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Tarik's 3 stars: Third period dooms Caps again

Tarik's 3 stars: Third period dooms Caps again

Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch scored third period goals on Philipp Grubauer as the Golden Knights came from behind to beat the Caps, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Sunday.

The loss was Washington’s second in a row and dropped them to 2-3-2 in their last seven games. Grubauer faced 31 shots and unintentionally pushed the game-winner over the goal line with 5:12 left to play.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Reilly Smith, Golden Knights

The first-line winger bailed out Vegas twice. He tied the game 2-2 on the power play late in the second period and knotted the score 3-3 midway through the third period. The goals were No. 15 and 16 for Smith, who had 15 goals in 80 games for Florida last season.

2-Chandler Stephenson, Capitals

Stephenson got bumped down to the fourth line to accommodate Jakub Vrana’s return to the lineup. The move didn’t hurt him, though. Stephenson scored a sweet goal in the first period, turning Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore inside out and then sniping one over Marc-Andre Fleury.

It was Stephenson’s third goal in three games and it marked the first time in 10 games that the Caps struck first.

3-Matt Niskanen, Capitals

The veteran Dman earned a secondary assist on Stephenson’s first period goal, then scored one of his own in the second period. The goal was Niskanen’s fourth of the season and his first in the Caps’ last 12 contests.

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

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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.