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Oates to throw out first pitch tonight

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Oates to throw out first pitch tonight

New Capitals head coach Adam Oates will throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch at the Washington Nationals game tonight.

Oates will throw the first pitch prior to the Nationals game against the Colorado Rockies, which is slated to begin at 7:05 p.m. Tonight's game will also feature a luggage tag giveaway presented by United Airlines for the first 15,000 fans to enter Nationals Park through the Center Field Gate. For tickets to watch the National League East-leading Washington Nationals, visit nationals.comtickets.

Oates, 49, became the 16th head coach in Washington Capitals history on June 26 after playing 19 seasons in the NHL from 1985-2004, appearing in 1,337 games and collecting 1,420 points (341 goals, 1,079 assists) with Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton. In NHL history only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux averaged more assists per-game than Oates. During the 1990s only Gretzky (662) recorded more assists than Oates (636).

The Weston, Ontario, native ranks sixth all-time in assists and 16th all-time in points in NHL history. Oates ranks 25th in NHL history in playoff points, having recorded 156 points (42 goals, 114 assists) in 163 career playoff games. The former center led or was tied for the league lead in assists three times in his career (1992-93, 2000-01 and 2001-02) and ranked in the top-10 in assists in 12 of his 19 seasons. Oates was named an NHL All-Star five times (1991-94 and 1997) and was a six-time Lady Byng finalist during his career (runner-up in four straight seasons).

Oates played in 387 games for the Capitals from 1996-2002, compiling 363 points (73 goals, 290 assists). He ranks 18th in scoring and 10th in assists among all players in Capitals history. Wearing No. 77 for the Capitals, Oates was an alternate captain during the 1997-98 season before serving as the teams captain from 1999-01.

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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.