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In Brief: Penguins celebrate championship, beat Capitals

Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby skates the Stanley Cup onto the ice before the Penguins faced the Washington Capitals. (Fred Vuich / Associated Press)
Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby skates the Stanley Cup onto the ice before the Penguins faced the Washington Capitals. (Fred Vuich / Associated Press)
From staff and wire reports

NHL: Phil Kessel beat Braden Holtby in the fourth round of a shootout and the Pittsburgh Penguins began the defense of their Stanley Cup with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

Kessel’s wrist shot over Holtby’s glove was initially ruled no goal but was overturned on replay. Marc-Andre Fleury then stuffed Alex Ovechkin from in close to help the Penguins improve to 5-0 all-time against Washington in season openers.

Fleury finished with 39 saves for Pittsburgh. Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin scored as the Penguins capped a celebratory night in which they lifted their latest Stanley Cup banner to the rafters by tripping up a familiar rival.Pittsburgh beat the San Jose Sharks in six games in June for the title.

The team finished off an elegant pregame ceremony by having team captain and Conn Smythe winner Sidney Crosby skate to center ice with the Cup held aloft. Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, dressed in his familiar No. 87 jersey for the occasion while the crowd roared.

Crosby then placed Cup on a stand at center ice and stood along the blue line with the rest of his teammates as the banner joined the tributes to the 1991, 1992 and 2009 Cup winners. The party didn’t last too long. Washington’s Andre Burakovsky scored 59 seconds into the game.

Sabres forward Kane injured during opener: Sabres forward Evander Kane has been taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after slamming heavily into the end boards late in the second period of Buffalo’s season-opening game against Montreal on Thursday night.

The Sabres did not reveal the nature of Kane’s injury, except to say he was hospitalized for “further evaluation.” Kane was hurt while racing Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin for a loose puck up the left wing in the Montreal zone. Kane reached out for the puck when the two bumped. Kane lost his balance, fell and slid with his left elbow slamming into the boards.

Sabres sign GM Murray to extension: The Buffalo Sabres have signed general manager Tim Murray to a multiyear contract extension. The team announced the move on its Twitter account Thursday, about an hour before opening the regular season at home against the Montreal Canadiens. The team did not reveal details of the contract. The architect of the team’s rebuilding plan, Murray was entering the final season of his contract after being hired in January 2014.

Kings put G Jonathan Quick on injured reserve: The Los Angeles Kings placed Jonathan Quick on injured reserve Thursday after the star goalie got hurt in the first period of their season opener.

Quick incurred an unspecified lower-body injury during Los Angeles’ opener at San Jose while making a fairly ordinary stretch to stop a scoring chance by Joe Pavelski. Quick was replaced by new backup Jeff Zatkoff for the final two periods of the Kings’ 2-1 loss. The club described Quick’s absence as “week-to-week.”

Friend testifies women who brought rape case against Rose was ‘very drunk’

NBA: The friend of a woman who has accused NBA star Derrick Rose and his associates in a federal lawsuit of raping her while she was incapacitated testified Thursday that the plaintiff was very drunk in the hours leading up to the alleged assault.

In sometimes terse exchanges with attorneys for Rose and his friends, Jessica “Kendra” Groff testified that the plaintiff was so drunk at the athlete’s rented Beverly Hills mansion the night of Aug. 26, 2013, that she grabbed searing-hot stones out of a fire pit, blistering her hand.

“OK, she’s a little more intoxicated than I thought,” Groff said she realized at the time.The plaintiff has accused Rose and his two friends, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen, of drugging her at the home and later driving to her apartment in Los Angeles, sneaking in and raping her. She is seeking $21 million.

LeBron: Union prioritizes help for retirees: NBA players are pushing for more money in the next collective bargaining agreement – for the players who came before them.

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, vice president of the NBPA’s executive committee, told The Associated Press on Thursday the union has made getting aid for retired players a priority in their talks with NBA owners on a new deal.

The NBA and its players have agreed that the next CBA will include new league-funded programs to help retired players with education and medical expenses, four people with knowledge of the situation told the AP. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.

In exchange for those programs, and pending full approval from both sides, the split of basketball-related income would remain the same “50-50” deal as it is in the current agreement

Westwood one shot back at British Masters

GOLF: Lee Westwood returned to form with a 4-under 67 in the first round at the British Masters to lie one shot off a four-way tie for the lead on Thursday.

Westwood failed to win any of his three matches in Europe’s heavy loss to the United States at the Ryder Cup, before missing the cut at the Dunhill Links Championship last week following a second-round 82. However, the former No. 1 rolled in six birdies at The Grove – five coming in his first eight holes starting at No. 10 – and said it was “the best I’ve played in quite a while.”

Piercy sets course record at Silverado: Scott Piercy began the new PGA Tour season by pouring in putts and setting the course record at Silverado, a 10-under 62 for a two-shot lead Thursday in the Safeway Open. Conditions were practically perfect in the morning, and Piercy took advantage. He made 12 birdies , only three of them from inside 10 feet, and he even missed a pair of birdie chances from inside 8 feet.

He holed a pair of 18-foot birdie putts on successive holes early in his round, and kept pouring them in, one after another, to offset a pair of bogeys from the bunkers on the par-4 third hole and the par-3 seventh late in his round.Piercy’s 62 was at least nine shots better than the course average.

Djokovic, Murray advance to quarterfinals

Tennis: Both feeling refreshed and recharged, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray each won in straight sets Thursday to reach the quarterfinals at the Shanghai Masters. The top-ranked Djokovic was broken once in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Vasek Pospisil, improving his record at the tournament to 26-3. Murray was even better: He won 21 of 22 points on his first serve and made only 10 errors in a 6-1, 6-3 win over 13th-seeded Lucas Pouille.

Kyrgios fined $16,500 for behavior in Shanghai: Nick Kyrgios will have to pay $16,500 in fines for his bizarre actions at the Shanghai Masters. The Australian tennis player received one of the largest fines of his career on Thursday for his lack of effort and argumentative behavior during his second-round match.

He was fined the maximum $10,000 for showing a “lack of best efforts” in the match, $5,000 for verbal abuse of a spectator, and $1,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Kyrgios rushed through his 6-3, 6-1 loss to German qualifier Mischa Zverev, failing to put any speed on some serves and hitting erratically on his groundstrokes.

FIFA to decide in January on expanded World Cup

Miscellany: FIFA wants to decide in January if the 2026 World Cup will expand from its 32-team format, with 40 or 48 the favored options.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino expects a decision when the ruling council meets in January, likely in Zurich, he said on Thursday. “The general feeling is rather positive” toward expansion, Infantino said at a briefing after FIFA’s ruling council met. “The level of quality of football is increasing all over the world.”

Infantino justified the plan as a way to create more “football euphoria” for months in countries which qualify, and guard against “disaster” being declared where national teams fall short of world sport’s most-watched event.

AFCA picks Oklahoma St as 1945 champions: The American Football Coaches Association has named Oklahoma State its 1945 national champion. The AFCA, which made the announcement Thursday, said several schools requested that it establish a group of coaches to select winners from 1922, when the association was founded, to 1949, the year before its coaches’ poll was first published.

Oklahoma State is the first school to be retroactively named national champion.Army was The Associated Press national champion in 1945. Oklahoma A&M, as Oklahoma State was called as back then, finished No. 5 in the final AP poll that year.

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