Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks

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Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks

The matchup: If youre a team trying to snap a six-game losing streak like the Washington Mystics, facing a squad thats dropped three straight is not a bad way to go. Over the course of the season, the Los Angeles Sparks have not been a squad that is easily defeated. The Mystics know this first hand.Washington (5-22) hosts Los Angeles Friday night (7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet), which means the squad has a chance at revenge after suffering its worst defeat of the season on the Sparks home court. It also marks the return of Alana Beard, the franchises all-time leading scorer, to Washington after the four-time All-Star signed with Los Angeles (19-9) this offseason.Beard and other ex-Mystics and former DMVers were not exactly hospitable back on June 18 when they pounded the current Mystics 101-70. Washington committed 25 turnovers while Los Angeles shot 53.6 percent from the field and six players reach double figure scoring including Beards 10.Michelle Snow led the Mystics with 15 points in that game, but the aggressive centers minutes have dwindled as of late, playing a combined 11 minutes in Washingtons last two games.Owners of the worst record in the league, Washington hasn't lost seven straight games since dropping nine in a row August 13-30, 2011. After missing the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons with injuries, Beard has missed only one of Los Angeles 28 games this season. She leads the team in minutes played (31.7) while averaging 10.9 points, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals.Last time out: For the fifth time this season and nine straight game overall, the Connecticut Sun eclipsed Washington 77-70 on Tuesday behind another dominant performance from center Tina Charles. Though Washington's leading scorer and rebounder Crystal Langhorne knocked down 10 of 14 shots and led the Mystics with 24 points and nine rebounds, Charles finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Her basket with 46 seconds remaining put the Sun ahead 73-70 after the Mystics closed the gap with an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter. Noelle Quinn and Shannon Bobbitt each scored 10 points off the bench for Washington.DMVWest: In addition to Beard, there are plenty of familiar names on the Los Angeles roster including former University of Maryland star Kristi Tolliver, who leads the high-scoring Sparks in points (18.2) and assists (4.9). The charismatic DeLisha Milton-Jones, a member of the Mystics from 2005-07, averages 9.8 points. Marissa Coleman, drafted by the Mystics in the first round of the 2009 and former teammate of Toliver and Langhornes at College Park, is averaging a career-low 3.2 points in her first season with the Sparks.
While the Mystics (69.6 points) are the only WNBA team averaging fewer than 70 points per game, Los Angeles ranks third overall with 82.8 points per game.

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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year

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Caps' Alex Ovechkin goes without a shot on goal for 3rd time this month

Caps' Alex Ovechkin goes without a shot on goal for 3rd time this month

Alex Ovechkin is one of the most prolific shooters in NHL history.

This season, the Caps’ captain ranks third in shots on net with 223, an average of almost 3.7 per contest. 

But on Saturday evening in Nashville, something strange happened—again.

Ovechkin finished without a shot on goal for the third time in the last seven games. He did score a goal in the third period, but it was overturned because he was offside by a smidge. Thus, no shot.

In all, Ovechkin attempted six shots in 20:36 of ice time in the 5-2 loss. Two of those attempts were blocked and four more were off target.

“Obviously he’s a shooter; he’s got to get pucks to the net,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters in Nashville. “He’s a little off, a little bit off. Players will go through that.”

Prior to going shot-less against the Red Wings on Feb. 9, Ovechkin had recorded at least one shot on goal in 315 consecutive games, a stretch that dates back to March 2013. Ovechkin’s shot-on-goal streak wound up 45 games short of matching Ray Bourque’s NHL record of 360 straight games with at last one shot on net.

In 900 career games, Ovechkin has failed to register a shot on goal only nine times.

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So, yeah, it’s worth noting when he doesn’t get one. It's more notable when it happens three times in a couple of weeks. 

Trotz, though, said he isn’t overly concerned about it.

“Ovi’s pretty streaky if you look in his past,” Trotz said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he got 10 goals in the next five games. That’s how he operates.”

He added: “Sometimes he’ll go a little bit flat there. He’s going through of a little of a dry spell, I think.”

Saturday’s game was a rough one for Ovi all around. In addition to losing a goal to video replay, he also took a couple of minor penalties—one for hooking and another for holding.

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