The L.A. Kings are absolutely on fire

764508.jpg

The L.A. Kings are absolutely on fire

From Comcast SportsNet
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Kings knew the Coyotes would come with everything they had. Even when that meant some questionable hits as the frustration grew, the Kings never let it bother them. Withstanding an early push and a slew of penalties late, the Kings took control of the Western Conference finals with another dominating performance, beating the Coyotes 4-0 Tuesday night to match an NHL record with their seventh straight road playoff victory. Jeff Carter scored three goals, Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots and Los Angeles will head back home with a commanding series lead after flummoxing the Coyotes in two games in the desert. "We didn't want to do anything after the whistle," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We just wanted to stay away from it. We didn't have anything to prove that way." All Los Angeles wanted was the victory and the Kings got it, overwhelming the Coyotes after doing the same in Game 1. The Kings shook off the big hits -- a couple that led to game misconducts -- and continued a can't-stop-us roll that started with a playoff push the last month of the regular season. Dwight King scored his third goal in two games, Quick tied Felix Potvin's team record with his third career playoff shutout, and Carter finished off the Kings' first playoff hat trick since Wayne Gretzky in 1993 in the third period. Los Angeles has won seven straight overall, tied an NHL record by opening the playoffs 7-0 on the road, and matched another record by winning nine straight road playoff games over two seasons. The New York Islanders won a pair of Stanley Cup titles while winning nine straight road games from 1982-83, and the Kings are starting to look like a team that could go on a Cup run of its own. Game 3 is Thursday night in Los Angeles. "It's a mindset; we get away, there's no distractions," Carter said. "For some reason, this team likes to play on the road." The Coyotes played better early and fell apart late, becoming frustrated after being unable to contain the more-skilled Kings. Phoenix was hit with a string of penalties starting late in the second period, including a game misconduct to captain Shane Doan for boarding Kings center Trevor Lewis. Martin Hanzal also received one for boarding Dustin Brown in the third period and the Coyotes had 13 penalties for 56 minutes -- most coming after the final 5 minutes of the second period. "I think the frustration level sets in," Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said. "You're in the penalty box that much against a team that's in the conference finals, you're going to pay." The Kings won the opener 4-2 by outplaying and outhustling the Coyotes. Knowing Phoenix's makeup, the Kings figured to get more of a pushback in Game 2. And the Coyotes were much more aggressive early, winning some of the individual battles they lost in Game 1 while creating some decent scoring chances. Even with all of Phoenix's hard work and a couple of line changes by coach Dave Tippett, the Kings still managed to score first. King got it, redirecting a shot by Drew Doughty that beat Smith stick side late in the period. Hard work in the corners by Mike Richards set up Los Angeles' second goal, by Carter. He muscled the puck past Smith's glove side as he was going down on a feed from Dustin Penner that made it 2-0 early in the second period. Then things completely unraveled for the Coyotes. Doan, who was suspended three games for elbowing earlier in the season, was given a game misconduct and a five-minute boarding penalty for ramming Lewis from behind. Defenseman Keith Yandle was already in the penalty box and Daymond Langkow joined him after a slashing penalty, giving Los Angeles a two-man advantage for more than 2 minutes. Brown was sent off for diving on a slash by Smith, but that didn't bother the Kings. Carter scored his second a few seconds later on a redirect of a shot by Anze Kopitar, putting Los Angeles up 3-0. With the Coyotes racking up penalties seemingly on every shift, Carter finished them off with his fifth career hat trick, punching in a rebound with the Kings on a two-man advantage after Hanzal's hit on Brown. "There's no question there's going to be frustration, especially when you get down in a game like that, guys try to finish their checks on the edge," Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt said. "We've got to try and find some positives and get things turned around in Game 3." Even if they do, it may not matter the way the Kings are playing. Notes: The Kings were without D Colin Fraser, out of the lineup attending to a family matter. ... Coyotes LW Ray Whitney played in his 100th career playoff game. D Michael Stone played his first with Adrian Aucoin still out of the lineup and David Schlemko still not fully healthy. ... Rocker Alice Cooper, who lives in the Valley, attended the game. ... The last team to win seven straight road playoff games in one season was Chicago in 2010.

Quick Links

Report: Former 4-star CB to enroll at Maryland after leaving Florida

Report: Former 4-star CB to enroll at Maryland after leaving Florida

Former four-star cornerback J.C. Jackson will enroll at Maryland and be immediately eligible to play for the Terrapins in 2016, according to a report from 247Sports.com.

Coming out of the high school class of 2014, Jackson as the 21st-best player in the country at his position and the No. 243 overall player in the nation according to Rivals.com.

He signed with Florida and redshirted his freshman season. In April 2015, he was charged with three felony counts of armed robbery and another felony charge of burglary stemming from an alleged home invasion in Florida. 

In Nov. 2015, Jackson was found not guilty on all four charges. He did not return to play for the Gators, instead transferring to Riverside CC (Calif.). 

Maryland head coach DJ Durkin is the former defensive coordinator at Florida. He served on the program's staff from 2010-14.

Maryland is losing three starters in its secondary from 2015, with senior Will Likely being the only featured player returning. That lack of depth figures to give Jackson an opportunity to start in 2016.

Quick Links

Nats option Giolito, Taylor to make room for Zimmerman and Solis

Nats option Giolito, Taylor to make room for Zimmerman and Solis

Less than 90 minutes after their 10-6 loss to the San Diego Padres, the Nationals wasted no time in making a pair of roster moves to pave the way for the expected returns of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and reliever Sammy Solis from the disabled list.

The two casualties were starter Lucas Giolito, who struggled earlier in the day in his third MLB appearance, and outfielder Michael Taylor, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the loss. Both were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Zimmerman and Solis are expected to return to the Nationals on Tuesday when they play at the Cleveland Indians. The Nats are off Monday before they begin an 11-day, nine-game road trip with stops also in San Francisco and Arizona.

Zimmerman will rejoin the Nats after rehabbing from a left rib cage strain. He has been on the disabled list since July 7. He went 5-for-12 with a homer and five RBI in three minor league rehab games with the Single-A Potomac Nationals.

Solis has been on the DL since July 8 with right knee inflammation. He pitched two rehab games, one with Potomac and one with Single-A Hagerstown. Solis gave up one run on a homer in his two total innings of work.

Giolito goes back down to Triple-A after making one start with the Nats. He allowed four runs, two of them earned, in 3 2/3 innings against San Diego. Giolito has given up six earned runs in 11 total big league innings this season.

Taylor also returns to Syracuse. He was called up on July 8 when Zimmerman was placed on the DL. Taylor is hitting .222 with seven homers and 14 RBI in 66 games this season.

With Zimmerman back in the infield, Trea Turner is expected to be the odd man out. That could mean a return to the Nats' bench, or an experiment with him in center field. Turner began learning the position several weeks ago by playing six games at center in Triple-A. With Taylor now out of the mix, he could be at the very least the team's backup option at the position.

Whether they will start him there soon, though, is hard to tell. 

"I got to get Zim back in the lineup. He’s a big part of our offense," manager Dusty Baker said. "We just got to try to find a place with Zim coming back, find a place for [Turner] to play."

"I did it in Syracuse and I'll do it here if they need me to," Turner said of playing center.

"It's something that I've embraced. It's something that I'll do if they need me to."

[RELATED: Aaron Barrett suffers major setback in TJ recovery]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Gael Monfils cuts down Ivo Karlovic for Citi Open title

Gael Monfils cuts down Ivo Karlovic for Citi Open title

When it comes to mission impossible scenarios, Tom Cruise has nothing on Gael Monfils.

Already down one set and needing to become the first player to break the serve of Ivo Karlovic all week or lose another Washington final, the second-seeded Monfils rallied for a thrilling 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win for the Citi Open championship Sunday afternoon at the Rock Creek Tennis Center.

Fair calling the win over No. 13 Karlovic a case of style over a substantive serve? Based on Monfils' mobility outlasting 27 aces, yes. What about calling this hard-court championship the biggest of the Frenchman's career? Oui.

Both entered Sunday afternoon's final aiming for their the title at first ATP World Tour 500 level, a designation representing one of the top 20 on tour. Both also dealt with the stifling heat, but the 37-year-old Karlovic, who won a title last week in Newport (R.I.) wore down as the match progressed. The 6-foot-11 slugger was one game away from becoming the oldest man (37 years, four months) to win ATP titles in back-to-back weeks since 1973.

Monfils doesn't visit the Citi Open often. When he does, Monfils tends to stick around and show professional improvement.  He first arrived in 2007, losing to John Isner in the semifinals. Monfils returned in 2011, falling in the finals to Radek Stepanek. Five years later, Monfils, 29, was back.

This time he leaves Washington with extra luggage -- think fancy crystal trophy -- by surviving Karlovic's latest serving show.

No. 7 Yanina Wickmayer defeated American Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-2 for the women's championship. 

Monfils handed No. 13 Karlovic his first two breaks of serve of the week including a 1-1 in the third set. He then handled his own serve from there. Combined with a stealthy backhand, he polished off his sixth career title, first since 2014 and initial championship on U.S soil.

Throughout the week Monfils, whose family hails from the French Caribbean, sited a desire to follow the championship path in Washington forged by fellow men of color, Arthur Ashe (1973) and countryman Yannick Noah (1985).

"They've been an inspiration for me," Monfils said. "It's a special moment for me."

It appeared the 17th ranked player would once again leave Washington just shy of fist-pumping glory. He was 5-19 all-time in championship matches entering Sunday including 0-8 in 500-level finals. Monfils trailed 4-5 in the second set against a player who had won 70 straight service games including 53 this week and lorded over the net with a pterodactyl wingspan.

Describing Karlovic's serve merely as potent is akin to calling Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson fast or Game of Thrones a popular TV show.  For the week, the Croat finished with a tournament-high 107 aces. Yet with a chance to serve out the match, he didn't.

The [week-long] experience was good," Karlovic said post-match. "The [current] emotions, not good."

Monfils remained hopeful despite the precarious circumstance. He let Karlovic escape from a triple-break point hole late in the first set, but kept that memory close when deja vu struck.

Moments after breaking Monfils' serve,  Karlovic lost three straight points on his own serve. He hammered back with three consecutive points of his own, but dropped the next two, pushing a forehand volley long on Monfils' fourth break point.

"I still had hope that I might have the same chances I had in the first set," the mobile Monfils said.  "That he would get tired a little bit and [he did]."

Three games later, Monfils the Magician pulled off the break-of-serve trick once again for a 2-1 lead in the third set.

The trick for tournament organizers going forward? Getting Monfils backs sooner than later.

Though non-committal about 2017, Monfils said, "It's a tournament  that I love and I'll definitely  I will come back."

Based on his participation trajectory, Monfils won't return to Washington until 2022. Based on results progression, only worthy prize left might be claiming that White House further down 16th Street. Based on the current Presidential cycle and Monfils magician skills, anything is possible.