Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues Saturday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: After a scoreless opening period the Capitals committed a defensive zone turnover, followed by a soft goal and then a back-breaker by Vladimir Tarasenko, all in the second period. Meanwhile their offense sputtered for the second straight night, failing to score in regulation again.
What it means: The Caps (53-16-5, 111 points) will need to wait until Monday for another shot at securing the Presidents’ Trophy. They need one more point to be crowned regular season champions and have home ice through all four playoff rounds.
Orly: Dmitry Orlov has had his share of offensive and defensive adventures and on the Blues’ first goal his misplay behind the net turned into a 1-0 deficit. Orlov picked up a loose puck and swung around the back of the net. But with David Backes breathing down his neck, he avoided a hit, surrendered the opuck and saw it end up behind Philipp Grubauer on Kyle Brodziak’s fifth goal of the season 4:45 into the middle period.
Grubi’s misadventures: Playing in his first game since March 12, Grubauer had a strong first period with eight saves, but allowed a long shot from the high slot to slip between his pads for a 2-0 deficit 11:05 into the second period. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko carried the puck the length of the ice and unloaded after crossing the blue line for his eighth goal of the season.
And then …: Just 1:40 after Parayko’s goal, Vladimir Tarasenko sealed the deal when he scored to give the Blues a 3-0 lead. Patrik Berglund added another with 2:15 remaining. That was all goaltender Jake Allen would need as the Blues won their fourth straight game by shutout. It marked the first time ever the Blues recorded four consecutive shutouts.
What’s next: The Caps are off on Sunday and will face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at Verizon Center.
MORE CAPITALS: Caps, fans pay tribute to Brouwer on first trip back to Verizon Center
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.
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.