After watching the Detroit Red Wings build a 4-1 lead, the Caps scored three times in the third period to force overtime before succumbing in a 5-4 loss on Sunday.
The Caps did everything right for the first 10 minutes. Against a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team, Washington forced an early penalty and scored on the resulting power play for the 1-0 lead. A turnover in the neutral zone, however, led to a breakaway goal for Justin Abdelkader. The ice tilted squarely in Detroit's favor in the second period. Braden Holtby kept the game tied for much of the second, but the Red Wings finally solved the Caps' netminder with three late goals to take a 4-1 lead to the locker room.
The Caps tried to mount a comeback as Brett Connolly scored early and Dmitry Orlov pulled the good guys to within one. Washington tied the game with just 16.7 seconds remaining thanks to a Nicklas Backstrom power play goal.
Tomas Tatar, however, would finish off what the Red Wings started as he scored on a 2-on-1 in overtime.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Tomas Tatar: The Caps nearly completed the comeback, but Tatar finished them off in overtime as he backhanded shot to the roof to beat Braden Holtby on a 2-on-1. It was his second goal of the game as he also scored with just 11 seconds remaining in the second period to give Detroit the 4-1 lead.
2. Justin Abdelkader: Washington was in control in the first period until Justin Abdelkader swooped in to steal the puck away from Matt Niskanen. Niskanen went to retrieve the puck in the neutral zone, but he could not control the bouncing biscuit allowing Abdelkader the opportunity to steal it. Abdelkader was in alone on Holtby and deked him badly before tucking the puck into the net behind him. In the second period, Abdelkader drew a holding the stick penalty early from Lars Eller. The Red Wings would not score on the resulting power play, but it allowed them to build momentum to take control of the period and ultimately the game.
3. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin scored his 10th power play goal of the season in the first period as he fired a one-timer past Jimmy Howard from the office.
The goal was Ovechkin's league-leading 33rd of the season. In 55 games, he matched his goal total from all of last season. He also added an assist on Backstrom's late, game-tying goal.
CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.
The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.
Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.
Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”
The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.
February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.
Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.
Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.
Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.
2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.
Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.
3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.
Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.