Elias Says: March 26, 2017

Zags prevail in rare battle of teams seeking first trip to Final Four

Gonzaga earned its first trip to the NCAA semifinals with an 83–59 rout of Xavier, another school that has never been to the Final Four. In fact, Saturday’s game was the first Elite Eight matchup in this century between two teams that had never advanced beyond that point of the tournament. The last quarterfinal game between schools both seeking their first appearance in the national semis was Connecticut’s 67–62 win over Gonzaga in 1999.

The Zags’ 24-point win on Saturday was the largest margin of victory in the Regional Finals since 1998, when Utah routed Arizona, 76–51.

Bell’s dream continues as he rivals Hakeem in boards & blocks

Jordan Bell led all players with 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Oregon’s 74–60 win over Kansas. It was Bell’s fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament game with at least 12 rebounds, the longest such streak since Hakeem Olajuwon had six straight games with 12 or more boards in 1983–84.

Spurs complete a third straight season defeating every opposing team

The Spurs defeated the Knicks, 106–98. It was San Antonio’s first victory over New York this season, and it made the Spurs the first team in NBA history to defeat every opposing NBA team in each of three consecutive seasons since the league reached its current size. The Spurs defeated 29 different opponents; the last team to defeat every other opponent in three consecutive seasons was Philadelphia. The 76ers had a seven-season streak from 1974-75 through 1980-81 when the league ranged in size from 18 to 23 teams.

Golden State beat every opponent in each of the past two seasons. But to match San Antonio’s accomplishment, the Warriors would have to defeat the Spurs in their final meeting of the season on Wednesday and beat the Wizards on April 2.

The top bench scorer of his generation does it again

Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 28 points in 25 minutes in the Clippers’ 108–95 win over the Jazz. It was the 62nd time that Crawford scored at least 25 points in a game he did not start. That’s by far the highest such total in the NBA over the last 20 seasons; the runner-up is J.R. Smith with 44.

Sharp-shooting Wizards take down Cavs

The Wizards shot 60 percent from the field in the 127–115 victory at Cleveland. That was the highest shooting percentage against the Cavaliers in any game over the last two seasons. The last team with a field-goal percentage that high against the Cavs was Atlanta, which shot 64 percent in a 127–98 win at Quicken Loans Arena in December 2014.

Washington made 18 of its 22 shots from the field in the first quarter on Saturday (82%). That was the Wizards’ second-highest field-goal percentage in the first quarter of any game over the last 20 seasons. Their only higher mark was 83 percent at Charlotte on Dec. 27, 2006 (15-for-18).

Raptors are tough to beat when their defense excels

With Kyle Lowry still sidelined and DeMar DeRozan having a relatively quiet night, the Raptors relied on defense to post a 94–86 victory at Dallas. Toronto is virtually impossible to beat with a point total as low as Dallas’. The Raptors have won 50 of the last 51 games in which they held their opponent to fewer than 90 points, including 32 straight wins dating back to February 2015.

Few have reached 40 wins as quickly as Bob

Sergei Bobrovsky became the first NHL goaltender to win 40 games this season with a 1–0 victory for the Blue Jackets over the Flyers, his former team. Bobrovsky reached the 40-win mark this season in his 58th game. In NHL history only four other goaltenders needed 58 or fewer games to hit the 40-win plateau in one season: the Capitals’ Braden Holtby in 2015–16 (52 games), the Canadiens’ Ken Dryden in 1975–76 (56) and 1976–77 (54), Dominik Hasek for the Red Wings in 2001–02 (58), and Evgeni Nabokov for the Sharks in 2008–09 (58). Special mention is merited for Dryden’s achievement, since he is the only one to do it in the era without overtime (or shootouts!) in regular-season NHL games.

Ovechkin scores #30, runs with an elite crowd

Alex Ovechkin reached the 30-goal mark for the 12th time in his 12 seasons in the NHL when he scored the first goal in the Capitals’ 4–1 win over the Coyotes. Ovechkin is the third player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of his first 12 seasons in the league, after Mike Gartner (first 15 seasons) and Wayne Gretzky (13).

Ovechkin is only the second player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals for one team in each of 12 consecutive seasons at any juncture in his career. Bobby Hull had a streak of 13 straight seasons with at least 30 goals for Chicago from 1959–60 through 1971–72 (his third through 15th seasons in the NHL).

Another rookie scoring mark falls, this time to Toronto’s Matthews

Auston Matthews scored a goal in the Maple Leafs’ 5–2 loss to the Sabres, tying the team record for goals by a rookie in one season (34), a mark set by Wendel Clark in 1985–86. Matthews is the second NHL player to set a franchise record for goals in one season by a rookie this year, with Patrik Laine having already done so for the Winnipeg Jets (née Atlanta Thrashers). Four other active NHL players hold or share the rookie goal-scoring record for their current team: Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), Logan Couture (Sharks), Tyler Johnson (Lightning), and Filip Forsberg (Predators).

Aho ties a rookie scoring record too

Sebastian Aho scored two goals in the Hurricanes’ 3–1 win against the Devils in Newark. It was Aho’s fifth multiple-goal game this season, tying the Hartford/Carolina franchise record for rookies. Kevin Dineen set the club mark with five multi-goal games as a rookie for the 1984–85 Whalers, and Jeff Skinner matched that with five multiple-goal games as a freshman for the Hurricanes in 2010–11.

With his first goal on Saturday Aho extended his point streak to six games. That’s the longest single-season point streak ever by a Hurricanes rookie and the longest by a rookie for the franchise since February 1990, when defenseman Brad Shaw had a six-game skein for Hartford.

Boeser scores in his hometown in NHL debut

Brock Boeser, the Canucks’ first-round pick in the 2015 Entry Draft, signed with Vancouver on Saturday morning. A few hours later made his NHL debut a notable one by scoring in the Canucks’ victory over the Wild in St. Paul. Boeser, who hails from the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, is only the third Minnesota-born player ever to make his NHL debut in a game played in his home state and score a goal in that game.

The first Minnesotan to do that was Neal Broten, who scored for the North Stars in his NHL debut on March 31, 1981 versus St. Louis at the Met Center in Bloomington. It was more than 30 years later when it happened again, as Chad Rau made his NHL debut with the Wild on Jan. 21, 2012 and scored a goal in a game against Dallas at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Marchessault breaks out

Jonathan Marchessault recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career by scoring three goals in the Panthers’ 7–0 rout of the Blackhawks. Marchessault did that after tallying two goals in Florida’s last game, a win versus Arizona on Thursday. He is the first player to score five goals over a two-game span for the Panthers since Olli Jokinen on Jan. 10–11, 2007.

Marchessault scored his three goals on Saturday consecutively, turning a 2–0 Florida into a 5–0 advantage. This was the first “natural” hat trick by a Panthers player since Oct. 30, 2009, when Steve Reinprecht scored the first three goals of the game in a Florida shootout win at Dallas.

Americans make an impact on Canucks

Reid Boucher scored two goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career to help lead the Canucks to a 4–2 win against the Wild. The Lansing, Michigan native is the third U.S.-born player to score two goals in one game for the Canucks this season. The others, Jayson Megna and Jack Skille, did so in the same game: Vancouver’s 5–1 victory at Tampa on December 8.

This is only the third season in which the Canucks have had three different Americans produce multiple-goal games for them. That also happened in 2011–12 (David Booth, Chris Higgins, and Ryan Kesler) and 2013–14 (Booth, Kesler, and Jordan Schroeder).

D provides the O in Montreal’s W

The defense provided the offense in the Canadiens’ 3–1 win over the Senators, with Andrei Markov scoring two goals and Shea Weber one for Montreal. This was the first game in which the Canadiens scored at least three goals and all of their goals were scored by defensemen since a 3–1 victory against the Sharks on Feb. 23, 1994. Montreal’s goals in that game were scored by Eric Desjardins, Kevin Haller, and Lyle Odelein.

Another deuce for Eichel

Jack Eichel scored a pair of goals for the Sabres in their 5–2 win over the Maple Leafs. It was the sixth multiple-goal game this season for the Massachusetts native, which ties the Islanders’ Anders Lee for third most in the NHL among U.S.-born players, behind the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty and the Blue Jackets’ Cam Atkinson with seven each.

Monahan ties NHL record for OT goals

Sean Monahan’s goal with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime earned the Flames a 3–2 win at St. Louis. It was Monahan’s second overtime goal this season and seventh OT goal during his four-season NHL career. That ties the record for most regular-season overtime goals by a player during his first four seasons in the league, a mark set by Alex Ovechkin and previously equaled by Steven Stamkos.

Neal and Sissons power Predators past Sharks

James Neal and Colton Sissons each scored two goals for the Predators as they set their season high for goals in one game with a 7–2 win over the Sharks. Neal’s multiple-goal game was the 39th of his NHL career and 12th in his three seasons with Nashville. Neal produced 12 multi-goal games for the Stars, his first NHL team, and 15 during his stint with the Penguins. Marian Hossa is the only other active NHL player who has recorded at least a dozen multiple-goal games for each of three different teams (Ottawa 33, Atlanta 21, Chicago 23).

Nash 2, Isles 1

Riley Nash scored both goals for the Bruins in their 2–1 win against the Islanders. It was Nash’s first two-goal game this season and only the third multiple-goal game of his NHL career. He is the first player to produce a multi-goal game for Boston while scoring every goal in a Bruins victory since Dec. 17, 2013, when Zdeno Chara accounted for both goals in a 2–0 win versus the Flames.

Revs score big against struggling Minnesota in home opener

New England earned its first victory of the season with a 5–2 win over Minnesota United. The Revolution became only the fourth team in MLS history to score five or more goals in its home opener, but the second to do so against Minnesota this month. Portland routed the first-year expansion team, 5–1, on opening day. The only teams to score five goals in their home opener over the league’s first 21 seasons of play were Tampa Bay in 2000 (5–1 vs. Columbus) and Houston in 2006 (5–2 vs. Colorado).

Four games into its MLS history, Minnesota has set a league record for goals allowed over a span of four games (18). The previous mark was 17 by Colorado in 1998.

Hansen’s debut is a gem

Niko Hansen, a 60th-minute sub, broke a 2–2 tie in the 84th minute to give Columbus a 3–2 win over Portland. Hansen was the first player in the Crew’s 22-year history to score a game-winning goal in his MLS debut. Over the last 15 seasons, only one other MLS player scored a game-winner after the 80th minute of his MLS debut: Alhaji Kamara of D.C. United last season (86´ vs. Kansas City).