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Carey Price has 'too easy a night' vs. the Capitals

Carey Price has 'too easy a night' vs. the Capitals

There are ways to score on a top-notch goaltender.

Giving him an unobscured look at the puck and failing to record a shot on net for most of the third period, however, are not among them. 

But that’s exactly happened Saturday night at Verizon Center, where the Caps saw their six-game winning streak halted by Carey Price and the Canadiens, 2-1.

“They had a lot of urgency in their game,” Lars Eller said. “They battled hard. We had the puck a lot. We had a lot of zone time but we failed to sort of get bodies inside and get the puck inside at the same time.”

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“It was too easy a night for Price,” the former Montreal center added. “Didn’t get shots. Didn’t get secondary [chances]. We just failed to get our nose dirty and get the puck in there. That was the step we were missing today.”

That they skipped such an all-important step was a bit surprising, given the caliber of goaltender they were facing and the fact that they had recently done a better job of getting to the net, creating screens, putting pucks in play and hunting for seconds.

But it didn’t happen against Shea Weber and Co.

As a team, Montreal blocked 21 shots—or the same number of shots the Capitals managed to put on Price.

”They were defending pretty well,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “And you got one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Price. He’s been outstanding. We didn’t make it hard enough on Carey. …Sometimes the other team is playing really well and they force you to get some of those dirty goals or garbage goals, whatever, and you have to make it hard on them. And we didn’t make it hard enough on them. Even in the third, they got into a pretty good defensive posture and we were still looking for the extra play, the extra play.”

Trotz continued: “Especially against quality goalies, you don’t want to get too fine. When you’re not getting a lot of looks because the other team is doing a good job of keeping you to the outside, you have to force yourself into their house a little bit, get in front of the net.”

They did not. But that wasn’t even their biggest problem in the third period as they scrambled to get back into the game.

For a span of 15:22 stretching from late in the second period until late in the third, the Capitals failed to muster a single shot on Price.

Forget about getting a body to the net. They couldn’t even get a puck there.  

“To beat any goalie you have to get shots,” Eller said. “In the third, we didn’t even get a lot of shots. We made it hard for ourselves.”

Indeed they did.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps' win streak clipped by Canadiens

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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.