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Capitals shuffle their seventh defenseman

carrick.jpg

Capitals shuffle their seventh defenseman

Connor Carrick’s strong play this season for the Hershey Bears is finally being rewarded.

The Caps recalled the 21-year-old defenseman on Thursday, re-assigning Aaron Ness to the Bears. Ness was recalled by the Caps on Dec. 6 after defenseman Karl Alzner was injured. Alzner missed only one practice and did not miss a game, leaving Ness as a healthy scratch during his five games with the Caps.

Carrick has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) and 32 penalty minutes in 26 games with the Bears this season. He ranks second among AHL defensemen in goals and second on the Bears in points, tied for second in plus/minus (plus-5) and third in goals. He has scored five goals in his last six games and is the only AHL defenseman to record a shootout-winning goal this season.

In 112 career AHL games with Hershey, Carrick has 61 points (16 goals, 45 assists) and 179 penalty minutes.

In 34 career games with the Caps, Carrick has one goal and five assists and 23 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder made his NHL debut on Oct. 1, 2013 at Chicago and scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 3, 2013 against Calgary. Carrick was drafted by the Capitals in the fifth round (137th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Ness, 25, has nine assists and 12 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Bears this season. He appeared in 74 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season and led the club’s defensemen in points and assists. Ness set career highs in goals (8), assists (37) and points (45) and ranked sixth among all AHL defensemen in scoring last season.

He has earned three points (one goal, two assists) and 12 penalty minutes in 29 career NHL games with the New York Islanders, who drafted him in the second round (40th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft.

 

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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.