The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks played an off-again, on again game, slogging through chunks of ice time with a zone-to-zone grind, interspersed b occasional interludes of end-to-end hockey. It was fitting that the teams fought to a 3-3 tie in regulation and a scoreless overtime. Patrick Kane scored the only Gimmick goal, and the Hawks left Washington with a 4-3 win in their baggage.
Evgeny Kuznetsov almost got the Caps off to a good start in the first minute when he stole the puck from Jujhar Khaira at the Blackhawks’ blue line and broke in alone on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, but his attempt to hook the puck one-handed around Fleury’s left pad was denied.
Washington earned the first power play of the game when Khiara slashed Nick Jensen at the 13:41 mark. The Caps managed one shot on an unsuccessful power play opportunity.
Chicago broke in front late in the period when, on a 2-on-1 break, Alex Debrincat deked goalie Vitek Vanecek to the ice and slipped a backhand past his right skate to make it 1-0, Chicago, 19:00 into the period. That would be how the teams went to their locker rooms after one period.
-- Chicago out-shot the Caps, 9-8, and out-attempted them, 19-16.
-- Daniel Spong was the only Cap with more than one shot on goal in the period; he had two. He also led the team with four attempts.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the Caps in first period ice time (7:56), but he had no mark of any kind on his line of he score sheet.
Washington tied the game 70 seconds into the period when, with a 3-on0-2 advantage, Nic Dowd skated the puck down the middle into the Hawks’ end. Dowd slid the puck to Garnet Hathaway on his right. Hathaway cut to the middle and fed Carl Hagelin on his left. Hagelin stepped up and shot the puck to ward the net, and Dowd was there for the tap-in past Fleury’s left pad to finish the play he started, and it was 1-1 at the 1:10 mark of the period.
Nic Dowd went to the penalty box in the 12th minute of the period when, after Vanecek gloved a shot a scrum developed in front of him, and Dowd threw a punch at a Blackhawk. Roughing at 11:08 of the period. The Blackhawks converted with 11 seconds left in the power play when Dominik Kubalik roofed a puck from between the hash marks I the slot to make it 2-1, 12:57 into the period
The Caps tied it on a scramble in front of the Chicago net. From the right wing circle, Alex Ovechkin sent a pass into the slot toward Aliaksei Protas, but the puck clicked off the skate of defender Henrik Borgstrom and off the far post. The puck ended up resting inches from the goal line behind Fleury, but his effort to stick the puck out of danger was bested by Evgeny Kuznetsov muscling the puck off Fleury’s stick and over the line to make it 2-2 at the 17:31 mark.
Washington went short handed when Hathaway went off for elbowing at 18:50 of the period. Chicago did not convert in the time left in the period, but would carry over time into the third period. Caps and Blackhawks tied, 2-2 after two.
-- Washington outshot Chicago, 10-9 in the period, and out-attempted them, 19-14.
-- Garnet Hathaway led the Caps in shots through 40 minutes with three; six Caps had four shot attempts.
-- Nic Dowd was 0-for-8 on faceoffs through two periods, but he did lead the team in credited hits with five.
The Caps killed the penalty, then stuck a dagger in it for good measure, when Hathaway exited the penalty box, took a pass in stride from Nic Dowd, and broke in alone on Fleury. He tried to roof a forehand over Fleury’s glove, and Fleury got his glove on it, but not enough to keep the puck from sneaking through and trickling over the goal line to give the Caps their first lead of the night, 3-2, at the 57 second mark.
Chicago tied the game when Josiah Slavin skated the puck down the right side in the offensive zone and slipped the puck back to Seth Jones entering the zone. Jones stepped up, used the Caps’ Beck Malenstyn as a screen and ripped
The Caps applied severe late pressure on the Hawks, but they could not find the tie-breaker, and the game went to…
There were chances on both sides, but no lamp was lighted, and the teams went to…
Kuznetsov… miss, off post
Toews…save by Vanecek
Sprong… miss, off the post (again?!)
Ovechkin… save by Fleury
...Chicago wins, 4-3
-- The teams split 56 shots evenly – 28 apiece – the Caps out-attempting Chicago, 58-53.
-- Alex Ovechkin and Garnet Hathaway led the team with four shots apiece; Ovechkin had 11 attempts, all in the final 45 minutes.
-- Fifteen of 18 skaters were credited with hits, Nic Dowd leading the team with six.
-- Dmitry Orlov and Trevor van Riemsdyk were the only Caps not credited with a shot attempt.
-- This was the Caps’ first loss to Chicago on home ice since January 10, 2006, when the Blackhawks also won, 4-3, also in extra time (overtime).
-- Connor McMichael and Beck Malenstyn were on the ice for the Seth Jones game-tying goal in the third period. Neither skated another shift in this game.
-- John Carlson led the team in ice time, as usual… 22:48.
-- Washington and Chicago split 62 faceoff wins evenly, 31 apiece. Lars Eller was 10-for-15, and even Evgency Kuznetsov was 10-for-20. Nic Dowd was an uncharacteristic 4-for-15.
-- Hathaway and Dowd were the multi-point players for the Caps, each going 1-1-2. It was Hathaway’s fourth multi-point game this year, Dowd’s second.
-- Although he was excellent for much of this game, especially with the rust that accumulated during a 12-day absence from the lineup, this was Vitek Vanecek’s third consecutive loss (0-1-2). He is now 2-3-4 (one no-decision), 3.00, .893 in his last ten games.
In the end…
Well… blown third period lead, again. But they salvaged a point. Still, the bad taste lingers for a second game, this time the Caps losing to an inferior team on home ice. Except for a few bursts, the Caps looked listless and without direction. It happens, but it’s usually a January/February thing with the hard grind. This was a disappointing response to the Florida debacle.