RECAP: Blackhawks Down the Champs, 8-5

  

The Blackhawks and Capitals both came into Sunday’s matinee on losing streaks. The Blackhawks come home after losing two games against the Devils and Rangers on the road. The Capitals, losers of four straight, have lost their stranglehold on the Metropolitan division thanks to the red-hot Islanders.

Jeremy Colliton really changed up the lines during Saturday’s practice, keeping those same lines for Sunday’s game. Noticeable changes include Chris Kunitz entering the lineup, as well as Slater Koekkoek playing over Henri Jokiharju. The lines were as follows:

Caggiula – Toews – Kane

DeBrincat – Strome – Kahun

Saad – Kampf – Kruger

Kunitz – Anisimov – Hayden

Keith – Seabrook

Dahlstrom – Murphy

Koekkoek – Gustafsson

Delia

 

Brendan Perlini entered concussion protocol over the weekend, so his status remains uncertain.

First Period:

The first period began with the Capitals pacing play. An early Capitals power play could have given the visitors an early lead. Instead, the Capitals played on the outside and didn’t get any quality opportunities on Collin Delia, and the game remained deadlocked with no score.

Six minutes into the first, the Blackhawks’ new third line broke out on a rush up the ice, with Brandon Saad leading the charge. Saad danced around one defender, crossed the blue line and walked the young defenseman Madison Bowey, before putting the puck past Braden Holtby’s blocker for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

The Blackhawks’ fun wouldn’t stop there. Just over a minute later, the Capitals had a major defensive breakdown. Patrick Kane found himself wide open in the high slot. Kane held the puck, picked his spot and fired home his 28th goal of the season to make it 2-0 Blackhawks. Credit has to go to Drake Caggiula on the play, as he had a perfect screen on Holtby. The Capitals’ goaltender stood no chance with Kane wide open and not having a clean look at the puck.

As the period neared its last five minutes, the Capitals were able to get one back. Defenseman Brooks Orpik threw a shot on Collin Delia that glanced off of his body and into the net. The goal was Orpik’s second of the year and the Capitals halved the Blackhawks lead 2-1.

Around 30 seconds later, (yes, seconds) the Blackhawks added their third goal of the first period, with some help from Dmitri Orlov. The Blackhawks top line generated some chances before a puck found its way up into the air in front of Braden Holtby. Orlov attempted to swat the puck over the net, but after whiffing on that chance, the puck floated into the net behind Holtby for the Blackhawks’ third goal of the period. Despite Orlov putting the puck in, Toews was the last Blackhawks player to touch the puck so he was credited with his 19th of the season.

The Blackhawks took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission. Only 9 first period shots led to the three goals for the Blackhawks.

Second Period:

The Blackhawks didn’t stop the goal scoring to open the second period. After a Capitals turnover, Dylan Strome skated up ice with the puck. Once he entered the Capitals’ zone, Strome drew four defenders’ attention and found a wide-open Alex DeBrincat, who fired home his 25th goal of the season. DeBrincat’s goal was the last shot Braden Holtby would see as he was pulled for Phoenix Copley.

The middle portion of the period was defined by chippiness and extra-curricular activities between both teams. Notably, Alex Ovechkin took a run at Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy retaliated. Tom Wilson and Duncan Keith also exchanged shoves and a nice hip check from Keith drew more attention from Wilson. Brent Seabrook was involved as well, all leading up to one big “party in the sin bin” for both teams.

With under five minutes remaining, another weak goal helped the Capitals crawl back into the game. As the Capitals tried establishing position in the offensive zone, Dmitri Orlov fired a shot from a bad angle, almost fully in the corner to Delia’s right. The puck had eyes and found a small opening on Delia to make the game 4-2.

Third Period:

The early portion of the third period made it seem as if the Capitals were going to rally. Only three minutes in to the third, John Carlson capitalized for his 7th goal of the season. A big face-off win for the Capitals led to Carlson’s monster one timer that found the corner over Delia’s shoulder.

Following Washington’s third goal, Nicklas Backstrom went to the penalty box and sent the red-hot Blackhawks power play onto the ice. This would prove to not be a good idea for the Capitals. Just over 10 seconds into the power play, Jonathan Toews found Patrick Kane at the right-wing face off dot, after Kane settled the puck, he fired the puck through Copley’s underarm to make the game 5-3.

Four minutes later, Patrick Kane made a great play in the defensive zone to get the puck out to a flying Jonathan Toews. Toews and Drake Caggiula had a 2-on-1 from the red line in. The Captain kept the puck and fired a laser to Copley’s stick side to further the Blackhawks lead, 6-3. The goal was Toews’ 20th of the season, his 12th straight year of accomplishing that feat.

However, the momentum began to shift in favor of the visitors. Two goals at the ten and thirteen-minute marks gave the Capitals some life and cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 6-5. To that point, all five goals for the Capitals came from defensemen as Carlson scored his second and Niskanen scored his first of the game.

Today’s game was a game of superstars, as Jonathan Toews put the team on his back and gave the Blackhawks a cushion. The Captain, after a great move to shake free, fired a puck five-hole on Phoenix Copley, giving him his 21st goal, the Blackhawks’ 7th of the day, and the hat trick for #19.

After the Capitals pulled Copley, Dylan Strome fought through a hooking penalty to hit the empty net and increase the Blackhawks lead to three. The Blackhawks beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, 8-5.

Quick Hits:

  • What a day for the big guns. Both Toews and Kane had five points each. Toews’ hat trick helped the Captain reach the 20-goal plateau for the 12th straight season. Patrick Kane is also now only nine points away from the Art Ross (most points) lead. These two have been spectacular this year and they’re two of the oldest players on the roster.
  • Despite giving up five goals, Collin Delia was excellent for the Blackhawks today. He continues to make numerous big saves due to Blackhawks’ defensive breakdowns. His best save of the day was the sprawling save made below (check out the highlight).

  • The Blackhawks snap a two game losing streak. They are still in the basement of the league, but it’s performances like this today that gives hope for this team moving forward. They’re learning how to play under Colliton and with an infusion of talent through the prospect pool and free agency, there is a chance this team returns to being competitive sooner than later.

 

The Blackhawks host the red-hot New York Islanders on Tuesday, January 22nd at the United Center. Puck drop is at 7:30pm CST.

 

Center Ice Forums RECAP: Blackhawks Down the Champs, 8-5

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    Ron Luce
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    The Blackhawks and Capitals both came into Sunday’s matinee on losing streaks. The Blackhawks come home after losing two games against the Devils and
    [To continue reading full article, click here: RECAP: Blackhawks Down the Champs, 8-5]

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