The Blackhawks carried their back-to-back home wins into Sunday night’s contest against the Washington Capitals at the United Center. The big news of the night was 2019 third overall draft pick, Kirby Dach, centering and starting with the second line in his NHL debut.
These were the Blackhawks’ starting lines:
Alex DeBrincat – Jonathan Toews – Andrew Shaw
Dylan Strome – Kirby Dach – Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad – David Kampf – Dominik Kubalik
Drake Caggiula – Ryan Carpenter – Alexander Nylander
The Blackhawks controlled a good portion of the play to begin the game, as the player of the moment, Kirby Dach, showed the United Center crowd just what talent they have to look forward to for years to come.
Washington took the first lead of the night just over nine minutes into the first period on the power play thanks to yet another Andrew Shaw penalty. Duncan Keith underestimated the pressure on his back, as the Capitals dumped the puck deep into the Blackhawks’ corner, which eventually led to the goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov picked Keith’s pocket and fed a streaking T.J. Oshie, who beat Crawford with a one-timer over the glove.
That goal seemed to take the wind out the Blackhawks’ sails for a few shifts, as they failed on a power play of their own. As a result, the Capitals took a 1–0 lead into the locker room, despite getting outshot 14–12.
Thanks to a Radko Gudas penalty at the end of the first period, the Blackhawks opened up the second with their third power play of the night. As with the first two power plays, the Blackhawks failed to capitalize, but they were not without some solid chances to tie the game.
At the 11:35 mark of the middle period, following a tremendous steal behind the Washington net by Ryan Carpenter, Alex Nylander found a fat rebound in front of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and sent a blind pass to Drake Caggiula. Caggiula was wide open on the back door and tied the game at 1–1.
It was not long, though, before the Blackhawks found themselves holding a bag of mixed luck. Dach took a high stick to the face that drew some blood and the home team was given a four-minute power play. That was where the good luck subsided and the bad luck seeped in.
After a bad pass skipped by Patrick Kane less than 30 seconds into the advantage, Nic Dowd finished a two-on-one by beating a helpless Crawford and tallying a shorthanded goal for a 2–1 Washington advantage. This would eventually result in Chicago failing to convert on its fourth power play of the night.
When the teams headed into the intermission, the Capitals held a 2–1 lead but were getting outshot 29–21 by the Blackhawks.
As the third period opened, a familiar face in Michal Kempny took a penalty, but the Blackhawks’ ice-cold power play remained lifeless.
Shortly after wasting their fifth power play of the night, Capitals defenseman John Carlson fed Alex Ovechkin for a laser beam of a one-timer, which Crawford had no chance to stop. The Washington captain tallied the 664th goal of his illustrious Hall-of-Fame career.
Just a mere couple of minutes after the Ovechkin goal, Dominik Kubalik threw his hat into the ring with his second goal of the season. At that point, Kubalik could have easily had two more goals with the way he was buzzing around the ice. This time he drove to the net following a Brandon Saad shot and shoveled the rebound into the open net to cut the gap to 3–2.
Just as the clock approached the halfway point of the third period, Kane gave the United Center crowd some life. The Blackhawks intercepted a pass and quickly headed towards the Capitals end of the ice on a two-on-one. Kane used Alex Nylander to look off the defender and snapped the puck through Holtby to even the score at 3–3.
The tie game lasted less than three minutes, when Tom Wilson gave the visitors back the lead. Brent Seabrook lost his footing and Jonathan Toews did a fly-by which left Wilson wide open on the back door. Carl Hagelin tallied his second assist of the game, hitting the big power forward with a pass for an easy goal and 4–3 Washington edge.
After pulling the goalie in the final two minutes, the Blackhawks still could not manage to get the game-tying goal and Lars Eller scored a full-ice-length goal to give the visitors a 5–3 win. Final shot totals were 44–30 in favor of the Blackhawks.
- Dominik Kubalik has continued to impress. He had a nice partial breakaway in the second period that he did not convert on, but he also had two follow-up whacks at the rebound. For a guy that was perceived as a slower guy, he finds ways to get behind the defense. His goal later in the game just reinforced this perception behind his team-high 10 shots on net.
- Kirby Dach did not look out of place against NHL talent. He kept up and made a few nice quick plays in his 13:40 of ice time. He did not get on the scoresheet, but he was far from the reason the Blackhawks lost. It looks like we might see Dach for the full nine games, at minimum. The one area Chicago might want to consider getting him out there more is the power play. He did not see a second of time with the man advantage.
- I really wanted to come down hard on Alex Nylander, but his pass to Caggiula brought me back from Hatesville (population me) for the evening.
- When you outshoot a team 44–30 at home and have five power plays, you need to win that game, period. They did almost everything right. They won 59% of their face offs. They led in high danger scoring chances 16–9. They led in all possession metrics. The only category they did not dominate was goals scored. It is not fair to blame Crawford, but they needed just one more big save from him and he was not able to hold them in the game.