The Blackhawks welcomed the Washington Capitals to the United Center for their last home preseason game, Wednesday night. Head coach Jeremy Colliton started a majority of what will be the opening night roster in their home finale, and Corey Crawford was in goal for the entire game.
The Blackhawks and Capitals treated last night’s game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. After the first period, it appeared only the Capitals are ready for the regular season, as the home team came out flat and remained that way for virtually the entire game.
Despite adding prospects and veterans to the defensive pool, the Blackhawks still had major issues on the back end. The defensive shortcoming reared its ugly head early in first period, when top prospect Adam Boqvist was caught out of position on a Capitals rush. The bad positioning by Boqvist lead to a tip-in goal from forward Liam O’Brien, giving the Capitals a lead 1–0 early.
After slogging their way through two lifeless power plays, the Chicago defense failed yet again. Following a lost a defensive zone face off by the Blackhawks, the Capitals cycled the puck to the point for a shot. John Carlson unleashed a one-timer that sizzled past Corey Crawford for the goal. At end of the first period, the Capitals led 2–0.
The second period had a better start for the Blackhawks, but it would prove fruitless. They drew their third power play of the game at the 3:31 mark, however, bad positioning on the power play from Erik Gustafsson led to a back breaking Tom Wilson shorthanded goal. The Wilson goal made the score 3–0 Capitals, and the air was completely sucked out of the United Center crowd.
The defensive woes for the Blackhawks continued as the middle period wore on. Lars Eller added the fourth goal for the Capitals at roughly the midway point of the second period. Eller went to the net after a shot from the point and outworked Gustafsson for a tip-in goal.
The period mercifully ended with the score Capitals 4, Blackhawks 0.
The trend of bad defensive play continued in the third period. Late in the third period, after a nice outlet pass from Braden Holtby from his own end, Lars Eller fed a backhanded pass to Jakub Vrana, who snapped a quick shot past Crawford. The Vrana goal made the score 5–0 Capitals.
With 5:02 left in the third period, Eller scored his second goal of the game on a rebound from Crawford. The rebound was generated by a TJ Oshie shot. The Eller goal made the score 6–0 in favor of the Capitals.
The Blackhawks had clearly mentally left for Europe early, as the game was never close.
Chicago will play their final preseason game on Saturday, taking on the Bruins in Boston at 3 p.m. EDT.
Net front presence: The Capitals had someone in front of Crawford on three out of four goals.
Dominik Kubalik: Kubalik had a solid night with five shots on goal.