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Cowboys coach, owner not talking desperately

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Cowboys coach, owner not talking desperately

IRVING, Texas (AP) Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talked about some good things that happened for Dallas in its last game. And owner Jerry Jones said during his weekly radio show that his team could be evolving into one that can compete for a championship this season.

Wait, aren't these the same Cowboys who have lost three of their last four games and are at the bottom of the NFC East?

"There were a lot of things to feel good about. There are no moral victories as we know," Garrett said Wednesday. "But there were some positive things we can build on and there were certainly a lot to correct as well."

The Cowboys (2-3) did pile up 481 total yards, their most in two years, and matched a franchise record with 79 offensive plays while holding the ball for 40 minutes at Baltimore. They had an 18-play drive of 110 yards, overcoming 30 yards in penalties, for a touchdown in the final minute. After missing a tying 2-point conversion try, they recovered an onside kick and had a chance at a winning field goal.

The bottom line, though, is Dallas lost to the Ravens and now has the same record it had at this point last season, when the Cowboys finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

"We need a victory, bad," fullback Lawrence Vickers said. "This is very critical to get this win."

Dallas plays Sunday at Carolina (1-4), the only NFC team other than the Cowboys that hasn't yet scored 100 points this season.

That 31-29 loss at Baltimore is eerily similar to what happened last October. Like this year, the Cowboys were coming off their bye week when they lost a close road game against one of the AFC's best teams (20-16 at New England) and then played a struggling team the next week.

After Carolina, the Cowboys play their only home game in a six-week stretch - a rematch against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who have won four of five since losing the season opener to Dallas.

During his appearance Tuesday on KRLD-FM, Jones said the Cowboys played physical at Baltimore and "did things that we can win with in the future."

The owner, who turned 70 on Saturday, also reiterated what he has said all year about the Giants becoming Super Bowl champions after winning only nine games in the regular season.

"We don't have time to have a bad time here. We've got to have some wins to make sure we're in the hunt," Jones said. "We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on into the end of the season.

"We know that we've played one division game and won it. We've got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that's going to be a big game for us," he said. "All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into, if you look at this plusses (Sunday), evolving into a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year."

Then Jones emphasized that he indeed was talking about this season.

"I'm not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come," Jones said. "It's this year."

When asked about those comments, Garrett called Jones an outstanding owner and said the team appreciates everything he does. The coach then said his team's focus was solely on preparing to play Carolina.

"He believes in us, just like we believe in ourselves," Vickers said about Jones. "Whatever happens this week, that's what I'm focused on. At the same time, when you hear your owner talking about things, that's good and enlightening."

Notes: K Dan Bailey says he's moving forward and trying to forget as quickly as possible the missed 51-yard field goal attempt at Baltimore that he hooked just left of the upright. "I didn't miss it by much," he said Wednesday. That came after the Cowboys managed only a 1-yard pass with 26 seconds and one timeout left. Asked if an extra 5 yards would have made the difference, Bailey responded, "Maybe. I don't know." ... CB Mike Jenkins, who had an MRI on Monday after he banged up his surgically repaired right shoulder against Baltimore, wasn't listed on the practice report Wednesday. That indicates he is OK.

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3 reasons the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks

3 reasons the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals got their Canadian road trip off to a good start with a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The stars came to play as Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added two assists while both John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom recorded three point nights to lead Washington.

Here are three reasons why they won the game.

John Carlson

Carlson was easily the best player on the ice for either team. He has shown tremendous offensive instincts this season and that was on display in the first period when he snuck behind the defense to receive a pass from Jakub Vrana and chipped the puck past goalie Anders Nilsson. You don’t usually see a defenseman as the first player in on an offensive play, but Carlson saw a lane and he took it to put Washington up 1-0.

The Caps’ blue liner also added two assists on the power play. This was Carlson’s fifth multi-point game and it is only the Caps’ eighth game of the season.

You can read more on Carlson’s big night here.

Evgeny Kuznetsov from the office

The Caps scored a power play goal in the second period from the office, but the shot came from the right faceoff circle, not from Ovechkin’s spot on the left.

So much of Washington’s power play is built around setting up Ovechkin on the left and that gives players like Kuznetsov a lot more room than they normally would have.

Ovechkin had the puck at the top of his office, but the Canucks had his shooting lane covered. Instead of shooting, Ovechkin fed it back to Carlson at the point. The penalty killers did not want to get drawn away from Ovechkin and just leave him over for the return pass, but that left Kuznetsov wide open in the opposite faceoff circle. Carlson fed him the puck and he did his best Ovechkin impression with the one-time goal.

Kuznetsov now has five goals on the season and all five have come on the power play.

A broken stick

Trying to slow down the NHL’s top power play is hard enough. When one penalty killer loses a stick, however, it becomes that much more difficult

Already up 3-2, the Caps got a third period power play after Troy Stecher was caught for tripping Dmitrij Jaskin. While on the power play, a shot by Carlson broke the stick of Markus Granlund.

You may not realize just how small a player becomes when he loses his stick. Most importantly for a power play, it means the penalty killer cannot stay in front of the puck to block a shot while also covering a passing lane with his stick. With no stick for Granlund, that gave Ovechkin and Carlson plenty of room to exchange passes. Carlson only had to wait for Ovechkin to get into position before setting him up for the one-timer from the office.

Ovechkin’s second goal of the night extended the Caps’ lead to two and shut the door on any possible Canucks comeback.

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It's early, but John Carlson is easily living up to his new contract

It's early, but John Carlson is easily living up to his new contract

Whenever a player has a career year in the last year of his contract, there is always some trepidation the next season. Was he really worth all those years or all that money that come with his new deal or did he just cash in on one great season?

John Carlson got the big contract and now is silencing all the doubters with his outstanding play.

Carlson scored his fifth goal of the season Monday as he chipped in a great feed from Jakub Vrana past Vancouver Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson (see above).

He later assisted on Evgeny Kuznetsov's goal in the second period giving him his fifth multi-point game of the year.

On the final year of his deal in 2017-18, Carlson was brilliant with 15 goals, 53 assists and 68 points, all of which were career highs.

It’s rare to see a bonafide No. 1 defenseman hit the open market, meaning there would have been plenty of teams lining up to pay him the big bucks. The Caps never let it get that far and they re-signed Carlson to an eight-year deal worth $64 million before free agency opened. His $8 million cap hit ties him for second among all defensemen.

That’s a whole lot of money to spend on a player whose previous career high was 55 points. Carlson would not have been the first player to regress in the first year after signing a big deal and he certainly would not be the last.

For now, however, he looks like he is worth every penny.

Carlson’s 68 points last season led all defensemen and he looks like he’s on pace to shatter those numbers. His goal Monday was his 11th point on the season. It took him 15 goals to reach that mark last season and 43 games to reach five goals.

Despite a career year, Carlson was not invited to the All-Star Game, he was not a finalist for the Norris Trophy and he was not named a first or second-team All-Star at season’s end. At his current rate of play, however, he will be impossible to ignore. 

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