Wizards

Mason, Predators top Wild 3-1 for 1st win

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Mason, Predators top Wild 3-1 for 1st win

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Nashville Predators badly needed a break after a pair of shootout losses to start the season and a draining start to this tight game against the Minnesota Wild.

The opening was there for Martin Erat, and the veteran left wing made sure he didn't miss it.

Erat's unassisted goal with 8:15 left made the Wild pay for a late mistake and the Predators earned their first victory, 3-1 on Tuesday night over former teammate Ryan Suter's new club.

``It was just one of those things where you make one mistake, or something happens, and that's it,'' said Dany Heatley, who scored for the third time in three games for the Wild, who failed to finish their opening homestand unbeaten.

Nick Spaling scored in the first period and David Legwand added another goal with 16.2 seconds remaining, but Erat's was the highlight.

He took advantage of a rare mistake by the Wild's relentless star Zach Parise, who sent a pass out from behind his own net to a spot where none of his teammates were close enough to corral. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon was going the wrong way, and the puck kept streaking into the Wild zone with only Erat near it.

``It's a rolling puck, so it's tough,'' goalie Niklas Backstrom said, adding: ``I just have to beat him and get it outside.''

Backstrom came out quickly enough to stop the breakaway with his stick beyond the top of the left circle, but Erat blocked the clearing attempt and chased down the puck at the goal line. He maneuvered it in toward the net and dumped it in before Backstrom could recover and Spurgeon could dive to stop it.

``Marty's been around the league, and in a position like that he knows they're going to go to their forehand,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. ``He waited, and at the last minute he jumped in front of it and blocked it. It stayed with him, and he was able to put it in the net. Huge for us, because we were running on fumes.''

Erat shrugged off his shrewd move.

``It was a hard play for him, because the puck was standing on the edge,'' Erat said. ``For a goalie it's always hard to play the puck like that. It just hit me in the stomach. I was actually lucky it didn't hit me somewhere and bounce in the corner.''

Even Predators goalie Chris Mason, who was stellar in his first start this season with 29 saves, was sympathetic to Backstrom.

``That's a bad feeling because I've been on the other end of that too. When the pucks go like that you're kind of caught in between,'' Mason said.

Backstrom stopped 23 shots.

``He played a great game up to that point, and that puck couldn't have been in a worse place,'' Wild coach Mike Yeo said. ``If he doesn't come out, the guy has a breakaway. If he does come out, it's going to be tight as it is.''

The Wild had only themselves to blame, however, for being in a tie game down the stretch. They owned the first period, posting a 12-5 shots advantage.

``It's a matter of just executing and finishing the play. We had some really good chances and good opportunities,'' Parise said. ``Collectively we need to bear down a little bit and put those in, because that's a big difference in the game right there, grabbing that lead.''

Suter left the Predators, who drafted him seventh overall in 2003, for a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild that is identical to Parise's deal that was also signed last summer.

His departure angered general manager David Poile at the time, but Suter and Poile spoke genially in the morning before the teams skated.

``I'm getting better. Every game I feel more comfortable,'' Suter said. ``Obviously that's not the way you wanted it to end, but we can take some good things out of it.''

The 36-year-old Mason, in his third stint with the Predators, started for Pekka Rinne because of the back-to-back games. Rinne is 8-3-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and three shutouts in 13 games against the Wild in his career. Mason, who played for Winnipeg last season, was just 6-5-2 with a 3.20 GAA entering the game.

``We got it tied up and got out of the first period and then we said, `It's 40 minutes. Just dig in and show our character here,''' Trotz said. ``And we did.''

Notes: Heatley has 14 goals and 10 assists in 18 career games against the Predators. ... Predators C Paul Gaustad was scratched for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... The Predators started a franchise-tying seven-game road trip. ... The Wild went 0 for 3 on the power play and are 2 for 13 on the season.

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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

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