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Caps snap losing streak behind Marcus Johansson's two goals

Caps snap losing streak behind Marcus Johansson's two goals

Marcus Johansson scored the game-tying and game-winner to lead the Caps to the 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalos Sabres on Monday.

How it happened: Zemgus Girgensons gave Buffalo the early lead thanks to a nice pace from Derek Grant. Rasmus Ristolainen swatted the puck out of the defensive zone to Grant who saw Girgensons turn on the jets on the far side. Grant found him with the one touch pass to launch him in on net. Girgensons finished the play with a nice forehand-backhand move to beat Braden Holtby.

The Caps pulled even in the second period on Jay Beagle's fifth goal of the season. Daniel Winnik kicked the puck out to Brooks Orpik who sent a pass right to the tape of Beagle in front of the net and he tipped the puck past the helpless Robin Lehner. The tie lasted exactly 10 minutes as William Carrier found Ryan O'Reilly all alone in the slot. It took three shots to get it past Holtby, but Kyle Okposo finally put it into the back of the net.

In the third period, the power play finally registered for the Caps as Marcus Johansson deflected a point shot from John Carlson to tie the game at 2. Johansson struck again in overtime with a blistering one-timer to finish off the game.

What it means: The win snaps a three-game losing streak for Washington as the Caps avoid their first four-game skid since January 2015. Washington is now 5-1-1 against the Atlantic Division this season.

Missed turning point: The turning point of the game came in the second period. With the score tied at one, a scrum broke out in front of the Caps' with the puck loose in the slot. The puck finally squirted past Holtby...and stopped right on the red line. Just 28 seconds later, Johan Larsson scored to give Buffalo the lead, but Barry Trotz challenged that the play was offside and won. The Caps were handed two lifelines in a matter of seconds, but it was not the momentum swing you would expect. Instead of taking advantage, Okposo scored the go-ahead goal 39 seconds later.

Slow start: At the start of the season, the Caps emphasized fast starts. In their first 20 games, they gave up the first goal only three times. With Girgensons' goal Monday, the Caps have now given up the first goal in each of their last four games..

Power on: Buffalo entered Monday's game with the 29th penalty kill in the NHL with only a 77.2-percent success rate. They also played without four of their regular defensemen as Taylor Fedun, Josh Gorges, Zach Bogosian and Dmitry Kulikov all were scratched due to injury. And yet, the Caps' power play still could not produce with two first period chances. Washington finally struck when it mattered, however, as Johansson scored the game-tying goal on the team's third power play of the night.

Breaking the law: Alex Ovechkin was whistled in the second period for slashing, his fifth minor penalty in three games. He leads the team with 11 on the season. Not what you want to see from your top offensive player and the team captain.

Look ahead: The Caps host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday before heading to Buffalo to face the Sabres yet again on Friday.

MORE CAPS: Jay Beagle ties it up for Caps against Sabres

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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

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.