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Capitals send Penguins packing with 3-2 win

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Capitals send Penguins packing with 3-2 win

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Say what you want about the Capitals’ slow starts. It’s how they’re finishing that makes them special. Trailing by scores of 1-0 and 2-0 the Caps tied the score on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov with under 4 minutes remaining in the second period and won it on a third period power-play goal with 6:22 to play. Former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen initially appeared to score the game-winner, but both Niskanen and T.J. Oshie said after the game that Oshie got a piece of it and will be credit with the goal. The Caps have now outscored opponents 82-39 in third periods. Oshie drew a high sticking penalty on Evgeny Malkin to put the Caps on the decisive power play. Oshie made a diving play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, then provided a screen, along with Marcus Johansson, to prevent rookie netminder Matt Murray from seeing Niskanen’s blast from the point. Braden Holtby preserved the one-goal cushion with a snappy glove save on Carl Hagelin with 32.8 seconds left. 

What it means: The Caps remain the only team in the NHL without back-to-back regulation losses this season. That hasn’t happened since the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.

Holtby hits 40: Braden Holtby became this year’s first goalie to 40wins, stopping 28 of 30 shots.  

Kuzy hits 20: For the first time in his pro career Kuznetsov has hit the 20-goal mark. He notched 19 goals twice in his five seasons in the KHL. Kuznetsov now has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in his last nine games.

Bura-cuda: Caps left wing Andre Burakovsky’s second-period assist was his 21st point in 21 games (9 goals, 12 assists).

Orlov’s struggles: The Caps played some very loose hockey in the opening 30 minutes, allowing the first goal for the 15th time in the last 18 games. Dmitry Orlov was especially shaky, committing three turnovers and forcing Braden Holtby to save him on two occasions.

Richie: Mike Richards netted his second goal as a Capital to get the the Caps within 2-1. His shot from the right circle appeared to glance off a Penguin. Richards also centered a third line with Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson for much of the night and even took a shift with Alex Ovechkin. 

Home ice: The Caps improved to 19-2-1 in their last 22 games at Verizon Center and 25-5-2 at home this season.   

Milestones: Former Penguin Brooks Orpik played in his 100th game as a Capital and 802nd game overall. Barry Trotz tied Ron Wilson for ninth place (648) on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list.  

Look ahead: The Caps will not have a morning skate on Wednesday, but as you might imagine the Maple Leafs’ morning skate at Verizon Center will be well attended with Brooks Laich making his return to Washington following Sunday’s trade to the Leafs. CSN will carry that game, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.

MORE CAPITALS: Kuznetsov scores second chance goal to tie game

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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.