Capitals

Panthers break 5-game skid, top Redskins 21-13

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Panthers break 5-game skid, top Redskins 21-13

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) After Robert Griffin III was buried in a pile near the goal line, Cam Newton took over and led a 98-yard drive - bloody thumb and all.

His abilities as a leader in question and his team in desperate need of positive morale - not to mention a win - Newton got the better of the first NFL matchup between the last two Heisman Trophy winners Sunday as the Carolina Panthers broke a five-game losing streak, beating the penalty-prone Washington Redskins 21-13.

Newton threw for 201 yards and ran for 37. DeAngelo Williams, dealing with a recent demotion to second-string, tiptoed down the sideline for a 30-yard score - his longest run of the season - and Steve Smith hauled in his first touchdown catch of 2012.

The Panthers (2-6) held Griffin and the Redskins (3-6) to long drives that were short on points in a game that Washington coach Mike Shanahan had declared a ``must-win.''

Newton ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown and completed 13 of 23 passes, including a 17-yarder to Greg Olsen and the 19-yard toss to Smith on the game's turnaround drive in the second quarter.

Griffin had been stopped for no gain trying to run wide on fourth down with the Redskins trailing 7-3, and the Panthers responded by marching downfield, aided by personal foul and pass interference penalties, to take an 11-point at halftime. Newton's thumb was bleeding during the drive, and he stained his white uniform as he kept wiping the thumb on his pants.

This marks the second straight season the Panthers have pulled themselves out of the doldrums with a win over the Redskins. Last year they snapped a three-game losing streak; this year they came in demoralized by four consecutive losses by a total of 12 points, a skid that had players questioning whether the team had any leadership.

Newton, as usual, took a seat on the bench with a towel over his head after every drive Sunday, but this time no one mistook it for a scene of dejection.

Griffin completed 23 of 39 passes for 215 yards, ran 11 times for 53 yards and was sacked four times as the Redskins lost their third straight. His failed fourth-and-goal run ended a drive that lasted 10 minutes, 11 seconds - with no points to show for it.

Shanahan declared this week that the second half of the season was the time when players need to ``step up or shut up.'' Instead, his team was shut down and undisciplined. The Redskins entered the game as the most-penalized team in the NFL - a particular point of embarrassment to the coach - and they added 13 more infractions for 97 yards against the Panthers. The flags included two pass interference calls on Josh Wilson, a roughing-the-passer whistle on London Fletcher and a holding call on Will Montgomery that negated a touchdown run by Griffin.

The Redskins cut the deficit to 14-6 with a field goal in the third quarter, but the worst pass defense in the league yielded another big play to put the Panthers firmly in command once again. On first down at the 9-yard line, Newtown hit Armanti Edwards for an 82-yard pass - Edwards' second career reception. Newton capped with drive with a 1-yard run to give Carolina a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Washington's only touchdown came on Evan Royster's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:28 remaining.

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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.