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Kelly, Sark play down Oregon-Washington rivalry

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Kelly, Sark play down Oregon-Washington rivalry

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Oregon coach Chip Kelly seized on SpongeBob SquarePants when describing how the No. 2 Ducks feel about the past rivalry with the Washington Huskies.

He says most of the acrimony between the two teams occurred more than a decade ago.

``We've got kids that are 17, 18, 19 years old. You talk 10 years ago, they were 7 and 8. At 7 and 8 they were SpongeBob SquarePants. They weren't worried about Joey Harrington,'' Kelly quipped.

``I think a lot of time people can bring up the past,'' he added. ``But we're always trying to meet fast, practice fast, those things. We don't have a whole heck of a lot of time to give them a history of games played against a certain opponent.''

While the Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) themselves may not buy into the hype over the rivalry, there's still a lot of back-and-forth razzing between fans in the neighboring Pacific Northwest states. The No. 23 Huskies (3-1, 1-1) visit Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.

The rivalry's rancor goes back a while, but Huskies' fans remember ``The Pick'' in 1994 when freshman cornerback Kenny Wheaton saved the day for the Ducks when he picked off a pass by Damon Huard and ran it back 97 yards for a score. The victory would send Oregon to the Rose Bowl - and a clip is still played on the video scoreboard for fans before every home game.

The Huskies raised the ire of Ducks' fans in 2002 when, after beating Oregon 42-10, the team danced for nearly an hour on the ``O'' on the 50-yard line at Autzen.

At times the battles between Washington and Oregon seemed to rival those with their in-state foes.

But the Ducks have won the last eight games between the two teams, diminishing the rivalry's intensity. In the meantime, USC has taken on a greater adversarial role for Duck fans.

Oregon's eight-game winning streak is the longest for either side in the history of the series, which dates back to 1900. The Ducks also have won eight straight overall, going back to last season.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the motivation isn't in the rivalry, it's in the No. 23 Huskies themselves.

``It's not about that we're playing Oregon or that it's at Autzen or what uniforms they're wearing or what uniforms we're wearing. It's about getting to 2-0 in conference play. That's what all these guys think,'' Sarkisian said. ``When you have to start looking for external motivators it can get dicey for you because you don't know if you pushed the exact right buttons to get them excited to play. They'll be ready to play because they want be ready to play.''

The game likely will come down to Washington's defense against Oregon's speedy offense.

Last week the Huskies held off then-No. 8 Stanford 17-13. The Cardinal managed only 68 yards rushing while passing for 170 yards, scoring on two field goals and an interception return.

The Huskies are ranked second in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing opponents an average of about 315 yards and 19.8 points.

Oregon, meanwhile, averages more than 52 points and 550 yards in total offense.

But what stymies most of the Ducks' opponents is the speed. With running backs who moonlight during the spring on the track team, Oregon's no-huddle spread is hard to stop. Twenty of Oregon's 33 touchdown drives this season took less than two minutes, and 11 took less than one.

The offense is guided by redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota, who has thrown for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and ranked second in the league in passing efficiency (152.7). Senior running back Kenjon Barner is averaging 121 rushing yards and 12 points.

``You just have to stay calm. You can't get too hyped up, can't come into the game too hyped because they're running so many plays over and over and over again,'' Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant said. `` You miss you key and it's an 80-yard touchdown play. You have to stay disciplined in what you're doing.''

Washington has been hardened by facing two other teams in the top 10. The Huskies fell 41-3 to No. 3 LSU before the victory over the Cardinal.

Sophomore running back Bishop Sankey, a first-year starter, is an emerging threat on the offense. He ran for 144 yards on 20 carries in the Huskies' victory over Stanford, including a 61-yard touchdown run. The week before the sophomore rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries, with two touchdowns against Portland State.

Last season the Ducks defeated Washington 34-17 in the final game played at the old Husky Stadium before an extensive renovation that is set to be completed for the 2013 season.

Much as Kelly and Sarkisian downplay the rivalry, some of the taunting among the fans has obviously been heard by the players.

``You've just got to go out there and represent your school,'' Mariota said. ``You can't really put more on the game, but you know deep down it's a big game.''

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

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