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Now that Mike Sullivan and Barry Trotz have matched wits in a playoff series for three consecutive years Kerryon Johnson Jersey , they harbor very few secrets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals know each other inside-out from 17 postseason games since 2016. The coaches are very familiar with the dynamics of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and just about all the other moving pieces.

”Every move that we make there’s a counter move, and every move they make there’s a little counter move,” Trotz said. ”It’s funny: A lot of them are the same things that we’ve seen at different parts in the last couple series. They just come in different order sometimes at you. There’s only maybe so many bricks that you have and they are just lined up a different way all the time.”

Sullivan moved his pieces around as Pittsburgh tied the series at 2-2, and now Trotz gets the next chance in their chess match for Game 5 on Saturday (7 p.m. EDT, NBC). After Alex Ovechkin put no shots on net for the third time in his playoff career – with Tom Wilson suspended the first of three games – it starts with finding the right mix on the top line.

Trotz tried Devante Smith-Pelly with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and that trio was outshot 21-9 at even strength. Maybe Smith-Pelly will be back on that line, maybe he won’t after the Capitals coaching staff pored over video to see what went wrong.

”We’re looking at that,” Trotz said. ”I think that whole line has to be better for us. They’re going to need to be productive.”

Pittsburgh’s top line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and whoever else has been incredibly productive. All 10 of the Penguins’ goals in the series have come with Crosby on the ice, and Guentzel leads all players in the playoffs with 10 goals and 21 points.

”I just think he’s the best player in the game,” Sullivan said of Crosby, who played with Guentzel and Dominik Simon in Game 4. ”Sid certainly makes everybody around him better players but you’ve got to give Jake a lot of credit for the game that he’s playing.”

The Penguins got speedy winger Carl Hagelin back from injury while the Capitals lost Wilson. That’s a disadvantage for Washington, but the spotlight is still on Trotz to make the necessary adjustments as Capitals-Penguins becomes a best-of-three series.

”I think every game both teams recalibrate, if you will, in some areas,” Trotz said. ”There’s little changes we’ve noticed with them, and there’s some changes that we added in. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t have the effect that we wanted to. At the end of the day, it’s two guys going nose to nose, battling for position, battling for free pucks, executing on plays under pressure. Once we put a plan in place, we put the players in charge, really.”

CHESS MATCH II

In the West, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette also made a key change in the series between the NHL’s top two teams, benching Game 2 double-overtime hero Kevin Fiala in favor of veteran Scott Hartnell for more size, strength and experience against Winnipeg. That, plus replacing Alexei Emelin with Yannick Weber, allowed Nashville to better counter imposing Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in tying the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Saturday night in Nashville (9:30 p.m. EDT Adidas Jakub Voracek Jersey , NBCSN).

Laviolette said making a change involves taking into account the opposition, building, a player’s experience and style of play.

”They’re never easy,” Laviolette said. ”But I thought the guys that went in the lineup last night did a really good job. Hartnell played a good game. He did what we were hoping he would do, and I thought Yannick Weber went in and played a good game.”

With the Jets held without a shot for the first 12 minutes of the third period, Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice started mixing up his lines. He swapped centers, skating Mark Scheifele with Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine with Paul Stastny between Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor. Laine scored his first goal of the series and first in the postseason since Game 2 on April 13 against Minnesota.

DERBY DAY ODDS

The betting favorite to win these two series will be whoever comes out on top in Game 5, based on history alone. The 256 previous times where it was tied at 2, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 78.9 percent of the time. So there’s no urgency lacking.

”We’re going to need our best effort of the series probably in Game 5 to get a win,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”I think we’re building a belief that we can beat these guys. We know we’re going to have to play really well, but it’s possible. We think we can do it.”



AP Sports Writers Will Graves in Pittsburgh and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.



Working the phones and making shrewd picks that addressed the present and future needs of the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome conjured one final fascinating draft for a team that has relied on his intuition since its inception.

After making six trades and selecting 12 players, Newsome declared Saturday night: ”The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team after the past three days.”

Newsome is stepping down as general manager after this season. He has owned the final say in the Ravens’ draft room since 1996, when he chose future Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round.

The 2018 draft may not turn out to be as successful, but coach John Harbaugh – who’d heading into his 11th year with Baltimore – wouldn’t bet against it.

”I told Ozzie just as we finished this thing up, I feel like this is his best draft since I’ve been here,” Harbaugh said. ”Heck, maybe the best ever.”

Denying last month that he was carrying any nostalgic feelings into the draft, Newsome insisted he was focused solely on filling holes on a team that’s missed the postseason for three straight years.

He did just that. For trivia buffs out there, his final draft pick was at defensive end: Zach Sieler of Ferris State in the seventh round.

His work done, Newsome was about to hang up the phone when he realized the significance of the moment.

”Yes, it was emotional,” he acknowledged. ”The kid told me he was going to make me proud.”

Newsome will be succeeded by assistant GM Eric DeCosta. This may have been Newsome’s final draft, but his work is not done.

”Even though there’s a finality with that, there’s not finality for what I’m going to continue to do with the Baltimore Ravens,” he said.

Newsome was at his finest this week. He moved back twice in the first round before selecting South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25, providing quarterback Joe Flacco with a downfield threat from the slot.

Then, Newsome made a bold move that ultimately will determine the success of this draft. He swapped three picks to choose at No. 32 Jets Authentic Jerseys , where he snapped up Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the multifaceted 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.

The Ravens insist Flacco will remain the starter this season, but it might be hard to resist for long the temptation of playing an athlete who accounted for 119 touchdowns in three college seasons.

On Day 2, after two more trades, Newsome turned his attention back to the 2018 Ravens by taking right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. -whose father played with Baltimore – and tight end Mark Andrews of Oklahoma.

For his last day as Baltimore’s draft guru, Newsome had eight choices. Each was made with intense consideration, as always.

”A lot of work has gone into this, starting back last June,” Newsome said. ”I really, really feel very good about this class and how it came to be.”

Some items of note from the Ravens draft:

HERE’S THE CATCH: The theme of this offseason for Baltimore has been to overhaul the receiving corps, and Newsome continued the process in the draft.

After signing free agent receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead in recent weeks, Newsome collared two tight ends in the draft and on Saturday used two straight picks on receivers: Jaleel Scott of New Mexico State in the fourth round and Jordan Lasley of UCLA in the fifth.

Scott and Lasley both topped 1,000 yards receiving last season and each scored nine TDs.

ON THE DEFENSIVE: After using the first two days of the draft to improve the Ravens’ offense, Newsome turned his attention Saturday to the other side of the ball.

He selected Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett at 118th overall, UCLA inside linebacker Kenny Young at No. 122 and Texas safety DeShon Elliott at 190 and then, finally, Sieler.

HOLD THAT LINE: Extending his effort to make life easier for Flacco, Newsome attempted to shore up the offensive line in the draft.

After the Ravens lost right tackle Austin Howard and center Ryan Jensen during the offseason, they grabbed a few potential replacements.

In addition to Brown, the Ravens took tackle Greg Senat from Wagner, a 6-foot-6, 305-pounder who also played on the basketball team. In the seventh round, Newsome again tapped his alma mater, selecting Alabama center Bradley Bozeman.

STILL NEED: The Ravens are fine with running back Alex Collins but hoped to find at least one backup in the draft.

DeCosta said that just as Baltimore was ready to pounce, another team stepped in and took the Ravens’ choice.

”There will be more opportunities for us,” he said.

10-11-2018, 11:55 PM
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