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Do Caps have what it takes to bounce back?


Do Caps have what it takes to bounce back?

The numbers are daunting for a reason. Since 2000, NHL teams that have lost a playoff game of three or more overtimes have gone 5-11 in those series.

Caps fans are all too familiar with that storyline. Twice in their history theyve lost quadruple overtime games and have lost both series.

But people around these Capitals feel differently about this team. Maybe its because they fought so hard to get into the playoffs. Maybe its because nine of their 10 games have been decided by one goal and five have been decided in overtime.

We had to play some tough hockey to get into the playoffs, Dale Hunter said Thursday, less than 12 hours after his team dropped a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in triple overtime.

Playing playoff hockey you have to bounce back and be tough during the game if something happens on the ice. You go down a goal like last night, you just keep battling and good things will happen.

Capitals associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig said he sees a different mental toughness in these Capitals than hes seen in the teams that failed to get past the second round in each of the previous four post-seasons. And although the Capitals trail the best-of-seven series 2-1, he hardly sees the deficit as insurmountable.

I think the guys have finally bought into Dales type of hockey and theyre realizing what hes been trying to emphasize throughout the year is finally paying off now in the playoffs, Kolzig said. The guys are rising to the occasion. The way they battled against Boston and to go win three games out of four in that building, including Game 7, that says a lot.

The adversity that we faced this year, as opposed to the last two years where we basically solidified a playoff spot in January and kind of cruised into the playoffs, this year we had to scratch and claw.

You see it year in and year out, teams like Philly a few years ago in 2010, they make it on a last minute shootout goal and they go to the finals, Edmonton in 2006, they make it on the last day and they go to the finals against Carolina. So those teams that battle right to the end, if you can stay healthy, then youre going to have the edge over teams that solidified a spot two months in advance and I think thats what were experiencing.

So I dont think that were going to be as down as maybe some other teams would be after a game like that.

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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.