Author Topic: The Predators  (Read 5 times)

hongwei28

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The Predators
« on: September 11, 2018, 01:04:29 am »
Alex Ovechkin lifted the Prince of Wales Trophy Bradley Pinion Jersey , spun around and set it back down on a table.

The rest of the Capitals joined him for a team photo after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Wednesday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, a victory that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

A decade of playoff frustration is fading fast.

”I think Ovie has been on a mission,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”They wanted this game, no question.”

Ovechkin scored early and Andre Burakovsky added two second-period goals as the Caps continued to shed a label as postseason underachievers.

Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots for his second straight shutout and the Lightning, who led the NHL in goals during the regular season, failed to score in the last 159 minutes, 27 seconds of the series – a stretch of nearly eight periods.

Ovechkin, who had never advanced beyond the second round, scored 1:02 into the winner-take-all showdown he had described as probably the ”biggest game in my life.”

”The first goal was very important,” Ovechkin said. ”After that you could see we have all the momentum on our side. Holts was unstoppable today. He was special. Everybody was all in. Everybody was sacrificing their bodies. I think we all deserve the win.”

To earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, where they’ll play the Vegas Golden Knights, the Capitals beat the top-seeded Lightning three times on the road, improving to 8-2 away from home this postseason.

It’s Washington’s first Cup Final appearance since 1998, and the first during Ovechkin’s 13-year career.

”We played a great game,” defenseman John Carlson said. ”We deserved to win this.”

Two games after being a healthy scratch for Game 5, Burakovsky became the 17th player to score a goal for Washington in the playoffs this year – four shy of the NHL record – when he beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on a breakaway at 8:59 of the second period.

The winger Roger Lewis Jersey , who played two games in the first round against Columbus before sitting out 10 straight with an upper-body injury, added a breakaway goal to make it 3-0 heading into the last period.

Nicklas Backstrom had an empty-netter to complete the rout.

”What a game. What an experience. We had a lot of guys pitching in,” winger T.J. Oshie said. ”The biggest guy of all had to be Holts. He played fantastic, back to back shutouts.”

Tampa Bay, which rebounded from losing the first two games at home to win three straight for a 3-2 series lead, had plenty of chances. A couple of shots clanged off the post, Yanni Gourde was unable to get his stick on a loose puck in front on an empty net and the game gradually slipped away.

Washington was the more physical team in evening the series with a bruising 3-0 victory in Game 6. They played with urgency from the start again Wednesday night and never let up.

Tampa Bay’s last goal in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5, which the Lightning went on to win 3-2.

”We’re here to win as team, no matter who gets the credit,” said Holtby, the fifth goalie to deliver a Game 7 shutout to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

”I felt we could have won every game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”We ran into a tough Washington team that was probably feeling the same thing, and once you get this far you’ve probably done some magical things on the way.”

It was the 33rd time in league history that a Game 7 was required to determine a Stanley Cup finalist. Home teams are 21-12 in those games.

Tampa Bay also played Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final in 2015, when they blanked the New York Rangers, and again two years ago, when they lost 2-1 to Pittsburgh.

Both of those deciding games were on the road. The Lightning had never lost a Game 7 at home before Wednesday night.

”It’s going to take a few days to digest this. It’s tough to sit here right now and think of positive things and how it was a pretty great season Ryan Tannehill Jersey ,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ”It doesn’t seem that way when you have this group – and we’ve been to this position before – and you can’t find a way to give yourself a chance a win. We thought we had that group. It’s just an empty feeling right now.”

Notes: Ovechkin and Backstrom made their 11th career Game 7 appearance, one shy of Boston’s Zdeno Chara for the most among active NHL players. In addition to Chara, only five other players in NHL history have appeared in more Game 7s: Patrick Roy (13), Scott Stevens (13), Glenn Anderson (12), Ken Daneyko (12) and Stephane Yelle (12). … Evgeny Kuznetsov’s assist on Ovechkin’s early goal extended his points streak to 10 games. … Vasilevskiy made 19 saves. The Lightning outshot the Capitals (29-23) for the first time in the series.



The Bills' defensive front quickly took shape Tuesday, when Star Lotulelei agreed to sign with Buffalo, and Kyle Williams chose to return for a 13th season by saying the he never entertained any thought of retiring.

A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that Lotulelei reached an agreement to sign a five-year contract with the Bills. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing the former Carolina Panthers starter won't become official until the NFL's business year opens on Wednesday.

The agreement was first reported by ESPN.

A few hours later, the Bills announced agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal to re-sign Williams, who revealed his plan all along was to return.

"As eloquently as I can put it, I haven't exhausted myself in pursuit of what my dream is of playing this game, or playing for this organization and chasing being a champion," Williams said during a conference call. "Buffalo is my home. It's where I want to be. It's where I want to win. And I couldn't be more excited."

The moves bulk up Buffalo's defensive front by filling both tackle starting positions a day before the start of free agency.

Just as important, the Bills retained a steadying presence in their locker after losing veteran center Eric Wood, who was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.

Williams was an unquestioned leader on a patchwork Tarvarius Moore Jersey , rebuilding team that exceeded expectations with a 9-7 record and ended a 17-season playoff drought. The 34-year-old is so highly regarded, coach Sean McDermott would grow emotional in discussing what the player meant to the team.

"It's hard not to gravitate toward a guy like that, because of who he is as a person more so than anything," McDermott said of Williams in December. "How could you not like the way he plays and appreciate that, right?"

Williams returns to his familiar spot in the middle, which he's held since being selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. And he'll be playing alongside the 28-year-old Lotulelei, who takes over after Buffalo traded Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville in October.

"I'm all for bringing on as many good football players as we can," Williams said, referring to Lotulelei.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, Lotulelei was a five-year starter with Carolina after being selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Utah.

The native of Tonga is reunited with McDermott, who was Panthers defensive coordinator before taking over in Buffalo in January 2017. Bills general manager Brandon Beane is also familiar with Lotulelei and played a role in drafting him after previously serving as Panthers assistant GM.

Lotulelei has forced two fumbles and has 11 1/2 sacks in 76 career games, and was voted to the NFL all-rookie team in 2013. His future in Carolina was uncertain after the Panthers signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year, $80 million contract extension last offseason, and also used a first-round pick for Vernon Butler last year.

Williams is a one-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection. He showed no signs of slowing last year, with 41 tackles and three sacks in starting all 16 games. Overall, his 43 1/2 sacks are the most by a defensive tackle in franchise history.

Williams has no expectation of taking on a diminished role after leading Buffalo's defensive linemen by playing 758 snaps last year.

"I prepare myself to play as many as I possibly can because mentality-wise Tramon Williams Jersey , I feel like we're a better football team when I'm on the field," he said. "I'm coming back to play. I'm not coming back to say, 'Oh, hey listen, I'll just play 25, 30 snaps a game and let you guys fight over the rest.'"

Buffalo's defensive front seven has numerous needs with starting linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber eligible to become free agents. The Bills finished 26th in yards allowed and gave up 140 or more yards rushing eight times, including a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild-card playoff game.

Lotulelei's addition is the latest bold move made by Beane in reshaping Buffalo's roster since being hired in May to replace Doug Whaley.

Beane has already completed two trades over the past week in dealing quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and sending starting offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati. Buffalo moved up nine spots in the first round by acquiring the Bengals' selection, 12th overall, as part of the Glenn trade.

The deals continued strengthening Buffalo's bid for selecting one of several highly regarded quarterback prospects in the first round next month. The Bills have two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the 22nd selection.

Williams backed the moves.

"It goes back to really believing in and trusting what Brandon and Sean are doing," Williams said. "I believe in their vision of what they've trying to build. And so for me, I'm on board with what they're doing."

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