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Caps see no moral victory in Sunday's comeback loss to the Red Wings

Caps see no moral victory in Sunday's comeback loss to the Red Wings

There are two ways to look at the Caps’ 5-4 overtime loss Sunday to the Detroit Red Wings. On the one hand, they played a disastrous second period in which Detroit scored three times to take a 4-1 lead. Washington took two penalties and managed only two shots on goal in those 20 minutes. On the other hand, the Caps battle back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game in the third period and steal away a point that looked like it was well out of reach. It showed resiliency and determination. Getting one point is a moral victory of sorts after it looked as if they were going to walk away with the regulation loss.

After the game, however, it was clear the Caps did not want to see the positives of the loss.

 “We've got to change our starts,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We've got to be able to put together 60 minutes almost night in, night out. Can't just play good 20, play bad for 60. It's tough like that.”


When he met with the media following the game, Barry Trotz was asked if he was angry about the second period or happy about battling back to earn a point. He did not hesitate with his answer.

“Angry about the second period,” he said.

The Caps absolutely should be angry over what happened on Sunday. In the final game before a four-game road trip, Washington managed only a point against Detroit team that ranks fourth in the Atlantic Division and is well outside the playoff race. Heading into Sunday’s game, the Red Wings had lost three straight including a 7-6 overtime loss to the New York Islanders after allowing the Islanders five goals in the third period.

This is a game the Caps should have won, but they gave it away in the second period and they knew it.

“That was the worst [period] of the year by far,” Brett Connolly said of the middle frame. “Guys were not happy in between periods.”

“We got a point maybe we didn't deserve,” Trotz said. “We took a period off.”


The anger reflects a team with lofty goals and expectations of the season.

There is no such thing as a moral victory in professional sports. You win or you lose, period. But, depending on context, some teams will find more positives in a loss than others.

If the Arizona Coyotes had lost Sunday’s game, chances are they would have stressed the comeback a bit more than what happened in the second period.

Washington, however, is not Arizona. This is a team fighting to remain in first place of the Metropolitan Division and thinking about how they can be successful in the playoffs. Battling back from a 4-1 deficit to lose in overtime is still a loss to them and not something to be satisfied with.

“Just can't start like that,” Brett Connolly said. “We can't be coming back three goals. They definitely deserved to win and that's it.”

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

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.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

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.