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Mets rookie makes record-setting debut

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Mets rookie makes record-setting debut

From Comcast SportsNet

PHOENIX (AP) -- Matt Harvey gave the Mets a brilliant ray of hope Thursday night.

The heralded 24-year-old dazzled in his major league debut, holding Arizona to three hits and striking out 11 over 5 1-3 innings in New York's 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

"When I was warming up I looked around and kind of took everything in," Harvey said. "At that moment I really did believe that I was meant to pitch in the big leagues. It was everything I could have imagined. I just wanted to do everything I could to keep the team in a winning distance."

Harvey, the Mets' top pick in the 2010 draft, set a franchise record for strikeouts in a debut. He also doubled and singled to become the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out more than 10 and collect a pair of hits in his first game.

"If things don't work out as a pitcher he should become a hitter," said Miguel Montero, who had one of the Diamondbacks' three hits against the rookie.

Harvey allowed only Jason Kubel's soft single through the third base hole, vacated on an infield shift, a double to Montero on a changeup in the second and Aaron Hill's one out single in the third.

Harvey threw 106 pitches, 65 for strikes -- including his first two.

"He lived up to exactly what everybody has talked about him," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Now I want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable yet pitch as effectively as he did today. He is a different cat."

Gerardo Parra, who reached base on a wild pitch after striking out, was the only Arizona hitter to reach third against Harvey.

While the Diamondbacks praised Harvey's poise, catcher Rob Johnson could see some adrenaline at work.

"I think he was pretty amped up," Johnson said. "The good thing about it was he was amped up down in the zone. It felt like he felt like he belonged here."

Scott Hairston hit a two-run double and Andres Torres tripled and scored for the Mets, who snapped a six-game losing streak.

New York, which is beginning an 11-game road trip, won for only the second time in 13 games since the All-Star break, narrowly avoiding the fate of the 1962 club that went 1-14 to start the second half.

"It's been a tough stretch," Hairston said. "Then to start a long road trip, it was good to get the win."

Bobby Parnell pitched around a pair of walks in the ninth for his third save.

Arizona starter Wade Miley (11-6), the third straight 2012 All-Star the Mets have faced, gave up three runs on nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since going 3 2-3 innings on June 30.

"I was just pitching behind guys early," Miley said. "I was getting into 2-0, 2-1 counts -- fastball counts -- and they took advantage of it."

The Diamondbacks, who struck out 16 times and stranded 11 runners, have lost two straight after running off five wins in a row.

With Harvey keeping the Diamondbacks in check, the Mets looked like an entirely different club than they had been since the All-Star break.

Ruben Tejada led off the game with a single to center, went to third on Daniel Murphy's single to center and scored on Hairston's two-run double off the right field wall.

"It's a boost for everybody," Collins said. "But he's only going to pitch every five days. We need to do a lot more things to win games."

Torres made it 3-0 in the fourth when he tripled to center and scored on Johnson's sacrifice fly to center, barely sliding under a strong throw from Parra.

"You've got to try and minimize the damage and for the most part I was able to do that," Miley said.

Kubel scored the Diamondbacks' run in the eighth when he was walked by Jon Rauch, went to third on a double by Paul Goldschmidt and scored easily on Justin Upton's sacrifice fly.

Tim Byrdak came on for Rauch and, after hitting Montero with a pitch, struck out pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay with the tying runs on first and second.

NOTES: Harvey became the first Mets pitcher to get a pair of hits in his debut since David West on Sept. 24, 1988. Harvey is the 20th player from the 2010 draft to appear in a major league game, and joined Josh Edgin as the second Mets player from that draft to make his debut. ... Torres' triple snapped an 0-for-14 streak. . New York had allowed four or more runs in each of their past 13 games, the second-longest streak in franchise history. ... Montero has hit safely in 15 of his past 18 home games. ... Arizona CF Chris Young, who has hit .294 since the All-Star break to raise his average to .218, was given the night off in favor of the left-handed Parra. ... Before the game, the Mets recalled Johnson from Triple-A Buffalo to take the place of Mike Nickeas, who was optioned to Buffalo after Wednesday's loss. ... LHP Jonathan Niese will take the mound for the Mets on Friday against RHP Josh Collmenter. Niese gave up three earned runs in five innings in his only previous start at Chase Field.

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Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

To call it a hit is generous. To call it a huge play is accurate. 

Capitals forward Tom Wilson backed into a loose puck along the boards in the defensive zone of Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. He waited for a hit sure to come from behind. 

Colin Wilson, the Avalanche center, moved in to dislodge the puck. Instead he got dislodged from gravity. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tom Wilson, barely moving and braced for contact, used his own leverage to launch Colin Wilson into the air, arms and legs akimbo. 

By the time Colin Wilson crashed to the ice, Tom Wilson had chipped a blind backhand pass to center ice, where Alex Ovechkin stopped it with his skate, dropped it to teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who gave it back as they entered the offensive zone. Ovechkin crossed from left to right and ripped a shot past former teammate Philipp Grubauer in goal for Colorado. 

It was a wonderful pass from Backstrom, who put the Avalanche on their heels. Ovechkin’s shot was a bullet that left little chance for Grubauer. But make no mistake – it all started with Wilson, who was prepared to take a hit to make a play. It is those little things that the Capitals missed during Wilson’s 16-game suspension by the NHL. It was the little things that helped them to a 3-2 overtime victory.  

“[Wilson] brings so much energy to this group,” Backstrom said. “He’s everywhere out there. That’s what we need. He’s playing PK, he’s playing power plays, he’s doing everything. He’s a valuable guy in this group so we’re happy to have him back.”

The game-winning goal in overtime by Backstrom was a perfect example. Wilson took a drop pass from defenseman John Carlson 12 seconds into overtime with Washington on a 4-on-3 power play. That’s when he went to work. 

For six seconds Wilson and Avalanche center Carl Soderberg did battle along the right boards high in the offensive zone. Just as Wilson was knocked to the ice, he slipped a pass back to Backstrom alone at the point. 

With Soderberg on top of him and both out of the play, Wilson watched Backstrom take advantage of the extra space in what effectively became a 3-on-2. He passed to Carlson in the right faceoff circle and then got the puck back in the high slot and beat Grubauer blocker side for the win. That doesn’t happen without Wilson. 

“When you’re playing with good players, you just try and keep it simple, win your battles and they’ll do the rest,” Wilson said. “And that’s exactly what happened on both those plays. At the end there, I thought about throwing it across the ice a couple times, but I’m not that comfortable out there yet so just kind of ragged on the wall and waited. Nicky got open for me and made it easy, I just threw it over to him and it was in the back of the net.”  

The Ovechkin goal put Washington ahead 2-1 at 18:29 of the second period. The Backstrom winner came 22 seconds into overtime. Wilson, in his third game back after his original 20-game suspension was reduced by a neutral arbitrator, played a career-high 24 minutes, 24 seconds. He moved to the power play for 4:19 with T.J. Oshie out with an upper-body injury and contributed 1:35 on the penalty kill – a little less than usual. 

Wilson played on the PK for 5:23 in his first game back Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal in that game, too, by driving the net hard and has been a jolt of energy for a team that was scuffling coming into a difficult four-game road trip. The Capitals are 2-1-0 with one game left Monday at the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
“Tom is one of those guys that was vocal in our room, vocal on the bench that we’re fully in control of that game still even though we gave up the late goal,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “But that’s a tough start [after the suspension], three in four, and then add in the altitude and the minutes that we’re counting on him playing because they aren’t easy minutes. And then obviously having to chase around that top line tonight from Colorado is no easy task. Just really happy with the fact that we got him back a little earlier than was originally set up for us. It’s been a good bounce for our team.” 

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

A shorthanded Capitals team marched into Colorado and took a 3-2 overtime win over the Avalanche on Friday.

Here are five reasons the Caps won.

A big glove save

With no T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov or Braden Holtby, the Caps were a bit shorthanded heading into the game. After the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead just 68 seconds in, it felt like it could be a very long night for Washington.

It could have been if not for an early breakaway save by Pheonix Copley.

Soon after the goal, Nathan MacKinnon grabbed the puck on a breakaway. MacKinnon is one of the best offensive players in the league and not the guy you want to see going in alone on Copley on a breakaway.

Copley, however, flashed the glove and made the save to keep the game at 1-0.

One year ago to the day, the Caps lost 6-2 in Colorado. With the injuries Washington was dealing with, it’s not a stretch to think this game could have gone off the rails quickly had the Avalanche jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The Caps struggled through the first period to get any real penetration on Colorado’s defense and were kept largely on the perimeter with very few high-danger opportunities. The Avalanche defense got a bit more porous in the second and Washington took advantage.

Travis Boyd collected the puck in the offensive zone below the goal line. As he skated along the wall, he found himself face-to-face with four Colorado players who were all just following the puck. As far as defense goes, that’s not an ideal situation. Boyd found a wide-open Chandler Stephenson on the cross-ice pass, Stephenson goes back left to Devante Smith-Pelly who had an empty net to shoot on to get the Caps on the board and tie the game at one.


Game speed

After six seasons in Washington, Philipp Grubauer has faced literally thousands of shots from Alex Ovechkin in practice. But he never faced one of those shots in a game until Friday. Those shots come off the stick a bit faster when it counts as Grubauer learned.

Nicklas Backstrom entered the offensive zone with the puck and backhanded it to Ovechkin. Backstrom kept driving to the net drawing the defense with him except for Tyson Barrie. Backstrom’s passed to the left, but Ovechkin collected it going right which caught Barrie flatfooted. Ovehckin easily skated around Barrie to find an open shooting lane, then snapped a shot past Grubauer to put the Caps up 2-1. Ovechkin’s celebration was almost instantaneous, he knew he had Grubauer beat.


A late penalty

The referees really put away the whistles in the third period. They even missed a clear high-stick to Dmitry Orlov that drew blood and should have been a double-minor. Colorado came back to tie the game, but Smith-Pelly finally drew a blatant holding penalty from Ian Cole with just over a minute left to go in regulation.

The Avalanche survived to force overtime, but Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-winner on the power play just 22 seconds in for the win.

Tom Wilson making a Tom Wilson play

Space is important in hockey. That’s what makes a four-on-three power play harder to cover than a five-on-four power play. You know what’s even better? A three-on-two.

The Caps entered overtime on a power play which gave them a four-on-three to start. Tom Wilson had the puck on the wall and took a hit from Carl Soderberg. He saw the hit coming and took it so he could make the pass to Backstrom. He won the board battle and the hit took Soderberg out of the play, giving the Caps a three-on-two in the offensive zone to work with. Backstrom passed to John Carlson who passed back to Backstrom. He had all day to fire the game-winner and it was all thanks to a tremendous play from Wilson that most people would not have noticed.

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