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Which Yankees star hit his 200th career HR?

Which Yankees star hit his 200th career HR?

From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- Rafael Soriano and the New York Yankees dodged their way to an important win.Curtis Granderson hit his 200th career homer and Soriano shook off getting hit on the side of his right hand by a line drive as the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Sunday."It feels fine right now," Soriano said after getting struck in the ninth inning by a shot by Jason Kipnis that was headed right at his head. "It hit my glove or my hand, I'm not sure which one first."Soriano recovered to get the ball and make the out, then the right-hander the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, on a soft liner for his 33rd save in 35 chances since replacing the injured Mariano Rivera as closer.The Yankees have battled injuries all year and after being swept in three games in Chicago, felt the Tampa Bay Rays closing in on their AL East lead."We're really fortunate," manager Joe Girardi said.New York took two of three from the Indians to open a four-game lead on the idle Rays."These are important games down the stretch," Girardi said. "We need wins and to win series. That's the way to do it, win series."The Indians, meanwhile, keep losing. Kipnis had three hits and three stolen bases for Cleveland, which has lost nine of 10 and is 5-23 since July 26."We pitched OK, which made for a decent ballgame," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That makes it easier to take than when you're trailing by a ton of runs and it sucks the energy out of everybody."They did trail quickly, however, when New York took a 3-0 lead in the second off Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13). Granderson's 33rd homer in the sixth made it 4-2 and gave the Yankees a record eight current players with 200 or more career homers."It's cool to accomplish that," said Granderson, who had champagne in a bucket of ice awaiting him at his locker, where his nameplate was changed to read "200"."When you see the list of names, all the guys together on this club, it speaks to what the organization is doing."Boone Logan (5-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the win as Girardi turned to his bullpen early."They were well rested," Girardi said of Soriano, Logan and David Robertson, who worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings.Nick Swisher had three hits as New York improved to 26-15 in series finales, including 10-5 in the deciding game of three-game sets.Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki had RBI singles in the Yankees' second and Derek Jeter also drove in a run with a groundout.Jeter went 0 for 5, but still leads the majors with 173 hits.A large group of Yankees fans chanted "Der-ek Je-ter" each time New York's captain came to the plate. Indians fans responded with a resounding boo -- and each side turned up the volume throughout each at-bat.Cleveland's fans cheered the loudest when Jeter bounced into double play to end the ninth against Esmil Rogers.Garcia worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, getting Carlos Santana to pop a 3-2 pitch to right. Garcia thought he had Santana struck out on the previous pitch, stomping around the mound after plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called ball three.The right-hander wasn't as fortunate in the fifth after getting two quick outs. Kipnis singled, Garcia hit Cabrera with a pitch and then walked Shin-Soo Choo. This time, Santana grounded a two-run single up the middle to make it 3-2.Logan came on and retired Michael Brantley on a groundout with runners on first and third.Later, Robertson stared in at Cederstrom and Girardi quickly met Cederstrom at the plate for a chat."I went out as peacemaker," Girardi said.Granderson homered off reliever Tony Sipp. It was the 195th homer this year by the Yankees, who have gone deep in 40 of their last 45 games.Garcia struck out six over 4 2-3 innings. He failed to go the necessary five innings for a starter to get the win and remained 5-1 in daytime starts this year.Jimenez fanned four over five innings, yielding eight hits and three runs. The right-hander dropped to 1-6 with a 7.96 in nine starts since July 14.NOTES:Ohio native John Glenn, the former U.S. senator and astronaut celebrating 50 years since his historic space flight, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Girardi expects updates on 3B Alex Rodriguez, out since July 25 with a broken left hand, and LHP Andy Pettitte, sidelined since June 28 by a broken left ankle when the team returns home. Rodriguez could take regular batting practice before the Yankees play Toronto in New York on Monday. ... Granderson joined Rodriguez, Jeter, Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones in the 200-homer club. ... Cleveland went 1-5 against the Yankees this season.

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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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