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Caps Summer Series preview: Top playoff moments in Caps' history

Caps Summer Series preview: Top playoff moments in Caps' history

Do you feel like the summer is too long to go without hockey? So do we!

To give you your hockey fix and to pass the time from now until the start of next season, CSN proudly presents the Caps Summer Series, a series of four episodes that will broadcast on CSN in July.

The first episode, Top Playoff Moments in Team History, will air on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m. (channel finder). Check out the teaser clip above!

To get you ready, here are the favorite playoff moments from Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent J.J. Regan.

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El-Bashir: I’ve been fortunate to cover a lot of playoff hockey over the years. I’ve seen thrilling overtime wins. And, yes, a few gut-wrenching Game 7 defeats, too. But the game I’ll talk about until the day I die occurred May 4, 2009 at Verizon Center. That’s right, the dueling hat tricks by back-to-back league MVPs Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the game’s biggest stars at the height of their popularity. I’ll never forget how the building erupted after each of Ovechkin’s two third period goals—the first on the power play from his office—or Crosby hitting the pause button the manic celebration when he batted his own rebound out of midair and past Semyon Varlamov with 30 seconds remaining to pull the Pens within a goal. At times, Varlamov was the only thing standing between the Penguins’ captain and five or six goals. Ultimately, the Caps held on for a 4-3 victory. They also seized a 2-0 series lead. As a beat writer, nothing is more stressful than a night playoff game that features multiple, late momentum swings. There’s so much to capture and so little time to conduct interviews and type. On that night, though, there was no pressure. The game story wrote itself. I also recall filing my piece to The Washington Post with a huge smile on my face while thinking, “I’ll never see anything like that again.”
 
Regan: I have not been covering the Capitals professionally for nearly as long Tarik, but I have been following this team my entire life. Despite their unfortunate playoff history, I do have many fond memories of great playoff moments. I was in college watching Game 7 against the New York Rangers in 2009 with my roommate. A Rangers’ fan who lived in our house came into our room to trash talk and the moment he stepped in, Sergei Fedorov scored the go-ahead goal. He turned around and walked out without saying a word while my roommate and I went berserk. I was in a bar for Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in 2012. When Joel Ward scored I literally jumped out of the booth. All the Caps fans started jumping up and down together in the middle of the bar. The first game I covered professionally was Game 1 against the New York Islanders in 2014. Every playoff game since has been an incredible thrill. But nothing will compare to May 25, 1998. It was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Buffalo Sabres. Matthew Barnaby tied the game at 2 with less than a minute remaining in the third period and began taunting the crowd. As a kid, it felt as if my world was falling apart. There is no justice, Santa Claus isn’t real, the Tooth Fairy is a fraud, nothing will ever be OK again. I wasn’t the only one who saw Barnaby, however. The Caps bench saw it too and the team was fired up to play in overtime. My faith in humanity was restored when Todd Krygier scored just 3:01 into overtime to win the game. It is the only conference final game the Capitals have won in Washington. That game is of course overshadowed by Joe Juneau’s overtime winner in Game 6, but not to me. To me, Game 2 is the greatest playoff moment I have ever experienced.

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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.