The Chicago Blackhawks’ special teams were anything, but special in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Capitals.
The Chicago Blackhawks put forth a solid effort in their 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center, but their special teams’ gaffes are what sunk the ship. The ‘Hawks fall to 2-3-1 on the season.
The Blackhawks would go down early to the Capitals and never held the lead in the game. The power play had a major power surge tonight which was a bit surprising, but the Capitals’ power play came ready to play.
The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal to Alex Ovechkin in the first period, a shorthanded goal to Nic Dowd in the second period, and went 0-5 on the power-play. It was a bad effort on special teams from the ‘Hawks, especially the second power-play unit.
The second power-play unit with Keith and Seabrook on the points is a real glaring hole, as both of them had less than stellar games this evening. Keith had a bad turnover on Washington’s first goal of the game by T.J. Oshie, and Brent Seabrook was on his back when Tom Wilson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period. If Colliton leaves these two on the point, this unit won’t be scoring many goals this season. A potential fit for that point slot could either be the sharp-shooting, Dominik Kubalik, or possibly Alexander Nylander.
The other story of the game was Capitals’ goalie, Braden Holtby, who made 41 saves in this one and shut down the ‘Hawks. The Blackhawks peppered the net with shots, including 10 from Dominik Kubalik who scored his second goal of the season tonight.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ bottom-six played markedly better than the top-six, with the lines of Brandon Saad–David Kampf-Dominik Kubalik and Alexander Nylander-Ryan Carpenter–Drake Caggiula producing multiple scoring chances and finding twine. Drake Caggiula added his second of the season off a nice no-look feed from Nylander, who had his best game of the season. The only goal from the top 6 came from Patrick Kane, who scored after Alexander Nylander took the puck away.
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After not playing solid 5-on-5 hockey Friday night against Columbus, the ‘Hawks put together solid 5-on-5 play tonight, but not enough success on special teams was their downfall.
With Kirby Dach making his NHL debut, there was a buzz in the United Center, but Dach had a very pedestrian game. He didn’t make any mistakes, but there weren’t any jaw-dropping moments. He’s definitely NHL ready though, as he was going head-to-head with some of the Capitals’ top forwards all night.
Corey Crawford had a solid night, as the Washington goals would’ve been tough to stop as they were either one-timers or clean looks at the net. I do suspect Robin Lehner will be back in between the pipes for the ‘Hawks on Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Chicago Blackhawks looked much better than they have in previous games, but the goaltending performance of Braden Holtby sealed the Blackhawks’ fate tonight. I suspect they will come out with a good effort against a good Knights squad, where the special teams will have to be better if they want to get back to .500.