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Penguins get 3rd win in row, topping Capitals 6-3


Penguins get 3rd win in row, topping Capitals 6-3

WASHINGTON (AP) Chris Kunitz scored a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins' Super Bowl Sunday visit to the nation's capital, leading a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals that reflected both teams' fortunes so far in the lockout-shortened season.

Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Matt Cooke also scored, Sidney Crosby had three assists, and Tomas Vokoun made 21 saves against his former team for the Penguins, who have won three straight and four of five to lead the Atlantic Division.

Mike Green, John Carlson and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Capitals - and Carlson's goal was an accident that took a weird carom off a stanchion along the glass. Two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin, who said before the game that he was somewhat embarrassed to have only three points on the season, contributed a secondary assist on a third-period power-play goal with Washington trailing by three.

Washington has lost seven of nine games to start the season. Hosting the Penguins as a Super Bowl warm-up for the third straight year, the Capitals no longer look like the formidable team that beat Pittsburgh 5-4 in overtime with a hat trick from Ovechkin in 2010 and shut out the Penguins 3-0 a year ago - both feisty games that included punches thrown by Ovechkin.

Ovechkin was overly physical in this game as well, getting a roughing call in the final two minutes.

Under new coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are feeling their way around the ice, especially on defense. Braden Holtby stopped only 20 of 26 shots, allowing Letang and Kunitz to beat him glove side 37 seconds apart in the second period to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.

Vokoun, who shut out the New York Rangers on Thursday, made a successful return to the Verizon Center. He was signed to be the Capitals' No. 1 goalie last season but hurt his groin and was eclipsed by Holtby during the playoffs, prompting Washington to trade him to Pittsburgh.

Martin scored from the point after Crosby won a faceoff in the Capitals' zone to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period. Washington tied it less than two minutes later after a nice sequence in which Ribeiro won the puck along the boards and passed it to Wojtek Wolski, who then sent it along to a wide-open Green.

After Cooke made it 2-1, Carlson tied it on a bizarre goal in the second period. The Capitals defenseman was merely trying to dump the puck along the boards, but it rose up and took an odd deflection. Vokoun had already started to retreat behind the net to intercept the puck and tripped trying to change direction to get back to the crease.

Notes: Ovechkin said before the game that the Capitals were in a ``desperate moment.'' He noted that he and other NHL players who spent the lockout playing in Russia should be doing better. ``Right now I'm standing here, I have only three points, and, you know, it kind of embarrass me.'' ... The Capitals played the first of three games without D John Erskine, who was suspended for three games for elbowing Wayne Simmonds in Friday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers. ... Washington had been 12-1-3 in its pervious 16 regular-season meetings vs. Pittsburgh.


Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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VIDEO: T.J. Oshie's daughter, dog are true stars of push-up challenge


VIDEO: T.J. Oshie's daughter, dog are true stars of push-up challenge

T.J. Oshie took up a noble cause on Wednesday, posting a video of himself doing the #22pushupchallenge, which aims to raise awareness about the issue of suicide among servicemen and servicewomen in the United States military. 

Just like the Ice Bucket Challenge before it, the hope is that each shared video of someone doing the challenge will help to spur donations to the cause. Oshie's video in particular might take off -- thanks to his daughter and dog.

As he began to do pushups in a video shared to his Twitter account, his daughter begins to partake in the challenge with some unique and adorable form. The real payoff comes just moments before the video's end when his dog does his best to help by coming into the frame and stretching.


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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Columbus Blue Jackets.

How they did last season: 34-40-8 (76 points); Last in the Metropolitan Division; 15th in the Eastern Conference. Missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Notable acquisitions: C Sam Gagner; LW Pierre-Luc Dubois; D Scott Harrington; and assistant coach Brad Shaw.

Notable departures: RW Rene Bourque; RW Jared Boll; D Fedor Tyutin; D Justin Falk; LW Kerby Rychel; and assistant coach Craig Hartsburg.

When they will play the Caps: Nov. 15 in Columbus; Nov. 20 in Washington; Jan. 5 in Washington; March 23 in Washington; and April 12 in Columbus.

Analysis: The Blue Jackets finished 27th in the league last season and, well, followed up that disappointing campaign with an awfully quiet offseason.

Why so quiet? Looks to me like GM Jarmo Kekalainen is taking the longview while also counting on a confluence of events to occur in 2016-17. Among the thins that need to happen:

  • Bounce-back seasons from winger Nick Foligno and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets' highest and fourth-highest paid players. Foligno had 12 goals and 37 points, a steep decline from the 31 and 73 he produced the year before. Bobrovsky, meantime, struggled with injuries and consistency and won only 15 games.  
  • A breakout season (or three) from the organization’s deep pool of young players and prospects, many of whom helped the AHL Lake Erie Monsters sweep the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup finals. Defenseman Zach Weresnki, forwards Sonny Milano, Josh Anderson and Oliver Bjorkstrand and goalies Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo—all of whom are close to being ready to contribute in the NHL. There’s also left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois, the No. 3 overall pick in June’s draft. Should they have taken Jesse Puljujarvi instead? Time will tell. But Dubois has an outside shot at sticking in Columbus straight out of camp.    
  • A masterpiece coaching job from John Tortorella. Can he help youthful standouts like Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner reach their full potential while simultaneously guiding the organization’s many prospects through a sometimes tough transition to the NHL? That remains to be seen, but the 2004 Stanley Cup champion coach certainly has navigated a lot of different situations during his two decades as an NHL head or assistant coach. It should also be noted that Torts went a respectable 34-32-8 after replacing Todd Richards. Under Richards, the Jackets opened the season 0-7-0.   

If all, or even much, of the above happens, that would be great for Columbus and its long-suffering fan base. The Jackets actually might be good enough to make things interesting down the stretch. And, more importantly, it could lay the foundation for future success.

Season prediction: Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see it coming together. Not this year, at least.

Too many variables, too much youth and a tough division, to boot.

Having seen the Capitals build through the draft and benefit from prospects who learned to win while playing for a championship-caliber AHL organization, it’s certainly possible this youth movement could lead to positive things down the road.    

If they don’t, however, watch out. It’s hard to envision where the Jackets turn next. They aren’t getting much bang for their buck currently; according to www.generalfanager.com, in fact, they’ve got less than $4 million available in cap space this season and no big salaries set to come off the books at year’s end. So, if things do go south, there might not be any option other than a tear-it-down rebuild.


Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes
— New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
— New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
— New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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No longer on loan to Swiss team, Caps prospect likely to play in Hershey this season

No longer on loan to Swiss team, Caps prospect likely to play in Hershey this season

In July's development camp, Capitals prospect Jonas Siegenthaler was unsure where he would be playing in 2016-17. It now certainly looks like the answer will be North America.

Siegenthaler, 19, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Caps in 2015, but spent the 2015-16 season on loan in Switzerland playing for the ZSC Lions. That loan appears to be over.

According to the team's website, Siegenthaler is listed as a "departure" from the Lions for the upcoming season. The team he is listed as leaving for is the Washington Capitals.

Siegenthaler played six games for the Hershey Bears last season after his team in Switzerland finished their campaign. Now that he is no longer on loan, Hershey appears to be the most likely destination for him for 2016-17. It also means he will likely attend the Caps' training camp in September.

A native of Zurich, Switzerland, Siegenthaler was drafted by the Caps in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft.