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Caps lose heartbreaker, Holtby foiled again

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Caps lose heartbreaker, Holtby foiled again

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Sidney Crosby showed a flair for the dramatic, scoring on a breakaway backhander past Braden Holtby 4 minutes into overtime to give the Penguins their eighth straight victory.

Matt Cullen scored on the Penguins’ first shot just 44 seconds into the game and scored again shorthanded just 28 seconds into the second period to set the tone. Rookie Conor Sheary made it 3-0 when he beat Evgeny Kuznetsov up the ice for his seventh goal of the season. Marcus Johansson drew the Caps within 3-1 with 2:41 remaining in the middle period and made things real interesting by scoring with 9:55 remaining in the third. When Andre Burakovsky tied it with 6:34 remaining, the crowd at Verizon Center stood as one, rooting for the Caps to give Holtby his record-tying 48th victory. Instead, the Penguins improved their league-best record to 39-0-0 when leading after two periods.

What it means: The Caps have lost three games in a row for the first time all season. They have lost six of 11 games since clinching a playoff spot (5-4-2) and four of five since clinching the Presidents’ Trophy (1-2-2). With two games left in the regular season, that’s no way to go into the playoffs.

Brodeur’s record is safe: At the very least Martin Brodeur will have to share his NHL record for wins in a season. In his second attempt to tie the single-season record of 48 wins, Braden Holtby allowed three goals on 26 shots, including the Penguins’ first shot in each of the first two periods. Holtby fell to 47-10-6 with the loss and has allowed eight goals in his last two outings against the Penguins, both losses. Holtby’s next start could come Saturday night in St. Louis when he gets a third attempt to tie Brodeur’s record in front of the future Hall of Famer. If not, Holtby will start the season finale at home on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks

Wilson benched: Caps right wing Tom Wilson took a five-minute boarding major for driving Nick Bonino into the boards from behind 2:27 into the second period. He took just one other shift in the second period and was used sparingly in the third period as well.

Two for Jojo: Marcus Johansson single-handedly brought the Capitals back to life by netting the sixth two-goal game of his career.

What’s next: the Caps will practice at 11:30 a.m. on Friday then head to St. Louis for a Saturday night game against the Blues.

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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

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USA TODAY Sports

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.