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Tarik's three stars: Grubauer keeps Caps close, but can't cool Flames


Tarik's three stars: Grubauer keeps Caps close, but can't cool Flames

Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer gave the injury-depleted Caps a chance on Sunday night at the Saddledome. But his 36 stops weren’t enough as Sean Monahan and Co. struck midway through the third period and the Flames skated off with a 2-1 victory.

The defeat sent the Caps home with a 1-2-0 record on their Western Canada swing. They’ll take Monday off and will return to the ice at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for practice in Arlington.

Tarik’s three stars of the night:

1- Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

Johnny Hockey had a hand in each of the Flames’ goals, earning a secondary helper on the first one and a primary assist on Monahan’s decisive score in the third period. On the game winner, Gaudreau carried the puck in, hooked off after his path to the net was blocked, then delivered a deft crossing pass right to Monahan on the doorstep.  

2 - Jakub Vrana, Capitals

Through the first 40 minutes, the speedy 21-year-old winger was easily the Caps’ most dangerous forward. In the third period, he got rewarded. Vrana put his third shot attempt on net and it ended up squirting through Flames goalie Mike Smith (30 stops) and juuuust crossing the goal line to knot the score, 1-1. The goal was Vrana’s third on the season and first in six games.

3 - Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

The Caps’ backup is still looking for his first win, but he had his best performance of the season. He may have been a bit deep in the cage on the Flames’ first goal, but there was nothing he could do about Monahan’s go-ahead strike. Grubauer’s best save came on Mark Giordano—during a wild 4-on-1 jailbreak—that kept the game knotted 1-1 in the third. The start, by the way, marked the third straight for Grubi on the backend of a back-to-back set. So, yeah, he’s getting some tough assignments.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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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.