From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- After losing two straight games to Toronto, the Baltimore Orioles broke out the big bats.The Orioles tied a team record by with seven home runs to rout the Blue Jays 12-2 and stay within 1 games of the AL East lead.Chris Davis and Manny Machado each connected twice and the Orioles remained close to the division-leading New York Yankees, who won 8-2 in Minnesota.Nate McLouth hit a leadoff shot in the first inning and Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds also homered. Baltimore has hit seven home runs three times, most recently on Aug. 26, 1985."Home runs are very unique, and when you do what we did tonight, it's something to be proud of. It's something that doesn't happen a whole lot in the game," Thome said.Thome's home run was the 612th of his career and the first he's hit at home for the Orioles."Up and down the lineup, everyone swung the bat well. It's been fun," Thome said.Davis finished with a career-high five RBIs to help the Orioles split a four-game series with the last-place Blue Jays."This was a tough series. It was one of those ones that you don't want to see at the end of the season coming in off a long road trip," Davis said."I think if you'd have told us a few months ago that we'd be a game-and-a-half out with six games left, I think you'd be pretty happy with that."Beginning Friday, the Orioles have three games with Boston at home and three at Tampa Bay."We just got through playing Boston and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we're at a point where we still have a chance, so that's all you can ask for," Davis said.The Orioles trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth before hitting three home runs.Thome led off with his third homer since joining the Orioles. With two outs, Machado hit his fifth of the year for a 3-2 Baltimore lead. All of Machado's home runs have come at home, and his drive was the Orioles' 200th homer of the year.Davis' three-run drive gave the Orioles a five-run inning and finished Carlos Villanueva (7-7).Villanueva equaled a career high by giving up four home runs."Those mistakes I made, they hit them with authority. They put the power stroke on them and made me pay for them," Villanueva said.Machado and Thome are the first AL teammates to hit home runs in the same inning with an age difference of more than 20 years, according to home run historian David Vincent.Thome is 42 and Machado is 20 -- Thome's major league career began 10 months before Machado was born."That's crazy," Machado said. "It's a pretty good stat. I remember when I used to watch (Thome) play when I was a little kid. Now to hit a home run in the same inning he did, just feels great."Davis hit his second home run in the seventh. On Aug. 24, he hit three home runs against the Blue Jays, also in a game started by Villanueva. He has 28 home runs.Reynolds hit his 23rd homer in the sixth and Machado added a two-run shot in the eighth.Miguel Gonzalez (8-4) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He allowed Edwin Encarnacion's 42nd home run with two outs in the top of the first.With one out in the fifth, J.P. Arencibia, who went 7 for 9 in the four-game series, doubled and scored on Anthony Gose's single.NOTES:Orioles LHP Randy Wolf was put on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his left elbow. Baltimore purchased the contract of INF-OF Bill Hall from Triple-A Norfolk. Hall will provide outfield help while Lew Ford is out with a groin injury. ... Deion Sanders, in town for Thursday's NFL Network game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, took batting practice with the Orioles before the game. Sanders, who played nine years in the majors, was an outfielder for Baltimore manager Buck Showalter in the minors while in the Yankees' organization. ... The Orioles are off Thursday and begin a three-game series with Boston on Friday. Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.08 ERA) faces Red Sox RHP Aaron Cook (4-10, 5.13). ... On Thursday, Toronto hosts New York to begin a four-game series. Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (8-7, 3.28) faces Yankees RHP Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.94).
The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.
“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.
At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.
“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”
Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.
After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.
Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.
Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.
“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”
With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.
Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.
Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.
The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.
Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.
“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”
Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.
And they know it.
“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.
"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”
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The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.
Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.
In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.
After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.
“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.
When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”
Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.
But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.
Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.
“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.
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