Capitals

Redskins need Thanksgiving win to keep momentum

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Redskins need Thanksgiving win to keep momentum

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Robert Griffin III felt it was time for the Washington Redskins to dominate an opponent, so that's what he told his teammates.

Sure enough, they went out and beat the Philadelphia Eagles by 25 points, the Redskins' largest margin of victory in more than five years.

``There were a few things that I think I needed to say,'' Griffin said Tuesday. ``And it wasn't because they voted me captain, it was just there's things as a quarterback you have to say to your team. And I just tried and echoed those throughout the locker room- and we went out and dominated.''

He's not changing the message for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys.

``It's the same message,'' Griffin said Tuesday. ``I haven't seen this team play as physical as they did this past Sunday, both offense and defense. It wasn't perfect by any means, but there was a certain tenacity, a certain attitude that was brought to the game, and you could feel it.''

If the Redskins (4-6) are truly serious about making a playoff push, they can't rest after a runaway victory over an Eagles team in disarray. They need to put together a streak, and a victory over the Cowboys (5-5) followed by another against the New York Giants (6-4) would get Washington to .500 and truly make the team a legitimate contender for the NFC East title.

And it has to be worked around a tight schedule. While it's a thrill to be a part of the NFL's Thanksgiving tradition, it's a busy week for everyone involved. The Redskins caught a bit of a break because they recently had a bye, giving the coaching stuff two full days to start putting together a game plan for the Cowboys before turning their attention to the Eagles.

``Physically you're not meant to do it,'' defensive tackle Barry Cofield said, ``so it's just got to be a mental thing. We've just got to think about everything that we're playing for, trying to build on the momentum of last week.''

The Redskins held a special teams walkthrough Monday and a regular practice Tuesday. They'll be back on the field Wednesday before flying to Dallas.

``These last 30 hours have been a grind,'' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. ``Just trying to get a full game plan in. Four days of work in one day. But you're excited to play on Thanksgiving, this is my first time doing it. I think it'll be fun.''

Griffin is returning home to Texas for the game, and he had plenty to say about his family. The underside of the tongues of his shoes were camouflaged for Sunday's game, and the names of his parents - who both served in the military - were inscribed on the tops. He spoke again about how his father is one of his worst critics and was asked how important it is to make his father proud.

``It's paramount to me. I didn't even know what that word meant until he taught it to me a few years ago,'' Griffin said with a laugh. ``It's really important. ... There are some games like the last one where you go 14 of 15 and he's chewing you out, and you're like, `C'mon, Dad.'''

Robert Griffin Jr.'s criticisms centered on whether his son sufficiently protected himself from big hits against the Eagles. The quarterback did take a few shots, but he said he felt fine and was physically ready for the quick turnaround - even if some of his older teammates aren't.

``You can tell the young guys right away,'' head coach Mike Shanahan said. ``They've got a little hop in their step. When you're 22 years old compared to a little bit older, I think the body recovers a lot quicker. You ask Robert that 10 years from now, and I think he might have a little difference in opinion.''

Notes: LB London Fletcher (sprained right ankle) did not practice, putting in jeopardy his streak of 234 consecutive games played. ... WR Pierre Garcon was limited on his injured right foot. His availability will be determined by how well he can take the pain while running on the artificial turf during pregame warmup at Cowboys Stadium. ... The Redskins signed CB Jerome Murphy to replace S Brandon Meriweather, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL in his right knee.

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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.