Capitals

Zeller leads Indiana past Northwestern, 67-59

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Zeller leads Indiana past Northwestern, 67-59

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Cody Zeller scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and No. 2 Indiana beat Northwestern 67-59 on Sunday.

Jordan Hulls added 15 points. Christian Watford scored 14, and the Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) hung on after things got tense down the stretch.

They led by as much as 17 in the first half and were up 31-17 at intermission, but Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) rattled them with its trap in the second. The Wildcats pulled within five three times, but the Hoosiers prevailed after seeing a six-game win streak end with a loss to Wisconsin last week.

Zeller, the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, hit 9 of 10 free throws and dominated inside as Indiana pounded the Wildcats 36-24 on the glass.

Reggie Hearn scored 22 for Northwestern, which refused to go away quietly in this one after beating No. 23 Illinois on Thursday.

Overmatched in the early going, the Wildcats scored eight straight to pull within 47-42, a free throw by Hearn with 6:34 left in the game capping that run.

Indiana got the lead back up to double digits on a tip-in by Zeller and long 3 by Victor Oladipo to make it 54-43 with 4:52 left, but Northwestern wasn't finished.

Three free throws by Hearn and a 3-pointer from the corner by Jared Swopshire (13 points) cut it to 56-51. Swopshire's layup made it 58-53 with just over two minutes left, but the Hoosiers hung on from there.

With most of the crowd decked out in cream and crimson, the Hoosiers wasted no time taking control.

Watford scored 11 in the first half and had eight as Indiana grabbed a 13-4 lead, and when it looked as if Northwestern might claw its way back into this one, Indiana answered with nine straight.

They got two tip-ins from Zeller and a 3 from Watford in transition before Hulls drove for a layup that made it 26-9 with 4:33 left, crashing to the court as the ball fell through the net.

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Brenden Dillon fights Evgeni Malkin in his first taste of the Capitals/Penguins rivalry

Brenden Dillon fights Evgeni Malkin in his first taste of the Capitals/Penguins rivalry

It might only go down on the stat sheet as a pair of roughing penalties, but that wouldn’t be an accurate enough description of the one-sided affair between Brenden Dillon and Evgeni Malkin on Sunday afternoon. That was a fight and Dillon came out on top. 

Playing in just his third game with Washington since being acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, defenseman Brenden Dillon took part in the highly contentious Capitals/Penguins rivalry for the first time. A player known for his toughness on the ice and reputation of sticking up for his teammates, Dillon didn’t take long to endear himself to fans by adding fuel to the longstanding bad blood between the two franchises.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin shoved the Capitals’ Nic Dowd just after the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the first period. Dillon was quick to jump forward in support of his new teammate, pushing Malkin up against the glass and proceeding to get several headshots in before referees were able to peel him away.

The home crowd roared in support of the newly acquired defenseman, who’s already well on his way to becoming a fan favorite.

Dillon clearly already has this “We hate the Penguins” thing down. If today’s action is any indication, his Capitals tenure is going to be a lot of fun for the D.C. faithful.

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Wayne Gretzky congratulates Alex Ovechkin for reaching 700 goals: ‘See you at 800’

Wayne Gretzky congratulates Alex Ovechkin for reaching 700 goals: ‘See you at 800’

When Alex Ovechkin beat Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to score the 700th goal of his NHL career, he put himself in the rarest of hockey company. It was an achievement only seven men had done before him and all of them are either in the Hall of Fame or on their way to enshrinement in the next few years.

But the man atop that list, the most storied player of them all, remains head and shoulders above the rest of the sport with 894 career goals—93 more than anyone else. Wayne Gretzky is a name respected by hockey fans everywhere as the greatest player of all time. So when he speaks, his voice carries weight.

Ovechkin is the first player who has a chance to catch Gretzky’s record, which has stood for the last 21 years. Given he stays healthy, the 34-year-old should get close if he stays on the torrid pace he’s been able to maintain despite playing in his 15th season.

Gretzky has a more few years of comfortably resting at the top before Ovechkin can start making things interesting. For now, the Hall of Famer is all class when congratulating the Capitals star.

“Congrats on 700 Alex, @ovi8! You’re truly one of the all-time greats,” he wrote on Twitter. “See you at 800.”

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