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Ovechkin, Laich score as Capitals blow out Bruins

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Ovechkin, Laich score as Capitals blow out Bruins

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins Thursday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored at even strength, John Carlson blasted home a power-play goal and Braden Holtby rebounded from a shaky game in New York with 28 saves as the Caps beat the Bruins for the fourth straight time, dating back to last season (3-0-0). Karl Alzner finished off the Bruins with an empty netter, seconds after Ovechkin missed the open cage.

What it means: The Caps entered the season with a goal of not losing back-to-back games and so far they’ve delivered, following up each of their three losses with a victory. With a 9-3-0 record and 18 points they moved into a tie with the Rangers (8-2-2) with 18 points in 12 games.

Laich-ing it: Brooks Laich’s net-crashing goal 4:10 into the second period stood up as the game-winner. It was also his first goal since March 31, snapping a string of 16 games without a goal. Laich hit the brakes in front of Tuukka Rask and got a piece of Dmitry Orlov’s slapper from the point. He celebrated the goal without a stick and from the seat of his pants. It was Laich’s first point of the season and Michael Latta joined him on the score sheet with an assist, his first point of the season.

Chasing Sergei: Alex Ovechkin’s team-high seventh goal of the season was the 482nd of his career, moving him within one of tying Sergei Fedorov for the most NHL goals scored by a Russian-born player.   

Bruins solve Holtby: Jimmy Hayes’ power-play goal 12:47 into the first period was the first Bruins goal allowed by Braden Holtby since March 29, 2014, a string of nine periods of shutout hockey.

Let’s make a deal: Twelve scouts representing 10 NHL teams were in attendance Thursday night, including two representatives from the Flyers, Stars and Red Wings and one each from the Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Avalanche, Predators, Penguins, Blues and Lightning. Former Caps enforcer Craig Berube, who is scouting for Team Canada, was also in the house.

Speaking of Team Canada: Like just about everyone, Berube said Braden Holtby should be in the conversation when it comes time to selecting Team Canada’s goalie for the 2016 World Cup, along with Carey Price and Corey Crawford.

Laich climbs past Kono: Brooks Laich played in his 694th game with the Capitals, moving him into 10th on the club’s all-time list, which goes something like this:

1, Calle Johansson 983

2, Peter Bondra 961

3, Kelly Miller 940

4, Dale Hunter 872

5, Michal Pivonka  825

6, Alex Ovechkin 771

7, Mike Gartner 758

8, Rod Langway 726

9, Olie Kolzig 711

10, Brooks Laich 694

What’s next: The Caps will practice at Kettler on Friday before facing Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at Verizon Center. The follow with a visit to Detroit on Tuesday and a stop in Philadelphia on Thursday. 

[RELATED: Trotz endorses Ovechkin as Hall of Famer]

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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.