Capitals

Anthony's 31 leads Richmond past Air Force 91-68

Anthony's 31 leads Richmond past Air Force 91-68

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Kendall Anthony made seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points Wednesday night, leading Richmond to a 91-68 rout of Air Force.

The 5-foot-8 Anthony, inserted into the starting lineup in place of injured big man Derrick Williams, missed only twice from beyond the arc in topping his previous high of 24 points. Darien Brothers added six 3-pointers and 25 points for the Spiders (10-5), who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Michael Lyons led the Falcons (8-4) with 19 points, but Air Force was taken out early after an explosive scoring burst by Anthony.

He followed a 3-pointer by teammate Deion Taylor with one of his own. After Terry Allen scored on a drive for the Spiders, Anthony hit again from behind the arc. After a free throw by Kamryn Williams for the Falcons, Anthony hit two more 3s, then made a steal and layup to give Richmond a 39-23 lead.

In all, he scored 14 of the Spiders' 19 points during a 19-5 blitz, and got the last eight in a matter of 26 seconds.

Brothers, who scored Richmond's first seven points of the game, then scored their last nine of the half to make it 48-30.

The first-ever meeting of the schools was a reunion of sorts for Spiders coach Chris Mooney, who spent five seasons at Air Force, the last one as head coach, before coming to Richmond for the 2005-06 season. The Falcons arrived ranked ninth nationally with an average of 9 3-pointers per game, but had just one in the first half while the Spiders had 10 on 15 attempts. Anthony was 5-for-6 and Brothers was 4-for-6.

The Spiders made 12 of their first 17 3-point tries and finished with a school-record 16 3-pointers in 26 tries, breaking the mark of 15 3s accomplished twice previously. In all, they shot 54.7 percent from the field (29 of 53), and 61.5 percent (16 of 26) from behind the arc.

Air Force finished just 4 for 14 on 3-pointers and shot 43.1 percent (22 of 51) overall.

In the second half, Anthony's three-point play got the scoring started again, and Brothers followed with a 3-pointer and a three-point play. It was the start of a 17-6 burst that made it a runaway, allowing Mooney to give some playing time to players who rarely see game action.

Air Force had scored six points in a row to get within 20-18 midway through the first half before Anthony caught fire.

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Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Coach Barry Trotz indicated that Andre Burakovsky’s benching wouldn’t last long.

And it didn’t.

The 23-year-old winger will return to the lineup on Monday night as the Caps look to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

During the morning skate, Burakovsky skated on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly—a trio that’s enjoyed some success in the past.

It’s been a difficult postseason for Burakovsky, who has not recorded a point in six games. He missed 10 contests after suffering a hand injury in Game 2 of the first round that required minor surgery.

What he found out upon returning was this: coming back from injury in the regular season is hard...and it’s exponentially tougher in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely tough to jump in in the semifinal,” he said. “When you’re out, you just want to get in and help the team and do what you’re good at—score goals and produce.”

“What I realized is that it’s not that easy,” he added. “I really thought I could jump in and just play like I did before I got injured. 

But obviously it didn’t work out as well I thought it would.”  

Burakovsky also said that he’s planning to work with a sports psychologist this summer in an effort to maintain an even keel when things aren’t going as well as he would like. It’s a problem that he said he’s struggled with since his childhood.

Asked what he hopes to see from Burakovsky in Game 6, Coach Barry Trotz kept it simple: offense.

The Caps have scored just two goals in each of the last three games, with Evgeny Kuznetsov contributing 50-percent of that total.

“He’s a guy that’s given us some good offense all through his time here,” Trotz said of Burakovsky. “We think that he can add some of that.”

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5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

The more you look at Monday's Game 6 between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the more you realize this game is the most important game of Alex Ovechkin's career.

This is the first time Ovechkin and Co. have made it to the conference finals and it is the first time this postseason in which the Caps face elimination.

Here are the keys for the Caps to staving off elimination and forcing a Game 7:

1. Get off to a better start

It took Tampa Bay just 19 seconds to score in Game 5 and the score was 3-0 nothing before the Capitals really began to show any signs of life. They cannot allow the Lightning to jump all over them in the same way and take the crowd out of the game early.

With the game being in Washington, the Caps will have the crowd on their side. Use it.

The Caps have been at their best this series playing the trap, holding their own blue line and countering against Tampa Bay's aggressive defensemen leading to odd-man breaks. That's a hard gameplan to run if you're playing from behind. Scoring first would go a long way for Washington.

2. Stay out of the penalty box

Washington has given up six power play goals to Tampa Bay on just 15 opportunities in this series. That means the Lightning's power play is producing at a blistering rate of 40-percent. That's an insanely good power play rate and that may be putting it mildly.

So far, the penalty kill has had no answer for how to shut down a Tampa Bay unit that features Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov setting up for one-timers and being quarterbacked by Victor Hedman. That's a formidable cast.

If you can't beat it, then there's only one solution: Stay out of the box.

Despite everything that went wrong in Game 5, the one thing the Caps did right was not give up many penalties. They took only one on the night and even that one was avoidable as Brett Connolly got caught holding Brayden Point trying to get around him to get the puck.

3. Win the top line matchup

The Lightning have found success matching their fourth line against Ovechkin. Of his six points this series, only two of them (one goal, one assist) have come at 5-on-5. That's not good enough.

It's gut check time. The Caps need their best players to be at their best and that means Ovechkin has to win the matchup against Chris Kunitz, Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan. In Game 5, Tampa Bay's fourth line actually outscored Ovechkin's line in 5-on-5 play 2-0.

Washington will not win this game if the fourth line outscores Ovechkin's line. It's just that simple.

4. Take advantage of the power play opportunities

The Caps scored at least one power play goal in Game 1 and Game 2, both wins. They have not scored any since and have lost all three games since. They scored on three of seven opportunities in the first two games and zero of seven opportunities in the last three.

Not a coincidence.

Granted, they did not draw any penalties in Game 5, but it seems unlikely the Lightning will stay out of the box for another sixty minutes. At some point, they will take a penalty and when they do, Washington must take advantage.

5. Win the goalie matchup

Not much attention has been paid to Braden Holtby in this series. The Caps are not facing elimination because they have been getting bad goaltending, but when the Lightning needed Andrei Vasilevskiy to steal them a win and up his game to get them back into the series, he responded.

Vasilevskiy has been brilliant the last three games as he has turned aside 100 of the 106 shots he has faced for a .943 save percentage. For the series, Holtby has a save percentage of only .883.

Again, Washington is not down 3-2 in the series because of goaltending. Holtby has faced far fewer shots than Vasilevskiy and has been just about the only thing that has worked against Tampa Bay's lethal power play.

But as one of the team's top players, the Caps need Holtby to step up the way Vasilevskiy has. Game 6 will be about winning by any means necessary. If that means they need a hat trick from Ovechkin so be it. If that means they need Holtby to steal it for them, so be it.

Holtby has to be just as good as Vasilevskiy in Game 6, if not better, for Washington to come out on top.

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