Nationals

Scott, Miami down UCF for 72-50 victory

Scott, Miami down UCF for 72-50 victory

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Durand Scott scored 17 points and Reggie Johnson added 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Miami to an easy 72-50 victory over Central Florida.

Shane Larkin had 11 points and six assists and Kenny Kadji scored 10 for the Hurricanes (7-1), who led wire-to-wire in winning their sixth straight game.

Keith Clanton led UCF with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Knights (6-3) didn't have another player in double figures after shooting only 35.4 percent (17 of 48) for the game.

Miami jumped out to a 37-21 halftime lead behind Johnson and Larkin. UCF got within 11 points on a 3-pointer by Matt Williams with 11:04 left in the game, but that was as close as it would come.

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Max Scherzer grinds enough to position Nationals for Game 1 win

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Max Scherzer grinds enough to position Nationals for Game 1 win

HOUSTON -- This is the game within the game this series. Washington’s starting staff versus the Astros’ relentless lineup. Elite command vs. the league’s most patient team. Max Scherzer was first up to deal with Houston.
 
He lasted five innings, threw 112 pitches -- just 65 for strikes -- and made it further than it appeared he would in Game 1 of the World Series. Trailing 2-0 after one inning put Scherzer in a dire situation. His pitch count hit 26 just three outs into the game. It grew to 48 after six outs. At that point, just two innings into the game, Scherzer’s future seemed well-defined. He often worked himself out of such situations during the year. But, against this lineup, in this setting, emerging from deep water would be all the more difficult.
 
“Don’t get caught up in it,” Scherzer said of his mentality after the first. “Stay in the moment. Continue to execute. Just believe in your guys, that they’re going to find ways to get back in the game. We’ve done this the whole postseason. We might get down a little early, but we find a way to grind away and score runs late. I have the utmost belief in everybody in this clubhouse. When everybody gets their number called, they step up and they’re going to do their job. And [Tuesday], that happened.”
 
His advice was applicable for what he tried to complete on the mound. Scherzer leaned on his four-seam fastball and slider (84 of his 111 pitches). Houston relied on its ability to ignore pitches leaving the strike zone. Scherzer’s 112 pitches were a season-high for starts he lasted just five innings. His strike percentage of 58 was the lowest of his four starts this year which lasted five innings. Which pressed a question: Was Scherzer missing his spots or was Houston not chasing his purposeful out-of-the-zone pitches?
 
“That lineup is great,” Scherzer said. “They absolutely grinded me, never let me get in a rhythm. I was having to make pitches out of the stretch from the first inning on. For me, I just stayed with [Kurt Suzuki]. Zuk called some big-time pitches for me tonight.”
 
His changeup was not an effective pitch Tuesday. Scherzer threw 12, producing zero swinging strikes. His slider was the opposite: eight swinging strikes on 32 deliveries, a 25 percent swing-and-miss rate. Potent.
 
Up next for Scherzer is Game 5 at home, if necessary. Houston went through a full first-look Tuesday night. Going forward, the challenge only becomes that much harder since the Astros now have a recent database to work from. Tuesday, Scherzer, and the Nationals, survived the first round.
 
“The way I see it is: I didn’t lose the ballgame,” Scherzer said.

 

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The next great hashtag, give props to Stephenson and Carlson can't stop scoring

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USA TODAY Sports

The next great hashtag, give props to Stephenson and Carlson can't stop scoring

Game 1 of the World Series was completely overshadowed by the big matchup in Calgary between the Capitals and Flames...OK, so that’s not entirely true, but while the Nationals were battling in Game 1, the Caps extended their win streak to four games including two wins to start their five-game road trip.

Here is everything you need to know from Tuesday's 5-3 win.

Observations from the win

Another big-game for Carlson

The NHL points leader scored another two goals to give him 20 points in his first 11 games. He now has a career-high eight-game point streak.

Yawn. Seen it. It's all routine at this point.

All kidding aside, if you’re not on the Carlson hype train, get on board. This is quickly turning from a great start to a special one.

Reirden is showing a lot of trust in his fourth line

Brendan Leipsic, Chandler Stephenson and Nic Dowd only played about 6:45 together as a line on Tuesday, but the vast majority of that time came in the third period when the Caps when it really mattered and with the Caps protecting a lead.

Six minor penalties in the first two periods limited their ice-time to less than seven minutes. You may look at that as a sign of distrust, but if you dig deeper and see that the fourth line took six shifts in the third period alone, you start to realize it’s not how much they were used but when that really matters.

Big props to Stephenson

At no point in the offseason did I think Stephenson would be a regular in the Caps’ lineup this year. That’s not just me, the Caps essentially broadcast that they were not satisfied with his play when they signed him to a contract just under the maximum cap hit that can be buried in the AHL. At that point, I thought he should have started packing his bags for Hershey. Instead, he worked his butt off, had a great training camp and has stuck on the roster ever since.

Stephenson’s goal was not just pure luck. No, I don’t mean he meant to bank the puck off Rasmus Andersson. What I mean is he followed the puck on a dump-in, sped in to steal it from Cam Talbot behind the net and then banked it in. He didn’t give up on the play and created a goal out of nothing.

There are times I think Reirden shows Stephenson a little bit too much faith as I think Dowd should not be scratched as much as he is, but it is hard to argue with Stephenson continuing to play a fourth-line role considering how much he continues to work for it.

Give credit to Vrana

Tom Wilson scored the game-winner on a goal that was assisted by Lars Eller and Michal Kempny. But do not discount the role Jakub Vrana played on that goal.

Eller picks up the puck when Travis Hamonic failed to control it and Vrana immediately went hard to the net. Noah Hanifin went with him which left Wilson wide open for the goal.

Vrana may not get a point for it, but he was instrumental in setting up that play.

Turning point

Calgary battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 2 late in the second. That tie lasted...10 whole seconds.


Play of the night

Brendan Leipsic dumped in the puck and Talbot went behind the net to corral it. You see this multiple times per game, every game. Nothing ever comes from it. This time, however, Stephenson never gave up on the play and caught Talbot by surprise.

Stephenson stole it from Talbot and fired a centering pass off Andersson into the empty net.


Stat of the night

First, the obligatory Carlson stat:

Now another bonus stat just to make sure this does not get monopolized by Carlson.

Nicklas Backstrom picked up an assist on Ovechkin’s goal in the second period. That assist was the 649th of his career which moves him one past Daniel Sedin for the fifth-most assists all-time by a Swedish-born player.

Quote of the night

Ovechkin on Carlson’s incredible start to the season:

“#Johnny4Norris. That’s a hashtag right now. Let’s keep it going.”

Fan predictions

I don’t know whether to be more impressed by how many predictions you got right or the window.

Calling a Stephenson goal is pretty damn bold.

Nailed the score.

Caps in 5.

Anything to avoid going to Edmonton.

I’m kidding! I hear Edmonton is lovely this time of year….