Capitals

Arkansas' Powell showing off new outside ability

Arkansas' Powell showing off new outside ability

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Marshawn Powell's knee injury might have cost him most of last season. His down time, however, has provided the Arkansas junior with an unexpected benefit.

Known primarily for his work underneath the basket before this season, Powell has turned into one of the team's best outside shooters. The 6-foot-7 forward leads Arkansas (5-4) in 3-pointers made (11) and 3-point shooting percentage (50 percent), both surprising considering the source.

Powell entered the season a career 22.4 percent shooter from behind the arc, having connected on only 15 of 67 attempts. But he's hit 11 of 22 this season, including an 8-of-12 stretch over his last three games.

``I knew he could shoot 3s, but I didn't think he was going to shoot this many, or at least land (them),'' Arkansas junior Rickey Scott said. ``I'm as shocked as you.''

The secret behind Powell's sudden shooting prowess isn't all that much of a secret at all.

He credits the long hours in the gym while rehabbing from last season's torn ACL in his right knee. For much of that time, he was forced to stand on the sidelines while his teammates practiced, unable to do anything but shoot.

``I learned my touch, and I'm shooting it with confidence,'' Powell said.

Powell said he was ``definitely'' a 3-point shooting threat while a high school standout in Virginia, though he hadn't shown that ability during his first two full seasons with the Razorbacks.

He was 8 of 37 from behind the arc as a freshman during the 2009-10 season, when he was third on the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game. His percentage (25 percent) rose as a sophomore, but his attempts (28) decreased as Arkansas relied on his post offense.

Powell didn't have much of a chance last season to show his outside game in his first season under coach Mike Anderson, injuring his knee during practice after just two games. Anderson hasn't been surprised by Powell's hot shooting, which has him averaging a team-high 16.6 points per game.

``It's something he has in the arsenal; he works at it,'' Anderson said. ``It's something that people are giving him, so to me it showcases his versatility.''

The addition of a consistent outside game also has helped improve Powell's inside play. He's shooting a career-best 52.4 percent (52 of 103) from the field this season, besting the 50 percent he shot as a freshman and showing a new spring in his step.

Powell, who played primarily below the basket his first few seasons with the Razorbacks, has found plenty of operating room around - and above - the basket this season. He's shown off a variety of spin moves and dunks in his first season after the knee surgery, adding to an ever-improving array of offensive options while trying to ``take all wide-open'' 3-pointers.

``I think what (the 3-point shooting) does, it presents problems for people,'' Anderson said. ``You've got to figure out how you want to play him. I think it helps us from the standpoint, now we can really space the floor. We don't have to just clog the offensive lanes up, but at the same time we've got a guy we can get it to that can make some things happens.''

Powell's recent hot hand outside has benefited a team that was in dire need of some 3-point shooting help. The Razorbacks shot just 26.2 percent (27 of 103) from behind the arc over their first six games, but they've hit 29 of 63 (46 percent) over their last three.

Overall, Arkansas is hitting 33.7 percent of its 3-pointers this season, ninth in the Southeastern Conference.

``I think that's the rhythm,'' Anderson said. ``You can see the rhythm; things are starting to fall in place for our guys. They are starting to understand (how) to get the ball to the right people at the right time. Guys are shooting the ball with confidence, that's what shooting is. It's about confidence and taking shots you can make.''

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.