The Chicago Blackhawks took to the ice against the Washington Capitals on Friday night, with both teams looking to snap some embarrassing streaks. The Blackhawks hadn’t scored a goal at the United Center in over two full games, while the Caps came to Chicago on a five-game losing streak. Something had to give in the Winter Classic preview, in the two teams’ first of two match-ups this season.
The Blackhawks and Caps traded chances during the game’s young minutes, but as the first period wore on, the ice slanted more and more towards Braden Holtby in the Capitals’ goal. It seemed only a matter of time before the Blackhawks finally knocked in a goal.
Brandon Saad did just that with 2:48 left in the frame, finishing a two-on-one after Marian Hossa floated a perfect pass across the ice. As the seconds ticked down, Alex Ovechkin took the lone penalty of the first period with 16 seconds remaining, after delivering an elbow to the head of Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Ovechkin’s penalty turned out to be costly for the Caps as play resumed in the second period. Duncan Keith wired a juicy rebound past Braden Holtby, scoring his third goal of the season, and putting the Blackhawks up 2-0. After the two teams traded penalties, it wouldn’t last, however, as Andre Burakovsky put a quick shot high past Corey Crawford to put the visitors on the board.
After chipping in an assist on the initial goal, Marcus Johansson decided to tuck one of his own, when his spinning wrist shot bounced off Brent Seabrook’s stick and in the goal. With 47 seconds left, the game was a clean slate.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Capitals weren’t done there. With 4.4 seconds remaining, Joel Ward tipped in Matt Niskanen’s point shot, giving the Capitals the late lead. In the span of 4:52, the Blackhawks had gone from holding a 2-0 lead, to trailing by a goal entering the third period.
The Caps slowly took the seconds, and minutes off the clock as the third period progressed, and with a pair of minutes left, the Blackhawks will still searching for the equalizer with Corey Crawford on the bench. Kris Versteeg and Andrew Shaw had some glorious chances, but nothing would find the net, as the Capitals snapped their losing streak with a 3-2 win.
Braden Holtby won the battle of the goaltenders on Friday night, stopping 38 of the Blackhawks’ 40 shots, while Corey Crawford went 21-for-24.
The Capitals allowed 30+shots for only the third time this season, against the Blackhawks who continue to be the league’s highest shot-taking team.
The next time the Capitals and Blackhawks meet, it will be outdoors in D.C. on New Year’s day for the Winter Classic, the Blackhawks’ third outdoor game in six years.
The Blackhawks are back in action on Sunday, when they face the San Jose Sharks at home at 6:00 PM CT.
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