Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

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Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

WASHINGTON, DC With the series switching scenes to Washington, the Bruins get to show their road worthiness against a Capitals team thats been pretty good at home this year. Boston has witnessed the shot-blocking ways of the Caps skaters and experienced the 1-4 trap employed by Washington coach Dale Hunter, and say theyre ready to make adjustments against the Caps.

The bottom line: the Bruins need to win at least one of the two games in the Nations Capitals to reclaim home ice advantage and wrest control of the series. They need to be better on the power play, the need to show more grit in front of the net and the Bs defenseman need to find a way to snake more shots through the tangled trees of Washington defenders.

We just need to be more committed in certain areas of our game, said Zdeno Chara. Once we do that its going to be a much better feel on the ice. We just need to be better and more committed.

We all know its the playoffs and aint going to be easy. There are going to be some losses. You just need to put them behind you, regroup on the days in between and get ready for the game days.

With all of the criticism of Bostons top six forwards by their coach and the inordinate amount of praise going toward Washington goaltender Braden Holtby over the first two games, itll be up to the Bruins to reverse the course of conversation in a series that still has both teams minding their manners.

That may change in Game 3 if the Bruins hope to exert their will against a Capitals team thats been surprisingly non-compliant.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: No points in two games against the Capitals and little offensive involvement for Tyler Seguin in Game 2 despite 26:04 of ice time against Washington. Its time for the 20-year-old to start becoming a game-changing offensive force after watching his team struggle to total two goals in their first two games against the Caps. Seguin needs to battle harder and better in the offensive zone while fighting for pucks and possession it was far too easy for the Caps players to wrestle the puck away from him when he slowed down on the gas pedal.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Theyre going to be angry at him? I think everybody is angry at him because hes so good. You guys know him almost as well as I do. He doesnt give a shoot about that stuff. It doesnt bother him at all. Tuukka Rask when asked if he expects the Washington fans and their ObamaWhite House-themed chants to throw Tim Thomas off his game.

KEY MATCHUP: The thing to watch is whether Dale Hunter can get the matchups he wants with last change in his building. Clearly hed like to get Alex Ovechkin away from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, and it will be up to Claude Julien to either split his defensemen or stay the course with different combinations out on the ice. The one real negative: Hunter is going to be able to get offensive lines out on the ice when the Greg ZanonJoe Corvo tandem is put out there at points during the game. Watch out for those scenarios.

STAT TO WATCH: 49 the number of blocked shots for Washington after two games leads the entire NHL postseason field. Nobody saw that coming and its been a big part of Braden Holtby shining for the Capitals.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) is working out with the team and close to a return. Nathan Horton (mild concussion) has been shut down for the postseason. Adam McQuaid (headeye) has missed six of the last seven games with an upper body injury and didnt make the trip to Washington DC.

ForWashington: injured goalies, Michal Neuvirth, practiced Sunday, but the other, Tomas Vokoun, did not. When asked about his goaltending situation, Dale Hunter said that Holtby "is our goalie" when either Neuvirth or Vokoun gets healthy.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Its a battle of goalies that have been very good through the first two games. Tim Thomas has a .964 save percentage and a 0.83 goals against along with a shutout in Game 1, but will be facing the Obama masks and White House signs for the first time in the series. Meanwhile Brad Holtby has become the darling of Washington hockey with a .973 save percentage and 0.83 goals against average in the first two contests. Hes saved 72 of 74 shots and has matched Thomas stop for stop throughout the first two games of the series. Hell need to continue being that good if the Caps are planning on playing the shot-blocking, gritty style theyve employed in the first couple of games.

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.