Capitals

Redskins lead Seattle 14-0 after 1st quarter

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Redskins lead Seattle 14-0 after 1st quarter

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Robert Griffin III threw two 4-yard touchdown passes in his first career playoff game to give the Washington Redskins a 14-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks after the first quarter of their NFC wild-card game.

Griffin capped the Redskins' only two drives of the quarter against the NFL's top-rated defense with short tosses to running back Evan Royster and tight end Logan Paulsen. The Seahawks finished first in scoring defense, allowing 15.3 points per game

Griffin was 6 of 9 for 68 yards and ran three times for 12 yards. On the second drive, the rookie fell awkwardly while backpedaling on a pass and came up limping. He sprained his right knee in Week 14 and has sported a brace over the last three games.

Rookie Alfred Morris, the league's second-leading rusher, had 49 yards - 34 of them on four carries during Washington's opening drive that resulted in the TD pass to Royster.

Paulsen's touchdown catch finished of an 11-play, 54-yard drive in 5:58.

Seattle was moving the ball in the first quarter, but a promising drive ended when the Redskins' Stephen Bowen and London Fletcher combined to sack rookie quarterback Russell Wilson on third-and-2. It was one of two sacks for the Redskins in the quarter.

The playoff meeting between the two teams was the third, but first outside Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-10 in January 2006, and 35-14 in January 2008. Those were the last two postseason games played by the Redskins, who entered the playoffs riding an NFC-best seven-game winning streak.

Seattle has won five straight, outscoring opponents 193-60, but finished the season with a 3-5 road record and has lost eight straight road playoff games. Their only road playoff win came in its first postseason road game, Dec. 31, 1983 at Miami. The streak is the second longest in the NFL behind Detroit.

Washington, NFC East champions and No. 4 seed in the conference, became the first team since the Jaguars in 1996 to reach playoffs after starting 3-6. The Redskins went worst-to-first after finishing last in division for four straight years.

This was the second playoff game in NFL history with two starting rookie quarterbacks. Last year in the first-ever rookie QB meeting, T.J. Yates led the Texans to 31-10 victory over Andy Dalton and the Bengals.

Wilson tied Peyton Manning's 1998 NFL rookie record with 26 touchdown passes. Griffin set the league mark for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback (815) and had the best single-season rookie passer rating in NFL history (102.4), followed by Wilson (100).

Seahawks starting CB Brandon Browner and Redskins CB Cedric Griffin returned from four-game suspension for failing a drug test.

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3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

For just the second time in franchise history, the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions. They will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup FInal after a dominant 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead just 62 seconds into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Braden Holtby recorded his second consecutive shutout.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be Monday in Las Vegas.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Andre Burakovsky: It's been a rough year for Burakovsky, but all that was erased on Wednesday with his brilliant two-goal performance to lead the Caps.

The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Lightning were buzzing, outshooting the Caps 8-1. They had all the momentum until Burakovsky stole a bouncing puck from Dan Girardi and fired a quick shot far-side for the beautiful goal.

Burakovsky added a second goal later in the second as John Carlson banked a pass off the boards to launch him on a breakaway. Burakovsky coolly shot it through the open five-hole of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.

It's incredible to think that Burakovsky had not recorded a point yet this postseason prior to Game 7, was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and was talking about seeing a sports psychologist over the summer after the morning skate for Game 6.

2. Braden Holtby: The goaltending for much of the series was Andrei Vasilevskiy who led Tampa Bay's comeback in the series with his phenomenal netminding. He was outplayed in the most important games by Holtby, however, who recorded shutouts in both Game 6 and Game 7. The last goal the Lightning scored in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5. That's 139:27 of continuous play and 60 straight saves for Holtby.

Holtby was phenomenal in Game 7 with big save after big save as the Lightning pushed to tie. His biggest save came in the second period when he denied Alex Killorn on the breakaway. The score was just 2-0 at that point.

This marks just the fifth time a goalie has recorded a shutout in Game 6 and Game 7 in a playoff series.

3. Alex Ovechkin: It took Ovechkin just 62 seconds to put the Capitals ahead and it turned out to be the goal that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final. How fitting for it to be Ovechkin to score the game-winner?

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Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

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USA TODAY Sports

Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

A rough hit to the back of Brooks Orpik left him down on the ice and slow to get up. Cedric Paquette skated back to his bench and waited for the trainer to attend to Orpik and (probably) for the referees to call his number and send him to the box.

The penalty, however, never came.

You always hear in hockey that if you can see a player's numbers, you should pull up on the hit.

What that refers to is the numbers on the back of a player's jersey. You are not allowed to hit a player directly in the back into the boards.

The official definition of boarding according to the NHL rule book is, "any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." Hitting a player "in the numbers" is a defenseless position.

Apparently Cedric Paquette didn't know that and, unfortunately for the Capitals, neither did the referees.

Someone explain to me how this is not a boarding penalty:

Sometimes referees are put in a tough position because a player turns his back right before they take the hit, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position to draw a penalty. That was not the case here. Orpik never turned.

When Tom Wilson hit Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in the second period, the hockey world spent the next day debating whether it was an illegal hit. There is no debate here, no grey area. Just a clear board.

And no call.

You can understand referees wanting to put away the whistles for a Game 7, but you have to call the blatant dangerous plays like this. This was a bad miss by the referees, plain and simple.

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