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Oilers too much for Avalanche 4-1

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Oilers too much for Avalanche 4-1

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves and the Edmonton Oilers scored all of their goals on the power play to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Monday.

Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff and Nail Yakupov, into an empty net, scored on the man advantage for the Oilers.

Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner each picked up two assists for Edmonton, which got a strong start to a game after falling behind in each of its four previous outings.

P.A. Parenteau scored for the Avalanche, who have lost two in a row to start a four-game road trip.

Edmonton opened the scoring at 15:23 of the first. Hemsky swooped in and swatted a puck past Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov during a scramble in front of the net.

The Oilers added another power-play goal at 18:05 of the first as Eberle picked the top corner on a shot from the top of the circle for his third of the season.

Edmonton had 14 shots in the first while Colorado only managed three on Dubnyk.

The Oilers took a three-goal lead at 9:40 of the second period on yet another man-advantage opportunity as Hall's shot hit Horcoff's skate in front and squeaked past Varlamov.

Colorado had a great scoring chance a minute later as Jamie McGinn had Dubnyk beat, but rang a shot off the post.

Persistent pressure by the Avalanche in the third paid off at 7:43 as Parenteau fired a shot under Dubnyk's pads at the side of the net to make it 3-1.

Yakupov scored his third of the season on yet another power play with 33 seconds left and Varlamov on the Colorado bench for an extra attacker.

Varlamov finished with 23 saves.

Notes: It was the first of five meetings between the Northwest Division rivals. The teams split their six season meetings last season. ... The Avalanche were without captain Gabriel Landeskog. He took a hit late in the first period by San Jose's Brad Stuart in Colorado's last game, but did return to finish the game. ... The Avs remain without last season's leading scorer Ryan O'Reilly, who is holding out due to a contract dispute.

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Scott Brooks enters Kobe Bryant alongside LeBron James into NBA's 'GOAT' debate

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USA Today Sports

Scott Brooks enters Kobe Bryant alongside LeBron James into NBA's 'GOAT' debate

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- NBA fans and internet inhabitants debate the league’s All-time greatest player relentlessly. The primary side-by-side comparison these days for “GOAT” status centers on Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James. Other legends have supporters. Jordan and James, who made his first appearance in Washington as a member of the Lakers Sunday night, dominate such discussions.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks inferred another former Laker is worthy of such greatest ever talk when answering a question about the expected pro-Los Angeles crowd inside Washington’s arena.

“There are organizations and rightfully so that their crowds are global. You can argue [the Lakers] had the greatest player ever to play the game for 20 years before LeBron got there,” Brooks said.

Do the math. He’s not talking about Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West or Wilt Chamberlain. That’s Kobe Bryant’s music.

“Everybody is a fan of Kobe and now they have LeBron. Now they have another guy who could arguably be the greatest player ever,” Brooks said.

Back it up. Again, many thrust James, a four-time league MVP and three-time NBA champion, into the debate with Jordan, whose cultural reverence exceeds his six titles, 32,292 points scored and countless honors.

Bryant’s résumé is all kinds of impressive. The 20-year veteran and 18-time All-Star passed Jordan as the league’s third-time scorer, and won five championships. Top 5-10 player, perhaps. The GOAT? That’s not an argument often heard beyond loyal Laker fans that grew up during Bryant’s reign. It’s not even clear he’s the best Laker of all-time considering the competition.

Bryant’s career deserves praise. Brooks didn’t go out on the flimsiest of limbs. Still, that’s quite a statement from a longtime coach and former player.

Perhaps the presence of James back in Washington, a place he’s thrived over the years, sparked Brooks’ comment.

“So, [Los Angeles is] going to have fans. Those guys are fun to watch. I love watching LeBron play even when he (scored) 57 (points) last year against us and made 11 of 14 mid-range shots.”

Don’t forget the game-tying banked 3–pointer at the buzzer in regulation during the 2016 regular season. Los Angeles won in overtime, snapping Washington’s 17-game home court winning streak. Brooks hadn’t.

“Even the 3 that [LeBron] sent to overtime with whatever on the clock that he traveled on,” the coach joked.

Clearly, Brooks isn’t over those moments. That alone didn’t lead him to nominate Bryant as perhaps the best ever, although at this moment, maybe. 

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

Most NFL team's would fear putting their season in the hands of two rookies, but quarterback Lamar Jackson and undrafted free agent Gus Edwards have taken the Baltimore Ravens' confidence to a new level.

You can feel the effects on both sides of the ball as the offense and defense have been working cohesively since their Week 10 bye. Jackson and the offense have dominated time of possession over those four weeks, which in hand allows the defense to have fresh legs each time they take the field as they remain the No.1 total defense in the league.

With two games to go and the postseason in sight, the respect among teammates is apparent.

"We appreciate it so much, the way our offense is playing," linebacker C.J. Mosley said following the team's 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It's keeping their offense off the field. It allows us to take care of our business, get us rest when we need it, and that is huge."

Heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, Jackson had already hit 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and kept his offense on the field for 37:10 compared to the Buccaneers' 22:50. Plus with the help of Edwards' 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five-consecutive games. The last team to do this was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Then there is the defense. In eight of their 14 games in 2018, the Ravens have held their opponent to under 300 yards, and on Sunday held the Bucs to a season low 241 total yards and 156 net passing yards. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had his first interception of the year and a career-high four passes defended while dealing with a groin injury in a standout performance.

"We're playing great team football right now to a T," safety Eric Weddle added. "We're playing well off each other— running the ball, controlling the clock, third-down conversions. We just know, as a defense, we just need to continue playing at a high level to give our offense more opportunities. Who knows what's going to happen."

Total team effort has put the Ravens in control of the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Steelers for the AFC North. As they head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 16 and then back to Baltimore to face the dynamic Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it appears the offense and defense have together found what works for them in a style of play that pundits deemed unattainable just weeks ago. 

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