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Barry Trotz talks to Alex Ovechkin and his linemates about their slow start

Barry Trotz talks to Alex Ovechkin and his linemates about their slow start

Through the season’s first two games, the Capitals’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie has yet to register a point.

It’s small sample size, to be sure. But the trio's early lack of cohesion has been enough of a concern that Coach Barry Trotz met with the players Monday morning.

“I talked to all three members today,” Trotz said after practice. “The biggest thing is finding their game within our game. …That’s the decision making. That’s the work ethic. The execution, all that. It was fine when I put [the line] together many times last year, and it will be fine again.”

Trotz could opt to mix things up if Ovechkin’s line continues to struggle. But that, of course, could have unintended consequences such as disrupting the productive second line of Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, which has been the Capitals’ most dangerous combination thus far.

So, for now, Trotz seems content to be patient and allow the first line to find its groove.

“They’re on the dance floor,” Trotz said. “They just got to dance to the same song, that’s all.”

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Oshie said the line’s early slump has been caused, in part, by poor communication.

“I think it’s just getting on the same page,” Oshie said. “We’ll talk a little bit more. We realize it. We talked about it right after last game. It didn’t take coming to the rink today to figure out that things weren’t exactly clicking well for us. We’ll figure it out, and once we get some the same page we’re going to do some damage out there.”

Oshie was not of the opinion that a disjointed preseason—World Cup participants trickled back into town at different stages—had any effect on the line’s slow start.

“You never know,” he said. “Could have. Couldn’t have. I wouldn’t blame it on that. We played together in the past and it clicked right away.”

Whatever the cause, Oshie, like Trotz, sounded confident that line will turn things around soon.

“We’re not in an early panic mode or anything like that,” Oshie said. “We’ve already talked a little bit. We’re right there. It’s just one or two reads, where one guy is thinking one thing and the other guy is thinking another thing.”

He added: “They carried me in Pitt. a little bit; I didn’t have my best game there. Then last game all three of us didn’t have our best game. So, hopefully we’re getting it out of the way early and we’ll find our game soon.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps to honor Holtby's historic 2015-16 season

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

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.