Capitals

Gortat leads Suns in 114-87 rout of Trail Blazers

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Gortat leads Suns in 114-87 rout of Trail Blazers

PHOENIX (AP) Marcin Gortat scored a season-high 22 points in only three quarters and the Phoenix Suns routed the Portland Trail Blazers 114-87 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Markieff Morris and Shannon Brown, inserted into the starting lineup earlier Wednesday, combined for 29 points for the Suns. Morris had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Brown added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers as Phoenix rallied from a four-point deficit in the opening minutes to take the lead for good with 7:23 left in the first quarter.

Damien Lillard had 24 points and three assists but six turnovers for the Blazers, who had won three straight.

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4 things to know for Caps-Maple Leafs: Caps go back to Samsonov

4 things to know for Caps-Maple Leafs: Caps go back to Samsonov

The Capitals (3-2-2) were handed an ugly loss Monday and will look to rebound against the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-2-1) on Wednesday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). The game is the second of a three-game homestand for the Caps. You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are four things to know for Saturday’s game.

Ilya Samsonov gets the start

Samsonov was always likely to get one start in the team’s three-game homestand, but it was expected he would start Friday’s game against the New York Rangers instead of Wednesday. After Holtby’s rough performance on Monday, however, Samsonov will get the start.

Reirden said Tuesday, “I'm confident that we've got a few practices here, [Holtby] gets to reset and work with [goalie coach] Scott Murray and get things settled in and then he's ready to go again.”

Will that reset mean Holtby starts Friday or will it last longer than that? That's the big question. Reirden would not commit to Holtby starting on Friday, but did say there is no goalie controversy and Holtby remains the No. 1.

New lines

Monday was Washington’s worst game of the season thus far and in response, Reirden decided to mix up the lines. Here is how the Caps will lineup on Wednesday:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Garnet Hathaway
Brendan Leipsic - Chandler Stephenson - Richard Panik

Jonas Siegenthaler - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Radko Gudas
Nick Jensen - Tyler Lewington

I have long thought that Oshie would benefit from a move down to the third line where he would get fewer minutes, but play with Eller who he has good chemistry with. Oshie is second on the team with four goals already so I understand the thought to move him up instead of down.

Vrana has been in Reirden’s dog house for much of the season for his inconsistent play. He is a top-six talent without questions, but he is in danger of turning into a player who is only good when he scores. You need more from your top-six. Plus, the third line has struggled to find much production so hopefully he can boost that.

It has been a tough start for Panik who is still looking for his first point as a Cap. I thought he played well against Dallas and he had a good scoring opportunity against Colorado, but the Caps need more than zero points.

Still no Kempny

Kempny will not play Wednesday so the Caps will have to figure out the defense against one of the top offenses in the league.

Holtby definitely had his struggles on Monday, but he also did not get much help from the defense. The first goal came with Andre Burakovsky left uncontested to screen Holtby, the second goal came off a turnover by John Carlson and a misplay on defense and the third goal was the result of a misplay by Tyler Lewington on Nazem Kadri. That will have to change Wednesday or the Caps can expect a similar result.

A back-to-back for the Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs played on Tuesday meaning Wednesday’s game is the second leg of a back-to-back for them. Then again, they hosted the woeful Minnesota Wild so they probably aren’t really all that tired.

Toronto won 4-2 and the stars all came out to play with Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares each recording a goal. Most importantly, Frederik Andersen got the game which should mean Michael Hutchinson will get the start in Washington.

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Derrius Guice hopes to return from injured reserve as soon as he's eligible to

Derrius Guice hopes to return from injured reserve as soon as he's eligible to

Derrius Guice tweeted out a photo early Tuesday afternoon of himself and Alex Smith stepping onto a Redskins' practice field in Ashburn. Then, later on, he indicated the date he's hoping to make his return from injured reserve.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the energetic Guice wants to play as soon as he's eligible to.

When a fan asked the second-year pro on social media if he'd be back after the team's bye week, which is on Nov. 10, the running back replied with a "Yessir."

If he does in fact rejoin the Redskins then, his first appearance for the Burgundy and Gold would be a Week 11 matchup against the Jets. If they had a game in Week 10, he could be activated at that point, but they're off.

NFL rules stipulate that every franchise can bring two players off of I.R. after they've spent eight weeks on it. Guice suffered a knee injury in the season opener in Philadelphia and underwent meniscus surgery soon thereafter. It was an unfortunate obstacle for him especially after he missed all of 2018, but to his credit, he handled it well.

Considering No. 29's potential and the fact that Bill Callahan loves the running game, there's no doubt Washington would like to place him back on the roster when he's ready. Hopefully, he'll start practicing soon and get to a place where he's able to be relied upon. 

It's unlikely Guice's return will coincide with a Redskins playoff run, but it'll still be interesting to see if he can string together a healthy finish to the schedule. Between he, Terry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins, there should be plenty of young talent to take in on offense in the second half of the 2019 campaign. 

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