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Brunner's shootout goal wins it for Wings, 4-3

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Brunner's shootout goal wins it for Wings, 4-3

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Swiss rookie Damien Brunner scored in the fourth round of the shootout to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night before 19,206, the largest regular-season crowd at Nationwide Arena in the Blue Jackets' 11-plus seasons.

Brian Lashoff scored in his NHL debut and fellow defenseman Ian White also scored for Detroit, which finally got on the board twice in the second period after being humiliated 6-0 in their opener on Saturday night in St. Louis. Pavel Datsyuk had a goal to send the game into overtime with 6 minutes remaining in overtime, and also had an assist.

Cam Atkinson, James Wisniewski and Vinny Prospal scored goals during regulation for Columbus, which was coming off a 3-2 shootout win at Nashville on Saturday night.

Columbus was playing its first home game without Rick Nash, the team captain and franchise record holder for games, goals and points, since the end of the 2001-2002 season. He was sent to the New York Rangers along with a minor-league defenseman and a conditional third-round pick for forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.

Jimmy Howard had 30 saves for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky matched him stop for stop for Columbus with 39 saves.

Down 2-1 entering the third period, the Blue Jackets pulled even on a power play. Wisniewski's one-timer from just inside the blue line - a low, rising shot - beat Howard on the glove side.

They then took the lead on another man-advantage after Kyle Quincey was called for interference on R.J. Umberger - the Blue Jackets' third consecutive power play in the third period.

Cycling the puck, the Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin blasted a big one-timer that sailed over the cage and off the glass. It filtered all the way through congestion in front of the net. Prospal collected it at the right hash mark and scored.

The Red Wings weren't done however. As a power play was ending, Henrik Zetterberg dug the puck out of the corner and fed Niklas Kronwall who faked and then fed Datsyuk who had crept in behind Bobrovsky and the defense to score easily with just over 6 minutes remaining.

In the shootout, Atkinson opened with a goal for the Blue Jackets but it was disallowed after a video review.

Neither team scored through three rounds. After Howard stopped Matt Calvert, Brunner skated to the right and then pulled the puck back to his left and forced it under the right leg pad of Bobrovski. It also was reviewed, but was confirmed.

The Red Wings ended a scoreless string of 81:10 to start the season when Lashoff's hard shot from the left point eluded Bobrovsky, thanks in part to traffic provided in front of the net by Johan Franzen.

Lashoff had been playing for Grand Rapids of the AHL and was recalled after defenseman Jonathan Ericsson stepped on a puck and crashed into the boards, injuring his shoulder in the Red Wings' opener at St. Louis.

The 22-year-old scored just two goals in 36 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season.

Detroit made it 2-0 later in the period with both teams a man down. Franzen slid a pass through the slot left to right in front of the Columbus goal, setting up White who lifted the puck into the top of the net.

Just over a minute later, the Blue Jackets narrowed the gap back to a goal when Atkinson took a pass from Ryan Johansen and then slipped past defenseman Brendan Smith. He swooped in on Howard, deked and then slid a forehand under the goalie's outstretched left foot.

The Red Wings had the better of the action in the opening period, but still didn't dent the scoreboard. That was due to the play of Bobrovsky, who made several acrobatic stops while turning aside 15 shots. That was a substantial improvement for the Wings over the first period in St. Louis, where they were outshot 17-2.

Just 3 seconds after the puck was dropped at the start of the game, Detroit's Jordin Tootoo and Columbus' Jared Boll - longtime antagonists - squared off for a lengthy slugfest near center ice. That electrified a capacity crowd at Nationwide Arena.

Notes: Detroit RW Todd Bertuzzi, thought to be suffering from mononucleosis, was diagnosed Monday with the flu. He did not play, but is listed as day to day. ... The Blue Jackets came on the ice for warmups wearing jerseys numbered 1 with ``Thank You Fans'' printed where the player's name is. The jerseys were then given to fans. ... The Red Wings play their first home game Tuesday night against Dallas. After playing their first two games on the road, they play four of the next five at Joe Louis Arena. ... Five new players played their first home game for the Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky, Anisimov, LW Nick Foligno, D Adrian Aucoin and Dubinsky. ... Detroit recalled GT Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids to back up Howard in place of Jonas Gustavsson, who was also injured Saturday.

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Scott Brooks on how journeyman veterans like Ish Smith can be leaders by example

Scott Brooks on how journeyman veterans like Ish Smith can be leaders by example

WASHINGTON -- When identifying leaders from an outside perspective, it is only natural to look at the Washington Wizards and see Bradley Beal and John Wall, their two All-Star guards. Logic would suggest they set the tone for younger, less experienced players, that they are the ones the rookies should look up to.

But Wizards head coach Scott Brooks sees similar value in less-heralded members of his team, the journeyman veterans to whom nothing has been given. Guys like Ish Smith and Gary Payton II have bounced around the league to varying degrees. In Payton's case, that has included extended time in the G-League.

Brooks has been tasked with creating an environment for the Wizards that is conducive to the development of young players and he believes those types of veterans set an important example.

"If you're really good, you have two or three All-Stars on your team," Brooks said. "But the league is made up of guys like Ish. His story can help the younger guys make it and stay in the league. It's what the league is about. He has the grit, the fiber, the substance and the experience to share with all the players who are trying to make it."

Brooks has used similar language to describe Payton II, who was first signed by the team to a 10-day contract last season. He was let go, then returned this past December and then had his contract guaranteed for the rest of the season earlier this month.

"He's fought and he's been cut many times and sometimes those are the guys you want in your program because they have that fiber, that toughness and that anger because they know that it can go away," Brooks said.

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has said on several occasions they want Brooks to install a culture and mindset with their young roster similar to the one he helped build in Oklahoma City. Smith happens to remind Brooks of one of his former players with the Thunder.

"I love guys on a team like Ish. We kind of had that guy with Nick Collison [in OKC], just a winning player on and off the court. Ish is the same way. I look at Ish the same exact way," Brooks said.

Collison averaged a modest 5.9 points in 14 NBA seasons, but was so respected for his leadership role that his jersey number was retired by the Thunder last year. 

There is another person guys like Smith and Payton II remind Brooks of and that is himself. Before he became a coach, he was a 10-year NBA player. And he carved out that career as an undrafted, undersized point guard.

He was constantly fighting for his NBA future on the fringe of rosters and was able to stick around only because of his hard work and toughness.

Though he played with some great teammates like Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, Brooks likes to think he left his own mark.

"I always took pride in having a relationship with the best player to the, well, myself; the worst player," he said.

"This game, it's a family and it's fun and it's about relationships; empowering and inspiring one another. You don't have to be a star player to do that. I've had great conversations with Olajuwon. I've had great conversations with players that only play on a 10-day or a year in the league. I took pride in it and I think Ish does the same thing. I think it's pretty important that we all are blessed and honored to be in the league, that now it's your job to leave your situation better than when you started it. We have a couple of guys on our team that can really carry on what we want our team to be about."

Ultimately, though, the Wizards' young players have to put in the necessary work to reach their potential. Brooks can teach them lessons directly and guys like Smith can do so indirectly.

But the players themselves have to understand the message.

"Now it's up to the younger players to listen to it. It's one thing to listen to John and Brad, but there's a great chance you're not going to be as good as John or Brad. There's a chance you're going to be a player like Ish," Brooks said.

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Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin is flying up the NHL leader board. 

Doesn’t matter if you want to specify this season or his career overall, Ovechkin’s hat trick on Thursday night in a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils helped in both cases.

Start with the big names. Ovechkin now has 689 career goals. He is inching closer to the magic 700 mark. Only seven NHL players in history have reached it. Before then he will pass Mario Lemieux (690) – fittingly maybe on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3 when the Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Then Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694) are up next. These are incredible names, the greatest to ever play the sport. Ovechkin has etched his name into the record books with them all.

“[Lemieux was] one of my idols when I'm growing up,” Ovechkin said. “I get lucky I have a time to play against him, was on the ice with him a couple times. It's huge….They're legends. To be close to those guys, it's pretty impressive.”

Just looking at this season: Ovechkin is now at 31 goals. He needs 19 more in his 32 remaining games to reach 50 for a record-tying ninth time. For a time this season that appeared to be drifting away from Ovechkin. Now? Seems reasonable. Ovechkin will miss the Jan. 27 game against the Montreal Canadiens to serve a suspension for skipping the All-Star game in St. Louis next week. 

Ovechkin has pulled to within five goals of Boston’s David Pastrnak for the NHL lead (36) and is in third place overall. Toronto’s Auston Matthews is second (34). 

“It seems like every week at least that he’s breaking someone’s record,” Capitals teammate John Carlson said. “And they’re not cupcake records, either. I’ve said this before. I don’t think that as a teammate you realize what’s happening. It kind of becomes maybe a little more normal than if you’re in a different job or on a different team even.”

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