Capitals

Thunder roll to 124-94 win over Rockets

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Thunder roll to 124-94 win over Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 26 as the Oklahoma City Thunder built a big lead in the second quarter and rolled to a 124-94 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Durant scored 11 points during a 16-0 run by the Thunder to end the first half and extend the lead to 18. Oklahoma City had another big run early in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach.

Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 25 for the Rockets, who went cold on offense for long stretches.

It was Oklahoma City's second win this season over Houston, after taking the first meeting 120-98.

Kevin Martin, who came to Oklahoma City in the trade for Harden, finished 19 points and five 3-pointers. Marcus Morris added a career-high 24 points for Houston.

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Alan May predicts Capitals beat Islanders in 7, but John Carlson has to play

Alan May predicts Capitals beat Islanders in 7, but John Carlson has to play

The Capitals won't have an easy time once their first-round playoff series begins Wednesday against a physical, stout defensive team in the Islanders. 

After quickly disposing of the Panthers in two games to earn themselves a playoff spot, New York and former Capitals coach Barry Trotz will look to rough Washington up a bit to advance to the next stage. 

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May isn't taking the Islanders lightly, and in an appearance on the Sports Junkies, he gave his series prediction with an important caveat: the health of John Carlson. 

"I don't think they can get past the Islanders if there's no John Carlson in the lineup," May said. "He's [the Capitals] most important player as far all the skaters are concerned right now. If he doesn't play, everyone else has to play more and I don't think everyone else can necessarily handle playing more. I love the way [Orlov] plays, but if he plays too much he can get fatigued."

Carlson suffered an injury in the Capitals' only exhibition game against the Hurricanes and didn't appear in any of Washington's round-robin contests. In Carlson, the Caps were missing the league's leader in points for defensemen as well as one of their best skaters to anchor the defense in front of Braden Holtby. 

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His importance to the team's success can't be understated, which is why May believes the fate of the series may rest in his availability. 

"If the Caps have Carlson, they'll win the series," he said. "But if they play a soft brand of hockey it'll be a quick exit out of these playoffs. If they play rough and rugged, I like the Caps in about seven games."

If Carlson's healthy, he'll certainly help this team get to that "rough and rugged" style May wants to see out of them. 

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Especially against the Islanders, perhaps the best way to beat them is to play their style and not allow New York to control the flow of the game with their physicality. If the Caps are forced to lean heavily on their offense and can't penetrate the Islanders' defense, which tends to force teams to play on the perimeter more often, they'll be vulnerable. 

But if they can match New York's physicality and shut down any chances they may create, the Caps' talent on offense should find a way to power them through to the next round. Either way, May might be on to something in predicting a long series. 

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Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to join NHL Network as guest analyst for the playoffs

Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to join NHL Network as guest analyst for the playoffs

Former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau will join the NHL Network as a guest analyst for the remainder of the 2020 postseason, the NHL announced on Tuesday. The man affectionately known as "Gabby" will make his debut on Tuesday on NHL Tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Boudreau was the head coach in Washington from 2007 until 2011. He was promoted from the team's AHL affiliate Hershey Bears where he had led the team to a Calder Cup championship in 2006. Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award as the coach of the year in his first season with the Caps in 2008.

While postseason success has remained elusive at the NHL level, Boudreau is still a highly respected coach who made the most of his opportunity with the Caps and went on to coach the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild and has an impressive record of 567-302-115. His teams have finished first in the division in eight of his 13 seasons as a head coach.

As good as he is as a coach, however, he is an even better talker. Always great on TV and as an analyst, bringing him on the broadcast is a slam dunk for the NHL Network.

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