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NBA Capsules

DENVER (AP) Danilo Gallinari led six Nuggets players in double figures with 17 points and Denver stopped the Los Angeles Clippers' franchise-record winning streak at 17 games with a 92-78 victory Tuesday night.

The Clippers' streak was the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008.

Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.

The Clippers, whose point total was two above their season low, were hurt by poor shooting from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free-throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent). Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe had 12 points apiece to lead Los Angeles.

Andre Miller, starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets. Lawson has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles' tendon for the past week, forcing him to miss a game for the first time this season.

TRAIL BLAZERS 105, KNICKS 100

NEW YORK (AP) - The Trail Blazers overcame Carmelo Anthony's 45 points and spoiled Amare Stoudemire's season debut for the Knicks.

Nicolas Batum scored 26 points for Portland, and Damian Lillard had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Stoudemire had six points on 3-of-8 shooting and one rebound in 17 minutes off the bench in his return from knee surgery. Anthony shot 14 of 24 and nearly led the Knicks back from 19 points down after missing two games with a knee injury, but the Trail Blazers had too many options.

J.J. Hickson scored all of his 18 points in the first half as Portland won for the third time in four games.

J.R. Smith had 28 points and 11 rebounds for New York.

76ERS 103, LAKERS 99

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jrue Holiday had 26 points and 10 assists, and Evan Turner added 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead Philadelphia over Los Angeles.

The Lakers (15-16) have matched their worst start after 31 games since the 2002-03 season, when they began defense of their third straight NBA title with a 12-19 record.

Kobe Bryant, who shifted from shooting guard to small forward five games ago in coach Mike D'Antoni's redesigned rotation, led the Lakers with 36 points. Steve Nash added 12 points and 10 assists.

Down by nine with just under 3 minutes to play, the Lakers closed to 99-97 on Bryant's 3-pointer with 1:28 left. But Spencer Hawes responded with a 21-footer 16 seconds later and Holiday helped close it out on a driving dunk with 22.4 seconds on the clock.

HAWKS 95, HORNETS 86

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Josh Smith scored 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter to lead Atlanta to the win.

Al Horford added 20 points, Kyle Korver had 14 and Zaza Pachulia 12 for the Hawks.

Hornets guard Eric Gordon, playing in his first home game this season, scored 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting. He made his season debut in a victory over Charlotte on Saturday after recovering from a knee injury.

Ryan Anderson scored 23 points and Greivis Vasquez added 17 for the Hornets. Vasquez also had 10 assists and nine rebounds.

The Hornets' Anthony Davis struggled from the floor, making four of nine shots for nine points but had 12 rebounds and blocked four shots.

MAVERICKS 103, WIZARDS 94

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vince Carter scored 23 points, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison had 15 apiece and the Mavericks snapped a six-game losing streak.

When the Wizards (4-25) took a 14-point lead early in the second quarter, Dallas, which had arrived in Washington in the midst of its longest skid in nearly 14 years, rallied. The Mavericks trailed by four at the half and outscored the Wizards 35-19 in the third to take an 83-71 lead.

Chris Kaman scored 12 points for Dallas, and Shawn Marion had 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

Bradley Beal equaled a career high with 22 points for the Wizards.

PISTONS 103, KINGS 97

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Greg Monroe had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pistons held on for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Sacramento cut a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to one, and Detroit led 100-97 when Austin Daye made a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down with 11.5 seconds left.

Detroit has won five of six, in large part because of terrific play from its reserves. The group scored 44 points Tuesday despite losing Charlie Villanueva to a second-quarter ejection.

DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings.

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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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