Monday night provided a sight that most fans have dreamed of since April: Blackhawks hockey. The Blackhawks returned to action in the nation’s capital on Monday night in preseason action.
In usual preseason fashion, the Blackhawks only dressed a few regulars for the road matchup against the Capitals. The lines were as follows:
Dahlstrom – Beaudin
The early portion of the first period was not full of much excitement. Neither team was able to generate any meaningful offense. With both teams sitting many key players and it being the first game of the season, it was expected that the game would begin slow.
However, at the 7:20 mark in the first period, the Blackhawks finally got it going. A nice play on the boards by the highly controversial winger Alexander Nylander led to an open pass from the young Swede to fellow Swede Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson ripped a big slap shot on net and Aleksi Saarela got just enough on the shot to redirect the chance and get credit for the tally.
The Blackhawks' first (preseason) goal of the 2019-20 season belongs to Aleksi Saarela! pic.twitter.com/9idGOa5q6c
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) September 16, 2019
The Blackhawks took the 1–0 advantage into the first intermission in Washington without anything getting past goaltender Collin Delia. The Blackhawks also took their 11–6 shots on goal advantage into the intermission as well.
The second period opened up with the Capitals finally putting a shot past Delia. After the Capitals dug a puck out from behind the net, the puck ended up on the stick of defenseman Tyler Lewington. Lewington was only able to get a weak shot off toward the net, but Washington first round pick Connor McMichael slid a beautiful backhand pass to Damien Riat, who tied the game.
About two minutes after the opening goal for the home team, Nylander scored his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform. Adam Boqvist put a shot on net with no net front presence of any kind, possibly looking for a rebound. Right before the puck made it to the net, Nylander was able to get a stick on the low shot, corral the puck and finish off a backhand shot to give the Blackhawks the lead once again.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) September 17, 2019
Sadly, the 2–1 lead did not last for long. Roughly three minutes after Nylander’s tally, the Capitals capitalized (pun fully intended) on a power play opportunity. After a failed clearing attempt by the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, Washington kept it in and put the puck into the slot. Aliaksei Protas, from the slot, found a wide open Travis Boyd on the left wing faceoff dot and he buried the chance to tie the game at two apiece.
The 2–2 draw did not last either, as both teams traded goals in the early half of the period. This time, Protas was the beneficiary of a rebound chance from Beck Malenstyn and recorded his second point of the night to give the home team a 3–2 lead. The Capitals’ third goal came just over a minute after the equalizer.
Despite the rally from the Capitals, the Blackhawks refused to go away easily. Just before the 13 minute mark of the period, Matthew Highmore was able to get a pass to Dylan Sikura in the offensive zone. Sikura attempted a shot on net, but the puck bounced toward the right wing boards where Boqvist picked it up. Boqvist batted the puck a few times in mid air, brought the puck under control and walked out from behind the net to Copley’s right side and fired a rocket over Copley’s left shoulder. The goal was Boqvist’s first of the preseason and tied the game at three each.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) September 17, 2019
The Blackhawks showed resilience, responding after two quick goals by the home team, which is an excellent sight to see, even in the preseason. Not only was the score deadlocked, but each team had 19 shots on goal through two periods as well.
The final frame of regulation played out very differently than that of the second period. Rather than both teams trading goals as they did in the middle frame, both teams buckled down defensively and did not allow the opposing team to score the potential game winning goal.
There were a few quality chances during the period. However, neither team capitalized on power play chances or at five on five. The game required overtime to decide a winner.
The overtime frame was just as exciting as one would hope. Early in the frame, the Capitals had a two on one opportunity but could not capitalize on the chance.
The best chance of the night for the Blackhawks came via a stretch pass from Nylander, who was very involved in this game. Nylander found Gustafsson at the opposing blue line before he found an open Ryan Carpenter, who had a breakaway from the blue line in. However, Carpenter could not convert on the chance.
Later in the overtime frame, after some sustained pressure by the Capitals, bulldozing forward Tom Wilson was able to dip his shoulder on Sikura and tuck the puck past Delia to give the Washington Capitals the 4–3 overtime win against the Blackhawks.
- The kid with the blonde hair: Alex Nylander was very good in this game. He was all over the ice offensively, contributing a goal and an assist, and also showed off a beautiful stretch pass during the overtime period. Despite a brutal showing at the Blackhawks’ prospect camp, Nylander seems to have rebounded nicely entering actual game action. If Nylander continues to look like this during the preseason, there is a very good chance he gets a chance on the opening night roster.
- Boqvist will be the real deal: The young Swede looked like a superstar with the puck on his stick. His goal said it all, as Boqvist was able to bat the puck out of mid air, control it and walk to the front of the net before ending the play with a snipe to the top corner of the net. There is zero doubt Boqvist is going to be a star in the NHL, but the moral of the story is that he should not be rushed. Let him do that all year in Rockford and, if need be, bring him up if he earns it or due to injury.
The Blackhawks jet off to Detroit to take on the Red Wings on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST and will be broadcasted on NBCSCH+.