The Caps scored three goals in a five-shot flurry in the third period on their way to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
How it happened: Roberto Luongo played 40 minutes of spectacular hockey for the Panthers, but with Florida clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period, the Caps managed to score three goals in a span of just 4:45 to take command of the game.
What it means: The Caps have now won five in a row including both of their games back home since returning from a four-game road swing. It was also the first time in three games the Caps did not relinquish a multi-goal lead in the third period.
Role Reversal: After giving up a multi-goal lead in each of the last two games, Saturday's contest had an unfamiliar feel to it as Jared McCann opened up the scoring with a first period deflection to beat Braden Holtby. It was only the second time this season the Caps did not score first, the other coming on Oct. 26 in Edmonton. With the win, the Caps are now 1-1-0 when conceding the game's first tally.
Broken streak: Heading into Saturday's game, the Caps' penalty kill had been perfect in the last four games, killing all 11 penalties the team faced. That streak ended Saturday in the third period when Reilly Smith scored a power play goal to put Florida up 2-1. Smith took the puck and turned on the jets to get in behind Matt Niskanen and tuck the shot right through Holtby's five-hole.
Oshie on fire: T.J. Oshie came into Saturday's game with three points in his last four games. As Trotz shuffled the lines in-game Saturday, Oshie responded. Oshie finished off a two-on-one with Alex Ovechkin in the second period by beating Luongo top shelf for his fifth goal of the season. He added his sixth in the third period as he again beat Luongo high. The two goals now give Oshie five points in the last five games.
Look ahead: There’s no better way to herald in the new president than with some hockey! The Caps will host the San Jose Sharks Tuesday in the finale of a three-game home stand. Then the Caps hit the road for a three-game road wing starting Friday in Chicago.
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.
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.