Today is Friday, October 9, 2015.

Friday, October 9, 2015
National Basketball Assoc.
Hawks vs. Pelicans In-Progress
Jazz vs. Suns 7:00 (EDT)
Knicks vs. Wizards In-Progress
Thursday, October 8, 2015
National Basketball Assoc.
Bulls 94 vs. 112 Nuggets Final Recap

Lauvergne scores 18 points, Nuggets beat Bulls 112-94


Thursday, October 8 at 11:52 PM (EDT)

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Joffrey Lauvergne had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls 112-94 on Thursday night in an exhibition at the University of Colorado's Coors Event Center.

Will Barton had 17 points and Jokic Nikola added 14 for the Nuggets (2-1).

NUGGETS: Lauvergne has been getting the bulk of the preseason time at center in the absence of starter Jusuf Nurkic, who is sidelined by a left patellar tendon injury.

BULLS: Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls (1-1) with 18 points, making a pair of 3-pointers.

NOAH'S NIGHT: Joakim Noah appeared shaken up when he hit the floor hard in a first-quarter tussle for the ball with Kenneth Faried, but he returned to play in the second quarter and finished with five rebounds and two points in 15 minutes.

SIDELINED: The Nuggets' Darrell Arthur missed the game with a right hamstring strain. The Bulls' Derrick Rose is continuing his recovery from a left orbital bone fracture suffered Sept. 29 in the team's first practice of the season.


Cavaliers vs. 76ers Final Recap

76ers rally from 19 down, top Cavaliers 115-114 on late 3


Thursday, October 8 at 11:24 PM (EDT)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Scottie Wilbekin made a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to 115-114 preseason win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick of the draft, scored 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting in his home debut.

CAVALIERS: Jared Cunningham led all scorers with 31 points. The 6-foot-4 guard made 8 of 10 shots and was 13 of 16 from the free throw line. Matthew Dellevedova scored 13 points. The Cavaliers blew a 19-point lead.

76ERS: Wilbekin's winner was his only shot attempt of the game. Jeremi Grant had 19 points and Nerlens Noel grabbed 10 rebounds.

STAR WATCH: Stars? What stars? LeBron James sat out. So did Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Same with J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov. The few fans sitting behind Cleveland's bench went wild when James took his seat just before tipoff. James mostly stood around with his arms folded during timeouts.

SAY WHAT?: Allen Iverson, whose retired No. 3 hangs from the rafters, was interviewed from a seat in the suite. Iverson mumbled his way through the interview and was inaudible throughout the arena. Some fans booed.

UP NEXT: Philadelphia plays Brooklyn on Saturday in Albany, New York. Cavaliers play Memphis on Monday in Columbus, Ohio.


Magic vs. Pacers Final Recap

Miles, Robinson help Pacers rally past Magic, 97-92


Thursday, October 8 at 11:22 PM (EDT)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) CJ Miles and Glen Robinson III each scored 14 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 97-92 preseason victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

The Pacers had five players score in double figures and rallied from a 15-point deficit.

Victor Oladipo led Orlando with 15 points.

MAGIC: Tobias Harris had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic added 13 points and nine rebounds.

PACERS: Indiana may not miss Roy Hibbert's presence on defense this season with Ian Mahinmi and rookie Myles Turner defending the rim. Mahinmi had three blocked shots Thursday night and Turned added two. Jordan Hill came off the bench alongside Turner and added three blocks.

STAR WATCH: Paul George scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes. George is inching closer to the level of play that made him a two-time NBA All-Star before he broke his leg during a USA basketball scrimmage in Las Vegas in 2014.

RIGHT AT HOME: Oladipo, a former Indiana University star, felt right at home and shot 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

UP NEXT: Orlando meets Houston in Hidalgo, Texas on Sunday. Indiana hosts Detroit on Tuesday.


Raptors 105 vs. 97 Lakers Final Recap

Lowry gets 25 in Raptors' 105-97 preseason win over Lakers

By ABBEY MASTRACCO - Associated Press

Friday, October 9 at 1:32 AM (EDT)

ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) Kyle Lowry scored 25 points and DeMarre Carroll added 18 points and six rebounds in the Toronto Raptors' 105-97 preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Kobe Bryant suited up for his third straight preseason game and scored 16 points at Citizens Business Bank Arena in just over 20 minutes of play, a number that coach Byron Scott said was predetermined.

''I told him I was going to play him until about the three-minute mark in the third quarter,'' Scott said. ''I'm very happy with what he was doing.''

The Lakers returned to California for their annual game in the Inland Empire after nine days of training camp in Hawaii.

The 37-year-old Bryant said that after three exhibition games, he's starting to get in a rhythm. His last three seasons ended early due to injury, and he hadn't played since January.

''It's coming, it's coming,'' he said. ''I'm still taste-testing some things, but I feel great.''

RAPTORS: Lowry missed the Raptors' second preseason game with a sore right groin, but there was no indication of any lingering effects as he scored 14 second-half points, including nine straight in the third quarter.

LAKERS: Lou Williams scored 19 points against his former team. Julius Randle added 17.

MISSING: Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell sat out with a bruised glute. The first-round draft pick was hurt in Tuesday's preseason game, a loss to Utah in Honolulu. Brandon Bass was held out after MRIs revealed a bruised left patella.

STAR WATCH: Bryant's line included three assists and three rebounds. Metta World Peace scored six points.

UP NEXT: The Lakers will host Maccabi Haifa on Sunday night in their first preseason game at Staples Center. The Raptors return home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.


This story has been corrected to show that Carroll scored 18 points and Williams scored 19.


Spurs vs. Kings Final Recap

Kings beat San Antonio in Aldridge's Spurs debut


Friday, October 9 at 1:03 AM (EDT)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Rudy Gay had 26 points and seven rebounds as the Sacramento Kings beat the San Antonio Spurs 95-92 in a preseason game Thursday night.

The Spurs played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who didn't make the trip. Nor did Boris Diaw or coach Gregg Popovich. Assistant Ettore Messina ran the Spurs in their preseason opener.

DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings.

SPURS: LaMarcus Aldridge shot 3 for 10 and finished with eight points and three rebounds in his Spurs debut. Newcomer David West had five points in 23 minutes. Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points and Kyle Anderson had 15.

KINGS: Rajon Rondo had 10 assists, eight points and eight rebounds. Marco Belinelli, who played with the Spurs last season, had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.

LADIES' NIGHT: Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman and the Spurs'

Becky Hammon were on opposing benches. Hammon became the first NBA assistant coach a year ago and Lieberman joined George Karl's staff this summer.

MIDSEASON FORM: Gay had a huge first half, hitting two 3-pointers and scoring 18 points. Gay was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers and had 30 points Wednesday in a four-point loss in Phoenix.

ON POINT: Patty Mills started at point guard for the Spurs and had 11 points and five assists.

UP NEXT: The Spurs visit Miami on Monday and the Kings host Portland on Saturday.


Warriors 101 vs. 118 Trail Blazers Final Recap

Crabbe has 25 and Trail Blazers defeat Warriors 118-101

By MALIKA ANDREWS - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 12:49 AM (EDT)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Allen Crabbe came off the bench to score 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Trail Blazers beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors 118-101 in a preseason game on Thursday night.

Damian Lillard added 22 points for Portland before calling it a night at the end of the third quarter.

Stephen Curry put up 30 points in 26 minutes for the Warriors in the loss, also sitting for the final quarter.

CJ McCollum, who had only five points in Monday night's preseason opener against the Kings, stepped up with 19 points on the Warriors.

The Blazers led by as many as 25 points in the game and the Blazer's bench outscored the Warriors' 49-27.

WARRIORS: Golden State started its regular season starters: Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes. They combined for 71 points. Thompson and Green each finished with 14.

TRAIL BLAZERS: Forward Al-Farouq Aminu and his wife Helina, welcomed their first child, Emanah, who was born Monday night. Aminu started against the Warriors, finishing with 11 points in his debut as a Blazer.

CJ AT POINT: Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said it was important to get a look at CJ McCollum at point guard, spelling starter Damian Lillard. McCollum did not play at the point last season because Steve Blake served as Lillard's backup.

UP NEXT: The Trail Blazers visit the Kings on Saturday night, while the Warriors host the Denver Nuggets next Tuesday.


Nets vs. Pistons Final Recap

Lopez, Larkin each score 17 as Nets beat Pistons 93-83


Thursday, October 8 at 11:23 PM (EDT)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Brook Lopez and Shane Larkin each scored 17 points and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 93-83 in a preseason game Thursday night.

Wayne Ellington added 16 for the Nets, who had lost to Fenerbahce Ulker of Turkey on Monday in their exhibition opener.

NETS: Chris Daniels, a 31-year-old rookie, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. . Lopez grabbed nine rebounds.

PISTONS: After struggling Tuesday against Indiana, Ersan Ilyasova had 15 points and seven rebounds. . Andre Drummond had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

KEY RETURN: Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game with Achilles soreness and scored seven points in 29 minutes.

DAYS OFF: Joe Johnson, Jarrett Jack and Sergei Karasev did not dress for Brooklyn, due to previously scheduled rest.

FRUSTRATION: The Pistons turned the ball over 18 times in the first half, visibly angering Stan Van Gundy, but only had four in the second half.

UP NEXT: Both teams play again on Saturday. Detroit visits Milwaukee and the Nets are in Philadelphia.


Friday, October 9, 2015
Major League Baseball
Rangers 6 vs. 4 Blue Jays Final

Rangers-Blue Jays Preview


Friday, October 9 at 10:54 AM (EDT)

Cole Hamels tasted playoff success early in his career, leading Philadelphia to a World Series title in his third season.

Seven years later, he's hoping to do the same for his new club.

The left-hander takes the mound Friday for the Rangers as they look to bury the Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 deficit in the AL Division Series, though they'll have to do it without one of their stars.

The Rangers dropped Hamels' first two starts after acquiring him at the trade deadline, but have won all 10 since. He owns a 3.21 ERA in that span and capped the regular season with his first complete game for Texas, tossing a three-hitter in Sunday's 9-2 victory against the Los Angeles Angels as the Rangers clinched the AL West.

Hamels (7-1, 3.66 ERA) knows all about postseason glory. He was named the 2008 World Series MVP after going 4-0 with a 1.80 in five postseason starts as a 24-year-old.

He's 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 career playoff outings, including 5-1 and 2.01 on the road, though this marks his first taste of postseason action since he threw six scoreless innings in a Division Series win at St. Louis in 2011.

"These are the best moments," he told MLB's official website. "And you truly don't have anything to lose but enjoying it, because it's a special time. Not a lot of us get to experience this."

Hamels is still seeking his first win against Toronto, however, having gone 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA in four meetings.

Thursday's 5-3 victory has the Rangers looking to take a 2-0 lead, which would put the odds squarely in their favor. Since 2004, 27 teams have fallen into a 2-0 deficit in the division series, and only San Francisco in 2012 came back to win the series, defeating Cincinnati en route to winning the World Series.

Thursday's loss spoiled Toronto's first playoff game in 22 years.

"I'm over it," catcher Russell Martin said. "I'm ready to go tomorrow. I'm not a big believer in carrying over to the next day. It's a completely brand new ballgame. I like our offense, I like our defense, I like our pitching, I like our chances."

Toronto's Josh Donaldson left in the fifth inning of Game 1 after taking a knee to the head during a slide into second base in the fourth, but he'll play in Game 2 after passing concussion tests. Jose Bautista, who left with a sore right hamstring, is back in the lineup as well.

The Rangers weren't as fortunate with Adrian Beltre, who left Thursday's opener in the third inning after injuring his back sliding into second two innings earlier. Manager Jeff Banister said Beltre, who posted a 1.204 OPS and 33 RBIs over his final 22 regular-season games, may be available to pinch hit.

Toronto outhit Texas 6-5, but the Blue Jays were 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position. All five of the Rangers' runs came against starter David Price, including three on homers by Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor.

Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67) has been outstanding in four starts since returning from a torn ACL suffered in spring training, particularly in the last three where he's limited opponents to 16 hits and two runs over 22 innings. The right-hander's performance has even caught the attention of Hamels.

"I think you have to give Stroman some serious credit for what he's done this year," Hamels said. " ... From what he's been able to do, it's absolutely tremendous."

Stroman won his only previous start against Texas, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 4-1 home victory July 19, 2014.


Astros 4 vs. 5 Royals Final

Astros-Royals Preview


Friday, October 9 at 1:01 AM (EDT)

The Houston Astros swung a deal for Scott Kazmir in July with October baseball in mind.

The Kansas City Royals did the same for Johnny Cueto.

It's only fitting the two pitchers, acquired by their teams three days apart, will oppose each other in Game 2 of their AL division series on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Kazmir will take the mound after Collin McHugh pitched six strong innings in Thursday's 5-2 victory to open the series two days after ace Dallas Keuchel lasted six in a 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees in the wild-card game.

''It's a big responsibility for someone like me that gets traded to a contending team, to be able to bring these guys to the postseason,'' Kazmir said. ''It's just a matter of staying confident and pitching my game. There's a lot of things you can't control on the mound to where you have to stay confident in your abilities and know what you're capable of doing.''

The Astros traded right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham to Oakland for Kazmir, a Houston native whom they had pursued in free agency.

But the 31-year-old Kazmir wasn't nearly as effective for the Astros as he was for the A's, going 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 starts. That led some to wonder whether manager A.J. Hinch would be confident enough in Kazmir to send him to the mound for Game 2.

''He's had three games against the Royals this year. He's done very well in all three of those games,'' Hinch said, alluding to Kazmir's 1-1 record and 2.11 ERA against Kansas City.

''It factors in a little bit in the decision-making,'' Hinch said. ''He's comfortable in this ballpark. Maybe he likes the mound.''

Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain combined to go 1 for 17 against Kazmir in 2015.

The fact that Kazmir will be facing Cueto is surprising on two fronts.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore usually is reluctant to make deals for rental players headed toward free agency. The small-market club is built through the amateur draft and developing its players, so by shipping a trio of left-handed pitchers to Cincinnati for Cueto, Moore was making a rare gamble with the future to win in the present.

In addition, Cueto posted a 9.57 ERA in losing five straight starts between Aug. 21-Sept. 13. He is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four outings since.

''Johnny's last four or five starts have been really, really good,'' manager Ned Yost said, ''and we look forward to having him have another really good one tomorrow night.''

The Houston hitter Cueto has faced the most is Colby Rasmus, who is 9 for 27 with a homer in this matchup. Rasmus has delivered solo homers in each game in the postseason and has six home runs and 11 RBIs in his last nine contests. He has tied a major league record by getting an extra-base hit in his first five playoff games.

George Springer also homered Thursday and Jose Altuve added three hits for Houston, which has received six scoreless innings of two-hit ball from its bullpen in the playoffs.

Springer is 8 for 15 with three homers, six RBIs and nine runs scored in four career games at Kansas City.

"Sometimes guys see the ball better in one park over another," Hinch said. "They don't pitch Springer any differently than a lot of teams do."

The only offense by Kansas City was provided by Kendrys Morales' two homers. He's the third player in Royals history with a multihomer effort in the postseason, joining George Brett and Willie Aikens.

The Royals had only four singles outside of Morales, who is 2 for 9 this year off Kazmir.

''It's a five-game series,'' Yost said. ''It's not a death sentence to lose Game 1.''

Kansas City, though, realizes how critical Friday is since Keuchel is set to pitch Game 3 on Sunday at home, where he is 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA.

"You look at Keuchel's numbers at home, they're really impressive," Yost said. "Tomorrow will be a big game for us, yeah."


Cubs 0 vs. 1 Cardinals In-Progress

Cubs-Cardinals Preview

By R.B. FALLSTROM - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, October 8 at 6:45 PM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS (AP) John Lackey has been quite the bargain for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pitching for the major league minimum $507,500 salary due to a clause in contract, Lackey went 13-10 for a team that lost its ace early. And when old rivals face each other in a postseason series for the first time Friday, he'll be pitching against an old buddy.

The 36-year-old Lackey will oppose the Chicago Cubs' Jon Lester, a duo that formed a devastating one-two for the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.

''I'd like to say I was surprised, but I'm not,'' Lackey said Thursday. ''He's good. No accident people running into each other this time of year.''

Lackey had a career-best 2.77 ERA and consistently went deep for the 100-win Cardinals, stepping up as the de facto ace after Adam Wainwright tore his left Achilles in late April.

He has earned this slot, the crusty, bulldog demeanor reminding management of former star pitcher Chris Carpenter.

Lackey was paid $82.5 million the previous five years under a contract he signed with Boston, which included a conditional club option for 2015 at the minimum. That condition was met when he missed 2012 while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery.

St. Louis acquired him from the Red Sox on July 31, 2014. Lackey can become a free agent again this fall.

''I don't think we'll discuss what we're doing in the offseason or strategy in the offseason at this point,'' Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. ''We're excited he's a part of it and we're looking forward to a successful October.''

Lester and Lackey combined for three victories in a six-game 2013 Series triumph over the Cardinals. Lester was 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA and Lackey won the clincher.

''He was probably the best on the planet going through the playoffs that year,'' Lackey said. ''He knows how to compete and he knows how to handle this time of year, for sure.''

Lester will try to follow an excellent wild-card performance by Jake Arrieta, who threw a four-hitter Wednesday night in a 4-0 victory over the Pirates.

Lester figured he'd be matched against 17-game winner Michael Wacha, but the right-hander was 2-3 with a 7.78 ERA the final month and will start Game 3. When Lester learned he would be opposed by Lackey, he thought it funny - and fitting.

''He's going to almost out-will you sometimes, if that makes sense,'' Lester said. ''Our friendship will go beyond this game, will go beyond this career, but come tomorrow, we're not buddies anymore.''

Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95) will oppose Jaime Garcia (10-6, 2.43) in Game 2 Saturday. Arrieta (22-6, 1.77), having a breakout Cy Young-caliber season, faces Wacha (17-7, 3.38) in Game 3 and in Game 4 it will be St. Louis' Lance Lynn (12-11, 3.03) against probably Jason Hammel (10-7, 3.74).

Thousands of fans regularly make the trek north or south and do their utmost to make the visitors feel right at home.

''I didn't even realize this was the first time we had met in the postseason,'' said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who spoke reverently about the Cardinals tradition during earlier trips to Busch Stadium. ''I thought that was kind of interesting, but then again it's believable if you look at how this thing plays out.''

''It's going to be bumping tomorrow, regardless of who's winning,'' Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong said. ''And when we go to Wrigley, we know that stadium is going to be bumping for sure.''

The pre-game workout was newsworthy for the Cardinals, who saw enough from All-Star catcher Yadier Molina that they believe he can be effective behind the plate wearing a hard plastic molded splint to protect a strained left thumb ligament. The thumb will be wrapped for at-bats.

Molina was injured tagging out the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo sliding into the plate on Sept. 20 in Chicago.

Maddon said he'd wait until game day to announce any roster changes but promised no major wrinkles.

''It's not going to be dramatically different, promise you,'' Maddon said.


Mets vs. Dodgers 6:45 (EDT) Preview

Mets-Dodgers Preview

By BETH HARRIS - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, October 8 at 11:01 PM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) Clayton Kershaw isn't sure what to expect from the new-look Mets, whose dramatic transformation in the second half of the season led to an NL East title.

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace faced a mostly different New York lineup before the July trade deadline. Even veteran Mets infielder David Wright was out at the time.

''There's a lot of guys that I'll be seeing for the first time this season,'' Kershaw said Thursday. ''Definitely a completely different team. Obviously, a lot better than what we faced in July.''

The Dodgers aren't the same team that got chased out of the Division Series by St. Louis a year ago. They shipped out Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe (now a Met), and ushered in veterans Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal.

When Kershaw takes the mound for Friday night's opener at Dodger Stadium, he'll be trying to earn just the second postseason win of his career after going 0-4 in his last two series against the Cardinals.

''I definitely remember,'' he said, ''but it's a new team, new season and, hopefully, for me a new outcome.''

The Mets won four of seven meetings between the teams, all in that month before Yoenis Cespedes arrived from Detroit in a trade that boosted the Mets' anemic offense. They are in the playoffs for the first time in nine years; the Dodgers are making their third straight appearance for the first time in franchise history.

Kelly Johnson and Uribe joined the Mets shortly before Cespedes, acquisitions manager Terry Collins credited for turning around the team along with the his message to the players: If you hit, you'll play.

''Lucas Duda took off, (Wilmer) Flores took off, Kelly Johnson and Juan kept playing, as well,'' Collins said. "All of a sudden guys are looking at their jobs saying, `Oh my gosh, I've got to step up here, and they did.'''

Kershaw will be opposed by Jacob deGrom, last year's NL Rookie of the Year and a converted infielder who is making his playoffs debut. The right-hander isn't about to compare himself to Kershaw, last year's NL MVP and a three-time Cy Young Award winner, except in one area.

''The way he takes the mound, he goes out there and attacks hitters,'' deGrom said. ''I try to do the same thing, not get intimidated by anybody who steps in the box and go out there and make your pitches when you need to.''

Kershaw chatted with deGrom at the All-Star Game in July, already aware of deGrom's explosive fastball.

"Just the carry and the ride that it has on it, the ball that looks like it's at your shins or ankles seems like he gets a lot of called strikes there,'' Kershaw said. ''His off-speed pitches have gotten better from last year. We definitely have a challenge. This whole series, the three, four guys they're throwing at us are pretty solid.''

The teams split the four regular-season games started by Kershaw and Zack Greinke, who will take the mound for the Dodgers in Game 2 on Saturday.

DeGrom's path to the majors took several twists and turns, starting with him becoming a pitcher in his junior year at Stetson University. He was drafted on the ninth round by the Mets in 2010 and missed his first minor-league season the next year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. DeGrom didn't make it to the big leagues until last year.

''All of us are thankful every day we get to put this uniform on and we play this game,'' he said, ''so try not to take any days for granted.''

Already the oldest manager in the majors at 66, Collins is making his managerial playoff debut with the Mets after previous managing stints in Houston and with the Anaheim Angels. He was director of player development for the Dodgers in 2006 when they drafted Kershaw, who began in the Gulf Coast League.

Current Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was Collins' minor league pitching coordinator then and approached him after watching Kershaw throw.

''He went, `Oh wow,''' Collins said.

''When he takes the ball he wants to finish what he starts,'' Collins said of Kershaw. ''I'm not surprised he's as good as he is.''

Collins plans to start three left-handed hitters against Kershaw: Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, who reminded his manager of his ability to hit against lefties.

''I told him the other day, `Remember when you told me you hit lefties?''' Collins said. ''Well, you're going to face a pretty good one Friday, so you better.''

NOTES: Mets LHP Steven Matz, who has been bothered by back stiffness, threw approximately 90 pitches in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie, Florida. If he is put on the Division Series roster Friday, he likely would start Game 4.


Thursday, October 8, 2015
Major League Baseball
Rangers 5 vs. 3 Blue Jays Final Recap

Chirinos 2-run homer leads Rangers over Blue Jays 5-3

By IAN HARRISON - Associated Press

Thursday, October 8 at 8:29 PM (EDT)

TORONTO (AP) A big day by the bottom of Texas' batting order helped the Rangers overcome an injury to slugger Adrian Beltre in the start of their postseason run.

Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run homer against David Price, Rougned Odor added a solo shot and the Rangers beat the Blue Jays 5-3 Thursday in their AL Division Series opener as postseason baseball returned to Toronto for the first time in 22 years.

''It means a lot to the team to come to Toronto and win that first game against a great pitcher,'' Chirinos said.

Both starting third baseman left with injuries: Beltre came in the third with a strained muscle in his lower back and Toronto's Josh Donaldson in the fifth after he was kneed in the head while sliding in an attempt to break up a double play.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he wasn't sure whether Beltre would be available for Game 2 on Friday. In an effort to remain in the series, Beltre had a cortisone shot.

''Obviously we want Adrian in there,'' Banister said. ''He's the heart and soul of this ballclub.''

After going for tests at a hospital, Beltre returned to the clubhouse about an hour after the game and walked gingerly. An MRI confirmed Beltre had a strained back but no structural damage, general manager Jon Daniels said.

''We haven't ruled him out of tomorrow's game,'' Daniels said.

Texas will have Joey Gallo and Ed Lucas travel from its Arizona Fall League team in case Beltre needs to be removed from the roster, a decision that also would rule Beltre out of the AL Championship Series.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Donaldson felt light-headed while playing defense in the top of the fifth, forcing the AL MVP candidate to come out of the game.

''They check for concussions, and apparently he passed all the tests. So that's good news,'' Gibbons said.

Yovani Gallardo (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

''That's what we really needed from him,'' Banister said. ''I think he did a great job.''

Gallardo is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four career starts against Toronto.

''We got in some good hitter's counts and he wouldn't give in,'' Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. ''He didn't make those mistakes that we capitalize on.''.

Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson finished, with Dyson getting a save.

Pitching on 11 days' rest, Price (0-1) allowed five runs and five hits in seven innings. He dropped to 1-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 11 postseason games, and is 0-6 in six playoff starts.

''I expect to have better results,'' a subdued Price said.

Gibbons said Price was the victim of timely hits by the Rangers.

''He wasn't getting hit around. It was just a couple of key hits at some key times that made the difference,'' Gibbons said.

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hit a solo homer in the sixth, then left with a sore right hamstring after popping out in the eighth and was replaced in right by Dalton Pompey. The Blue Jays said Bautista is expected to play Friday.

Delino DeShields and Beltre hit RBI singles to give Texas a 2-0 lead in the third. Beltre, injured when sliding into second base as Prince Fielder hit into an inning-ending double play in the first, had difficulty running and was replaced by rookie Hanser Alberto in the bottom of third.

Edwin Encarnacion's run-scoring infield single cut the deficit in half in the fourth - the first run Toronto scored off Gallardo in three meetings this season.

Price hit Odor with a pitch for the second straight at-bat, and Chirinos homered for a 4-1 lead.

''I think he relaxed a little bit with the people at the bottom of the lineup,'' Chirinos said.

Price hit just three batters all season, none after Toronto obtained him from Detroit on July 30th.

Kevin Pillar doubled home Russell Martin in the bottom half, but Toronto left a runner at third when pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carerra, batting in Donaldson's spot, hit an inning-ending groundouty. Cliff Pennington took over defensively in the sixth.

Bautista's leadoff homer off Kela cut it to 4-3 in the sixth - the first run off the pitcher since July 30. Odor homered in the seventh.


Cito Gaston, who managed the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle, who is not on Toronto's playoff roster.


RHP Marcus Stroman, who returned from a torn left knee ligament to go 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four September starts, starts for the Blue Jays on Friday. Texas starts LHP Cole Hamels, who is 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts with the Rangers. Texas has won each of the past 10 games started by Hamels.


Astros 5 vs. 2 Royals Final Recap

McHugh pitches Astros to 5-2 win over Royals to open ALDS

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 1:04 AM (EDT)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch has a ''soft rule'' when it comes to a rain delay during a game: If it lasts about an hour, he'll usually remove his starting pitcher.

Good thing it's not a hard rule.

Hinch opted to keep Collin McHugh on the mound after a 49-minute stoppage Thursday night, and the soft-spoken righty responded with a resounding performance. He shut down the Kansas City Royals over six innings for a 5-2 victory in the opener of their AL Division Series.

''We checked in with him a couple times, but he was never really coming out of that game,'' Hinch said of McHugh, a surprise 19-game winner this season. ''That wasn't even his best tonight, and he got through a pretty good lineup and battled.''

Three relievers took over and got the game to Luke Gregerson, part of Oakland's wild-card collapse in Kansas City last year. He handled the ninth for a save.

George Springer and Colby Rasmus went deep for the homer-happy Astros, but they also scored via the same sort of small ball the Royals used in reaching the World Series last season.

''Winning the first game was key,'' Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez said. ''We did that.''

Yordano Ventura (0-1) yielded three runs on four hits and a walk in two innings for Kansas City, but did not come back following the delay. Chris Young served up Springer's home run with one out in the fifth, but tossed four otherwise solid innings of relief.

Game 2 is Friday, when lefty Scott Kazmir takes the mound for Houston against right-hander Johnny Cueto in a matchup of pitchers traded days apart this past summer.

''It's a five-game series,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''It's not a death sentence to lose Game 1.''

The Astros, who struggled so mightily on the road this season, have apparently solved their woes just in time. They beat the Yankees 3-0 in New York in Tuesday night's wild-card game, then took care of a Royals club built specifically for spacious Kauffman Stadium.

Houston also made it the first time since 1970 that visiting teams won baseball's first four postseason games, STATS said. The other two times it happened were 1906 and 1923.

''Everyone knows we haven't been playing the best on the road,'' reliever Tony Sipp said. ''To take one in New York and come here, it shows we're a different kind of team.''

The Astros wasted no time getting Ventura in trouble, loading the bases with nobody out in the first inning. The hard-throwing ace settled down to retire the next three batters, but Rasmus and Evan Gattis provided RBI groundouts to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

Jose Altuve tacked on another run in the second with a single to right.

The Royals answered in the bottom half when Morales ripped McHugh's 89 mph fastball down the right-field line. But a steady rain soon became a downpour as the inning progressed, and lightning sent fans scurrying for the concourse as the tarp was pulled onto the field.

When the game resumed, the Royals sent Young to the mound rather than Ventura.

''It was pushing 60 minutes there,'' said Yost, who hopes to bring back Ventura in Game 4.

Hinch stuck with McHugh, even though he hadn't thrown a pitch for nearly an hour.

Morales got the better of him again in the fourth, driving a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right to become the first Royals player with two homers in a postseason game since George Brett against Toronto in the 1985 AL Championship Series.

Unfortunately for the Royals, Morales was the only hitter who could solve McHugh. That left the darlings of last year's postseason facing a crucial Game 2 on Friday.

''We're happy. It's obviously good,'' Springer said, ''but it's on to tomorrow. I mean, it's over with, and now we understand that they're going to be prepared to play.''


Rasmus also homered in the wild-card game at Yankee Stadium. He has six homers and 11 RBIs in his last nine games, and tied a major league record by getting an extra-base hit in his first five postseason games.


Even the Royals' grounds crew had a rough night. One of the workers responsible for rolling out the tarp during the delay tripped and fell. The tarp kept rolling right over his legs and he screamed in pain. There was no word on the extent of his injury.


Two pitchers procured with October in mind square off in Game 2. The Astros send out Kazmir, obtained in a July trade with Oakland, to face a team he has dominated in the past. The Royals counter with Cueto, acquired from Cincinnati a few days later. Cueto has struggled in his previous postseason appearances.


National Football League
Colts 27 vs. 20 Texans Final Recap

Johnson has 2 TD receptions, leads Colts over Texans 27-20

By KRISTIE RIEKEN - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 12:54 AM (EDT)

HOUSTON (AP) Matt Hasselbeck and Andre Johnson showed Thursday night that sometimes old guys can shine in what is certainly a young man's league.

The 34-year-old Johnson caught two touchdown passes from the 40-year-old Hasselbeck, the second for 2 yards in the fourth quarter, to help the Indianapolis Colts beat the Houston Texans 27-20.

''You get over the age of 30 they kind of count you out,'' Johnson said. ''But we proved to people that we could still play.''

Released by Houston in March after 12 seasons with the team, Johnson had six catches for 77 yards.

The Colts (3-2) extended their AFC South winning streak to an NFL-record 16 games.

Hasselbeck was filling in for Andrew Luck, who missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury.

Hasselbeck's performance was even more impressive given the fact that he was battling a bacterial infection that hospitalized him this week. He started feeling ill just before halftime Sunday in a victory over Jacksonville and didn't start feeling better until Thursday night.

''I honestly feel like this isn't even real right now,'' Hasselbeck said.

Coach Chuck Pagano raved about Hasselbeck.

''He was literally on his deathbed Monday/Tuesday and mustered up enough to come in Wednesday and practice,'' Pagano said. ''He was getting IVs and fighting a virus and the grittiest performance I've seen in a long, long time.''

Brian Hoyer, who replaced Ryan Mallett for Houston (1-4) in the second quarter, threw a pass up for grabs that was intercepted by Mike Adams with less than 2 minutes left.

Johnson extended the lead to 27-17 with the 2-yard reception with about 10 1/2 minutes left. The Texans intercepted Hasselbeck's pass in the end zone earlier in that drive, but the play was negated because of defensive holding on Eddie Pleasant. A second penalty, this one for pass interference gave the Colts a first down at the 1.

Mallett got the wind knocked out of him on an illegal hit midway through the second quarter and was replaced by Hoyer. Mallett looked to be OK soon after that, but coach Bill O'Brien stuck with Hoyer. He finished with 312 yards passing with two touchdowns. Both of the touchdowns were to rookie Jaelen Strong and they came on his first two NFL receptions.

DeAndre Hopkins had 11 receptions for 169 yards for Houston.

''We're not happy obviously,'' J.J. Watt said. ''But we're going to go back to work and figure it out.''

Foster, who was shaken up in the second quarter but returned after halftime, had 44 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving in his second game back after groin surgery.

The Colts opened the second half with a drive capped by Frank Gore's 3-yard touchdown that made it 20-10. Gore finished with 98 yards rushing.

Strong's second catch and touchdown came on an 11-yard pass by Hoyer to get Houston to 20-17 in the third quarter.

Hoyer's desperation throw on the last play of the first half that Strong pulled down in a sea of Indianapolis defenders for a 42-yard touchdown strike that cut the lead to 13-10. Strong boxed out two defenders and outjumped the others to reel in his first NFL catch.

Johnson entered the game without a catch in the last two games after having just one such game in his entire career in Houston. The Colts made sure that wouldn't happen again Thursday night, going to him early. He drew boos from the home crowd when he grabbed a 23-yard reception late in the first quarter. Two plays later, he scored his first touchdown of the season when he was wide open in the back of the end zone for 4-yard reception that made it 10-0.

''When I would be on the sidelines a lot of the fans were screaming, `Andre we still love you! Come back to Houston! Welcome home!''' Johnson said. ''So that was probably the most special thing.''

Mallett was shaken up when Sio Moore received a penalty for roughing the passer when he crashed his helmet into the quarterback's chest with about seven minutes left in the second quarter. Mallett appeared to struggle to catch his breath and was replaced by Brian Hoyer. He was tended to by trainers for a couple of minutes after leaving the game, but soon put his helmet back on and stood near coach O'Brien.

Hoyer finally got Houston's offense going and the Texans cut it to 13-3 on Nick Novak's 36-yard field goal.

Mallett looked good early, helping the Texans into the red zone. But then Foster deflected a pass and Adams intercepted it. The Colts took a 3-0 lead with a 48-yard field goal on the ensuing drive.

NOTES: Mallett was 7 of 10 for 50 yards. ... It was the third straight 100-yard game for Hopkins. ... T.Y. Hilton led the Colts with 88 yards receiving.


AP NFL website: and


Friday, October 9, 2015
College Football
Southern Miss 7 vs. 7 Marshall In-Progress
North Carolina State vs. Virginia Tech 8:00 (EDT) Preview

NC State-Virginia Tech Preview

By HANK KURZ Jr. - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, October 8 at 1:38 PM (EDT)

Virginia Tech is looking for a spark, and may have a surprise on Friday night.

The Hokies (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will face North Carolina State (4-1, 0-1), and quarterback Michael Brewer is listed as probable after missing the last four weeks with a broken left collarbone.

That doesn't mean that Brewer will play, but the possibility could give Virginia Tech a needed jolt. Hokies coaches and trainer Mike Goforth said this week it will likely be a game-time decision.

Coach Frank Beamer took the blame last week for a lackluster effort as the Hokies opened their ACC season with a 17-13 loss to Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech gained just 100 yards, its lowest total since Beamer's first game 29 seasons ago, and allowed Brenden Motley to be sacked seven times while he also threw three interceptions.

The Hokies are struggling against top competition and have won just one of their last seven at home against teams from Power Five conferences.

Beamer said looking at film of the Pitt game was eye-opening because of the Hokies' lack of fire.

''We downed a couple balls, one on the 1-yard line. It was a heck of a play,'' Beamer said. ''And everybody got up and it was like business as usual. And I said, that's not the way we need to be playing. What you need to be is emotional. It needs to be fun. And that all starts with me.''

The Hokies also are trying to overcome the shadow of three consecutive subpar seasons by program standards, while the Wolfpack doesn't have that kind of burden, but is trying to erase the memory of last week's loss to Louisville.

''I think it was out of our system by the time I woke up today,'' left tackle Joe Thuney said Monday. ''Woke up this morning just eager to get the taste out of our mouth and play another game and focus on Virginia Tech.''

There also is reason for optimism for the Wolfpack.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has completed better than 73 percent of his passes, and he's gone 217 throws without being intercepted dating to last November. And tailback Matt Dayes is averaging better than 104 yards per game and has already run for 10 touchdowns, giving him 28 touchdowns on the ground in his career.


Here are some things to watch when North Carolina State plays at Virginia Tech:

WHO'S BEHIND CENTER?: Despite being sacked seven times last week, Brenden Motley is more mobile that Michael Brewer. If the Wolfpack gets their pass rush going like Pittsburgh did a week ago, the Hokies have to decide whether to risk playing Brewer, who had a steel plate and six screws surgically inserted in his collarbone just a month ago.

BALL CARE: Turnovers could be the decisive factor in this one, and that would seem to favor the Wolfpack. They have turned the ball over just three times, all on fumbles, through five games; the Hokies have given it away seven times. The Hokies will try to rattle Jacoby Bissett into making a few more mistakes.

CHUNK PLAYS: Even when their defense is playing well, the Hokies have been susceptible to big plays. Ten of the touchdowns the Hokies have allowed this season have come on plays covering 20 or more yards. The Wolfpack, meantime, arrives with the No. 3 total defense in the nation, allowing just under 226 yards per game.

CROWDED HOUSE: Last week, in 47-degree weather with rain falling, some fans weren't even in the stadium when the Hokies' ''Enter Sandman'' entrance played, and more than 17,000 seats stayed empty. The Hokies are looking for Lane Stadium to once again be a tough place to play when they host the Wolfpack.

BOUNCE-BACK: Both teams are coming off losses in their ACC openers, and both began the season with Coastal Division title hopes. Both will be playing with a sense of urgency to avoid falling to 0-2 in league play.


Follow Hank on Twitter:


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Thursday, October 8, 2015
College Football
Washington 17 vs. 12 USC Final Recap

Washington gets defensive, holds on to beat No. 17 USC 17-12

By GREG BEACHAM - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 1:19 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) Nearly every Washington upperclassman insisted they took no personal pleasure in beating the coach who left them for Southern California two years ago.

A gritty defensive victory over a ranked team on the Coliseum's national stage was more than enough reason for these Huskies to celebrate.

Myles Gaskin ran for 134 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Washington shut down No. 17 USC's high-powered offense throughout a 17-12 victory Thursday night.

Receiver Marvin Hall threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Perkins early in the second half as the Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) beat Steve Sarkisian and the coaches who recruited many of them to Seattle. The Huskies all celebrated with their strong cheering section after running out the clock on Washington's first win at the Coliseum since 2010.

''A win like this really puts us on the right step as a program,'' said senior linebacker Travis Feeney, who had 2 1-2 sacks. ''We're only going up from here. It's definitely a stepping stone for our confidence, for any young guys who doubted themselves. It's something we can take pride in and gain confidence from.''

Washington beat a ranked team for the first time under second-year coach Chris Petersen, who appeared to pull a trick play out of his Boise State cache. The Huskies weren't looking for vindication against Sarkisian, but a win in Los Angeles still was particularly sweet for the numerous Washington players from the area.

''It's like playing in my backyard,'' said linebacker Keishawn Bierria, from nearby Carson. ''It's just playing at home for me, for a lot of us. That's the way we look at it: There's nothing special about this park.''

Cody Kessler had two interceptions while passing for just 156 yards on a disastrous night for the Trojans (3-2, 1-2), the popular preseason pick to win the conference and a healthy double-digit favorite against Washington. Instead, USC couldn't score a touchdown until Ronald Jones II's short run with 12:02 to play.

Washington's defense then came up with two late stops, and the Trojans missed a field goal with 3:44 left. Jaydon Mickens caught a key third-down pass from Washington freshman Jake Browning with 2:10 to play, allowing the Huskies to run out the clock against the frustrated USC defense, which was solid after giving up 41 points to Stanford last month.

''It's never fun to lose a game, so yeah, it's a little shocking,'' USC linebacker Cameron Smith said. ''But give them credit. They played well. Their defense played awesome.''

Sarkisian faced the Huskies for the first time since he left Washington to take over the Trojans last season, taking five Huskies assistant coaches with him. Sarkisian spent five years in Seattle, restoring a moribund program to competence, but never breaking through to the Pac-12's elite.

Instead, the Huskies took a major step toward the future at the expense of Sarkisian, who could be on a hot seat before reaching the midway point of his second season.

''Not at all,'' Sarkisian said when asked if he is coaching for his job now.

Tre Madden rushed for 120 yards for the Trojans, who lost their second straight game at the Coliseum following last month's visit from Stanford.

Kessler went 16 for 29 during just the second multi-interception game of the touted senior's college career, but the entire offense struggled against Washington's defense, which entered the Coliseum as the Pac-12's best. The Trojans went 1 for 13 on third downs, and they made three turnovers after committing just two in the first four games.

''This is going to test the character of a lot of guys,'' Kessler said. ''This one hurts. It hurts. I'm not going to lie.''

Kessler threw the 14th interception of his career on USC's opening drive, just the Trojans' third turnover all season. USC led 6-3 at halftime after the teams traded field goals.

The Huskies recovered a fumble by JuJu Smith-Schuster deep in USC territory early in the third quarter, and Hall hit a wide-open Perkins for the game's first touchdown on the next play.

Why did the coaches pick Hall, a Los Angeles native, for the big throw?

''Because I have a cannon,'' Hall said with a laugh.

Gaskin scored early in the fourth, but USC's offense finally awoke on the ensuing drive after Washington linebacker Azeem Victor was ejected for targeting Kessler with 13 minutes to play, erasing a third-down stop by the Huskies' defense.

Jones made three consecutive big runs capped by his 1-yard TD lunge, but Madden dropped a pass on the 2-point conversion attempt.


AP college football website:


Tennessee Tech 17 vs. 48 Eastern Kentucky Final Recap

Eastern Kentucky tops Tennessee Tech 48-17


Thursday, October 8 at 10:54 PM (EDT)

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) Bennie Coney threw for 351 yards and five touchdowns, four in a dominant first half, and Eastern Kentucky rolled to a 48-17 victory over Tennessee Tech on Thursday night.

The game was moved from the Eastern Kentucky campus in Richmond to nearby Georgetown College after an apparent death threat on campus earlier in the week.

Coney completed 32 of 46 passes, Arien Beasley had four catches for 136 yards, and Dy'Shawn Mobley ran for 115 yards on 25 carries for the Colonels (3-2, 2-0 Ohio Valley).

Coney hooked up with Beasley on a 70-yard touchdown strike on the game's third play. The quarterback directed two long scoring drives. Coney capped the first with a 3-yard pass to Devin Borders, and Lucas Williams kicked a 37-yard field goal.

Ladarius Vanlier had a 15-yard touchdown run for the Golden Eagles (2-4, 1-2) to make it 17-7 after one quarter. It was 41-10 at the half.


SMU 28 vs. 49 Houston Final Recap

Ward, Farrow lead Houston past SMU 49-28


Friday, October 9 at 2:02 PM (EDT)

HOUSTON (AP) Greg Ward Jr. ran for four touchdowns and Kenneth Farrow ran for three as Houston defeated SMU 49-28 on Thursday night.

Ward, who completed 16 of 18 passes for 243 yards, led the Cougars (5-0, 2-0 American Conference) with 82 yards on 14 carries, finding the end zone once in each quarter.

Ward has rushed for 11 touchdowns and passed for eight this season but his 82 yards on the ground is his lowest output of the season.

Matt Davis completed 21 of 35 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns for the Mustangs (1-5, 0-2), who led 14-7 after one quarter. Courtland Sutton and Ryheem Malone had the touchdowns.

Farrow scored twice and Ward capped the second quarter with a 2-yard TD run with two seconds left to help the Cougars take a 28-21 lead at the half.

Davis' third TD was a 25-yarder to Darius Joseph with 3:35 to play.


South Carolina State 14 vs. 17 Bethune-Cookman Final Recap

Bethune-Cookman beats South Carolina State 17-14

By DAN RYAN - Associated Press

Thursday, October 8 at 11:30 PM (EDT)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Quentin Williams scored on a 3-yard run with 5:14 remaining to give Bethune-Cookman a 17-14 victory over South Carolina State on Thursday night.

The senior also threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to Ja-Quan Lumas to help the Wildcats (5-1, 3-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) win their fourth game of the season decided by four points or less and third in which they trailed in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1), who had 18 penalties for 144 yards, took a 14-10 lead on Antonio Hamilton's 82-yard punt return with 10:43 left. But Williams led the Wildcats on an eight-play, 51-yard drive to regain the lead in a battle between the two teams that won or shared six of the last seven league titles.

Anthony Jordan rushed for 121 yards for the Wildcats.

Caleb York threw for 175 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass to Taquan West for South Carolina State, which had two touchdowns called back due to penalties.


Friday, October 9, 2015
National Hockey League
Jets vs. Devils In-Progress

Jets-Devils Preview


Thursday, October 8 at 11:46 PM (EDT)

After parting ways with one of the last remaining remnants of their glory years, the New Jersey Devils are ready to begin a new phase.

That era begins Friday night at the Prudential Center, where the Devils host the Winnipeg Jets in coach John Hynes' debut.

A third straight playoff absence triggered few major personnel changes but one significant one to the Devils' front office, with longtime president and general manager Lou Lamoriello resigning in July to become Toronto's GM.

Lamoriello had ceded his GM duties to Ray Shero, the architect of Pittsburgh's 2009 Stanley Cup champion team, two months prior. Among Shero's first moves was hiring the 40-year-old Hynes, who twice took the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to two Calder Cup finals during a five-year tenure as head coach.

Hynes joins a franchise that reached the playoffs 20 times over a 22-year span, highlighted by three Stanley Cup championships and two finals appearances, under Lamoriello before its present drought.

A lack of offensive punch was the primary culprit to last season's seventh-place finish in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey (32-36-14) scored 181 goals, exceeding only the league's two worst teams in Arizona and Buffalo, during a campaign in which Lamoriello shared coaching duties with Scott Stevens and Adam Oates over the final 46 games. Veteran Mike Cammalleri (27 goals) was the only player with more than 16.

''It's certainly an area of concern for us,'' said center Adam Henrique, who led the Devils with 43 points. "We have to find a way to score more. It's a big focus. With all the changes we've made, we're geared up to play more offensively. Everyone has gotten better."

Lamoriello's departure leaves stalwart Patrik Elias as the lone member left from New Jersey's last championship team of 2002-03, though the 39-year-old forward is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury.

The Jets began a season-opening four-game road trip impressively on Thursday, recording a 6-2 win over Boston to maintain momentum from a 10-3-1 finish to last season that earned them a surprise wild-card entry in the Western Conference playoffs.

Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Drew Stafford all scored in the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit, and Winnipeg struck for three in the final 14:43 to halt a 13-game losing streak in Boston.

''We got off the plane and off the bus and started to skate incrementally better and better. And a pretty darn good team after that," coach Paul Maurice said.

Nic Petan added a goal in his first NHL game and Alexander Burmistrov had a goal and an assist in his Jets' return. The 2010 eighth overall pick spent the past two seasons playing in his native Russia after a three-year run with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 29 shots but will likely give way Friday to Michael Hutchinson, who went 21-10-5 with a 2.39 goals-against average as a rookie last season.

Hutchinson made 22 saves in a 3-1 win home win over the Devils Nov. 18, which moved the Jets to 5-0-2 in their last seven against New Jersey. They've registered a point in four straight (2-0-2) visits to the Prudential Center.

Cory Schneider owns a 1.98 GAA in four meetings with Winnipeg and had 24 saves in a 2-1 shootout home win Oct. 30.


Rangers vs. Blue Jackets In-Progress

Rangers-Blue Jackets Preview


Thursday, October 8 at 10:23 PM (EDT)

Injuries ravaged the Columbus Blue Jackets and ultimately cost them a chance at the playoffs last season.

A similar situation may be the only thing that stops them from qualifying this time.

After making one of the biggest moves of the summer, the Blue Jackets look to get off to a strong start Friday night against the visiting New York Rangers in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Columbus lost the most games to injury or illness in the NHL last season at 512, 23 more than Colorado and 130 ahead of Buffalo.

After winning their first two games, the Blue Jackets lost 17 of 21 and never recovered enough to mount a serious playoff push. With their health improving, the Jackets capped the season with a 15-1-1 stretch to finish fifth in the Metropolitan Division with a 42-35-5 record, and coach Todd Richards said "there's confidence, belief in the room."

That only increased June 30 when they acquired Brandon Saad in a seven-player trade with Stanley Cup champion Chicago and signed him to a six-year, $36 million extension a few days later.

The left wing, who turns 23 later this month, had career highs of 23 goals and 29 assists last season, scoring eight times in the playoffs.

"It's the experience of being there and going on deep playoff runs - it's really helped my game grow," Saad told the team's official website shortly after the trade. "It's really incredible for my career and it's helped me progress a lot.

"I think I can go and be a leader. I'm sure they have plenty of leaders (and) guys who have been around the league a while. They know what they're doing."

Saad is expected to be on Columbus' top line with All-Stars Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen, the team's top scorers from last season at 73 and 71 points.

It hasn't taken long for the trio to find some chemistry, combining for 10 goals and 25 points in three preseason games.

"I've been really impressed with how fast we've been able to click," Foligno said. "It says a lot about the guys I'm playing with.

"With Brandon, (it's been great) just being able to play with him and get to know him, and Joey's picking up right where he left off ... we're obviously so comfortable playing together. To have a guy like Brandon who can jell with us and play the right way has been a lot of fun."

Sergei Bobrovsky is back in net after going 30-17-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average in 51 games. Like the rest of the Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky was excellent to close out 2014-15, posting a 14-1-1 record and 2.29 GAA in his last 17 games.

One of those defeats, however, came against the Rangers on April 6. Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots before giving up a goal to Derek Stepan with 50 seconds to play in overtime of the 4-3 loss.

New York won three of the four matchups last season, including three straight with all of them decided by one goal.

The Rangers are looking to play the role of spoilers again. They beat the Blackhawks 3-2 after they raised their championship banner Wednesday, getting 32 saves from Henrik Lundqvist. The most important came with a minute left, when Lundqvist stopped the puck before it was poked into the net from under his pads. However, the goal was waved off and video review was inconclusive.

Lundqvist gets the start again and will likely get a third straight Saturday in the home opener against Columbus.

"Hank has worked hard ... and I think this is a good way to get Hank going, playing and feeling good about his game," coach Alain Vigneault told the team's official website.

Lundqvist has a 1.64 GAA while winning three straight meetings with the Blue Jackets.

Rick Nash is looking to bounce back from his pointless effort at Chicago. The left wing's 42 goals ranked third in the league last season, but he only had one in four meetings against his former club.

Stepan, who scored Wednesday, has three goals and five assists in his last four matchups.


Blackhawks vs. Islanders 7:30 (EDT) Preview

Blackhawks-Islanders Preview

By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer

Friday, October 9 at 1:14 PM (EDT)

Nassau Coliseum's crumbling facade provided a reminder to the faithful fans on Long Island that it probably was time for the New York Islanders to find new digs as they stepped into the outdated facility.

The banners that celebrate the early 1980s dynasty now hang in the state-of-the-art Barclays Center 23 miles west in Brooklyn. But no matter where the Islanders now call home, their focus remains on adding another Stanley Cup title as they open a new season Friday night in the first of a home-and-home set with the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

New York's 47 victories last season were its most since winning the last of four straight Cups in 1983-84. Its 25 home wins tied for the third most in the Eastern Conference, but they lost home-ice advantage in the playoffs due to a late slump and lost Game 7 to Washington in the first round.

''You could really feel the disappointment throughout our group over the summer,'' said captain John Tavares, whose career-high 86 points fell one short of Art Ross winner Jamie Benn. ''It definitely adds to pushing ourselves to get back here. We realize how hard it is just to get where we got last year.''

The difficulty of simply getting to work also increased, as many players live on Long Island and have been commuting via train. The strict and sometimes superstitious routines hockey players value have changed with the Islanders leaving Nassau Coliseum after 43 years.

Still, much remains the same. Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee and former Blackhawk Nick Leddy help make up a core group that lost only Michael Grabner and Lubomir Visnovsky.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak is back after one of the best seasons of his career, though he won't play in the opener because of an undisclosed upper body injury. Thomas Greiss, who hasn't faced the Blackhawks since 2009, will get the start.

''Everybody knows the system,'' said Okposo, who finished second on the club with 51 points despite missing 22 games with an eye injury. ''That part is second nature to us. It's nice that we don't have to learn a new system, we don't have to learn anything.

"As far as the amenities go, it's nice to have, but we still have to go play the game.''

The Islanders' first regular-season contest at Barclays comes against a club they most certainly envy, as the Blackhawks are coming off their third Stanley Cup title in six years.

New York will get a reminder of that success Saturday when they travel to the United Center. Chicago unveiled their newest banner Wednesday before falling 3-2 to the New York Rangers in its opener.

Patrick Kane, who is playing despite being under investigation for an alleged sexual assault incident during the offseason, tapped in the potential tying goal in the final minute, but it was disallowed after the referee declared his intent to blow the whistle after losing sight of the puck.

Kane assisted on rookie Artemi Panarin's goal in the first period, and Teuvo Teravainen also scored for the new-look Blackhawks, who parted ways with key contributors Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad - among others - to stay under the salary cap.

Trevor Daley, who came over in the trade that sent Sharp to Dallas, had a few defensive lapses in his Chicago debut.

''We got better as the game went on and did good things,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ''But we gave up a couple goals late in the first that were definitely preventable.''

Leddy and Tavares assisted on Okposo's goal midway through the third as New York won 3-2 on Dec. 13. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each scored twice in Chicago's 4-1 home win March 17.


Coyotes vs. Kings 7:30 (EDT) Preview

Coyotes-Kings Preview


Thursday, October 8 at 2:27 PM (EDT)

The first two minutes of the Los Angeles Kings' season went precisely as hoped. The 58 that followed were a mess.

A full 60 minutes and their first win of 2015-16 will be the goal Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes, who enter the first full season of a rebuilding project with greater hopes than the meager expectations placed on them by others.

The Kings kicked off an opening five-game homestand with Wednesday's 5-1 loss to San Jose after Nick Shore's goal at 1:49 in the first period provided an initial jolt. It was 2-1 by the end of the period and 4-1 at the end of the second.

"We were pretty sloppy," captain Dustin Brown said. "Sloppy in our rushes, sloppy in our (defensive) zone. That was probably most of it. We weren't competing in the corner and making hard plays coming out of our zone. We didn't play very well."

Jonathan Quick was outdone by his former backup, Martin Jones, with the senior of the two stopping 27 of 32 shots. Kings coach Darryl Sutter was more concerned with a top line of newcomer Milan Lucic, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik he referred to as "flat."

"We're playing against a big, fast team (and) we didn't play like a big, fast team," Sutter told the team's official website. "You've got to check. If you don't check, you can't score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys, that weren't interested in that part of the game."

Fortunes could change against Arizona. The Kings have posted three shutouts with five goals allowed over a 4-0-1 stretch in the series. Quick is 3-0-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in that span.

The Coyotes are trying to distance themselves from those times, as well as their 4-23-1 finish to last season that led to their second-worst record since moving to Arizona.

Offense will remain a concern until they prove otherwise after ranking 29th last season with 165 goals, and they managed just four in six preseason games.

The club's struggles came in part after unloading Keith Yandle, Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek at the trade deadline, though they've brought back Vermette and Michalek.

In terms of younger players, center Max Domi played two years in the minors after being the 12th overall pick of the 2013 draft and is expected to be a dynamic force now that he's in the NHL. Winger Anthony Duclair came to Arizona from the New York Rangers in the Yandle trade and is considered one of the best up-and-coming players.

"Outside these halls I know where we're probably projected, but I think if our mix is right, there's a lot of people who are anxious to get back and show people we are better than we were, not only on the ice but off the ice," general manager Don Maloney said.

Arizona needs a bounce-back season from Shane Doan after the team captain finished with 36 points in 79 games last season for his lowest points-per-game mark (0.46) since 1997-98 - though at 39 as of Oct. 10, it might be wiser to seek production elsewhere.

The team could also use more from Mike Smith, who has struggled with health and inconsistency since carrying the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference finals. In 62 games last season, the 33-year-old posted his worst save percentage (.904) since 2009-10 and worst-ever GAA (3.16).

The veteran is 2-4-0 with a 3.35 GAA and .906 save percentage over a seven-game span against the Kings.


Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings 7:30 (EDT) Preview

Maple Leafs-Red Wings Preview


Thursday, October 8 at 12:03 PM (EDT)

There's plenty Mike Babcock is going to miss about Detroit, and not just those things associated with the Red Wings.

While it's uncertain how much time Babcock will have to renew old acquaintances, the main focus is earning that initial win for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his first meaningful return to Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.

"I had a great tailor here, guy that cut my hair for 10 years. I had a great (place) to have breakfast for four bucks," Babcock told the NHL's official website. "I knew where to go ... all those things are just part of your life."

The chance was there for the coach to visit some of his old haunts last week when Toronto played a preseason game in Detroit, but the intensity and emotion now heightens in a regular-season contest.

Babcock spent 10 seasons coaching the Red Wings, leading them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the finals one year later, but after first-round playoff exits during Detroit's first two seasons in the Eastern Conference, the 52-year-old decided it was time to move on.

He landed in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs gave him an eight-year, $50 million contract to fix a storied franchise that's been to the playoffs once in the last 10 seasons and is coming off its worst full campaign since 1997-98.

"I just felt my time had come to an end here in Detroit and I wanted to get a new opportunity," he said. "Toronto's a beautiful city, an Original Six franchise with close proximity to Detroit, worked out real good for myself."

Things didn't work out Wednesday for Toronto, which fell 3-1 to Montreal in Babcock's debut. The Maple Leafs held a 37-30 shot advantage but managed only James van Riemsdyk's power-play goal early in the second period.

"There's no moral victories in the NHL," Babcock said. "You either won or you lost. It's real simple that way. But obviously the process is there, and they're trying."

Toronto's top returning scorer, van Riemsdyk recorded only two of his 56 points while the Maple Leafs went 3-1-1 against Detroit last season.

Replacing Babcock is Jeff Blashill, his former assistant and coach of the Red Wings' AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids for the past three seasons.

"He might have the upper hand for a short period here, but we'll see over time, though," Babcock joked.

The 41-year old Blashill gives Babcock plenty of credit for his current opportunity.

"I wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for Mike, at least not at this moment," Blashill said. "It might have taken me longer, without question. Mike's somebody who I learned a ton from, both the year I worked for him and the three years after."

Trying to guide the Red Wings to a 25th consecutive playoff appearance, Blashill begins his tenure without a few key contributors.

Eight-time 20-goal scorer Pavel Datsyuk (ankle) is expected to miss several weeks, defenseman Danny DeKeyser (foot) is out at least three weeks and grinding center Darren Helm (concussion, shoulder) also opens the campaign on injured reserve.

Forward Brad Richards and defenseman Mike Green were brought in to provide additional veteran leadership alongside Henrik Zetterberg, who had a team-high 66 points in 77 games last season.

Winger Tomas Tatar led the Red Wings with a career-high 29 goals and had a personal-best 27 assists in 2014-15. However, he has two goals and no assists in nine games against the Maple Leafs.

Despite losing his starting job to Petr Mrazek late last season and into the playoffs, Jimmy Howard will be in net Friday. Howard went 1-1-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average when facing Toronto last season.


Thursday, October 8, 2015
National Hockey League
Hurricanes 1 vs. 2 Predators Final Recap

Smith, Arvidsson score as Predators beat Hurricanes 2-1

By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 12:20 AM (EDT)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Nashville Predators were happy with their first 20 minutes of the new season. Luckily, they have goalie Pekka Rinne to cover any slack when they ease up a bit too much.

Craig Smith had a power-play goal as the Predators scored twice in the first period Thursday night and held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in the season opener for both.

''We played great hockey in the first, but we let off the gas for sure, and we knew they weren't going to give up,'' said Nashville defenseman Seth Jones. ''We let off the gas, and Pek made some huge saves for us and we got some timely bounces.''

Viktor Arvidsson scored the first goal of his NHL career, and Jones had two assists. Nashville improved to 4-1-1 in its last six season openers.

Rinne, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, missed his first shutout of Carolina when Eric Staal scored with 1:40 left. Rinne made 25 saves for the win.

Defenseman Noah Hanifin, the fifth overall pick by Carolina in June, made his NHL debut and played 18:06. The Hurricanes lost defenseman James Wisniewski, one of their offseason additions, early to a lower-body injury, and he did not return.

''We had a little bit of adversity,'' Carolina coach Bill Peters said. ''I thought we handled it well though, but all three penalties for us were in the O-zone. That can't be something we do . get that cleaned up, and we will be fine.''

The Predators opened the night with their traditional gold carpet walk into the arena and their 13th consecutive sellout. Then they kicked off Peter Laviolette's second season as coach by jumping all over the team he coached to the 2006 Stanley Cup, taking 11 of the first 13 shots.

''We were strong in the first, I mean ... we were ready to play,'' Laviolette said. ''We just have to do that for 60 minutes.''

Carolina forward Kris Versteeg said the Predators play really well in their building.

''I thought once we settled in, we played a lot better,'' Versteeg said.

They nearly blew it with the Hurricanes finishing with a flurry of shots at Rinne, and Staal scored just after Carolina goalie Cam Ward reached the bench.

Smith tipped in a shot by Ryan Ellis for a 1-0 lead off Nashville's first power play to take advantage of Jordan Staal's penalty for high-sticking. Smith signed a five-year deal worth $21.2 million in July. Arvidsson tipped in a shot redirected by Calle Jarnkrok off a blast from Jones at 17:03 for the 2-0 lead.

The Swede celebrated his first career goal in his seventh NHL game with a triple fist pump on the bench.

Carolina came in having won its final four preseason games. The Hurricanes just couldn't get anything going against the Predators, who still aren't happy at being ousted in the first round of the playoffs last spring after finishing third in the Western Conference.

The Hurricanes outshot Nashville 21-11 in the final two periods and failed to convert on two power plays in the third. Except for Staal's tip-in, their flurry of shots in the final minute just couldn't squeeze past Rinne, who finished second to Montreal goalie Carey Price in Vezina voting.

Notes: Nashville improved to 9-6-2 all-time in home openers. ... These teams split last season, but Nashville now is 10-4-0 in the last nine games in this series. The Predators also have gotten points in 11 of the last 12. ... Arvidsson led Nashville's AHL-affiliate, Milwaukee, in scoring last season. ... Carolina now is 4-9-5 in season openers since leaving Connecticut. ... Only 12 defensemen had made their NHL debut in the year they were drafted since the 2008 draft.


Jets 6 vs. 2 Bruins Final Recap

Jets beat Bruins 6-2, snap 13-game losing streak in Boston

By JIMMY GOLEN - AP Sports Writer

Thursday, October 8 at 10:46 PM (EDT)

BOSTON (AP) Six different Winnipeg skaters scored in the season opener, and Jets coach Paul Maurice is happy about that.

Not just for the well-distributed scoring, but because he's got a half-dozen players who can spend another day in fantasy land.

''Everybody's got hopes and dreams when they come into a season, thinking they can score 50,'' Maurice said with a smile after the Jets beat Boston 6-2 on Thursday night. ''There's six guys that still think they might.''

Chris Thorburn and Nicolas Petan scored in the third period after the Bruins came within one goal, and the Jets opened the season with the franchise's first victory in Boston since 2007. The Bruins had beaten the Thrashers and Jets 13 consecutive times in Boston.

''I'd never won here, so it's been at least five years,'' said forward Blake Wheeler, who played with the Bruins from 2008 until he was traded to the Thrashers in 2011, their last season in Atlanta.

''It's never an easy challenge here. You really try to take advantage of it when you can, and I think tonight was a big relief.''

Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves for the Jets.

After David Krejci scored to give Boston a 1-0 lead after one period, Mark Scheifele tied it.

Wheeler gave the Jets the lead for good midway through the second period after Andrew Ladd stole the puck from Boston's Matt Irwin behind the Bruins net. Drew Stafford gave the Jets a 3-1 lead.

After a slow first period, Maurice said, ''We got off the plane and off the bus and started to skate incrementally better and better. And a pretty darn good team after that.''

David Pastrnak stickhandled along the left side before wristing it past Pavelec to make it 3-2 early in the third. But less than four minutes later, Thorburn sneaked through the defense and put a bouncing puck past Tuukka Rask to make it 4-2.

Petan, who was making his NHL debut, deflected a puck off his skate and into the net midway through the final period to make it 5-2.

''I think it hit the back of my skate. I'm pretty sure. I don't even know for sure, but I'll take it,'' he said. ''Everybody saying congratulations on the bench I think is something I'll remember for a long time.''

Alexander Burmistrov added an empty-netter with 3:38 to play, backhanding it in from the far faceoff circle.

Rask made 26 saves in all.

The Jets are trying to build on last season's playoff appearance - their first since moving to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season. They were swept by Anaheim in the first round.

The Bruins are trying to bounce back after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2007 - the year before Claude Julien took over on the bench. General manager Peter Chiarelli was replaced by Don Sweeney and regulars like Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton were shipped out.

But with top defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg missing the games with injuries, the Bruins struggled to keep the puck out of their net.

''We kind of got away from our defensive game,'' Krejci said. ''I thought we did a pretty god job of creating a bunch of scoring chances but on the other hand, totally forgot about our defensive game. So that's what happened.''

NOTES: Chara, the Bruins' captain has an unspecified upper body injury, and Seidenberg had surgery to repair a herniated disc. ... Boston's Jonas Kemppainen and Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers also made their NHL debuts. ... The Jets open with four road games in six nights, including two back-to-backs.


Oilers 1 vs. 3 Blues Final Recap

Fabbri gets tiebreaker in 3rd as Blues beat Oilers, McDavid

By NATE LATSCH - Associated Press

Friday, October 9 at 12:19 AM (EDT)

ST. LOUIS (AP) Robby Fabbri came through in his first NHL game and helped the St. Louis Blues spoil Edmonton rookie Connor McDavid's debut.

Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the Blues beat the Oilers 3-1 Thursday night.

''I guess I've got some bragging rights,'' Fabbri said of his childhood friend. ''We'll see how long that lasts.''

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues on a breakaway near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

''I thought where we turned the game around a little bit was in the the second half of the second period,'' Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''We started to really check and create turnovers and really got after them a little bit and started to put a bunch of shots up. ... That kind of turned the momentum for us a little bit.''

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves in his Oilers debut.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer's goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on face-offs - winning only three of 13.

''I did some good stuff, did some bad stuff,'' McDavid said.

Oilers coach Todd McLellan described McDavid's debut as ''fine.''

''At times I thought he was very dangerous and at other times I didn't think that line had a lot going,'' McLellan said. ''So it's a matter of timing and chemistry and trying to find the right combinations for him and his linemates.''

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward and the Blues' first-round pick in 2014, was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup - joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson. Fabbri became the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal in his debut, according to information provided by the Blues from the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jori Lehtera delivered a no-look, back-handed pass to Fabbri in the slot and the rookie beat Talbot top shelf with a wrister.

''I came off the bench and I saw the play there,'' Fabbri said. ''I wasn't sure if he saw or heard me, so for him to make that play, it was an amazing pass.''

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

''I was just trying to get it out of the zone short-handed,'' Pietrangelo said. ''Usually it hits a guy and it pops up in the air. This one decided to go five-hole.''

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

''I didn't need to look. I knew it was going in,'' Pietrangelo said. ''He's going to score those. Makes it look awfully easy, that's for sure.''

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut. He scored twice against Detroit on Jan. 19, 2013.

NOTES: Anton Slepyshev also made his NHL debut for the Oilers. ... St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327. . The Blues improved to 51-11 in games, both regular season and postseason, in which Tarasenko scores a goal.


Senators 3 vs. 1 Sabres Final Recap

Turris scores 2 in Senators 3-1 win over Sabres

By JOHN WAWROW - AP Hockey Writer

Thursday, October 8 at 11:36 PM (EDT)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Credit coach Dave Cameron with a big assist in the Ottawa Senators' season-opening 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Just when it seemed as if rookie center Jack Eichel and the new-look Sabres had grabbed the momentum by scoring twice in a span of 1:23 midway through the third period, Cameron successfully used his coach's challenge to negate what would have been Buffalo's tying goal.

''Well it's huge. It's a goal they scored and it doesn't count,'' Cameron said, who passed the credit to assistant coach Jason Smith for suggesting the challenge. ''We really had nothing to lose in calling it.''

A video review showed that forward Zemgus Girgensons was offside by just a hair when the Sabres gained the zone and eventually scored on Evander Kane's wraparound goal with 9:26 remaining.

The Senators then hung on and sealed the win on Curtis Lazar's goal into an empty net with 1:04 remaining.

''At first I didn't expect the challenge,'' said Senators forward Kyle Turris, who scored twice. ''I didn't see the offside, but yeah, it was a great heads-up play, and I'm liking the challenges now.''

The new rule was introduced by the NHL this season, allowing a coach one challenge per game so long as his team still has its timeout.

The Sabres accepted the decision, even though it cost them.

''We got the second goal and the building was buzzing. It's just disappointing to have it turn around that way,'' Girgensons said. ''That was a close call, but it was the right call.''

The Sabres could only blame themselves in a game in which they were outplayed through the first two periods before finally generating momentum in the third period.

Eichel got the sold-out crowd on its feet by scoring a power-play goal in his debut. At 18, the second player selected in the draft, is regarded as the future face of a franchise that has spent the past two seasons rebuilding through youth.

Set up by a pass from Marcus Foligno to the left of the net, Eichel snapped a shot into the open side before goalie Craig Anderson could get across.

''It was a special moment, something I'll never forget,'' Eichel said. ''But it's tough to really enjoy it when you don't win the game.''

The Sabres finished the game minus starting goalie Robin Lehner, who did not return after appearing to hurt his left leg 7:30 into the second period.

Without revealing the nature of the injury, coach Dan Bylsma said the initial prognosis is that the injury is not a short-term one.

Lehner was untouched when he went down in his crease. Though he left the ice favoring his left leg, the goalie was spotted wearing a protective boot on his right ankle.

Lehner allowed one goal on 12 shots, and was replaced by Chad Johnson, who gave up a goal on nine shots.

Turris scored 30 seconds in on Ottawa's first shot on net to cap a 3-on-2 break. He made it 2-0 midway through the second period after linemate Mark Stone stripped defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen of the puck behind Buffalo's net.

The Senators carried over their run of dominance after closing last season with a 23-4-4 surge to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. They also improved to 12-0-3 in their past 15 road games dating to last season. That matched a franchise record consecutive road games with a point set from March 4 to Nov. 4, 2007, when Ottawa went 11-0-4 according to STATS.

NOTES: Sabres captain Brian Gionta was held out after he sustained a minor lower body injury in practice this week. Bylsma said there's a chance he can play Saturday when Buffalo hosts Tampa Bay. ... Cameron's challenge was the second this season after Toronto coach Mike Babcock was successful in overturning a goal because of goalie interference in Montreal's 3-1 win on Wednesday night. ... Turris' goal was by far the fastest to open a season in Senators franchise history, according to STATS. The previous fastest goal was scored by Wade Redden 2:29 into 5-4 season-opening win at Toronto on Oct. 3, 2001.


Wild 5 vs. 4 Avalanche Final Recap

Parise has hat trick as Wild rally for 5-4 win over Avs

By PAT GRAHAM - AP Sports Writer

Friday, October 9 at 1:09 AM (EDT)

DENVER (AP) All the hats thrown onto the ice weren't a big surprise. Zach Parise did have a hat trick.

On the road, though? Now that stunned Parise a little bit.

Not nearly as stunned as the Colorado Avalanche were after blowing a big lead.

Parise scored three times, including the tiebreaking tally in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild overcame a three-goal deficit to beat the Avalanche 5-4 on Thursday night.

''It was two really good teams playing and it was entertaining,'' said Parise, who recorded his third career hat trick. ''It was rewarding for us to play better in the third period and sneak out with a win.''

Trailing 4-1 in the final period, the Wild had four goals in a 5:07 span to bewilder the Avalanche. Parise scored twice, while Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter added the other two.

Parise beat Semyon Varlamov with a slap shot to put Minnesota up for good midway through the third period. Colorado pulled Varlamov twice for an extra skater in the final two minutes but couldn't score on Devan Dubnyk.

It took the Wild a bit to get going, but once they did there was no stopping them.

''We weren't on for sure,'' Wild coach Mike Yeo said. ''It looked like the type of game you play after a weeklong break after you play a couple of, I hate to say it, easy exhibition games. We pretty much kind of slept-walked through the first two periods. It felt like once they got up they really tried to run at us and that kind of woke our guys up.''

After the game, Yeo was a little bothered that a team doctor didn't come in to the dressing room to check on a banged-up Niederreiter.

''They only had one doctor here. He went off to get looked at but they had no doctor to take a look at him,'' Yeo said. ''I guess he was watching the game. I'm not sure.''

Jarome Iginla, Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog had goals in the first period for Colorado. John Mitchell added another in the second as the Avalanche built what appeared to be a comfortable lead before the Wild stormed back.

Varlamov stopped 19 of 20 shots before unraveling in the third period.

''When you score four goals, those games you should win,'' Varlamov said. ''There's a time when the goalie has to step up and stop those shots, it doesn't matter if they are tough ones or easy ones. I didn't play well tonight.''

Boiled down to momentum and Colorado couldn't get it back.

''We were really, really good for 45 minutes,'' Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. ''All of a sudden, they score that second goal and the momentum shifted. We just couldn't stop it.

''We can't be happy about that.''

Parise nearly had a goal in the first period, when he outraced everyone to a loose puck at center ice and skated in alone on Varlamov. But he clanged a shot off the left post.

After that, it was all Avs in the opening period as Iginla beat Dubnyk with a wrist shot, Johnson knocked in a shot off a slap shot and Landeskog added a third by tipping in the puck following a carom off the boards.

Two of them were on power plays. They were 29th on the power play a year ago. This from an Avalanche team that struggled to score goals in the preseason.

Teenager Mikko Rantanen showed some nerves in his NHL debut, with the puck rolling under his stick on his first scoring chance. At 18 years, 344 days, he's the fifth-youngest player to suit up for the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon tops the list, making his debut on Oct. 2, 2013, against Anaheim at 18 years, 31 days.

NOTES: Minnesota's Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund both had two assists. ... Roy said the team will skip the traditional morning practices before games. ... Avalanche D Francois Beauchemin had three assists.


Flyers 2 vs. 3 Lightning Final Recap

Garrison has 2 goals, Lightning beat Flyers 3-2 in OT

By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press

Thursday, October 8 at 11:53 PM (EDT)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Jason Garrison ended a wild extra session that included a penalty shot with a nifty goal.

The Tampa Bay defenseman scored his second goal of the game in overtime, and the Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Thursday night.

Garrison's game-winner came on a breakaway at 2:17 of the extra period, which featured end-to-end action in the NHL's first 3-on-3 OT of the regular season.

''How to describe it?'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ''Lunacy. It's just constant (action).''

''The issue I have with this is, as a coach, players are going up and down on the bench and you miss half the scoring chances.''

The NHL moved overtime from 4-on-4 to the new setup this season.

Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop faced his second penalty shot 1:27 into overtime and made a pad save on Scott Laughton.

''That's another new one for me,'' Cooper said of the pair of penalty shots.

Tampa Bay outshot the Flyers 5-3 during overtime, and 32-25 for the game.

''There's definitely a lot of chances out there, and that's what the league was trying to get out of it,'' Flyers goalie Steve Mason said. ''I think we're going to see a lot of games ended in overtime just because of how wide open it is.''

It was the first NHL game for Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol, who spent the past 11 seasons coaching at the University of North Dakota. Seven of his teams at North Dakota reached the NCAA Frozen Four.

''I guess I haven't really thought a whole lot about it,'' Hakstol said. ''I like the way our team played. That's, I guess, what my focus is. I'm excited to see everybody go out and work hard to play their role and do their job and do it with confidence.''

Matt Read and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers. R.J. Umberger had two assists.

The Lightning also got a goal from Ryan Callahan. Tampa Bay unveiled its 2015 Eastern Conference championship banner before the game.

Jonathan Drouin picked up two assists as the Lightning improved to 9-0-1 in their last 10 home games against Philadelphia.

After Read beat Bishop from the low slot at 10:14 of the second, Schenn put the Flyers up 2-1 with a rebound power-play goal 1:49 later.

Callahan got Tampa Bay even at 2 on the rebound during a power play with 1:38 left in the second.

Garrison opened the scoring from the blue line when his shot through traffic eluded Mason 1:25 into the second.

Mason kept it a one-goal game less than a minute later by stopping a breakaway shot by Ondrej Palat.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux had a penalty shot with 6:13 left in the first, but sent a soft shot wide of the net after several stick-handling moves.

NOTES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, in the final season of a five-year, $37 million contract, had three shots but was held without a point. Without a new deal, he could become a free agent after the season. ... Former Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier and C Sam Gagner were healthy scratches for the Flyers. ... Tampa Bay C Cedric Paquette (foot) is practicing but didn't play.


Penguins 0 vs. 3 Stars Final Recap

Niemi, Stars shut out Penguins 3-0 in season opener


Friday, October 9 at 1:20 AM (EDT)

DALLAS (AP) Antti Niemi couldn't remember whether he'd ever had two assists in a game before. Matthias Janmark didn't have anything to remember before he scored his first NHL goal.

And Ales Hemsky had good feelings in the first game after a season he'd rather forget.

Niemi stopped 37 shots in his Dallas debut for his 33rd career shutout and had two assists in the first periods, and Janmark and Hemsky scored to lead the Stars to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

''We got the lead early (here), which is not always the easiest place to play,'' Niemi said, ''especially against a team like that.

''I just tried to have fun out there, and usually it's fun when you give me too many goals.''

Hemsky scored on a power play, and assisted when Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game just 1:39 into the first period.

''He deserved it,'' Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. ''He's had a heck of a camp. I made the move to put him back to center, let him play his natural position.''

The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year. Hemsky joined the team as a free agent last season, but had only 11 goals and 21 assists in 76 games.

''It took me a while last year to get into it and align the system and everything,'' Hemsky said. ''I feel much (more) comfortable this year.''

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL's leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi improved his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

''I thought (Niemi) looked quick, nothing went through him,'' Ruff said, ''and then he made a couple really good saves right at the end of the game to put the icing on the cake.''

The Stars held Penguins captain Sidney Crosby without a shot on goal.

''We got to find ways to score goals whether it's the power play chipping in or finding ways in front,'' Crosby said. ''It wasn't lack of chances.''

Fleury finished with 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall. They scored first when Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury's legs.

''I couldn't have had a better start,'' Janmark said. ''My first game, and to get that start, I never dreamed of that.''

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn't score. Niemi's best stop was a reaching glove save of Rob Scuderi's drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas' first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury's right shoulder.

Seven seconds into the Stars' fourth power play of the third period, Benn tipped in Jason Spezza's shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. ... San Jose traded Niemi's rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago's Stanley Cup champions last season. ... In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. ... Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.