Elias Says: Jan. 8, 2017

Rawls & Baldwin star in Seattle’s win

Thomas Rawls set a team postseason record with 161 rushing yards, and Doug Baldwin caught 11 passes in the Seahawks’ 26–6 home win over the Lions. Rawls and Baldwin are the third pair of teammates ever to have at least 150 yards rushing and 10 receptions in a postseason game. In January 1993, Barry Sanders rushed for 169 yards and Brett Perriman caught 10 passes for the Lions in a loss to the Packers. And in January 2006, DeShaun Foster gained 151 yards on the ground and Steve Smith snared 10 receptions in a win over the Giants.

Prater makes kicking history in loss

Matt Prater accounted for all of the Lions points with field goals of 51 and 53 yards in Detroit’s 26–6 Wild Card loss at Seattle. Prater is the first player ever to kick two field goals of at least 50 yards in an NFL postseason game.

Two more sacks for Mercilus

Whitney Mercilus sacked Connor Cook twice in the Texans’ 27–14 home win over the Raiders. In his previous playoff game, a 30–0 loss to Kansas City last year, Mercilus sacked Alex Smith three times. His five sacks over two postseason games tie the most by any defensive player since the NFL began recording quarterback takedowns for individual players in 1982. Kevin Greene (for the 1988 and 1989 Rams), Terrell Suggs (2010 Ravens), and Von Miller (2015 Broncos) also accumulated five sacks over two postseason games.

Cook struggles in first professional start

• Connor Cook became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first NFL start in a postseason game. Cook completed 18 of 45 attempts for 161 yards in the Raiders’ 27–14 loss at Houston. He’s the first player ever to pass for fewer than 175 yards while throwing at least 45 passes in a postseason contest.

Another big performance for Butler at the charity stripe

Jimmy Butler made 18 of 20 free throws in his 42-point performance as the Bulls beat the Raptors in overtime Saturday night. Two games earlier, against the Hornets on Monday, Butler sank 21 of 22 foul shots while scoring 52 points. Butler is the third player in NBA history to attempt at least 20 free throws and make at least 90% of them twice within a three-game span. Dwyane Wade (in Dec. 2007) and Kevin Durant (Jan. 2013) each did so in two straight games.

Pelicans win battle of centers, lose game

Anthony Davis, starting at center, scored 36 points on 14-for-22 shooting (64%) in the Pelicans’ 117–108 loss at Boston. Al Horford, starting in the middle for the Celtics, made just three of 18 field-goal attempts (17%), scoring eight points. The last time an NBA team lost despite having its starting center shoot at least 60% while its opponents center shot 20% or worse (minimum 15 FGA for both centers) was on Feb. 2, 1986. The Lakers lost, 103–96 to the Knicks, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar making 15 of 22 shots (68%) and rookie Patrick Ewing shooting 3-for-17 (18%.) Abdul-Jabbar outscored Ewing, 40–9.

A balanced offensive effort by Pacers

Paul George and Jeff Teague tied for the team lead with 19 points in the Pacers’ 123–109 home win over the Knicks. Indiana became the first team this season to score at least 120 points without any individual player accounting for as many as 20. The last time the Pacers did that was in a 124–59 win over the Trail Blazers on Feb. 27, 1998, when Mark Jackson led Indiana scorers with 18 points. That was the only game in NBA history in which the winning team scored at least twice as many points as the losing side.

An unlikely scoring leader in San Antonio

Davis Bertans came off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points in the Spurs’ 102–85 home win over the Hornets. Bertans is the first San Antonio rookie bench player to lead both teams outright in scoring in a game since Tony Massenburg scored 19 in a win over the Mavericks in the final game of the 1990–91 season.

Westbrook stars in all four quarters

Russell Westbrook scored 32 points and contributed 17 rebounds and 11 assists in the Thunder’s 121–106 win over the visiting Nuggets. Westbrook put up at least four points, three rebounds, and two assists in each quarter. The only other active players who have ever done that (four quarters with 4 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast in one game) are LeBron James (Nov. 7, 2007), Pau Gasol (Jan. 13, 2008), and James Harden (Dec. 31, 2016.)

Howard rules the boards in the first quarter

Dwight Howard grabbed eight rebounds despite playing just 7:40 in the first quarter of the Hawks’ 97–82 win at Dallas. The last Atlanta player to register as many first-quarter rebounds in eight minutes or less was Shareef Abdur-Rahim (8 in 7 minutes) in the opener of the 2003–04 season at New Orleans.

Gobert’s late shot is winner for Utah

• Rudy Gobert’s tip-in with 27.5 seconds remaining finished the scoring in the Jazz’s 94–92 win at Minnesota. Gobert, in his fourth NBA season, had never made a go-ahead field goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter or any overtime period.

Backstrom reaches 500 assists

Nicklas Backstrom notched the 500th assist of his NHL career when he assisted on the Capitals’ goal in their 1–0 win at Ottawa on Saturday. Backstrom has played 691 games in his ten seasons in the NHL. Only three other players who debuted in the NHL since 1989 reached the 500-assist mark in fewer than 700 games: Peter Forsberg (551 games), Sidney Crosby (554) and Jaromir Jagr (642.)

Early goal is enough for Caps

• The Capitals beat the Senators in Ottawa, 1–0, thanks to a goal by T.J. Oshie at the 1:38 mark of the first period and 30 saves by Braden Holtby. Oshie’s goal was the earliest ever in a 1–0 win for Washington (the previous mark was 2:01 by Geoff Courtnall at Philadelphia on Jan. 26, 1989) and it was the quickest goal in any 1–0 NHL game since Nick Bjugstad tallied 21 seconds into the Panthers’ victory against the Hurricanes on Nov. 26, 2014.

Carter has 250 points for two teams

Jeff Carter tallied one goal and two assists for the Kings in their 4–3 overtime win against the Wild. Carter began his NHL career with the Flyers in 2005 and he racked up 343 points in six seasons for Philadelphia before being traded to Columbus in 2011. He played just over half a season for the Blue Jackets and then was traded to Los Angeles in February 2012. Carter’s three points in Saturday’s game give him a total of 252 in the nearly five years he’s spent with the Kings. He’s now one of four active players to have produced at least 250 points for each of two different NHL teams. The others are Jaromir Jagr (Penguins, Rangers), Joe Thornton (Bruins, Sharks) and Marian Hossa (Senators, Blackhawks.)

Three Habs rookies score goals in win

• Rookies Artturi Lehkonen, Nikita Scherbak (in his NHL debut) and Michael McCarron each scored a goal for the Canadiens in their 5–3 win against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. This was the second time in the last 25 years that three Montreal rookies scored a goal in the same game. The Canadiens’ only other such game since 1991 was their 8–6 loss at Boston on Feb. 9, 2011, when rookies David Desharnais, P.K. Subban and Yannick Weber each tallied once.

Rangers stage big comeback

Adam Clendening and Michael Grabner each scored two goals for the Rangers as they overcame a 4–1 deficit to beat the Blue Jackets, 5–4, in Columbus. It was the first time that the Rangers won a game in which they trailed by three goals since their 5–4 victory against the Wild at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27, 2014, and the first time they did so on the road since a 5–3 win at Montreal on February 3, 2008.

Two Blueshirts score two goals for second straight game

• In the Rangers’ last game (Wednesday at Philadelphia), Grabner and Kevin Hayes each tallied twice in New York’s 5–2 win over the Flyers. This is the first time that the Rangers have had a pair of multiple-goal scores in each of consecutive games in one season since Nov. 7–10, 1998, when Adam Graves and Todd Harvey each scored two goals in a 6–6 tie at Toronto, and Kevin Stevens scored three goals and Ulf Samuelsson notched two in a 10–2 win at Tampa Bay. Grabner is the first Rangers player to score at least two goals in each of two consecutive games in one season since Rick Nash on Jan. 19–21, 2014, and he’s the first Ranger to do that in consecutive games on one road trip since Marian Gaborik on Dec. 17–20, 2011 (at Phoenix and New Jersey.)

Both goals are scored by rookies in Arizona

• The Coyotes beat the Islanders in a shootout after the teams played to a 1–1 stalemate at the end of 65 minutes, with rookie Alan Quine scoring for the Isles and fellow rookie Brendan Perlini tallying for Arizona. This was the first NHL game in which each team scored only one goal and both goals were produced by rookies since Torrey Mitchell (Sharks) and Bobby Ryan (Ducks) were the goal scorers in San Jose’s game at Anaheim on Dec. 16, 2007. The Sharks won the game via the shootout tiebreaker.

Sabres complete comeback in regulation

• The Sabres trailed the Jets, 3–1, in the third period but Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Gionta all scored within a span of less than five minutes as Buffalo overturned that two-goal deficit and beat Winnipeg, 4–3. Over the last eight seasons the only other game that the Sabres won in regulation time after trailing by two goals in the third period was their 6–3 victory at Boston on Dec. 26, 2015. Buffalo trailed, 3–1, halfway through the third period in that game but then scored five unanswered goals, with two each by Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly and one by Jamie McGinn.

Voracek loves Philadelphia

Jakub Voracek assisted on two goals for the Flyers as they ended their five-game winless streak with a 4–2 victory over the Lightning in Philadelphia. Voracek has produced 29 points in 22 home games this season and nine of those games were multi-point performances. (He’s scored only 10 points in 19 games on the road.) Voracek’s nine multiple-point games on home ice rank him second in the NHL this season, behind Evgeni Malkin with 10.

Rask posts fifth shutout

• The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask posted his fifth shutout of the season (tying Devan Dubnyk and Braden Holtby for the league lead) with a 4–0 road win against the Panthers. This is the fourth season in which Rask has recorded at least five clean sheets for Boston. He had seven in 2013–14, and five in both 2009–10 and 2012–13. The only other goaltenders who produced at least four seasons with five-plus shutouts for the Bruins are Hall of Famer Tiny Thompson (eight) and Tim Thomas (four.)

Stastny scores his 20th against Stars

Paul Stastny scored two goals and assisted on one for the Blues in their 4–3 win versus the Stars on Saturday. Stastny has scored 20 goals (in 41 games) against Dallas during his 11 seasons in the NHL. The only other players who’ve scored at least 20 goals against the Stars over the last 11 seasons are Patrick Kane (21) and Patrick Marleau (20.)

Another game-winner for Letestu

• Mark Letestu’s goal with 1:01 remaining in overtime earned the Edmonton Oilers a 2–1 victory against the Devils in Newark. Letestu has scored only eight goals in 38 games this season for the Oilers but he leads the team with four game-winning goals. That’s as many game-winners as Letestu scored over the previous five NHL seasons combined (four in 326 games with Pittsburgh, Columbus and Edmonton.)