Ovechkin scores three for Caps in win over Devils
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin took a stick to the face and put three pucks in the net for a hat trick to lead the Washington Capitals past the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.
Ovechkin reached 31 goals this season with his 25th career hat trick. He has scored five in his past two games to reach 689 total, one back of Mario Lemieux for 10th on the NHL’s all-time list as he approaches 700.
Mike Gartner is the only other player to reach the 30-goal mark in each of his first 15 seasons.
In other Thursday ice action:
— Chris Kreider scored a power-play goal with 25 seconds left to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 win over the rival New York Islanders. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist and Tony DeAngelo also scored as the Rangers beat the Islanders for the fourth time in the last five meetings — and second time in four days.
— Patrice Bergeron scored his 20th goal, Karson Kuhlman and David Pastrnak both had two assists, and the Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Sean Kuraly and Par Lindholm also scored for the Bruins and Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal in the final minute. Boston improved to 2-0 against the Penguins.
— Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice and Carey Price recorded 40 saves as the Montreal Canadiens avoided a season series sweep with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Tomas Tatar scored his 17th goal of the season and Artturi Lehkonen added his 11th for the Canadiens. Joel Farabee broke a 17-game scoreless drought with his fourth goal of the season for Philadelphia.
— Brian Boyle had the winning goal and the Florida Panthers held off a late surge to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Mike Matheson, Frank Vatrano and Evgenii Dadonov also scored for Florida. Jack Campbell stopped 22 shots in his third start in four games. The Kings have lost six of their last seven games.
— Nick Foligno scored the tie-breaking goal with 1:41 left in the game to push the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Elvis Merzlikins had 32 saves as the Blue Jackets won their third straight game. They are 5-0-1 in their last six.
— Matthew Tkachuk (kuh-CHUK’) scored the only goal of the shootout, leading the Calgary Flames past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Derek Ryan scored in regulation for Calgary and the Flames got 35 saves from David Rittich through 65 minutes.
Wolves, Hawks swap guards Teague, Crabbe on expiring deals
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves traded 11th-year veteran point guard Jeff Teague to his original team Thursday in a three-player swap of backups with the Atlanta Hawks, who sent shooting guard Allen Crabbe in return.
The Timberwolves also dealt shooting guard Treveon Graham, creating a roster space for potential other transactions prior to the trade deadline Feb. 6. It was the first significant in-season move by new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.
The 31-year-old Teague, who’s making $19 million, and the 27-year-old Crabbe, who’s earning $18.5 million, are both playing on expiring contracts. Graham is only signed through this season, too.
In other NBA news:
— Golden State guard Jacob Evans III is the latest Warriors player to go down injured. Evans suffered a concussion and broken nose in the first half of the team’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks and entered the NBA concussion protocol.
Giants make Alyssa Nakken first female major league coach
UNDATED (AP) — Alyssa Nakken (NAK’-ihn) became the first female coach on a major league staff in baseball history Thursday when she was named an assistant under new Giants manager Gabe Kapler.
Major League Baseball confirmed Nakken is the first woman coach in the majors. Nakken is a former softball standout at first base for Sacramento State who joined the club in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations. She and Mark Hallberg, who was also named as an assistant Thursday, will work to promote high performance along with a close-knit team atmosphere.
Kapler, who expressed during the winter meetings that he would hire some coaches for nontraditional roles, said in a text message Nakken will be in uniform.
The NBA has several female assistant coaches. The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, playing in this Sunday’s NFC championship game, have Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant.
In other MLB news:
—The Mets say new manager Carlos Beltrán and the team have agreed to part ways in the latest fallout from the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Thursday’s announcement came two days after Boston cut ties with manager Alex Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 when Beltrán played for the Astros. A day before that, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired by Houston.
— Houston Astros outfielder George Springer and the team have settled on a $21 million contract for next season. Springer led the tainted Astros to their first title in 2017 and was the Most Valuable Player of the World Series that year. The 30-year-old Springer set career highs last season with 39 home runs and 96 RBIs. Springer had asked for $22.5 million in salary arbitration and the Astros offered $17.5 million. He made $12,150,000 last year.
— The Boston Red Sox say the turmoil in the manager’s office isn’t a reason to give up on this season and trade Mookie Betts. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom says that the departure of manager Alex Cora in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal is not a reason to rebuild. Betts and the Red Sox avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $27 million contract for this season.
— Miguel Sanó’s contract with the Minnesota Twins could be worth $44.25 million over four seasons. Sanó is guaranteed $30 million over three seasons under the deal announced Tuesday.
— Adeiny Hechavarría agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract to remain with the Braves, a move that boosted Atlanta’s infield depth. The 30-year-old signed with the Braves on Aug. 16, two days after he was released by the New York Mets. Hechavarria has a .253 career average in eight seasons with Toronto, Miami, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, the Yankees, Mets and Braves.
Warrant issued for Odell Beckham after video shows butt swat
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police in New Orleans say a misdemeanor simple battery warrant has been issued for Cleveland Browns wide receiver and former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. The warrant comes as video posted on social media appears to show Beckham swatting a security officer’s backside during LSU’s locker room celebration after Monday night’s national championship game in the Superdome.
The Browns said Beckham’s representatives are cooperating with authorities.
The arrest warrant follows another postgame controversy involving Beckham. LSU has acknowledged contacting NCAA officials about Beckham apparently handing out cash to Tigers players after the championship game.
In other NFL news:
— Two people familiar with the assignment tell The Associated Press that Bill Vinovich was chosen to work this year’s Super Bowl because he had the highest rating among referees. The selection of Vinovich has met with some disfavor from players and fans, noting that he was the referee in last year’s NFC championship game marred by an egregious missed penalty call on the Rams that helped them get to the Super Bowl.
— A person familiar with the Browns’ plans tells The Associated Press the team will interview Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort to be their general manager. Ossenfort has been with New England for 15 seasons. The Browns hired Kevin Stefanski as their head coach this week.
— San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch has won the Pro Football Writers of America Executive of the Year award. Lynch was honored today for his role in helping transform the 49ers from a four-win season in 2018 to a 13-3. San Francisco is playing Green Bay in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
AP source: Baylor finalizing deal for Aranda as head coach
Baylor is finalizing a deal to make LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda the new coach of the Bears, a person with knowledge of the agreement said Thursday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school was not ready to make any official announcement on Matt Rhule’s successor. Rhule was named head coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers on Jan. 7.
Aranda will take over a Big 12 program that is in much better shape than it was when Rhule got there just over three years ago. Aranda, the highest-paid college assistant at $2.5 million a season, will be a head coach for the first time.
LSU football team getting White House visit in quickly
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will welcome the Louisiana State University football team to the White House on Friday after the Tigers defeated Clemson on Monday night in the college playoff final.
Before visiting the White House, the LSU team will tour the nearby National Museum of African American History and Culture, according to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge. Trump attended the national championship game in New Orleans, which LSU won 42-25.
PGA-ABU DHABI CHAMPIONSHIP
Koepka tied for 3rd in Abu Dhabi in return from knee injury
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Brooks Koepka shot a 6-under 66 Thursday in his return to competition after a knee injury and was tied for third place after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Koepka, ranked No. 1 in the world, missed three months after re-injuring his knee when he slipped while walking off the tee on Oct. 18 at the CJ Cup in South Korea. He previously had stem cell treatment for a partially torn tendon in his patella.
Koepka is two shots behind co-leaders Shaun Norris, of South Africa, and Renato Paratore, of Italy.