From Winnipeg and St. Paul, the Caps dropped in on Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Saturday night. It started ugly, and then it got worse. At the end, the Caps lost, 7-1, the second time this season they had a six-goal loss pasted on them.
The minutes were passing by relatively quietly when Brandon Saad and John Carlson fought for the puck along the wall on the left side of the Caps’ zone. Neither could get control, and it squirted back to Jonathan Toews, who just threw a shot toward the net. Goalie Braden Holtby looked unprepared for the shot, and it hit his right pad before sneaking into the net at the 6:19 mark to make it 1-0, Hawks.
Tom Wilson tied it up four minutes later. Matt NIskanen dug a loose puck off the wall at the right point and floated a shot at the net. Nicklas Backstrom waved at it on the way through, but it sailed all the way to the top of the crease where Wilson was camped out. Wilson got enough of the puck to deflect it down and past goalie Anton Forsberg to make it 1-1, 10:03 into the period.
The tie lasted less than three minutes. Vinnie Hinostroza fed Saad trailing behind him in the offensive zone. Both Capital defensemen – Brooks Orpik and Madison Bowey – stood up on Saad, who had the puck roll off his stick, but right to Hinostroza. His shot was stopped by Holtby, but Saad slipped in and fired the rebound past Holtby’s right pad to make it 2-1, 12:47 into the period.
It might have stayed that way going into the first intermission, if a period was 19:59 in length. Regulation periods being 20 minutes, though, the Caps were victimized by a goal by Nick Schmaltz, who put back a rebound from Holtby’s left with eight-tenths of a second left in the period to give the home team a 3-1 lead.
The good thing might have been that the Caps were “only” down by a 3-1 score. Chicago out-shot them, 22-6, in the first period and out-attempted them, 29-9, despite the fact that the Caps had the only power play of the period.
It did not get better. Oh, the Caps did keep the Blackhawks from scoring for a while, but three goals in 2:09 late in the period ended the competitive portion of the contest once and for all. The details hardly matter, but for the record, Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman, and Artem Anisimov were the scorers.
Seriously…does it matter? Was anyone paying attention at this point?
-- There were 11 skaters for the Caps without a shot attempt in the first period, among them: Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
-- Through two periods, eight Caps did not have a shot attempt…not a shot, a shot attempt…
- Brett Connolly
- Nicklas Backstrom
- Lars Eller
- Alex Chiasson
- Brooks Orpik
- Jay Beagle
- Evgeny Kuznetsov….and Alex Ovechkin.
-- Ovechkin finished the game without a shot attempt in 18:22 of ice time, one of four Caps who would finish the game without one (Chiasson, Orpik, and Beagle being the others).
-- The Caps had 15 players with hits, 14 with shot attempts.
-- Chicago had 44 shots on goal…the Caps had 40 shot attempts. Only two Blackhawks did not have a shot on goal (Tommy Wingels, Jordan Oesterle).
-- Another odd dimension to this game…Beagle lost five of nine draws; Kuznetsov won 10 of 16.
-- This was the third time in six appearances that Braden Holtby allowed five or more goals.
-- Chicago had five special team shots on goal (three on their power play, two shorthanded). The Caps had none.
-- Tom Wilson got to ten goals for the first time in his career and is the ninth Capital to get there this season.
-- Backstrom was the only Cap to finish in “plus” territory (plus-1). He had been minus-9 over his previous 14 games.