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Pagano returns as Indianapolis beats Texans 28-16

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Pagano returns as Indianapolis beats Texans 28-16

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Chuck Pagano just wanted to savor the moments Sunday.

He waved to the fans, hugged his family, his players, assistant coaches even the Houston Texans. And when the Colts completed their remarkable regular season with a 28-16 victory over the AFC South champion, there was no holding back the joy in the locker room.

``Everybody was dancing. Just not taking anything for granted,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Mathis said. ``The small things in life mean the most.''

There was nothing small about this win.

Only two teams - the 2008 Dolphins and the 1999 Colts - produced 10-win turnarounds. On Sunday, the Colts (11-5) joined the next-best group with a nine-win improvement.

Indy now heads to back to its old hometown, Baltimore, for a wild-card game next weekend. And although they were locked into the No. 5 playoff spot before Sunday's game, Pagano decided to play all of his healthy starters the entire game.

Those guys, who won nine times under offensive coordinator and former interim coach Bruce Arians, just wanted one more to help Pagano celebrate his first sideline appearance since Sept. 23. Three days later, he took an indefinite leave from the team to begin the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. The cancer is now in complete remission and last week, Pagano's oncologist, Dr. Larry Cripe, gave him medical clearance to return to his old job.

On Sunday, he was back celebrating.

``What a day. What a day,'' Pagano said full of the same kind of emotion that resonated throughout the stadium, the locker room and even on the Texans' sideline.

In pregame warm-ups, Pagano hugged Arians, shook hands with general manager Ryan Grigson and spoke for several minutes with Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

During the game, Arian Foster celebrated his 13-yard TD run to make it 14-13 in the third quarter, tapping the (hash)Chuckstrong sign hanging on the wall in the back of the end zone.

After the game, Pagano shared a hug with Phillips and several Texans players, got an encouraging message from Texans coach Gary Kubiak and then jogged to the locker room where players and coaches danced and chanted, and Pagano did a do-si-do with team owner Jim Irsay.

``It was like a rock star coming out of the tunnel with all of the cameras flashing when he walked out,'' Andrew Luck said. ``I think that was sort of a lift that he gave us, it was energy. Just to have his physical presence and seeing him on sideline was great.''

For the Texas (12-4), it was a debacle.

They blew a second chance to clinch home-field advantage. A few hours later, courtesy of Denver and New England wins, they also lost a first-round bye pushing the team that held the AFC's top playoff seed all season down to No. 3.

The good news is that they'll have a home game against Cincinnati. The bad news: They must play next week and head into the playoffs with three losses in their last four games.

``In this league you play some good teams and you don't play good, you're going to get beat,'' Kubiak said. ``You've got to handle it like a man and move on but we're very capable of flipping it back the other way, too, and that's what I'm going to focus on.''

Kubiak has plenty to fix.

Vontae Davis picked off Matt Schaub twice. Schaub was 24 of 36 for 275 yards.

Foster wound up with 16 carries for 96 yards, far less than the 165 yards he burned Indy for two weeks ago.

Deji Karim scored on a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest in the Colts' Indy era. Karim's score came just 12 seconds after Houston had taken its only lead of the day.

The defense not only allowed the Colts to convert a third-and-23, but they also gave up a 70-yard TD pass from Luck to T.Y. Hilton on the play. That put Houston in a 28-16 hole that they couldn't climb out of.

Indy also ran out the final 9:46 on its last possession, and kept defensive menace J.J. Watt out of reach of the NFL's single-season sacks record. Watt finished with zero sacks Sunday, 20 1/2 this season and two short of Michael Strahan's mark.

But the only thing that really mattered to Houston was another loss. The Texans are now 0-11 all-time at Indy.

``It's just not a good feeling,'' Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson said after catching 12 passes for 141 yards. ``You go out there and you play to win. We wanted to win and we didn't win. That's pretty much it.''

The Colts, meanwhile, head into the playoffs with wins in four of their last five games and with a team that has continued to find ways to win even when Luck hasn't played his best ball.

Luck was just 14 of 28 for 191 yards, throwing for two scores. He broke Peyton Manning's franchise rookie record for completions on the game's first series, finishing with 339, 15 short of Sam Bradford's NFL mark. With 22 TD passes this season, he also passed Charlie Connerly for third on the NFL's rookie TD list.

It didn't take long for the Colts to assert themselves in this emotional environment - or to swing the game in their direction after Shayne Graham made a 37-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

Karim fielded the ensuing kickoff a yard deep in the end zone, found a seam in the middle of the field and never slowed until he reached the opposite end zone to make it 21-16.

Then, after being held without a first down in the third quarter, Luck changed that in the blink of an eye with a nifty pass that got just beyond the hands of a defender. Hilton hauled it in raced in for the score to make it 28-16, setting off another wild postgame party.

``I think any time you have a chance to celebrate a season like this, and it's going to continue on, but to complete the regular season and win 11 ball games and the faith and belief and trust that every man in that locker room had, it was just another way for them to express themselves,'' Pagano said after being handed a game ball by Irsay. ``There was a lot of high-fiving, a lot of hugging, a lot of dancing going on and a lot of celebrating. There are a lot of things to celebrate right now.''

NOTES: Johnson joined former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison as the only players in league history with three seasons of 100 or more catches and 1,500 or more yards. ... Watt had a shared sack taken away in the first half when the officials erased a sack-fumble of Luck because of the Tuck Rule. ... The Colts lost starting guard Joe Reitz in the first half with a head injury. ... Houston linebacker Daryl Sharpton left the game with a hip injury. Linebacker Tim Dobbins left in the second half with what Kubiak thought was a shoulder injury.

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2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Capitals vs. Islanders starts Aug. 12, schedule, opponents, format, odds

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Capitals vs. Islanders starts Aug. 12, schedule, opponents, format, odds

The Stanley Cup playoffs are finally here after qualifying and round robin play concluded in Toronto and Edmonton on Sunday.

Five months after the season paused for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NHL has whittled 24 teams down to 16. The Capitals will play the New York Islanders and old coach Barry Trotz in the first round. They celebrated winning the Stanley Cup together two years ago.

Trotz left to take the job in New York and famously said after receiving his championship ring in an emotional meeting with his former players that he wished them well and that they could win it all again "but you'll have to go through the [explitive] Island, OK?"

So 24 teams are down to 16 with games set to continue in Toronto and Edmonton. The first round begins on Tuesday. This year's road to the Cup will look significantly different than past seasons, but it won't be any less meaningful to the players pushing for the Cup.

For the latest Capitals news and analysis from NBC Sports Washington, download the MyTeams App.

RELATED: 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs opponent set: How Capitals fared vs. ex-coach Barry Trotz and Islanders

How does the bracket look?

Well, you see....there is no bracket. Not in the traditional sense. The NHL has re-seeded teams No. 1 through No. 8. So the Chicago Blackhawks, the No. 12 in the qualifying round, upset the No. 5 seed Edmonton Oilers in their home city and are now listed as the No. 8 seed.

None of it really matters. Whichever four teams advance to the Eastern and Western Conference semifinals will be re-seeded again. If No. 4 Boston is the best seed remaining after the first round, it would play the lowest-seeded remaining team. In this case, No. 8 Montreal.

But we are back to a best-of-seven format. The qualifying round was best-of-five - except for the top four teams in each conference who played round-robin games against each other for seeding. That's how Presidents' Trophy-winner Boston ended up No. 4 in the Eastern Conference.

What does this mean for the Capitals?

The Capitals finished the regular season with a 41-20-8 record and 90 points. They barely claimed the Metropolitan Division title for the fifth consecutive year, edging out the Flyers by one point. They rank third in the Eastern Conference behind the Bruins and Tampa Lightning.

But they weren't playing well in February and March and looked suspect during round-robin play. Norris Trophy finalist John Carlson is injured and missed the final two round-robin games, third-line center Lars Eller left the Toronto bubble for the birth of his son and has to quarantine at least until Wednesday.

But re-seeded tournaments are inherently unpredictable and beating the Islanders could suddenly mean a second-round series against a beatable opponent instead of another date with the No. 2 Lightning.  

Where will the Stanley Cup Playoffs take place?

Eastern Conference games will continue to be held at Scotiabank Place in Toronto while Western Conference games will still take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton. These two hub cities will serve as respective bubbles for each conference. The Stanley Cup Final will join the conference champs together in Edmonton

Who is here?

The 2019 champions (St. Louis Blues), the 2018 champs (Capitals), a Bruins team that came within a game of the title last season and a Tampa Bay squad that just never can get over the hump in the playoffs. Oh – and the fading dynasty that is the Chicago Blackhawks still has some fight left in it. The Philadelphia Flyers are a legitimate darkhorse despite being the top seed. The Colorado Avalanche have so much talent just hitting its prime. There’s tons of intrigue with this tournament and it could easily go haywire. Just the way we like it.

Who is missing?

Sideny Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins for one. They went out in the qualifying round to Carey Price and the Canadiens. The Pens might have a 12.5% chance at the No. 1 overall pick, but the NHL loses a meal ticket.

Also gone is superstar Connor McDavid and the Oilers. All the NHL wants is its most dynamic player on its biggest stage and it just rarely seems to happen.

And say goodbye to the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose fans face a long, cold Fall for once instead of summer. The 1967 champions and their star-studded roster will have to wait until next year. Again.

Who never made It

Twenty-four teams took part in the expanded postseason. The seven that did not make the cut were the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE

FIRST ROUND

(No. 1) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (No. 8) Montreal Canadiens

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Canadiens vs. Flyers, 8pm

Friday, Aug. 14: Canadiens vs. Flyers, 3pm

Sunday, Aug. 16: Flyers vs. Canadiens, 8pm

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Flyers vs. Canadiens, 3pm

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Canadiens vs. Flyers, TBD*

Friday, Aug. 21: Flyers vs. Canadiens, TBD*

Sunday, Aug. 23: Canadiens vs. Flyers, TBD*

 

(No. 2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (No. 7 ) Columbus Blue Jackets

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, 3pm

Thursday, Aug. 13: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, 3pm

Saturday, Aug. 15: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets, 7:30pm

Monday, Aug. 17: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets, 3pm

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, TBD*

Friday, Aug. 21: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets, TBD*

Saturday, Aug. 22: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, TBD*

 

(No. 3) Washington Capitals vs. (No. 6) New York Islanders

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Islanders vs. Capitals

Friday, Aug. 14: Islanders vs. Capitals

Sunday, Aug. 16: Capitals vs. Islanders

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Capitals vs. Islanders

Thursday, Aug. 20: Islanders vs. Capitals, TBD*

Saturday, Aug. 22: Capitals vs. Islanders, TBD*

Sunday, Aug. 23: Islanders vs. Capitals, TBD*

 

(No. 4) Boston Bruins vs. (No. 5) Carolina Hurricanes

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, 8pm

Thursday, Aug. 13: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, 8pm

Saturday, Aug. 15: Bruins vs. Hurricanes, 12pm

Monday, Aug. 17: Bruins vs. Hurricanes, 8pm

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, TBD*

Thursday, Aug. 20: Bruins vs. Hurricanes, TBD*

Sunday, Aug, 23: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, TBD*

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

FIRST ROUND

(No. 1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (No. 8) Chicago Blackhawks

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights, 11:30pm

Thursday, Aug. 13: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights, 5:30pm

Saturday, Aug. 15: Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks, 8pm

Sunday, Aug. 16: Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks, 6:30pm

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights, TBD*

Thursday, Aug. 20: Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks, TBD*

Saturday, Aug. 22: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights, TBD*

 

(No. 2) Colorado Avalanche vs. (No. 7) Arizona Coyotes

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, 5:30pm

Friday, Aug. 14: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, 2pm

Saturday, Aug. 15: Avalanche vs. Coyotes, 3pm

Monday, Aug. 17: Avalanche vs. Coyotes, 5:30pm

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, TBD*

Friday, Aug. 21: Avalanche vs. Coyotes, TBD*

Sunday, Aug. 23: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, TBD*

 

(No. 3) Dallas Stars vs. (No. 6) Calgary Flames Sunday

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Flames vs. Stars, 4:30pm

Thursday, Aug. 13: Flames vs. Stars, 10:30pm

Friday, Aug. 14: Stars vs. Flames, 10:30pm

Sunday, Aug. 16: Stars vs. Flames, 2pm

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Flames vs. Stars, TBD*

Thursday, Aug. 20: Stars vs. Flames, TBD*

Saturday, Aug. 22: Flames vs. Stars, TBD*

 

(No. 4) St. Louis Blues vs. (No. 5) Vancouver Canucks

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Canucks vs. Blues, 10:30pm

Friday, Aug. 14: Canucks vs. Blues, 6:30pm

Sunday, Aug. 16: Blues vs. Canucks, 10:30pm

Monday, Aug. 17: Blues vs. Canucks, 10:30pm

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Canucks vs. Blues, TBD*

Friday, Aug. 21: Blues vs. Canucks, TBD*

Sunday, Aug. 23: Canucks vs. Blues, TBD*

*If necessary

Updated odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup

An impressive showing in round robin play has the Golden Knights as slight favorites to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Capitals in 2018 in five games in their first season as an expansion club, according to one sportsbook. The Caps rank seventh with +1278 odds.

Vegas Golden Knights: +606

Colorado Avalanche: +617

Philadelphia Flyers: +617

Tampa Bay Lightning: +667

Boston Bruins: +747

St. Louis Blues: +956

Washington Capitals: +1278

Dallas Stars: +1600

Carolina Hurricanes: +1678

Calgary Flames: +1978

Vancouver Canucks: +2389

New York Islanders: +2611

Arizona Coyotes: +3078

Chicago Blackhawks: +3167

Montreal Canadiens: +3233

Columbus Blue Jackets: +3911

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2020: Capitals vs. Islanders first round schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2020: Capitals vs. Islanders first round schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Washington Capitals will take on the New York Islanders in the first round of the newly formatted 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After winning their round robin finale against the Bruins, Washington earned the No. 3 seed and a date with former head coach Barry Trotz. The first round of the  Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Tuesday, April 11 in Toronto for the eight remaining Eastern Conference teams. Game 1 of the Capitals-Islanders series is on Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Arena. 

RELATED: 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs opponent set: How Capitals fared vs. ex-coach Barry Trotz and Islanders

Game coverage on NBC Sports Washington begins at 2:00 p.m. ET with Caps Pregame Live. After the game ends, tune in to Caps Postgame Live, with Capitals Overtime following the game broadcast. There will be extended hour-long Caps Pregame and Postgame Live shows throughout the series. 

You can watch every game on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. Download the MyTeams app here, and then stream the Capitals playoff games right here

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CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE 2019

Game 1: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Wednesday, August 12
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream Game 1 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 2: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Friday, August 14
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To Watch: Stream Game 2 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 3: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Sunday, August 16
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET 
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream Game 3 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 4: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Tuesday, August18
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream Game 4 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 5 (If necessary): Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Saturday, April 20
Time: TBD
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To Watch: Stream Game 5 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 6 (If necessary): Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Saturday, August 22
Time: TBD
TV Channel: TBD
How To WatchStream Game 6 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Game 7 (If necessary): Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Date: Sunday, August 23
Time: TBD
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream Game 7 of Capitals vs. Islanders on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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