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Caps fall to New York in Game One

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Caps fall to New York in Game One

NEW YORK -- If the Capitals are going to find a way to beat the Rangers for a third time in four years, Braden Holtby is going to need to learn to silence Neew York's offense and their rowdy fans.

Holtby allowed goals to rookie Chris Kreider and veteran Brad Richards 90 seconds apart in the third period, then had to listen to derisive chants from the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden the rest of the game as the Capitals dropped their series opener 3-1 Saturday afternoon .

The series resumes with Game 2 Monday night in Manhattan.

And if the Caps hope to even their best-of-seven series, they'll need better play from their 22-year-old rookie goaltender, who allowed three goals on 14 shots, especially with Henrik Lundqvist imitating a Venus flytrap at the other end of the ice.

The seventh-seeded Caps seemed to have the top-seeded Rangers right where they wanted them through two periods -- locked in a defensive battle of chip and chase.

But Kreider changed all that 7 minutes into the third period with one wicked blast of a slapshot.

Kreider took a pass from Derek Stepan and got a stride ahead of Mike Green before ripping a shot under the left catching glove of Holtby, who came out to challenge and had a clear view of the shot.

Ninety seconds later Jaso Chimera and Karl Alzner lost battles along the wall and Richards made them pay, beating Holtby between the pads for a 3-1 lead on just 12 shots

Nicklas Backstrom joked on Friday that the series between the Caps and Rangers would amount to two teams out there just blocking shots.

It sure looked that way after 20 minutes on Saturday.

The Capitals withstood an early thrust of offense from the Rangers at the start of the game before finding their skatng legs. Still, the two teams combined for just 10 shots in the opening period despite each team having a pair of power plays.

The Rangers broke the ice 12:38 into the second period when Artem Anisonov outmuscled Mike Green behind the net and scored his first goal of the playoffs on a wraparound. It looked like the Rangers might carry that lead int the third period, but Jason Chimera finished off a nice 3-on-2 rush by tapping a perfect pass from Brooks Laich through the 5-hole of Henrik Lundqvist.

Any life that gave the Capitals evaporated with Kreider's goal 7 minutes into the third period.

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Donovan Mitchell's Jazz roll past Wizards with 21-point thumping

Donovan Mitchell's Jazz roll past Wizards with 21-point thumping

The Washington Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz 116-95 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The Washington Wizards, despite their injuries, have proven at least good enough to compete with most teams in recent weeks, and especially when playing at home. Against only a select few opponents have they been completely over-matched to the point of a blowout.

Monday against the Utah Jazz was one of those games. The Jazz served a humbling reminder to Washington, who had won three of four entering the match-up, that they are an above average NBA team and the Wizards most certainly are not. 

The Jazz held the Wizards to only 95 points. Washington shot 42 percent overall and 29.6 percent from three.

The Wizards were held to under 30 points and outscored in all four quarters. It was a thorough beatdown. Now the Wizards head to Chicago to begin a back-to-back set with the Bulls on Wednesday. 

2. Apparently the Jazz didn't want Bradley Beal to drop 40 on them.

After he posted two straight games with 40 points and seven-plus threes apiece, the Jazz overloaded on Beal to prevent any of that from happening again. As one of the NBA's best defensive teams, they had the tools to hold him in check, at least to an extent.

Beal was held to 15 points and to zero threes. That snapped a career-best streak of 47 straight games with at least one triple. 

Utah made it tough on him with physical perimeter play headed by Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. They harassed him and when he got a step, others closed in for double teams.

Attacking the rim was basically not an option for Beal, either, with Rudy Gobert lurking in the lane. The reigning defensive player of the year had 14 rebounds and two blocks to go along with 14 points.

The only good news about Beal's night is that he played 31 minutes. He could use the rest.

3. No one would mistake the Wizards for being a good defense, but usually they at least know who they should try to stop. Most often, they will sell out to guard the players they should, just to no avail.

But on Monday, they appeared to completely overlook Ingles and his ability to knock down threes. Ingles went off for 16 points with four assists in 24 minutes. He shot 4-for-8 from three, many of them wide open looks.

The Wizards just didn't close out and he made them pay.

4. It was another night of microwave buckets for Jabari Parker. He came off the bench and quickly got hot with 10 points and five rebounds in his first 11 minutes. He finished with 19 points and shot 8-for-13.

Seeing Parker do this against the Jazz was interesting because they might be a good fit for him this offseason. Assuming the Wizards back out of his team option and he becomes a free agent, Utah is a team that needs another scorer and theoretically could use a guy like him. Parker also happens to be of Mormon faith, which is why others have made the connection between him and Utah in the past.

The Wizards, of course, may want to keep Parker, depending on how the rest of this season goes and his asking price. But the Jazz would make a lot of sense for him.

5. Though Parker was a standout, at least early, the rest of the bench was not. The Jazz had a 55-44 edge in bench scoring and showed why their depth is part of what makes them so good.

Jae Crowder went off for 18 points and five boards. Kyle Korver added 10 points and shot 3-for-6 from three.

Meanwhile, on the Wizards, Troy Brown Jr. had a rough night with two points (1-6 FG). And Thomas Bryant wasn't himself with five points and five rebounds.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 8 VCU

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 8 VCU

Those famed VCU Rams are back in the NCAA Tournament for 2019.

Before missing the big dance last season there VCU had received seven straight tournament bids. Now they begin a new streak under second-year head coach Mike Rhoades. 

Rhoades has brought havoc back to the Rams. VCU is ranked seventh in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. They allow only 88 points per 100 possessions. 

He's done it with a balanced and deep roster that he is not afraid to turn to at any moment. Nine players average 14 minutes or more this season. No one plays more than 28. Four guys bring home at least 10 points a game and no one shooting below 33 percent from the field. Simply, they are just a well-rounded team.

Returning back to their bread and butter, the Rams force opponents to turn over the rock over 16 times each night. It is the fourth best mark of NCAA Tournament teams. And while many Power 5 teams are picking up the pace offensively, not many of their potential opponents have seen that type of action. 

However, the heart and soul of their team, Marcus Evans, may not be 100 percent. He left the team's quarterfinal contest with a knee injury. Very alarming considering he's already injured both of his Achille tendons. Without Evans, there is probably not enough offense for them to survive. But with Evans, no one wants to mess with the Rams.

Lookng ahead to their opponent, they have to play 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall and the Central Florida Knights, another strong defensive team.

They tip-off their tournament run against UCF on Friday at 9:40 on CBS. If they win they have Duke on the horizon, who the Rams have beaten in the tournament before. 

Record: 

25-7 (16-2 Atlantic 10)

Seed:

No. 8, East (At-large bid)

First Round Opponent:

No. 9 UCF

Path to the Final Four:

No. 9 UCF, No. 1 Duke, No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 2 Michigan State

Top Players:

Marcus Evans (13.8 ppg, 3.2 apg - A-10 First Team)
De'Riante Jenkins (11.4 ppg, 34.7 3-point percentage - A-10 Third Team)
Marcus Santos-Silva (10.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg)

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!