National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. — Al Davis was remembered Saturday as the AFL commissioner who helped lead the merger with the NFL that changed professional football forever.
He was praised as the trendsetting owner of the Oakland Raiders, who broke racial and gender barriers while winning three Super Bowl titles and preaching his mantra of “Just win, baby!”
Davis died at age 82, still called “Coach” by many of those around him. Coach Hue Jackson always used that respected title whenever he talked about Davis, saying there was no other owner in the NFL who could talk the intricacies of the game as well as “Coach Davis.”
Davis died Saturday at his home in Oakland, while his beloved team was in Houston preparing to play the Texans. That Davis was not with his team was telling as he is believed to have missed only three games since joining the team as coach in 1963.
SAN MARTIN, Calif.— Ernie Els has won 62 times around the world, three of them major championships. And while his last one came more than 18 months ago, he’s certain he hasn’t forgotten how to win.
Paul Casey has 13 wins in his career, including last week in South Korea.
Both of them were two shots out of the lead Saturday in the Open, having to chase a guy who has never won at all.
Briny Baird doesn’t see that as a big disadvantage.
“It’s got to be good,” Baird said after a 7-under 64 made him the outright 54-hole leader for the first time in his PGA Tour career. “I’ll ask them what they’re thinking on every hole. I’d get some really good answers, and it would probably drive them insane.”
Truth is, Baird wasn’t sure what to think.
All that mattered on his gorgeous day at CordeValle was that he felt comfortable with his game, especially when standing on the 17th tee box, 294 yards from the flag over the water. He picked out a line toward the left of the green and pulled off the perfect shot, the ball rolling down the backboard to 15 feet to set up an eagle.
Despite hitting into the hazard for a bogey on the last hole, he was in foreign territory — atop the leaderboard.
It was only the third time that Baird, who was at 13-under 200, has been atop the leaderboard going into the final round on the PGA Tour, and the first time since he was tied after 54 holes at Disney seven years ago. He has never won in 357 previous attempts over 12 seasons, which was pointed out to him not long after he finished his round.
WASHINGTON — Mike Green scored a power-play goal 2:24 into overtime Saturday night and the Washington Capitals won their 10th straight home opener, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3.
Green’s drive from the top of the right circle trickled between goaltender Brian Boucher’s legs for the Capitals, who haven’t lost their first regular season game at home since Oct. 6, 2000, against the Los Angeles Kings.
Alexander Semin and Jason Chimera scored second-period goals for the Capitals, and Brooks Laich tallied in the third period.
Michal Neuvirth had 28 saves for Washington as the surprise starter over veteran free agent signing Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun is expected to be the No. 1 goalie this season, but Neuvirth entered training camp determined to fight for the job and had the better preseason. Vokoun will start Monday against Tampa Bay.
Eric Staal had a pair of power-play goals for Carolina, and Jussi Jokinen sent the game to overtime with a late goal. Brian Boucher made 32 saves for the Hurricanes, who had Cam Ward in goal for Friday night’s season-opening 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay.
But Jokinen also committed the holding penalty that led to the Capitals’ power play in overtime.
Semin had put Washington in a hole by elbowing Bryan Allen into the boards at the third-period horn, but the Hurricanes couldn’t capitalize on the 4-on-3 advantage and then had it wiped out when Jokinen was sent to the box.
The Capitals are used to winning their first one at home, but they took a more low-key approach this time. Instead of raising the banner for their fourth straight Southeast Division title, the Capitals lowered it into place from the rafters with minimal ceremony.
Such moments only serve to remind the players and fans of the perennial playoff disappointments that have kept them from winning the banner they so dearly covet — the one for the Stanley Cup title.
The Capitals appeared headed for victory in regulation after Laich scored on a 5-on-3 power play with 3:45 remaining, but Jokinen steadied Jeff Skinner’s pass with his right skate and scored from close range with 1:19 to play to tie the game again.
The Capitals had the two-man advantage after Joni Pitkanen pushed Mike Knuble headfirst into the boards for a boarding penalty with 4:52 to play, and Brandon Sutter tripped Alex Ovechkin during the ensuing 5-on-4.
Two-time league MVP Ovechkin played despite spending most of the week in Moscow following the death of an uncle, returning to Washington on Friday.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring with good puck movement during a second-period power play. The sequence started and ended with Staal, who took Jokinen’s cross-ice pass and found plenty of net to drive home his shot from the right circle.
The Capitals tied it 1-1 a little over two minutes later when John Carlson, deep in his own zone, made a stellar pass to find Semin in stride alone at center ice. Semin had so much time on the breakaway that he did a little hitch move to set himself for his approach on Boucher, who had no chance as the Russian forward went to the backhand to put the puck in.
It was the type of play Semin needs to make to help quiet critics who feel he doesn’t care enough about his team, a sentiment expressed out loud by ex-teammate Matt Bradley this summer.
Chimera then gave the Capitals the lead by showing a nice burst of speed from the blue line after receiving a pass from Joel Ward. Forward Tuomo Ruutu was left flat-footed as Chimera skated in on Boucher to make it 2-1 in the final minute of the second period.
Staal’s second goal was nearly identical to his first, a power-play shot high into the net from the right circle after nice tie-tac-toe work by his teammates. This one tied the game at 2 just 18 seconds into the third period.
Notes: The talent-staked Capitals did not have a rookie on the opening night roster for the first time since 2008-09. … The Capitals posted their 107th consecutive sellout.
The Associated Press
10/08/11 22:02