Capitals

Defending champs fall in final seconds

901385.jpg

Defending champs fall in final seconds

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- When Lawrence Tynes got a do-over, LeSean McCoy couldn't watch."I was so nervous, praying please let him miss it," McCoy said.The sellout crowd that prematurely celebrated a victory seconds earlier likely felt the same when Tynes got a second chance because Eagles coach Andy Reid had called a timeout in an attempt to ice the Giants' kicker.But Tynes was short on a 54-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 19-17 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.With McCoy leading the way on the ground, Michael Vick guided Philadelphia (3-1) to its third comeback win.The Eagles became the first team in NFL history to have each of their first three wins by two points or less according to information provided to the team by the Elias Sports Bureau."It's a much easier way to play this game," Vick said. "You can come out and score 28 points and the defense can play well and you can be up and it can be easy."That hasn't been the case so far.Alex Henery kicked a 26-yard field goal with 1:49 left and the Eagles overcame two pass interference penalties on New York's final drive.The defending Super Bowl champion Giants (2-2) have struggled against Philadelphia, losing eight of the last nine meetings."We knew it was going to be a game that was going to come down to the fourth quarter," Eli Manning said. "We knew we were going to have to earn every yard. They're a good defense, they're a good team. We had opportunities, we were close."McCoy had 121 of his 123 yards rushing in the second half. The All-Pro had six carries for 2 yards at halftime."I think we just stuck with it," McCoy said. "I just had that feeling, that feeling I want the ball."Vick threw TD passes in the final two minutes in consecutive 1-point wins over Cleveland and Baltimore the first two weeks before a 26-7 loss at Arizona.After Manning tossed a go-ahead 6-yard TD pass Bear Pascoe, Vick drove the Eagles to the Giants 2 before Osi Umenyiora sacked him for a 6-yard loss on third down. Henery then hit his fourth field goal to put Philadelphia ahead to stay.Henery also connected from 48, 35 and 20 yards.A pass interference penalty on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie kept the Giants' last drive alive and put the ball at the Eagles 35 after Manning threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1. Another pass interference call on Nnamdi Asomugha on third-and-10 moved it to the Eagles 27.Then Ramses Barden got called for offensive pass interference to move it back to the 36."I thought it was on him," Barden said of Asomugha. "But I know he's a competitor, and he came to play tonight. We were both fighting for position and it's just one of those things."After an incomplete pass, the Giants sent out Tynes to try for the winning kick on third-and-18 because they didn't have any timeouts remaining."I don't believe in icing the kicker," Vick said. "You let him kick it and if it's in, it's in. You can't play games. I don't know where that started. We got to end that tradition."Vick was 19 of 30 for 241 yards and the turnover-prone Eagles protected the ball. The Eagles led the NFL with 12 turnovers through three games, but didn't commit any.Manning completed 24 of 42 passes for 309 yards, two TDs and one crucial interception.He threw a pick to Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone after a 30-yard pass to Victor Cruz on fourth-and-1 got the Giants to Philadelphia's 10 on the final play of the third quarter.Manning redeemed himself on New York's next possession. He completed passes of 31 yards to Barden and 41 yards to Domenik Hixon. He then found Pascoe wide open over the middle for a 17-16 lead with 6:45 left.McCoy finally broke loose by running for 56 yards on consecutive carries in the third. He was stopped at the 1 on a 22-yard gain, and then couldn't get in on three straight carries. The Eagles settled for a 20-yard field goal by Henery that made it 10-3."The O-line found themselves as the game wore on," Reid said. "They were able to block well enough to where McCoy had big yards."The Giants answered after David Wilson ran the kickoff back 45 yards to the 43.Mixing run and pass effectively, the Giants moved to the 14. On third-and-3, Manning threw a TD pass to Cruz, who celebrated with his trademark salsa dance in the stadium where it all started. Cruz burst on the scene with a breakout performance in a 29-16 win at Philadelphia last September.Using a no-huddle offense, the Eagles drove 70 yards on 11 plays late in the first half for their only TD. They converted three third downs on the series, including Vick's 19-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson on third-and-9.Before the game, the Eagles retired the No. 20 worn by Brian Dawkins for 13 seasons from 1996-2008. The hard-hitting safety went to eight Pro Bowls and was a four-time All-Pro in 16 years with Philadelphia and Denver.Dawkins, one of the most revered athletes to play in this sports-crazed city, sent the sellout crowd at the Linc into a frenzy when he ran out of the tunnel during pregame introductions. Wearing his green No. 20 Eagles jersey, Dawkins did his unique, crawling, gyrating entrance. He then joined the captains at midfield for the coin toss. Dawkins changed back into his navy blue pinstriped suit and led the crowd in signing "Fly! Eagles! Fly!" at halftime.NOTES:The officials got a standing ovation when they walked onto the field an hour before kickoff. ... McCoy has four 100-yard games vs. the Giants. ... Manning wasn't sacked.

Quick Links

Wilson's return sparks Capitals to a 5-2 win at Minnesota

Wilson's return sparks Capitals to a 5-2 win at Minnesota

Tom Wilson stayed on brand in his return from a long suspension.

The Capitals’ big man scored a goal and took a penalty on the same play in his first game of the season, a 5-2 win against the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night. 

Wilson won’t get the 16 games back he missed for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. But he tried to make up for it in his debut. 

Wilson scored Washington’s second goal at 19:32 of the first period when he drove the net hard and deflected a pass from teammate Dmitry Orlov past Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk. But this being Wilson, nothing is totally uncontroversial.  

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was moving fast. There was no stopping him. Wilson, with some help from Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, collided with Dubnyk. The puck was already in the net, but the referee decided Wilson needed to go think about what he’d done after Dubnyk got clocked in the head. It was a two-minute goalie interference call. 

That’s an odd play rarely called. Either the goal counts or it doesn’t, but maybe because Wilson had already scored before running into Dubnyk both calls could stand. 

“It was a first for me to score and get a penalty on the same play,” Wilson told reporters in St. Paul. “I was just going hard to the net and Snarls [Orlov] put it right on my tape. It was a great pass at full speed. I was trying to do everything I could to get out of the way. I’ll take the goal and the kill went out there and got it done. It was good to see.”

It was far from Wilson’s only contribution in his first game back. He also fought Marcus Foligno at 11:58 of the second period on the faceoff after Minnesota cut a Washington lead to 3-1. He didn’t back down when asked to go by Foligno. 

“He’s a key player for our team, brings so much energy both on the ice and off the ice,” forward Andre Burakovsky said. “Huge lift for the team to get him back earlier. Didn’t expect that and I think he had a really strong game today. Obviously, he got the goal in his first game back and then some dirty works. Obviously, I think he’s a huge guy for us in PK and it showed today.”

Wilson didn’t get the assist on the goal that put the game away. Alex Ovechkin found Orlov for a one-timer on a pass from the left faceoff circle to the right. But it was Wilson driving hard toward the goal that kept a Wild defenseman with him and allowed Orlov the space to finish Ovechkin’s pass. Those little things have been missed in the 16 games Wilson was suspended. He was relentless. 

One big issue for the Capitals: The penalty kill. Wilson has been a big part of that group in recent years and without him – and, to be fair the departed Jay Beagle and the injured Brooks Orpik – Washington entered the game 29thin the NHL in penalty kill percentage (71.7 percent). Wilson wasn’t eased into anything. He played 5:23 on the penalty kill and the Capitals killed five of six Wild power plays. 

[Wilson] does a lot not just on the ice, but in our room. Adds a ton of energy. Well respected player for how he trains,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden. “Going through a tough time and obviously kind of a surprise for us to get him back today. We were hoping to at any point here and we were able to take advantage of a fortunate bounce for our team before even the game started. But I didn’t expect him to have as strong a game as he did." 

"Obviously able to convert on a great play on a line rush, but just the other things he did. Our penalty kill, the opposition scores a goal and, you talk about shifts after goals, not giving the team any more momentum than they’ve already gotten and he gets in a fight there. There’s a lot to like about Tom Wilson and I thought he had a strong game. It was great to have him back.”

MORE CAPS NEWS:

Quick Links

4 reasons the Caps beat the Wild

4 reasons the Caps beat the Wild

Think the Caps missed Tom Wilson? It sure looked like it.

Washington looked like a completely different team with Wilson back in the lineup Tuesday in a dominant 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Here are four reasons the Caps won:

Tom Wilson

Wilson made his season debut Tuesday after his suspension was reduced by a neutral arbitrator earlier in the day. Wilson’s addition to the lineup had two effects. One, it made the lineup a lot deeper. Without Wilson, Todd Reirden was having trouble putting together the right lineup. Several players cycled on the top line and every line behind the top had to shuffle. Wilson came back onto the top line and immediately the rest of the lineup fell into place.

The top line looked better, the second line looked better and the third line looked better with their regular lineups back intact.

Wilson’s return also brought a lot of energy to the team and that was evident from the very start of the game. The Caps outshot Minnesota 12-6 and took the 2-0 lead in the first period of the game. Compare that to the rather lethargic game we saw on Sunday, clearly, Wilson brought a spark.

Oh, yeah, Wilson has also had a pretty darn good game too. He scored in the first period of the game in a typical Wilson play. He completely blew past Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter and tipped in a pass from Dmitry Orlov as he crashed the net on goalie Devan Dubnyk.

Somehow Wilson was also given a goalie interference penalty… but the goal still counted? Regardless of what was an obvious reputation penalty, it was a good return for Wilson, who also had a fight with Marcus Foligno and helped set up Orlov’s second goal by crashing again and drawing the defense over to him.

Dmitry Orlov

Orlov broke a 19-game goal drought with a goal just 7:23 into the game.

Lars Eller had the puck and cut to the blue line in the offensive zone turning to the middle. Minnesota got caught puck watching as the defense shifted with Eller, leaving Orlov open on the left. Eller found him and Orlov took advantage of the extra space to score his first goal of the season.

Orlov would add an assist on Wilson’s goal and a second goal in the third period off a beautiful pass from Alex Ovechkin.

The typically reliable defensive pairing of Orlov and Matt Niskanen struggled at the start of the season prompting Todd Reirden to switch up the pairs and place Orlov with John Carlson. Clearly, the move had the desired effect in Tuesday’s game.

The schedule

Tuesday’s game was the Wild’s first at home since Oct. 27. Minnesota was coming off a seven-game road swing and they looked a bit weary at the start of the game. As mentioned above, the Wild were outshot 12-6 in the first period and then 15-8 in the second.

Really, this game was a perfect storm. Not only were the Wild tired from a lengthy road trip, but they also were dealing with a Caps team that was pumped up by the return of Wilson.

Part of what made Sunday’s loss to Arizona so disappointing was the fact that the Coyotes were on the second leg of a back-to-back with their starting goalie on IR. The Caps were not able to take advantage, but they certainly took it to a vulnerable, road-weary team on Tuesday.

The penalty kill

Washington’s porous penalty kill was the reason the Caps lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday and a major reason they fell to Arizona. The PK finally stood tall on Tuesday as the Caps were able to kill off four out of five penalties on the night. The lone power play goal the team gave up came in the third period when the Caps were already up 5-1 and the game was no longer in doubt.

You can add the penalty kill to the long list of things that Wilson instantly improved in his return. Wilson logged 16:47 of total ice time on Tuesday and 5:23 of that came on the penalty kill.

MORE CAPS NEWS: