As the Blackhawks took Monday off before hosting a Detroit team that's taken huge strides towards running away with the Central, there was a sense of satisfaction over areas of recent improvement.
Corey Crawford's been the last line of an improved overall defensive effort and quieted (at least temporarily) the public screeching for a deadline trade for a new goalie. He's stopped 80 of 84 shots during the three-game winning streak.
"I think with Steph (Goalie Coach Stephane Waite), they worked on technical aspects to tighten up his game," said Head Coach Joel Quenneville. "You get one win, with confidence, you can feed off that. I thought he had a good week in that regard. We know the scrutiny goaltenders are under. They're under the microscope, evaluated a lot more than players in front of them - whether it's defensemen or forwards. They come under fire when you're not winning and get some accolades when you're doing alright."
Okay. So there's that. Then there's the penalty kill, which has been perfect burning off 14 consecutive opponent power plays over the past five games.
So the area still left sticking (stinking?) out like a sore thumb is....the power play. Or power-less play. As in 0-for-29 since its last conversion January 24th following Sunday's three failures, which generated just two shots and didn't exactly make St. Louis shake in their skates.
"Tough stretch," understated the head coach. "I thought tonight (Sunday), the third was better, each better than the prior one, but that's something we've got to rely on to ignite our offense and score some timely goals. We'll get it right."
The Blackhawks opened the season 5-for-57, rose into the league's top ten. It begins the week 19th (16.4 percent) in the NHL as the slump's dragged on.
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: