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Hanson leads McIlroy by 2 in Shanghai

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Hanson leads McIlroy by 2 in Shanghai

SHANGHAI (AP) Peter Hanson of Sweden shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead on defending champion Rory McIlroy after the second round of the BMW Masters on Friday.

McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 in a round that included seven birdies to put him at 12-under 132. Hanson's countryman Robert Karlsson also shot a 64 to move another three strokes back at Lake Malaren.

A group of four including Ireland's Shane Lowry (64), Justin Rose (68), Sweden's Alexander Noren (68), and first-round leader Welshman Jamie Donaldson (74) were at 136.

McIlroy's fifth round of 65 this season was capped by three birdies in succession from the 13th hole.

``When I did need to make a par here or there, I was able to save those, and I'm in a great position going into the weekend,'' he said.

McIlroy hasn't won a regular European Tour event since last year's Hong Kong Open. Of his four wins this year, all in the U.S., only the PGA Championship has counted toward the European Tour money list. Yet McIlroy leads the list, and was four shots clear of Rose, his nearest rival in the Race to Dubai.

``It looks quite routine at the moment,'' McIlroy said. ``The more you put yourself in this position, the more comfortable you become with it. I like the fact that most weeks I tee it up, I can get myself in contention.

``This is just another one of those weeks, and I'll try and continue that for as long as I can.''

However, Hanson also said he was relaxed about his form and game.

Winning his fifth tour title at the KLM Open and his second straight Ryder Cup have imbued in him a high comfort level.

``The biggest difference in my career compared to earlier times, is that I am playing better in the bigger events like the majors and the World Golf Championships that has helped my confidence quite a lot,'' Hanson said.

``Also, being a part of the Ryder Cup team, and being high up the world rankings, you feel you maybe belong a bit more competing alongside the best players.''

Hanson bogeyed his opening hole but quickly rebounded to enjoy a run of nine birdies in a 13-hole span.

``It's amazing how many good rounds can start with a bogey,'' he said. ``The key to my good two rounds is that I've birdied all the par-5s which can help dramatically around this place.''

Hanson matched his lowest score on the tour for the eighth time.

Karlsson seeks to end a near two-year winless drought since capturing the season-ending 2010 Dubai World Championship.

However, the Monaco-based Swede admitted he's also concerned with retaining his U.S. PGA Tour card for 2013. He was 158th on the PGA money list and needs to be 125th by the end of the season, which was why he's entered next week's tour finale at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

He wants to avoid tour school, which clashes with the European finale in Dubai, but doesn't think he can get around it.

``At the end of the day I am in a very fortunate position as I have another year of exemption for the European Tour,'' he said.

``There are a lot of players in a lot worse situation than I am, so I am not complaining. I haven't had a good year and you have to accept the consequences. So a good result this week, and what with the huge world ranking points on offer, will help with the confidence to put together some decent rounds.''

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Injuries hit Capitals hard in 3-1 loss to Winnipeg

Injuries hit Capitals hard in 3-1 loss to Winnipeg

The Capitals were already facing one of the toughest back-to-back challenges in the NHL. Then they found out their starting goalie would not play and less than nine minutes into the game lost their No. 1 center. 

That about summed up a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. The last time an NHL team swept a back-to-back set of games against the Jets and Minnesota Wild was 2012. 

Washington played well enough taking a 1-0 lead on a Jakub Vrana goal in the first period and the game was tied until 12:51 of the third period when a shot by Ben Chiarot skipped past goalie Pheonix Copley. The Jets added an empty-net goal to seal the win. 

The loss is one thing. Winnipeg is a tough place to play and maybe the favorite to come out of the Western Conference. But injuries have begun to mount and that’s the big takeaway. 

Holtby showed up to the rink Wednesday morning and it was assumed he’d play after Copley won the game in St. Paul against the Wild. Instead, Holtby was ruled out with an upper-body injury and the Capitals had to sign an emergency goalie – Gavin McHale, a 31-year-old assistant coach for a local women’s college hockey team in Winnipeg. That is less than ideal. 

Holtby’s injury might not be a big deal. You’ll know if Washington recalls top prospect Ilya Samsonov from AHL Hershey for Friday’s game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. 

“That was this morning. [Holtby] came over with our goalie coach and did a skate this morning and was not able to back up tonight or play,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “So he was kind of a game-time decision and he wasn’t able to participate tonight.”

Holtby will be re-evaluated Thursday after he gets continuing treatment for his injury. There has to be concern about Kuznetsov, who took an elbow to the face at 8:52 of the first period from Jets forward Brandon Tanev. Kuznetsov left the game and did not return. 

That left the Caps shorthanded most of the night with Lars Eller playing center alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson on the top line. Ovechkin ended up playing 24:21. Eller played 18:48 and Backstrom 21:41. Not having Kuznetsov would be an issue. He’s not a player they can replace for long. 

“Was more precautionary,” Reirden said. “Obviously a blow to the head. We had to continue to evaluate him tomorrow, but we needed to make sure he didn’t return to the game.”

Washington, of course, could look to last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs when they missed Backstrom for Game 6 during the second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a hand injury and the first three games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

Oshie was the final blow. He was slammed to the ice by Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and the back of his head hit the ice. Reirden compared the play to a hit by Florida Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson on Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson. He was suspended two games on Oct. 15.  

Oshie certainly didn’t look right. He had to stay on the ice as the Caps pushed for the tying goal with the net empty down 2-1. But it took a while for him to get back to his skates and then he wasn’t able to jump on a loose puck in the slot moments before Winnipeg put the game away at the other end of the ice with an empty-net goal. 

The result is one thing for the Capitals (8-7-3), who are still struggling to generate multiple wins in a row. The status of their three key players is more important after a 1-1-0 start to a four-game road trip. 

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Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

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USA Today Sports

Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Washington Wizards experienced plenty during this largely trying regular season. One aspect missing, being on the all-smiles end of a blowout victory. After Wednesday’s 119-95 rout over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they can now check that box.

“It’s nice to experience that as well,” Tomas Satoransky said.

Washington led from start to finish and by double figures for the final 35 minutes. It set season-highs for points in a quarter (41 in the first), the first half (73) and largest halftime margin (21). The Wizards turned 24 Cavalier turnovers into 29 points. All 13 players scored. 

Quality stretches existed this season, but for minutes, a quarter, maybe a half, but rarely over the full 48. Other than a third-quarter dip when the Cavaliers (2-12) closed within 13 points, the Wizards rolled. The romp meant John Wall only played 21 minutes. None of the starters entered in the fourth quarter. That last part happened in recent games, but this time for positive reasons.

“It was great,” Bradley Beal said of a game “[We were] able to come out and get a lead and be able to sustain it and maintain it throughout the game.”

The Wizards maintained little during the opening 11 games of the regular season other than a downtrodden vibe. Their 5-9 record reflects those struggles. The current three-game winning streak signals growth. The postgame locker room smiles and comments displayed some sense of relief.

“I think we needed that, obviously,” Satoransky said to NBC Sports Washington. The reserve point guard was part of the second quarter surge that saw the Wizards outscore the struggling Cavaliers 20-2 for a 61-34 lead.

“They were on a back-to-back and they haven’t been playing well this year. We felt like with a day off after our last win we could come out aggressively, and just keep it going,” said Satoransky, who had eight points, four assists and three steals in 17 minutes. “Trying to turn the season around.”

The Wizards aren’t naïve enough to think all problems are solved. The three wins came against teams with losing records. Victories over Miami and Orlando included shaky stretches. The big picture hole remains.

“We still have a lot of work to do – we still have to get better,” said Beal, who led Washington with 20 points. “We’re still not content with where we are. We put three [wins] together, but we still have a couple more at home that we have to take care of.”

All of that is true. Numerous gloomy statistics remind the reader of the rough beginnings. Washington entered Wednesday allowing a league-high 118.5 points per game. At least now, the Wizards can contemplate their issues without the weight of the world on their shoulders. For now, the league-wide media will find another target after pillaring the Wizards for weeks. Finally, positive momentum arrived and did so with the Nets, Clippers and Trail Blazers rounding out the homestand.

“I hope we can continue winning,” Satoransky told NBC Sports Washington. “We have three more games at home. I think it’s a good moment for us to turn things around. Brooklyn has been playing well and those two [Western Conference] teams are going to be tough, but I think we’re in a good way now.

“It’s great to experience something like that [blowout]. It helps you mentally. It helped just being able to win three in a row. You can feel it. Whenever you step on the court after that you feel more confident, so that’s good.”

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