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Injured Lehigh G McCollum says rehab going well

Injured Lehigh G McCollum says rehab going well

Lehigh guard and preseason All-American C.J. McCollum said rehabilitation for a broken left foot is going well, and that he's started working out in a pool.

But the star senior gave no indication in a statement Saturday of whether he's hoping to return to the court this year for the Mountain Hawks.

McCollum was hurt three weeks ago during a 59-55 loss at Virginia Commonwealth. He said this has been a ``humbling and maturing experience,'' but he's focusing on academics and becoming a better student of the game.

McCollum, at the time of his injury, was leading the country in scoring at 25.7 points.

Still, Lehigh (14-4, 4-0 Patriot) has bounced back with five straight victories since McCollum went down, including a 65-62 win Wednesday at league rival Bucknell.

The Mountain Hawks host Lafayette on Sunday. McCollum had initially scheduled a news conference before the game to give an update on his recovery.

McCollum said he didn't want ``to be a distraction or deflect attention that rightfully belongs to my team. I am focusing on my academics and being the best supporter I can for my teammates. The focus should be on them and the success we're having as a program.''

The injury, he added, may have been a ``blessing in disguise ... This has been a very humbling and maturing experience and this adversity will only make me stronger.''

McCollum and Lehigh gained notoriety after stunning powerhouse Duke in the NCAA tournament last season. His injury was thought to be a blow to Lehigh's chances to win the Patriot League and return to the NCAAs.

But the Mountain Hawk still have savvy veterans from last year's run including senior forwards Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner, and junior guard Mackey McKnight. They re-branded themselves the conference favorites after beating the Bison on the road.

The school had said McCollum's recovery time of eight to 10 weeks could make him available again by early March, in time for the Patriot League tournament. The team has also warned that could depend on the healing process, and coach Brett Reed has said McCollum's long-term future takes precedence.

McCollum, who has averaged 21.3 points over his Lehigh career, has been considered a potential first-round pick in the NBA draft. Last March, he scored 30 points when 15th-seeded Lehigh upset Duke 75-70.

``Everything is going well and I've heard nothing but positive feedback from trainers and team physicians,'' McCollum said. ``I will continue to be a positive influence on them, helping in every way possible from the sideline.''

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Follow Genaro Armas athttp://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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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.