Nationals

Marleau nets 2 again as Sharks beat Coyotes 5-3

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Marleau nets 2 again as Sharks beat Coyotes 5-3

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Sharks coach Todd McLellan's decision to start the season with familiar lines from a year ago is paying early dividends for San Jose.

Patrick Marleau scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:53 remaining for his third straight two-goal game, helping the Sharks rally from a two-goal deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3 in their home opener Thursday night.

Joe Thornton added three assists - getting one on each of Marleau's scores - and an empty-net goal as San Jose's two biggest stars appear in midseason form already. Marleau has six goals and two assists and Thornton has one goal and eight assists as the Sharks have opened the season with three straight wins for the first time since 2008-09.

``They're clicking,'' McLellan said. ``They had big nights tonight. Teams are going to count on their big guys to get the job done. Ours are producing right now.''

Logan Couture and Marty Havlat also scored for San Jose. Antti Niemi made 32 saves.

Steve Sullivan, Antoine Vermette and Lauri Korpikoski scored for the Coyotes, unable to hold onto a 3-1 lead in the third period on the back end of a back-to-back.

``It's a shame because we played so well for most of the game,'' coach Dave Tippett said. ``In the third period we make a couple of errors and it cost us. It's hard to stomach. We have no time for learning. We need people to get in there and get the job done. We need to finish and we'll have to find people who can do that. That's a point wasted for sure.''

Marleau started San Jose's comeback with a goal midway through the third and then beat Jason LaBarbera for the game-winner. Thornton started the play with a sharp up-ice pass to Joe Pavelski, who fed Marleau for the wrist shot.

``Joe made a great play coming back,'' Marleau said. ``He picked up a loose puck, and I kind of just took off, and he found Pav, and Pav was able to slide it over to me. I just tried to get it away as quick as possible.''

The Coyotes seemed to take control with two goals in a span of 2:27 of the third to take a 3-1 lead. The outburst started when Sullivan came out of the penalty box to start a 15-second power play that Phoenix capitalized on. Sullivan's shot was blocked but Vermette knocked the rebound past Niemi, who was off-balance after Shane Doan was knocked into him by a Sharks defender.

While Niemi had little chance to stop that shot, he did a poor job on Phoenix's next goal when Korpikoski beat him to the short side from a bad angle to give the Coyotes a two-goal edge.

``Once we get down, there's still belief in this team where we can come back from deficits like that because we know the skill and talent we have and the offensive capabilities of the players on this team that we can score goals in bunches,'' Couture said.

That proved to be true as Marleau took a pass from Thornton in the slot and beat LaBarbera to make it 3-2. Havlat then got the equalizer when he knocked in a rebound with 6:54 remaining, and Marleau provided the game-winner.

``We had the game under control and we just gave it away,'' Doan said.

After beating Calgary and Edmonton in their home openers to begin the season, the Sharks got their long-awaited chance to play before their own fans for the first time in more than nine months because of the four-month NHL lockout.

San Jose got a break when Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was scratched with a lower-body injury. Smith, who became the first goalie to shut out the Sharks three times in one season a year ago, left Wednesday's win over Columbus in the first period with the injury.

LaBarbera was up to the task early as the Sharks used the energy from the crowd to get off to a fast start. San Jose took 12 of the game's first 13 shots, including seven during a 2:39 stretch on the power play that included 1:22 of 5-on-3 time.

San Jose took advantage of its next power-play chance when Derek Morris was sent off in the final minute of the period for cross-checking Justin Braun. Thornton won a faceoff from Boyd Gordon and got the puck to Pavelski at the point. Pavelski's shot was tipped by Couture into the net for the Sharks' sixth power-play goal of the season.

The Coyotes equalized in the second period when Sullivan scored 1:48 into the two-man advantage for his fourth goal in two nights.

NOTES: The Sharks played a video tribute to the team's original owner, George Gund III, who died this month from cancer. ... Matthew Irwin got his first career point with an assist on Marleau's first goal. ... F Scott Gomez, signed Wednesday by San Jose, did not dress. ... Coyotes C Matthew Lombardi left in the second period with an upper-body injury.

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Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

HOUSTON -- Going 1-0 is taxing.

Ask the Nationals pitchers. Just make sure to talk with the select few being used. 

Washington is trying to finish a World Series win behind six pitchers. Maybe six-and-a-half, at most seven, if Tanner Rainey and Fernando Rodney are included. No matchup guys. No bullpen depth. Just a formula of tying the yoke to one of four starters that day, then Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle when necessary.

The question is if those six people can make it through three more wins.

A few things have made this approach viable. One is the starting rotation being populated with guys accustomed to a lot of innings. Washington finished with two of the top five in innings pitched this year (Stephen Strasburg at No. 2 and Patrick Corbin at No. 5), in addition to Max Scherzer, who routinely leads the league in innings pitched. Another is a willingness to accept varied roles and workload in the bullpen. The idea of a “closer” has been tossed outside. A person to obtain key outs is inserted into the game at the most crucial -- and beneficial -- time. 

“I think it’s Huddy,” Sean Doolittle said when asked why the bullpen has worked this way. “I think when you have an anchor like that at the back of the bullpen, it kind of lets guys slide into certain spots in front of him. And when he can go multiple innings and come in early in the game with runners on base -- that’s tough. Not a lot of guys who pitch in that closer’s role are comfortable doing that. But he has experience pitching in so many different roles, he brings that versatility to our group.”

Corbin has helped. He came out of the bullpen again Tuesday to wipe three more outs away and help the Nationals earn a 1-0 series lead. He appears likely to start Game 4 in Nationals Park after pitching his “bullpen session” in Game 1 of the World Series. Among the questions for Corbin, and Davey Martinez, is if Corbin is available for one out Wednesday night in Game 2. Picture left-handed Michael Brantley up with two runners on base and two out in the seventh inning. Brantley’s career OPS against left-handed pitchers is 125 points lower than it is against right-handed pitchers. Martinez said he would speak to Corbin late Monday to see what’s next.

Doolittle was already prognosticating after Game 1. Tomorrow may always be just a day away, but it might as well not exist in this current formula.

“Regardless of the score, the situation, I think we all expected to be in there in some capacity,” Doolittle said. “And I think guys are willing to go multiple innings -- we’ll figure tomorrow out tomorrow. Stras is going to give us a good start and we feel good about having him out there, and he’s going to go as long as he can. We’ll piece it together after that. I think that’s how we’ve thought about it here for a while.”

And, is there enough juice for the six pitchers to handle the current day, eventually turning “tomorrow” into a parade?

“Oh my gosh,” Doolittle said. “Are you kidding me? YES. Yes. We just had a few days off. Us old guys got to put our feet up and rest a little bit. Then we had a couple really good workouts before we came down here. But, at this point in the season, you’re feeding off adrenaline so much. We’re all a little bit tired, sure. Not a lot of guys have been here before. This is the latest they’ve ever played. But when you’re out there, there’s so much adrenaline, there’s so much energy you’re just feeding off that so much. I think we are absolutely in a good spot physically and mentally for the rest of the series.”

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The Vikings will be without Adam Thielen against the Redskins in Week 7

The Vikings will be without Adam Thielen against the Redskins in Week 7

When Kirk Cousins faces the Redskins on Thursday for the first time since leaving the franchise in 2018, the quarterback will be without arguably his favorite wide receiver.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen will miss Thursday's contest vs. Washington with a hamstring injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.

Thielen injured his hamstring crashing into a barricade after hauling in a touchdown in the Vikings' 42-30 victory over the Lions on Sunday. The injury isn't expected to be serious, and Thielen might have been able to play this week had the Vikings not been playing on Thursday night. Minnesota expects him to return to action next week.

The wide receiver is a considerable loss to the Minnesota offense, as only Stefon Diggs has more receiving yards for Vikings this season than Thielen. His six receiving touchdowns lead the team, too.

The Vikings have won four straight games, and even with Thielen's injury, are still more than a two-touchdown favorite over the 1-6 Redskins.

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