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Rangers strike first, hold on to beat Capitals

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Rangers strike first, hold on to beat Capitals

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers Friday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Derek Stepan snapped a 2-2 tie just 17 seconds into the third period when he intercepted a pass by Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov and whipped a shot off the shaft of Brooks Orpik’s stick and behind Braden Holtby. The Capitals fell behind 2-0 in the opening period on goals by Jesper Fast (following a Holtby giveaway) and Keith Yandle (on the power play), but roared back on a disputed goal by Jay Beagle midway through the second period and a howitzer of a wrist shot by T.J. Oshie with 40 seconds remaining in the middle frame. The Caps had a golden opportunity to tie the score midway through the final period but Antti Raanta made a diving blocker save on an Oshie wraparound.  

What it means: The Caps lost in regulation for the first when Jay Beagle scores a goal. They are now 22-1-5 when Beagle nets a goal.

Worth the wait: It took nine minutes’ worth of video review, but Jay Beagle scored his first goal since fracturing his hand on Dec. 30 midway through the second period. With the Rangers holding a 2-0 lead, Mike Richards threw a shot at the net and after Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein swept the puck off the goal line, Beagle jammed  the puck into Antti Raanta, who was lying in his goal. A video replay in Toronto’s war room showed the puck crossed the goal line. That wasn’t enough for Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who asked for a second video review to see if goaltender interference took place. Even though Daniel Wiinnik’s stick was stuck in Raanta’s pads, the goal stood. Here are the explanations from the NHL.

Review 1: At 10:58 of the second period in the Rangers/Capitals game, video review determined that the puck completely crossed the New York goal line. Good goal Washington.

Review 2: At 10:58 of the second period in the Rangers/Capitals game, New York requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether a Washington player interfered with New York goaltender Antti Raanta prior to Jay Beagle’s goal. 

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line. 

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Washington Capitals.

Slow starts: The Caps fell behind 2-0 in the first period and if that sounds familiar to Caps fans it’s because in their last 13 home games the Caps have led for just 1:45 of the 260 minutes played in first periods. They have trailed 84:10 of those minutes and have been tied for 174:05.

Look Ahead: The Caps will complete their four-games-in-five-days journey Saturday night in Boston against the Bruins. The Caps will fly to California on Sunday, where they’ll face Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks on Monday, followed by Justin Williams and Mike Richards’ first trip back to L.A. as Capitals, followed by a visit to see Joel Ward and the Sharks on Saturday. The Caps return home to face the Hurricanes on March 15.

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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.