski. It also was reviewed, but was confirmed.

The Red Wings ended a scoreless string of 81:10 to start the season when Lashoff's hard shot from the left point eluded Bobrovsky, thanks in part to traffic provided in front of the net by Johan Franzen.

Lashoff had been playing for Grand Rapids of the AHL and was recalled after defenseman Jonathan Ericsson stepped on a puck and crashed into the boards, injuring his shoulder in the Red Wings' opener at St. Louis.

The 22-year-old scored just two goals in 36 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season.

Detroit made it 2-0 later in the period with both teams a man down. Franzen slid a pass through the slot left to right in front of the Columbus goal, setting up White who lifted the puck into the top of the net.

Just over a minute later, the Blue Jackets narrowed the gap back to a goal when Atkinson took a pass from Ryan Johansen and then slipped past defenseman Brendan Smith. He swooped in on Howard, deked and then slid a forehand under the goalie's outstretched left foot.

The Red Wings had the better of the action in the opening period, but still didn't dent the scoreboard. That was due to the play of Bobrovsky, who made several acrobatic stops while turning aside 15 shots. That was a substantial improvement for the Wings over the first period in St. Louis, where they were outshot 17-2.

Just 3 seconds after the puck was dropped at the start of the game, Detroit's Jordin Tootoo and Columbus' Jared Boll - longtime antagonists - squared off for a lengthy slugfest near center ice. That electrified a capacity crowd at Nationwide Arena.

Notes: Detroit RW Todd Bertuzzi, thought to be suffering from mononucleosis, was diagnosed Monday with the flu. He did not play, but is listed as day to day. ... The Blue Jackets came on the ice for warmups wearing jerseys numbered 1 with ``Thank You Fans'' printed where the player's name is. The jerseys were then given to fans. ... The Red Wings play their first home game Tuesday night against Dallas. After playing their first two games on the road, they play four of the next five at Joe Louis Arena. ... Five new players played their first home game for the Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky, Anisimov, LW Nick Foligno, D Adrian Aucoin and Dubinsky. ... Detroit recalled GT Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids to back up Howard in place of Jonas Gustavsson, who was also injured Saturday.

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

WASHINGTON -- If any bump was coming from a return home or Mike Rizzo’s public pregame words or simply being out of New York, it was not apparent Friday.

Three errors committed in the first four innings. The first reliever into the game, Joe Ross, allowed three earned runs before recording a second out. Starter Kyle McGowin barely made it through the fourth inning of an eventual and desperately needed 12-10 win.

The rally kept the Nationals from creeping toward of new level of dubiousness in this muck-filled season. They pushed 2 ½ games in front of the Marlins for the National League’s worst record. Juan Soto hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Matt Adams followed with a solo homer. Sean Doolittle had trouble, but closed the game. Those efforts kept this from being another story about the bullpen (five more runs allowed Friday).

So, here’s a different question to ponder (there are a million or none, depending on point of view) after Friday night: How did the Nationals end up with 27-year-old McGowin starting a surprisingly pivotal game?

The nuts-and-bolts version is because of injuries. Both Anibal Sanchez -- who threw a simulation game Friday -- and Jeremy Hellickson are on the injured list. The deeper answer comes from looking at the recent erosion of pitchers in Washington’s minor-league system.

McGowin made his second career start Friday because there is no one else. No hot minor-league prospect, no early-round pick who has been up and down and received another shot, no veteran stashed in the minor leagues for such situations.

Looming behind all of this is the 2016 trade of three pitching prospects to acquire Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning were all sent to Chicago for Eaton’s advanced-stats and cost-friendly contract. The departure of three starting pitchers in one shot reverberated Friday when the Nationals were forced to use McGowin in a spot start as the seventh starter of the season.

This is more a volume than quality issue. Neither Lopez or Giolito were effective in limited chances at the major-league level with Washington before being traded. Once in Chicago, Giolito became arguably the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018. No one allowed more earned runs or walks that season. Lopez had a quality season, finishing with 3.1 WAR.

The two have reversed outcomes in 2019. Giolito has rediscovered his velocity. After throwing 100 mph in the 2015 Futures Game, his velocity caved. Giolito was down to 92-93 mph with the Nationals and, initially, Chicago. Thursday, he hit 97 mph in the ninth inning of a shutout against Houston. The outing drove his ERA down to 2.77.

Lopez is struggling. His 5.14 ERA is venturing toward Giolito’s status of a year ago. His walk total -- always the concern -- is up, as are his homers allowed.

But what Giolito and Lopez have, at age 24 and 25, respectively, is potential. Giolito, who often fussed with his mechanics in Washington, has discovered a delivery to expedite his fastball and an approach to boost the effectiveness of his changeup. Lopez’s 2018 showed he can be a solid back-end rotation member. They were expected to follow behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in establishing a future rotation. But, those two are in Chicago, Ross is in the bullpen, where he gave up three runs Friday, and Fedde just returned to the rotation after being moved to the bullpen.

So, it was McGowin on the mound Friday. Four innings, six hits, five runs, one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs allowed. Why? No better choice is available.

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Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

The Nationals welcomed 10-year-old cancer patient Parker Staples as the newest addition to their team on Friday, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation.

While battling lymphoma, Staples learned he would receive a wish and didn’t hesitate about what he wanted to choose. After being sidelined for two years during treatment, Parker couldn’t wait to celebrate his remission by becoming part of his favorite baseball team. 

Staples was introduced to his new teammates and got signed autographs from Matt Adams, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Yan Gomes. He also got to spend time hitting and playing catch with his new teammates, as well as being interviewed as the newest member of the team. It gets even better than that, Staples threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park leading up to the Marlins-Nationals game Staples 

"My favorite moment was throwing the first pitch. It was really cool," Staples said.

"Probably the biggest day of my life."

The Nationals are hosted the Miami Marlins in the series opener Friday.

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