Capitals

NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

NEW YORK (AP) Jeremy Lin won again at Madison Square Garden - and for the first time this season, the New York Knicks didn't.

Lin had 22 points and eight assists in his return to New York, leading the Houston Rockets to a 109-96 victory Monday night that ended the Knicks' 10-game home winning streak to open the season.

Cheered then jeered, and later clobbered, Lin added another masterpiece to the ones he put together last season during the height of Linsanity. No longer the fan favorite he was when wearing the home uniform, Lin got a mixed reception when he left the game with 2:25 remaining and Houston leading by 16.

James Harden had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who blew out the Knicks for the second time this season. They have won the last seven meetings, including a 131-103 rout in Houston on Nov. 23.

Rookie Chris Copeland scored a career-high 29 points for the Knicks, who played without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and had their four-game winning streak snapped.

THUNDER 107, SPURS 93

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Serge Ibaka tied his career best with 25 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and Oklahoma City beat San Antonio for its 11th straight win.

The Thunder took control with a string of 11 straight points during the third quarter, punctuated by Nick Collison's putback that made it 71-56 with 4:27 remaining in the period.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich kept his starters parked on the bench throughout the fourth quarter, even as San Antonio cut an 18-point lead in half with about 5 1/2 minutes left.

Tony Parker and Nando De Colo had 14 points apiece to lead the Spurs, who could have created a virtual tie for the best record with a win.

Manu Ginobili did not play for the Spurs because he bruised his left quadriceps in Saturday's win at Boston.

Russell Westbrook chipped in 22 points and nine assists, Kevin Martin scored 20 and Kevin Durant had 19 as Oklahoma City maintained sole possession of the best record in the NBA.

It was the teams' first meeting in Oklahoma City since the Thunder overcame a 2-0 deficit in the Western Conference finals by winning the next four games. The Spurs drew a measure of revenge in the season opener by beating Oklahoma City on Parker's jumper as time expired.

GRIZZLIES 80, BULLS 71

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Mike Conley had 17 points, Zach Randolph added 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Memphis overcame a poor start to beat Chicago.

Conley was 6 of 12 from the field and had four assists. Rudy Gay scored 12 points for the Grizzlies but shot 5 of 13, continuing his slump. Wayne Ellington scored all 11 of his points in the second quarter, when the Grizzlies reserves provided a lift after Memphis shot poorly in the first period.

Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Marco Belinelli finished with 13 points.

Both teams shot just better than 37 percent. But Memphis was 6 of 11 from 3-point range compared to the Bulls hitting only 2 of 11 long-range shots.

CLIPPERS 88, PISTONS 76

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead Los Angeles past Detroit for its 10th straight win.

Blake Griffin had 15 points for the Clippers, who had five players in double figures. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Crawford.

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 points and Tayshaun Prince added 15. Detroit has lost five straight.

MAGIC 102, TIMBERWOLVES 93

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Glen Davis scored 28 points and J.J. Redick had 18 points and seven assists as Orlando beat Minnesota.

The Magic won their third straight and stopped the Timberwolves' four-game winning streak. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double, and Arron Afflalo scored 13 points.

Kevin Love led Minnesota with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who led by 15 in the middle of the third quarter but couldn't hang on.

SUNS 101, KINGS 90

PHOENIX (AP) - Shannon Brown scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter, Jared Dudley added 20 points and the Phoenix Suns pulled off another big rally to beat Sacramento.

The Suns were out of sorts throughout the first half, scoring 43 points while trailing by up to 19. Brown helped them outscore Sacramento 31-14 in the third quarter and Dudley provided the cushion down the stretch to give Phoenix its first three-game winning streak of the season.

Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Luis Scola gave the Suns his usual hustle while scoring 14 points and dishing out a career-high 10 assists.

The Kings played well early, but faded down the stretch to lose their fourth straight game. Jimmer Fredette had 22 points and Aaron Brooks added 12 for Sacramento.

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Caps’ dominant power play comes through yet again in win over Rangers

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Caps’ dominant power play comes through yet again in win over Rangers

It seems so simple. The Capitals have one of the best goal-scorers of all-time in Alex Ovechkin and on the power play, he’s almost always in the same spot. He sets up in the “office,” the faceoff circle on the left side of the ice, and waits for one-timers. Everyone knows the Caps are trying to get him the puck, everyone knows the shot is coming.

But nobody can stop it.

“It’s still pretty unique,” Matt Niskanen said after the game. “Basic logic tells you it’d be easy to stop, but it’s not.”

Even Ovechkin has no explanation. “It’s all about luck,” he said.

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn had another word for it.

“Sickening.”

Quinn’s Rangers were the latest victims of a power play that has been among the league’s best units for several years. Since 2005, no team in the NHL has a better power play percentage than the Capitals’ 20.8-percent. They once again look lethal this season with the unit currently clicking at an incredible 39.1-percent.

Ovechkin tallied two power play goals Wednesday, both from the office, to help power the Caps to a 4-3 win over New York. Both of Ovechkin’s goals looked pretty similar with John Carlson on the point feeding Ovechkin in the office for the one-timer.

Ovechkin obviously is what powers the team’s power play. With him on the ice, other teams need to account for him at all times.

But the real key to the Caps’ success with the extra man is not Ovechkin, but the other weapons around him.

“In order to completely take [Ovechkin] away other guys are just too open and they’re good enough to score,” Niskanen said. “Are you gonna leave [T.J. Oshie] open in the slot from the hash marks to cover [Ovechkin]? Our power play is set up well with what hands guys are and their skill sets so we have a lot of different options. Guys are good at reading what’s open. It’s pretty lethal.”

“Nobody knows who's going to take a shot when we play like that,” Ovechkin said. “And it's fun to play like that, to be honest with you. When [Nicklas Backstrom] and when [Evgeny Kuznetsov] feeling the puck well, they can find you in the right time and the right place -- same as [Carlson]."

With so many weapons on the power play, teams are forced to choose between playing Ovechkin tight and leaving other players like Kuznetsov and Oshie wide open, or trying to play a traditional penalty kill and risk giving Ovechkin too much room for the one-timer.

The Rangers chose the latter on Wednesday and they suffered the consequences.

“I don't think many teams have played him like they did tonight,” Carlson said. “They gave him a lot more space.”

And Carlson certainly took advantage as well.

Washington’s power play seems to have found a new gear now with the emergence of Carlson. He took his game to a new level last season and he seems to have picked up right where he left off. On Wednesday, as part of a three-point night for him, Carlson provided two brilliant setups for Ovechkin on the power play.

“He dominates the game, I think,” Niskanen said of Carlson. “Moves the puck well, skates well for a big man, can defend. He’s got that offensive feel for the game and offensive touch. Big shot. He’s a good player.”

For many years, it looked like the only thing missing from the Caps’ power play was Mike Green. Carlson has always been good, but no one was able to setup Ovechkin quite as well as Green was in the height of the “young guns” era of the Caps. Now that Carlson seems to be coming into his own as a superstar blueliner who can both score and feed Ovechkin with the best of them, that makes an already dominant Caps’ power play even more lethal.

That was certainly on display Wednesday as the Caps fired eight shots on goal with the extra man. Ovechkin’s two goals tie him for ninth on the NHL’s all-time power play goals list with Dino Ciccarelli at 232.

Even with Ovechkin now 33 years old and after several years of dominance with the extra man, the Caps’ power play may be better than ever.

“They don’t get rattled,” Quinn said. “There’s a confidence to them and a swagger to them, which they should have.  They’ve been playing together a long time and they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions, so they should play with a swagger.”

 

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5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

The Caps gave up a 2-1 and 3-2 lead, but ultimately came away victorious on Wednesday in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers thanks to an overtime goal from Matt Niskanen.

Here are five reasons why the Caps won.

1. Djoos saves a goal

With the Caps already trailing 1-0 in the first period, they were about an inch away from going down by two. Luckily, Christian Djoos was there to make the save.

Yes, Djoos, not Braden Holtby.

A diving Jesper Fast got to a loose puck before any of the Caps defenders and beat Holtby with the shot. Djoos, however, was there to sweep the puck off the goal line and out, saving a goal.

That play turned out to be a two-goal swing as less than two minutes later, the Caps scored to tie the game at 1.

2. Carlson off the faceoff

The Caps emphasized the importance of the faceoff this week and worked on it specifically in practice on Tuesday. That practice turned out to be very prescient as Washington’s first goal of the night came right off the faceoff.

Nicklas Backstrom beat Ryan Spooner on the draw cleanly in the offensive zone, feeding the puck back to John Carlson. With the players all bunched up off the draw, Carlson benefitted from Brady Skjei standing right in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Carlson teed up the slap shot and beat Lundqvist who never saw the puck.

Of the five combined goals scored in the game, three were directly set up off a faceoff.

3. Hand-eye coordination

With the Caps on the power play, Fast tipped a pass meant for Carlson that looked like it was headed out of the offensive zone. Carlson reacted to the puck then stretched the stick and somehow managed to control the bouncing puck and keep it in the zone.

Fast charged Carlson at the blue line so he chipped the puck to Ovechkin in the office. Ovechkin managed to hit the puck just as it hit the ice and somehow beat Lundqvist with the shot.

Ovechkin was by the boards at the very edge of the circle. It was an amazing shot and it was set up by the great hustle play from Carlson. Both showed tremendous hand-eye coordination to control that puck.

4. Braden Holtby

Lundqvist entered this game with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage, but he was outplayed by his counterpart from Washington.

Holtby had himself a night. He was particularly strong down low with the pads as he made a number of key pad saves throughout the game, particularly in the second period when he recorded 17 saves including a shorthanded breakaway save on Kevin Hayes as time expired.

Of the three goals Holtby allowed, the first he made a great save on Chris Kreider who looked like he had an empty net to shoot at. Mike Zibanejad would score on the rebound. The second goal came as a shot deflected off Devante Smith-Pelly and went right to Jimmy Vesey for an easy tap-in. The third was a deflection goal from Kreider to redirect a shot that was going wide.

Can’t blame Holtby for those.

5. Working from the office

The Caps had three power play opportunities on the night. They scored on two of them and those two goals looked pretty darn similar.

There was the one described above in which a hustle play by Carlson at the point kept the puck alive and he fed to Ovechkin in the office. The second goal came with Carlson on the point feeding Ovechkin in the office.

Those two goals give Ovechkin 232 power play goals for his career, tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for ninth on the NHL’s all-time list.

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