The LA Kings are one win from the Stanley Cup

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The LA Kings are one win from the Stanley Cup

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After Jonathan Quick put Los Angeles on the brink of its first NHL title with yet another shutout, the Kings' unbeatable goalie wore pretty much the same placid expression he sports after exhibition wins in September. Almost nothing bothers Quick, including nearly all of the New Jersey Devils' 72 shots in the Stanley Cup finals. Nothing affects his poise in the crease or his focus on the next victory -- and that's the only goal remaining for the Kings near the end of a playoff run with few equals in NHL history. "We're just trying to win one game here, that's all we're trying to do," Quick said. If they do, he'll get to drink from the Stanley Cup. Maybe that will put a smile on this goalie's face. Quick made 22 saves in his third shutout of the postseason, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams each had a goal and an assist, and the eighth-seeded Kings beat New Jersey 4-0 Monday night to take a 3-0 series lead in front of a sold-out arena daring to believe in the end of a 45-year championship drought. Alec Martinez scored the opening goal several minutes after Los Angeles killed a key 5-on-3 disadvantage. Jeff Carter and Williams added late power-play goals for the Kings, who improved to an astonishing 15-2 in the postseason. Only the 1988 Edmonton Oilers can compare with their 16-2 run to the Cup. The Kings can match them with a win in Game 4 on Wednesday night. "I don't think we're too surprised," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who has scored in every game of the finals. "We know we have a great team in here. Before this game, it easily could have been 2-0 for them. It is a tight series, but at the same time, we are really confident with the team we have in here." And with good reason: Los Angeles has jumped to a 3-0 lead in its fourth straight series -- a feat never accomplished in NHL history before these seemingly charmed Kings steamrolled every opponent in their path. Yet there's not much excitement yet among the Kings, who realize the folly of celebrating anything that isn't the Cup. Captain Dustin Brown didn't pick up the Campbell Bowl after winning Los Angeles' second conference title, and nobody was touching any speculation about the Cup. "We're obviously not going to be stone-faced if we do something we've been waiting our whole lives for," Williams said. "We're going to keep pushing forward. We're a focused group right now. We're not going to let anything get in our way. We certainly don't want to get back on that plane." Martin Brodeur stopped 17 shots, but the Devils couldn't beat the impenetrable Quick, who has allowed just 24 goals in 17 playoff games, or his penalty-killers, who turned aside six power plays -- none bigger than a 60-second kill during 5-on-3 play late in the first period that left the Kings' fans standing and roaring. "I think the (penalty-kill) was the difference in the game," Quick said. The relative youngster in black has outplayed the 40-year-old Brodeur, and New Jersey must accomplish just the fourth comeback from an 0-3 series deficit in NHL playoff history to win its fourth title. "It's not the best situation," Brodeur said. "It's probably the worst situation you could be in -- no, it is the worst situation you could be in. But we believe in ourselves. We're going to compete as hard as we can, and the result will be there one way or another. ... We're just facing a team right now that's doing everything right." The Devils had never lost three straight Stanley Cup finals games in the franchise's five appearances. New Jersey hadn't lost three straight games this season since late February. New Jersey has been pretty good in the finals, but nothing has been able to slow these Kings, who seem destined to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup. "We felt like the way we were playing, we were going to get one, but it just didn't happen," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "It's frustrating when everyone has been playing well, and we find ourselves down three-nothing." The Kings could celebrate their first title at home, but their only speed bump in this dynamic postseason has been Game 4. They're 10-0 on the road in the postseason, but failed to close out Vancouver and Phoenix at home in Game 4s. No team has won the Cup with a sweep since Detroit wiped out Washington in the 1998 finals. After opening their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 19 years with two overtime victories in New Jersey, the Kings relied on Quick and their penalty-killing in Game 3 before their offense got rolling. The Kings had to survive their early nerves from playing in front of their title-starved fans, and they barely hung on at times against the Devils' dynamic forechecking in the first two periods. After Carter took a 4-minute penalty for high-sticking Adam Henrique while Los Angeles already was short-handed in the first period, Los Angeles killed one minute of 5-on-3 play before Marek Zidlicky lopped two more minutes off the power play with a penalty of his own to prevent a breakaway by Mike Richards. Martinez scored his first career playoff goal early in the second period on a goalmouth scramble that Brodeur felt should have been whistled dead, and Kopitar followed about 10 minutes later with his third goal in four games off an impressive pass from Brown. The Kings went ahead when Dwight King created a scoring chance with a big hit, eventually hacking at the puck underneath Brodeur's pad in front. Martinez joined the effort with Trevor Lewis and got credit for the goal when the puck finally trickled in, scoring his first goal in his 23rd career playoff game. "I had the puck, I covered it with my stick, and the guy just pushed me," Brodeur said. "I think the referee was in the wrong position, so I guess it was tough for him to make the call." Late in the period, Kopitar extended the lead on a stellar rush by the Kings' top line. Williams moved the puck into the zone and found Brown, who feathered a cross-ice pass to Kopitar for the Slovenian star's eighth goal of the postseason, giving Los Angeles its first two-goal lead since Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. In the third period, the Kings finally got something from the power play that has been their weakest feature during the postseason, going 6 for 77 before a 2-for-2 effort in Game 3. Carter scored his sixth goal of the postseason on a splendid setup pass from Richards, his longtime teammate, early in the third period -- and Williams followed 2:32 later with a slick goal in the slot, practically blowing the roof off the sold-out building. "We're a confident group right now," Kopitar said. "As we all know, the fourth one is the toughest one. We want to make sure we're ready for the start on Wednesday, try to get another win." Staples Center was packed to the rafters well before Wayne Gretzky took the ice for the ceremonial opening faceoff. Los Angeles' long-suffering hockey fans hadn't seen a Stanley Cup finals game since Gretzky got them there in 1993, enduring two trips to the finals by the rival Anaheim Ducks in the previous decade while the Kings moved into their 44th season of play without a championship. The Kings got another boost from the return of left wing Simon Gagne, who hadn't played since Dec. 26 while recovering from a concussion. Gagne is a seven-time 20-goal scorer in his first season in Los Angeles, carrying ample playoff experience from his decade with the Philadelphia Flyers, including a trip to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals. NOTES: The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to rally from an 0-3 deficit to win the Stanley Cup finals. The other 24 teams facing the deficit have lost the Cup. ... The crowd of 18,764 was the largest in Staples Center history for a Kings game. Hundreds of fans in black jerseys gathered in the plaza outside several hours before game time, chanting slogans and carrying inflatable Cup replicas. ... Gagne played just over 6 minutes on 10 shifts.

Orioles fall to Mookie Betts' three homers and Red Sox

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Orioles fall to Mookie Betts' three homers and Red Sox

BALTIMORE—The Orioles have lost seven of nine, and it didn’t help that Mookie Betts had the best night of his career on Tuesday night.

The Boston Red Sox right fielder slugged three home runs, driving in five runs as Boston beat the Orioles 6-2 before 17,664 at Oriole Park. 

Boston (32-20) has won the first two games of the four-game series and leads the Orioles (28-22) by three in the AL East. 

It was the first three home run night of Betts’ career, and the first time an opponent had hit three in Baltimore since Ryan Zimmerman did it on May 29, 2013. 

Betts, who now has 12 home runs this season, hit two off Kevin Gausman and the third off Dylan Bundy. 

Gausman (0-3) allowed home runs to the first two Boston batters, Betts and Dustin Pedroia. 

It was the first time an Orioles pitcher had allowed two home runs to start a game since June 14, 2006 when Rodrigo Lopez did it in Toronto, and it hadn’t been done at home in 20 years. 

Betts hit a three-run home run in the second inning, and Gausman was abruptly behind 5-0. 

“It's frustrating definitely. You just try to take it pitch by pitch after that. The biggest thing is just trying to stay in there as long as you can and give your team a chance to win. Just take it pitch by pitch, 
try to get groundballs and quick outs,” Gausman said. 

Eduardo Rodriguez, who the Orioles traded for Andrew Miller in July 2014, started his first game of 2016. 

Rodriguez (1-0), who had been out with a knee injury, gave up a run on a single to Joey Rickard in the third and a two-out double by Nolan Reimold. 

Manny Machado nearly drove in Reimold, but his long fly ball to deep center was caught by Boston center fielder Chris Young, whose leap robbed Machado of at least a double—and maybe more. 

Paul Janish led off the fifth with a double to right and scored on Adam Jones’ single to cut Boston’s lead to 5-2. 

Gausman threw 113 pitches, the most he’s thrown in his career, and managed to make it through six innings. He didn’t allow a hit in his final 3 1/3 innings. 

Bundy came on to start the seventh, and with one out, Betts hit his third home run.

The Red Sox had some help. Janish was robbed of a hit to end the seventh when Betts dove in to snatch the ball. 

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Mookie is having a pretty good night. I can do without him adding to it with that catch, right?’ He’s one of the better young players in the game obviously. At this juncture in time, I could use the hit,” Janish said. 

Janish says there’s no easy explanation for the Orioles’ rough patch.

“It’s one of those where I don’t think there’s anything in particular to pinpoint. As quickly as the game goes the other way, it can go our way, too, and that’s we’re waiting for, and we look forward to that happening sooner or later,” Janish said. 

Chris Davis, who hasn’t hit a home run since May 20, thought he hit a two-run shot in the eighth that would have cut the deficit from four runs to two. 

First base umpire Doug Eddings called the ball foul. First base coach Wayne Kirby immediately signaled it was a home run, but after a review, the call stood.

“Chris hits a home run and we can’t get a camera angle that will show it. We finally got one that showed it was fair,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

“So those are some of those things that you present for yourself that matter a lot when you get into some deficits early. You’ve got to stay away from that kind of, I don’t want to say that ‘here we go again’ mentality, but certainly that something where you follow a pattern for a few games early in the game and it challenges you.”

The Orioles need to win Wednesday and Thursday to salvage a split. 

“It's pretty obvious that we're struggling right now, but hopefully we can turn around and even this series up. They're the best team in baseball right now, so you have to be on your game. If you're not, it's tough against this team, against this lineup, against their bullpen. Their starters are pitching well too right now, so it kind of seems like everything's clicking for them right now,” Gausman said. 

NOTES: Yovani Gallardo will start the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader at Frederick. Game time is 5 p.m. … Joe Kelly (2-0, 6.30) faces Mike Wright (2-3, 5.05) on Wednesday night.  

 

Crowdfunding account created for purpose of bringing Durant to DC

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Crowdfunding account created for purpose of bringing Durant to DC

Whenever Kevin Durant signs his next contract, whether to stay with Oklahoma City or perhaps join an NBA team in the general area of his childhood, there will be two commas in the yearly salary and the first number will be a two. 

Some fans of the Wizards are hoping to defray the cost should the four-time scoring champion pick Washington by starting a crowd fundraising campaign on the website GoFundMe.com.

Yes, fans are so dedicated to the idea of bringing one of the game's best players to the Wizards they in theory want to help an ownership group wealthy enough to in fact own the team (and lots more) to pay an athlete who has already banked around $90 million in salary alone. Adorable and probably not at all kosher, but admirable, kinda sorta in a (crazy) sports fan way.

RELATED: REPORT: AGENT SPOKE WITH CELTICS ABOUT PLAYERS DURANT WOULD WANT BROUGHT IN

Let's let the fans explain their motives:

We love KD, we've seen him since his days as a high schooler in the DMV at Montrosse Christian. Now, our guy is an NBA superstar, possibly one of the greatest players on the planet. 

He loves DC, he named his shoes after PG County, he loves spending time here in the offseason and listening to GOGO. He wants to Come back to DC but he cant unless we show that we love him!

Imagine having KD, John Wall, Bradley Beal, and a new coach next season! The Wizards are on the way! 

Once we reach our goal we will either donate the 20 million to the Wizards to get the Durantula or we will donate it to Kevin Durant's favorite charity since he loves our community so much!

He needs us! Please donate now and share with a friend!

Clearly they're jacked with the idea of Durant coming home. The charity angle works so that's cool. Anyway, we may not know anything about Durant's plans until sometime after the NBA's fiscal calendar starts anew on July 1. That leaves plenty of time for donations or life ponderng. As an aside, I know a local sports reporter in need of a new living room set if you're open to spending money on random things.

MORE WIZARDS: KEVIN DURANT APPEARS HEADED DOWN SAME PATH AS DIRK NOWITZKI

Report: Agent spoke with Celtics about players Durant would want brought in

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Report: Agent spoke with Celtics about players Durant would want brought in

If the Washington Wizards still plan to pursue hometown hero Kevin Durant, they will have some competition. One team that appears to be in on the Durant sweepstakes appears to be the Boston Celtics. In fact, Boston may already be having preliminary talks with Durant's agent.

Butch Stears of WEEI had this to say on The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show on Monday:

I have this on pretty good authority. The Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant. The Celtics do know, I don’t know who it is, but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron-Chris Bosh–Dwyane Wade-like way. Because that’s how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor. Now, I don’t know if Durant’s told them that. But the Celtics know. They know. They’ve been told what group of guys he would want to come here.

Following Oklahoma City's Game 7 loss to Golden State on Tuesday, Durant told reporters that he had not thought about free agency yet. If this report proves true, it would seem that Durant has at least considered Boston as a possible destination. There would be no reason for his agent to declare who Durant would like to play with if the Celtics were not a possibility.

Have the Wizards gotten a similar wish list?

RELATED: KEVIN DURANT APPEARS HEADED DOWN SAME PATH AS DIRK NOWITZKI