PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins playtime with the Stanley Cup is over, the names that led the franchise to its fourth title last spring forever etched onto their sports most prized possession. The confetti from the celebratory downtown parade long since swept up. The glittering championship rings have been handed out too.The final bit of pomp comes on Thursday night, when the 2015-16 Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters at newly renamed PPG Paints Arena ahead of the season opener against Washington. It will provide one last moment of reflection on a remarkable six-month stretch in which the Penguins morphed from uninspired to unstoppable under coach Mike Sullivan.Then the puck will drop. The game will being. And the quest will start anew.Were all excited to get the regular season underway and start this new challenge, Sullivan said. Were all ready for training camp to be over and we can move into the next phase of our next season ... Im sure therell be butterflies for everybody.What there wont be -- at least on the ice -- is Sidney Crosby. Pittsburghs captain skated Wednesday and briefly participated in practice in a non-contact jersey but remains out indefinitely while recovering from a concussion.While admitting its a game you want to be a part of, the two-time MVP has no plans to rush back. He spent the better part of two seasons trying to get right following a concussion suffered in January, 2011 and learned pretty quickly trying to predict how his body would react is fruitless.I think Ive spent more than enough time being in this situation, he said. You have to be patient. You have to make sure you listen to your body. If youre ready youre ready and if youre not, dont take any chances.If last season taught the Penguins anything, its that theres time. They stumbled through the first two months before Sullivan was brought on to replace Mike Johnston, beginning a sprint to the Cup that included an upset of longtime rival Washington in the second round of the playoffs.The defending Presidents Trophy winners will get an up-close look at what they missed out on Thursday night. While goaltender Braden Holtby is more worried about staying focused during the long break between pregame warmups and puck drop, his teammates will be thinking of what might have been.Itll sting a little, said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who left the Penguins in the summer of 2014 to sign with the Capitals. Itll sting a little knowing that they beat us to get to their championship. I dont think well need that extra motivation, but itll provide a little, Im sure.Washington general manager Brian MacLellan believes coach Barry Trotz and players will have the right perspective and believes its fitting for the Capitals to start their season on the same sheet of ice where their bid for the franchises Cup ended in six contentious games.Thats where we want to be. We want to do that, MacLellan said. Its not an easy thing to watch, but I think its a good thing to watch.Holtby said theres no bitterness toward the Penguins -- only frustration for not playing well enough to win the series. Trying to bury another painful playoff exit, the Capitals hope facing the Penguins on opening night is a jumpstart.Someone had to be the team that was there when they raised the banner, so it might as well be us, center Jay Beagle said. Lets get it going right away. Dont ease into the season. Lets go right away.---AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Arlington, Virginia contributed to this report. Womens Titans Jerseys
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. Varlamov made 33 saves and Ryan OReilly had a goal and scored in the shootout as the Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Thursday night. ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The preseason game against the New York Giants became secondary to Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams once he learned teammate Marcell Dareus was entering rehab and Karlos Williams was cut.All know is that when someone gets to the point when they say, `Hey I need help, then it must be a big problem, Williams said, noting Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula played a role in counseling Dareus to seek help. I care more about him than I do his football career, so I want to see him better.Dareus, the Bills top-paid player, announced an hour before Buffalos 21-0 win on Saturday he was entering rehab.The decision came four days after he was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the leagues substance abuse policy for a second consecutive season.As for Karlos Williams, Kyle Williams hoped for the best regarding the backup running back who has battled offseason weight issues and also was suspended for violating the substance abuse policy.Hopefully, what happened today may be a wakeup call for him, Williams said.On the field, the Bad News Bills (1-1) overcame their latest series of preseason distractions by dominating the sloppy Giants (0-2).Tyrod Taylor zipped a 13-yard touchdown pass over the middle to LeSean McCoy to cap his fourth and final series. Backup EJ Manuel then secured the win by leading two touchdown drives. Rookie running back Jonathan Williams scored on a 1-yard plunge and Manuel completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Greg Little.For New York, quarterback Eli Manning and receiver Odell Beckham Jr.s preseason debut failed to provide the Giants any boost, a week following a 27-10 loss to Miami.Manning completed 4 of 9 passes for 44 yards in four series, in which New York combined for 33 yards of offense and one first down. Beckham had one catch for 33 yards, and was targeted three times.You cant freak out, but theres got to be some urgency, and we have to do things better than we did today, Manning said.First-year Giants coach Ben McAdoo was more blunt.McAdoo gave a one-word answer, No, when asked if he saw any positives from an offense that managed seven first downs and 166 yards -- a third of those coming on Bobby Raineys 67-yard run iin the fourth quarter.ddddddddddddTurnovers continued to be an issue.Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib lost a fumble. Against Miami, he threw two interceptions and lost one of three fumbles. He missed his first seven attempts and finished 2 of 12 for 25 yards.Backup running back Andre Williams lost a fumble and third-string quarterback Logan Thomas threw two interceptions.ROOKIE WATCHGiants: First-round pick, CB Eli Apple, did not play after hurting his knee against Miami. Second-round pick, WR Sterling Shepard, had Mannings pass over the middle go off his fingers.Bills: Third-round pick, DT Adolphus Washington, recovered a fumble when Nassib was sacked by defensive back Sterling Moore.INJURIESGiants: WR Dwayne Harris hurt his knee and did not return after returning a punt early in the second quarter. The Giants said tests were negative. S Mykkele Thompson sustained a concussion when lowering his head to tackle RB Jonathan Williams late in the second quarter.Bills: Backup RB Mike Gillislee was being evaluated for a concussion after being hurt on a 6-yard run in the second quarter.MISSED KICKSBills PK Jordan Gays chances of supplanting veteran Dan Carpenter took a hit. Gay missed one of two extra-point attempts and missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt. He hit the right crossbar on both misses.Giants PK Tom Obarski missed a 27-yard field-goal attempt wide left. Obarski is competing to fill in for Josh Brown, who will open the season serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFLs personal conduct policy.WORKING WOMENBills special teams quality control coach Kathryn Smith, the NFLs first full-time female assistant coach, was on the sideline, and Sarah Thomas, the NFLs first full-time female official, was on the field as a line judge. This is the second time a female assistant and official were on the field at the same time. Last summer, Thomas officiated an Arizona preseason game during Jen Salters six-week training camp internship coaching Cardinals linebackers.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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