Nationals

Titans celebrate much-needed win with weekend off

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Titans celebrate much-needed win with weekend off

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Now that the Tennessee Titans finally have the win they so desperately needed they get a couple of days to rest before trying to prove they've turned this season around.

Coach Mike Munchak gave his Titans (2-4) the weekend off after Thursday night's 26-23 win over Pittsburgh, and they don't play again until visiting Buffalo on Oct. 21.

``Obviously, winning is huge for us because we needed it so badly and it's something we can build off of,'' Munchak said Friday. ``Now we have these four games coming up, and we have another break. Let's see if we can suck it up and put a winning streak together.''

The Titans showed some glimpses of the team that went 9-7 last season beating the Steelers. They blocked a punt to set up their first rushing touchdown this season, and the defense that had given up an NFL-worst 181 points through five games allowed a season-low points in forcing Pittsburgh to settle for four field goal attempts with the last one short in the final minute.

It would be easy for the Titans to think of what might have been if not for their struggles the first five weeks.

``We've already given away four games,'' cornerback Jason McCourty said after the game. ``At this point, it's a matter of trying to win out now.''

The schedule certainly eases up for Tennessee.

The weekend off provides a mini-break before visiting Buffalo (2-3), hosting Indianapolis (2-2) and Chicago (4-1) and going to Miami (2-3) before the Titans' bye week. Munchak said they then will have a six-game run to the finish, and Houston is the only team currently with a winning record in that stretch.

The Titans return to work Monday still needing to gear up the offensive and deal with tackling issues on defense. Doctors will check Jake Locker's left, non-throwing shoulder Monday to see if he can return to practice. If Locker isn't ready, then Matt Hasselbeck would start his third straight game.

``If Jake's healthy and we feel he's ready to play, he'll play,'' Munchak said.

If Locker isn't ready, Munchak said they are lucky to have Hasselbeck. The 14-year veteran was intercepted once and got lucky at least twice against Pittsburgh, including once on the tying touchdown drive. But Hasselbeck also had his best game ever against the Steelers throwing for 290 yards and the 5-yard TD to Kenny Britt.

Tennessee held the ball for 30 minutes, 3 seconds - the longest time of possession by the Titans since a win over Jacksonville on Dec. 24 last season. The Titans' improved offense might have been helped by offensive coordinator Chris Palmer moving to the box for the first time with receivers coach Dave Ragone on the field.

Palmer had worked from the sideline since joining the staff last season, intially to better coach a new offense during games. It worked well enough last season as Tennessee went 9-7 that Palmer stayed on the sideline the first five weeks this season before making the switch with Ragone.

``I'm sure we'll keep it that way,'' Munchak said.

The Titans also got just the second start this season for Britt, who tore his right ACL in September 2011 and has had three knee surgeries since then. His timing remains a bit off as he works himself back into shape.

Chris Johnson has been criticized heavily for his poor start this season. The Titans still can run better, but Johnson's 91 yards on 19 carries was his best game ever against the Steelers. Johnson credited the offensive line for his performance, saying they need each other to play well.

Munchak said both Johnson and the offense benefited from being having more time on the field to get into a better rhythm together. Winning the game by scoring 10 points in the final 4:19 against the NFL's fifth-best defense also gave a glimpse of what the Titans believe they have on offense.

``We have some very good talent here,'' Munchak said. ``It's just a matter of us now week in, week out proving that.''

The Titans still must fix tackling woes. Ike Redman got 10 extra yards on one catch because the Titans were too busy trying to punch the ball out rather than take him to the ground. Munchak said they must wrap up before trying to force a turnover.

``It's a work in progress,'' Munchak said.

And Tennessee has 10 games left to show what they can do.

Notes: DT Jurrell Casey hurt his shoulder and didn't finish the game. Munchak said the tackle should back for Buffalo. Defensive back Tommie Campbell, who hurt his left ankle covering a punt, will be checked and could miss some time.

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

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