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Blackhawks rout Caps 7-1 to end 8-game losing streak
By MATT CARLSON
CHICAGO (AP) Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks finally broke out of a frustrating tailspin, and they did it convincingly against one of the NHL's top teams.
Toews had a goal and two assists and the Blackhawks ripped the Washington Capitals 7-1 on Saturday night to end an eight-game losing streak.
Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman each added a goal and an assist in a 44-shot attack that took advantage of Washington breakdowns and powered Chicago to its first win since Jan. 30 at Nashville. Nick Schmaltz, Artem Anisimov and rookie Alex DeBrincat also scored to help the Blackhawks snap a seven-game slide at home before season-high crowd of 22,066 at the United Center.
"A nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "You might just win a 2-1 game or grind it out, but nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."
Breakdowns, bad bounces and an inability to hold leads doomed the Blackhawks during their slide, their longest since a nine-game skid in early 2012. But in this one, Washington made the mistakes, and Chicago capitalized to pull away with goals from seven different players.
"We put our foot on the gas and got some insurance goals," said Kane, whose assist was his 500th. "Nice to get a little bit of a breakout with a lot of different goal scorers and everyone chipping in. A big game for us against a good team."
Tom Wilson scored for the Capitals, whose first-place lead in the Metropolitan Division over Pittsburgh slipped to one point.
Even more sour for Washington: The Capitals said a group of fans directed racial taunts toward forward Devante Smith-Pelly in the penalty box in the third period as he served a fighting major.
A Capitals spokesman said the group of four yelled "basketball, basketball, basketball" toward Smith-Pelly, who is black. The Blackhawks confirmed in a statement the fans were "immediately removed."
Smith-Pelly was not available for comment, but coach Barry Trotz said the player was "a little upset," even though Trotz hadn't yet talked to him in detail.
"There's absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism," Trotz said. "I think it's disgusting."
Trotz coached his 1,500th NHL game. He joined four others in reaching that mark, including Chicago's Joel Queneville.
Chicago's Anton Forsberg stopped 19 shots. Washington's Braden Holtby allowed six goals on 33 shots through two periods. Philipp Grubauer took over in goal to start the third and gave up a goal on 11 shots.
Trotz made the switch after he had seen enough.
"We weren't very good," he said. "We got beat in every aspect of the game tonight. It's a tough game, it's a humbling game and we got humbled tonight."
Kane's goal was his first in five games and just his second in 12.
The Blackhawks took a 3-1 lead in the first period, outshooting Washington 21-6.
Toews opened the scoring 6:19 in, connecting on a sharp-angle shot from the left boards that hit Holtby's left pad and deflected in between his legs.
Wilson tied it at 1 just under 4 minutes later when he was left open in front and connected on a nifty, waist-high deflection of Matt Niskanen's shot from the point.
Saad put Chicago back in front at 12:47, firing in a loose puck after Holtby had foiled Vinnie Hinostroza point-blank by poking the puck off Hinostroza's stick.
But Schmaltz scored with 0.8 seconds left in the first from the right side of the net to make it 3-1 after taking Carl Dahlstrom's cross-ice feed.
Kane, Hartman and Anisomov scored 2:07 apart on consecutive shots late in the second to extend Chicago's lead to 6-1.
Kane buried a rebound of Toews' shot with 3:38 left in the period to make it 4-1 after Toews picked off Brooks Orpik's pass, and both he and Kane broke in alone.
Hartman weaved down the slot - and past three Washington defenders - then scored on a backhander 1:10 later. Anisimov's power-play goal from the left circle with 1:31 left in the second capped the outburst.
Set up by Hartman, DeBrincat's tap-in midway through the third made it 7-1.
NOTES: Besides Trotz and Quenneville, others to coach 1,500 games in the NHL are Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Ken Hitchcock. ... DeBrincat's 22nd goal gave him three in his last four games. ... Dahlstrom, a recent call-up, assisted on Schmaltz's goal for his first NHL point. ... The Blackhawks' longest overall losing streak in one season is 12 games, set at the end of the 1950-51. The skid extended to 13 games when Chicago lost its opener to start 1951-52.
Updated February 18, 2018