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Hawaii defeats East Tennessee State 84-61

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Hawaii defeats East Tennessee State 84-61

HONOLULU (AP) Vander Joaquin scored 23 points, and Christian Stanhardinger had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Hawaii to an 84-61 victory over East Tennessee State 84-61 in a consolation game of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday night.

Manroop Clair had 15 points, Isaac Fotu had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Brandon Spearman added 10 points for Hawaii (6-4).

Hawaii, which never trailed in the game, scored the first 12 points of the second half to distance itself from East Tennessee State. Clair, a reserve guard who got the starting nod, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Hawaii a 57-31 lead with 12:39 remaining.

Hawaii led 34-22 at halftime.

Rashawn Rembert and Jarvis Jones scored 14 points each, and Lester Wilson added 11 points for East Tennessee State (2-9).

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Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

After the 5-2 Game 2 loss to the New York Islanders Friday night in a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series, Rob Carlin asked the Caps Postgame Live crew how they would fix Washington's error-ridden performances seen in the first round so far. 

Brent Johnson knows the pressures that comes with playing in net during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn't mean he'll sympathize with the end results. As a goaltender for the Capitals for four seasons in the mid-2000s, Johnson has vast experience with the ups and downs that come with the position. But he had a pretty radical answer to Carlin's question: Bench veteran goalie Braden Holtby, the man who helped Washington win a Stanley Cup in 2018, for a rookie who has never played in a regular-season NHL game: Vitek Vanecek. 

"I know how they can shake it up. I know how they can shake it up. Right?" Johnson said. "Vitek Vanecek. Right there. That’s it. Hey. You know what? Bold decision. Bold decision. Do something bold. You never know. I’ve seen it happen in the playoffs thus far."

To call for Washington's veteran netminder to take a seat on the bench for a rookie who hasn't even played in the NHL yet is more than bold. Johnson's proclamation left Carlin yelling "Whoa!" and fellow panelist Al Koken saying he didn't know how to top that one. Alan May simply smiled and shook his head. 

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The Capitals wouldn't be in this position at all had rookie Ilya Samsonov never gotten injured during the long NHL break back home in Russia in an off-ice incident. The 23-year-old had a breakout season for Washington to get in the rotation in what's been an up-and-down year for Holtby. Samsonov had a .913 save percentage and won 16 of his 26 games in net this season. Vanecek, on the other hand, just got called up for the postseason after playing all season for the AHL's Hersey Bears.  

Nonetheless, the Caps have to figure out something to get a spark going for Game 3 against the Isles at noon Sunday. Johnson's solution was by far the most radical suggested, but everyone agreed changes needed to be made or the season could end far sooner than anyone anticipated. 

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Capitals 'hoping' Nicklas Backstrom can play in Game 3 vs. Islanders, but status remains uncertain

Capitals 'hoping' Nicklas Backstrom can play in Game 3 vs. Islanders, but status remains uncertain

While Capitals fans would take any good news they can get after the team fell behind 2-0 to the Islanders in a 5-2 loss on Friday night, there was no concrete update on center Nicklas Backstrom’s injury status postgame.

Washington coach Todd Reirden said he was hopeful for Backstrom’s return in Game 3 against New York on Sunday in Toronto. That was about all he was providing to reporters after the game. 

After a late hit from Islanders captain Anders Lee, Backstrom left Game 1 early and was ruled out for Game 2 as he remained in concussion protocol. Backstrom’s teammates and coaches were displeased by the late hit, calling it “dirty” and “predatory” after the fact.

The Caps struggled on Friday without Backstrom in an all-around sloppy performance. Reirden commented on the impact of losing the star center following Game 2.

“Without Backstrom, it's not an easy situation and getting Lars Eller back in there for the first time after being away from the bubble for a little bit, we have some adversity,” Reirden said. “We have to fight through. It's not going to happen easily. It never does, and we have to put more work in and match that and compete to give ourselves a chance to have some of our skill be more present in the game."

Now trailing 2-0 in the first round, the Capitals have to turn things around quickly if they hope to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Having Backstrom back on the ice for Game 3 would certainly make their troubles easier. That is far from certain right now. 

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