Saints have work to do after lopsided loss


Saints have work to do after lopsided loss

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said he had not slept at all after getting back to New Orleans early Monday morning. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he got only a few hours of rest.

They know they have loads of hard work ahead of them after the Saints' most lopsided loss in four years, 34-14 to Denver on Sunday night.

A year after tying a franchise record with 13 wins in the regular season, New Orleans fell to 2-5 in Vitt's return from his six-game, bounty-related suspension.

``Understand this, it hurts,'' Vitt said. ``But you have to swallow it. It's got to go down.''

The one-dimensional Saints learned exactly how bad they were after the Broncos stifled Drew Brees and the passing game. Last in the NFL in rushing, New Orleans is the first team to give up 400 or more yards in seven consecutive games since 1950.

The Saints had nothing to fall back on when Brees struggled, going 22 of 42 for 213 yards. He connected on fewer than half of his passes until three straight completions on a meaningless late touchdown drive.

``This is a team effort,'' Vitt said. ``When the passing game doesn't flourish the way we expect it to around here, we still are going to be held accountable to win games and compete.''

They did not even come close in Denver.

Taking advantage of what Vitt said were poor tackling techniques and bad angles, the Broncos ran for 225 yards while Peyton Manning threw for 305. Coming off a bye, Denver surprised the Saints by using two tight ends and two wide receivers on most downs instead of the three-wide receiver look they expected.

Spagnuolo, in his first year with New Orleans, blamed himself for not making a quicker adjustment.

``This is uncharted territory,'' he said. ``I'm not used to this. I've been blessed to be in places where we played pretty good defense. We're not doing that right now, and yet I really can't put my finger on it.''

Offensive tackle Zach Strief said he would need more than one finger to identify the reasons for the Saints' rushing problems. New Orleans ran for 51 yards on 17 carries, lowering its NFL-worst average to 72.6 yards. The longest run was an 8-yard gain by Pierre Thomas.

``It's not one thing, it's a lot of things,'' Strief said. ``On plays where the offensive line is blocking well, we might miss a block on the edge or we might miss a hole. On the plays where the edge is blocking well and the running back is hitting the right hole, we're missing a block. There's just a lack of consistency.''

The Saints did not even try to run on third down. Brees went 2 of 11 with a sack on third-down passes and converted only one first down, throwing incomplete on third-and-1, third-and-2 and third-and-3.

That inability to move the chains left the Saints vulnerable defense on the field. Jonathan Vilma, in his second game back while appealing his season-long suspension in the Saints bounty scandal, showed his rustiness. He started at an unfamiliar position alongside middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, his replacement.

The Saints' modest two-game winning streak after an 0-4 start ended in emphatic fashion.

``There's a lot of football left,'' Lofton said. ``We've won two games. We just have to get back on that winning streak again. This is tough. None of us have been in this situation. We are just going to keep fighting and keep grinding.''

As poorly as they played in Denver, the Saints have not given up on contending for a playoff spot.

``The perception is the more you get beat, the worse you feel about it,'' Strief said. ``We didn't play well on either side of the ball, and it's embarrassing to have a game like that, but having a chance to win a game and having it slip through your fingers is harder to deal with mentally.''

Vitt blamed himself for several decisions he made in his first game back from his suspension. He regretted wasting a timeout before a failed fourth-and-2 pass in the first half because the Saints already knew what play they were going to call. He regretted not calling a timeout as Manning ran the clock down for a last-second field goal at the end of the first half. He regretted punting instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 with a 31-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.

``This sport, this industry that we're in, is not like riding a bike,'' he said. ``Listen, I had to learn how to put my headset on last night, how to turn it on and communicate with both sides of the ball and get my feet grounded. So I've got to get better as a coach to give our football team a better chance to win.''

NOTES: Vitt said the players would be off until Thursday before having their first practice in preparation for next Monday night's home game with Philadelphia. . Vitt said cornerback Patrick Robinson would start against the Eagles, adding Robinson did not play much in the second half because he got tired.


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NHL Playoffs 2019: When is Capitals-Hurricanes Game 7? how to watch, date, time, live stream, TV channel

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NHL Playoffs 2019: When is Capitals-Hurricanes Game 7? how to watch, date, time, live stream, TV channel

The Carolina Hurricanes held serve at home in Game 6, beating the Washington Capitals 5-2 to force a Game 7 in their first-round series of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Hurricanes and Capitals each won three games at home, and with the Capitals hosting the Hurricanes in Game 7 on Wednesday, April 24, the defending Stanley Cup champs seem to have the home-ice advantage. The Capitals last faced a Game 7 in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Braden Holtby pitched a shutout to send the Caps to the Stanley Cup Final.

A win over the Hurricanes at Capital One Arena on Wednesday night send the Capitals to the second round to face off against Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders.

The game time for Game 7 on Wednesday has yet to be announced. 

Capitals vs. Hurricanes Game 7 How to Watch:

What: 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Eastern Conference First Round. Game 7: Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Time: TBD.
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To WatchStream pregame and postgame coverage Game 7 of Capitals vs. Hurricanes on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app or tune into NBC Sports Washington.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan FM)

Don't already have the MyTeams By NBC Sports App? Click to download here and stream the Capitals-Hurricanes live!

Capitals vs. Hurricanes Game 7 TV Schedule:

NBC Sports Washington Daily TV Listing

Tune into Capitals FaceOff Live 90 minutes before Game 7 puck drop, with an extended, 60-minute edition of Caps Pregame Live to follow. After the game, tune in to another extended version of Caps Postgame Live, and Caps Overtime Live, only on NBC Sports Washington.

Capitals vs. Hurricanes Game 7 Injury Report:

Capitals: Michal Kempny (torn hamstring, out for season), T.J. Oshie (broken clavicle, out)

Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov (Concussion, day-to-day)

Capitals vs. Hurricanes Game 7 Players to watch: 

Braden Holtby, G, Capitals

Holtby has been stellar in must-win games, but had a poor showing in Game 6. Can he pitch a shutout in Game 7 like he did a year ago? With the defense still figuring itself out, Holtby will need to unleash the beast0

Warren Foegele, F, Hurricanes

Warren Foegele has been a Capitals killer in the playoffs thus far, scoring three times and assisting on two others. If the Hurricanes eliminate the Capitals from the playoffs, it's going to be due in large part to Foegele's efforts.


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Carolina forces Game 7 in controversy-filled win

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Carolina forces Game 7 in controversy-filled win

This series is going seven. The Capitals were not able to close out the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday as a potential game-tying goal in the third period was waved off allowing Carolina to roll to the 5-2 win.

Both teams remain hot at home as the home team has gone 6-0. This game marks the first time the team to score first did not win, however. It also saw the first lead change of the series.

Game 7 will be on Wednesday at Capital One Arena.

Here are six reasons the Hurricanes won.

Warren freakin’ Foegele

Raise your hand if you had Foegele as Carolina’s biggest offensive threat heading into this series.

Foegele was leading the Hurricanes with three goals leading into Game 6 and he scored his fourth in the first period to tie the game at one.

Brett Connolly gave Washington the 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game, but Foegele tied the game just after a Nic Dowd penalty expired with the Caps trying to clear out the puck. Dougie Hamilton had his shot blocked in the high slot, but Foegele picked it up and fired a shot as he spun around, beating Holtby who was having trouble seeing the puck through all the bodies.

Sebastian Aho gets a stick on Jonas Siegenthaler

Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the 2-1 lead, but the Hurricanes tied the game less than two minutes into the second period thanks to Aho’s forecheck on Siegenthaler.

Siegenthaler chased down a puck behind the goal line, but was pressured by Aho who got his stick on Siegenthaler’s just as Siegenthaler meant to clear the puck around the boards. Aho picked up the loose puck and found Teuvo Teravainen in the slot for the quick shot and goal.

Two near misses at the end of the second

In Game 4, the Caps dominated the play in second, but gave up a goal late in the period that took the wind out of their sails and proved to be the game-winner for the Hurricanes. We nearly saw a role reversal on Monday as Washington was outplayed in the second frame, but had two great chances in the final 30 seconds in a 2-2 game.

Nicklas Backstrom found John Carlson for a short breakaway. Carlson tried to beat Pert Mrazek 5-hole, but Mrazek stopped it with the pad. A few seconds later, Tom Wilson a Carlson pass that beat Mrazek, but hit the cross-bar to stay out.

A failed clear

It was anyone’s game in the third period when Jordan Staal parked himself right on Braden Holtby’s doorstep and battled with Matt NIskanen. An initial shot was  blocked and Niskanen tried to clear it, but failed as it hit off Brock McGinn. The puck bounced past Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov who came to assist and Staal reached his stick and knocked it beneath Holtby into the net to give Carolina its first lead of the game. That marked the first lead chance in the series.

A controversial no-goal

Washington thought they had tied the game in the third period as Ovechkin came into the crease and knocked a loose puck into the net…at least he thought so. The puck was underneath the pad of Mrazek and Ovechkin caught a piece of the pad as he went for the puck. The goal was waved off immediately.

By rule, a player cannot push the goalie’s pad to push the puck into the net. The contact, whether incidental or not, was enough to have the goal waved off.

Justin Williams

The former Cap and current captain of the Hurricanes was a man possessed on Monday. He was all over Holtby all night long and was a physical pest. He nearly had a goal in the second period when he chipped a breakaway puck over a Holtby poke check, but the goal was waved for a high stick. Williams finally got rewarded in the third period with a deflection goal that bounced through Holtby’s 5-hole and proved to be the knockout punch.