Capitals

Seattle's Lynch shines again in playoffs

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Seattle's Lynch shines again in playoffs

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Marshawn Lynch's tremor-causing playoff touchdown run two years ago against New Orleans has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

It will be hard for Lynch to ever top the stunning run during which he broke more than a half-dozen tackles on his way to a 67-yard touchdown that induced enough frenzy inside the Seahawks' stadium that it registered as seismic activity.

Still, his best playoff performance might have been in Seattle's wild-card victory over Washington on Sunday.

Seattle needed all of Lynch's 132 yards rushing, and especially his 27-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, to dispatch the Redskins. His sidestep cut that left Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall grasping at air allowed him to get to the outside on the touchdown run and was another sign of Lynch's shiftiness, which sometimes gets lost because of his brute power.

Lynch's performance on Sunday tied the franchise record for most yards rushing in a playoff game and bettered what he did against the Saints by 1 yard. He rushed for 99 yards in the second half and overcame a costly fumble at the Washington 1 on the first drive of the second half that could have shaken others.

Not Lynch.

``You don't ever have to worry about his mindset,'' Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said after the game. ``He got to the sideline, he was upset about it, and he just said, `Give it to me again. Keep feeding me.'''

Lynch is coming off the finest regular season of his career, yet he ended up getting overshadowed by the rise of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards in the regular season and was named to the Pro Bowl as a reserve behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. His yardage total was good for third in the NFL and he was one of just eight backs to post double digits in rushing touchdowns. According to STATS Inc., Lynch was fifth in the league with 639 of his yards coming after first contact and was third in the league in yards rushing in the fourth quarter with 354.

And he ran for all those yards despite taking most of the second half off in blowout victories late in the season against Buffalo and Arizona. Lynch had a combined 21 carries in those two games, but still rolled up 241 yards.

Lynch became the beneficiary of Seattle incorporating more of the zone-read run game into its offense in the second-half of the season. Sometimes he was the decoy who allowed Wilson to run untouched around the end. Other times, Lynch got the handoff and a head start while defensive linemen were figuring out if Wilson was keeping the ball.

``He has grown quite a bit, and in the last two years he has really owned it. It was a little sticky at first, and his consistency wasn't as sharp as it is now,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``He basically gets it right almost all of time now. He trusts the reads, he trusts the principles and philosophy of the run game and he's been maxing out pretty much for a couple of years now.''

That system was on display again against the Redskins. While Lynch got the bulk of the yards, Wilson added another 67 yards rushing. Twice, including on Lynch's TD run in the fourth quarter, Wilson was out ahead of his running back serving as a blocker.

``I don't worry about Russell. What do you want me to do, tell him to get out of the way?'' Carroll joked. ``He's OK. It's not like he's laying bone-crushing blocks, you know?''

When Lynch got to the divisional round two years ago against Chicago, he was held to just 2 yards rushing on four carries in what remains the least productive game of his nearly two-plus seasons with the Seahawks.

He gets a chance to atone for that when the Seahawks travel to Atlanta on Sunday and face a Falcons run defense that was leaky during the regular season. Atlanta finished the year ranked 21st at stopping the run and gave up at least 140 yards rushing in each of its three losses.

The team that gave the Falcons the most fits was Carolina and mobile quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers and their zone-read offensive system rushed for a combined 394 yards and averaged nearly 6 yards per carry in two games.

``We've grown and become more together and more in tune with our QB and what he can do and all that,'' Carroll said. ``We're a pretty hard team to beat right now.''

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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.