Capitals

Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

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Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

Monday, March 15, 2010 11:38pm

Wizards vs. Jazz Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comSalt Lake City----The game was played at Energy Solutions Arena and the Washington Wizards could have used one. Instead with Deron Williams running the offense and Carlos Boozer finishing at the basket the Jazz extended the Wizards losing streak to eight games with a 112-89 victory.We lost some close ones and we have lost ones when we got out butt kicked, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said of his teams slide. If they think it is just going to happen and get better, its not. We have to play accordingly and we cant play loose or have throw- away type possessions.A game that was tied at 25 after one quarter turned into a one-sided affair in the second quarter when Williams penetration into the lane and his ability to run the screen and roll proved to be too much for the Wizards to handle.Boozer was the biggest beneficiary of Williams playmaking skills as he led the Jazz with 23 points including nine in what turned out to be the decisive second quarter. Williams finished with 17 points and 11 assists and helped the Jazz outscore the Wizards in the second quarter 34-20.He (Williams) pushed up the tempo in that stretch at the end of half and extended their lead to 14,said Wizards coach Flip Saunders of the games sudden turn in the Jazzs favor.The Jazz then put the Wizards away by opening the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 71-47 lead with 7:18 left in the third quarter. During this stretch the Wizards even missed four shots close to the basket on one possession only to have the Jazz score with ease in transition on a 23-foot jump shot by Mehmet Okur.We came out of halftime and did not have energy, Saunders added. I told our guys I was disappointed because we really didnt seem to compete again until there was seven minutes left in the game and we were down by thirty.The Wizards did compete early. In the first quarter Mike Miller was making cuts and looking for his shot and scored 12 points to help the Wizards get off to the necessary good start on the road against the Jazz.While the Wizards did hang around in the first half of the second quarter, the offense sputtered. After Millers early surge, he only finished with 14 points. Andray Blatche once again led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points.The Jazz offense was just too efficient. Again with full credit to Williams leadership the Jazz were able to get 52 points in the paint, place seven players in double figures, and collect 28 assists.There was a change in the Wizards starting lineup. Shaun Livingston, who had his best game since being signed by the Wizards in an 18-point effort Saturday against the Magic, started over Randy Foye at the point. It was Livingston first start in an NBA game since April of lasts season with Oklahoma City,Livingston only had six points and three assists against Jazz, but Saunders saw positives in his play on a night when the Wizards played poorly as a team and only shot 36 percent from the field for the game.We put Randy in a situation because we havent had a choice, Saunders said of his decision to make a switch. The point is not his natural position. He is good to play there for a ten minute period where you can run some plays for him and run some pick and rolls. I think he is more suited to play off the ball.As the Wizards try to move forward, they can look to the Jazz for a model of how to get better. They (Jazz) have done a good job with personnel, Saunders noted. They went through a bad stretch and they were able to get a marquee player in Deron Williams. When you go through a bad stretch somehow you have to reload.You have to do it through free agency, the draft, or both. They went out and got Boozer and Okur and then Williams through the draft. They used their cap space and they used their draft picks wisely. Hopefully we will be able to do the same.

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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.