The Chicago Blackhawks losing streak is now up to five games after their visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday night. We saw the same exact issues we’ve seen in the last four games as the team’s overall play was not poor over extended periods of time, but a lack of finish on the offensive end killed them again.
Anton Forsberg eased a lot of the angst of having Corey Crawford on injured reserve with his play over the weekend, but those fears quickly came back during a 3:28 span in the first period tonight.
The Capitals opened the scoring at the 11:54 mark as Nicklas Backstrom ended a 21-game goal drought by beating Forsberg with a one-timer from the slot. Duncan Keith’s clearing attempt was picked off by Tom Wilson who fed it down to Alex Ovechkin at the side of the net. Jan Rutta decided to try to stop Ovechkin’s touch pass to Backstrom instead of defending the inevitable shot, which was not the right choice.
Wilson doubled the Capitals lead at 14:53 as he fired a wrist shot from the right wall after a faceoff win that beat Forsberg to the short side. There was no excuse for this one. There is no way Forsberg should have let that shot get in behind him.
Keith had a role in the Capitals third goal just 29 seconds later as he was beat down the ice by Wilson and then skated right by the net which allowed Ovechkin to blast the rebound in past Forsberg.
Joel Quenneville decided to make a goaltending change to try and spark the team and it worked after Jean-Francois Berube was inserted into the game, his debut with the Blackhawks.
Lance Bouma got the Blackhawks on the board with just over two minutes remaining in the second period with his third goal of the season. Alex DeBrincat entered the zone and made a sneaky pass to Connor Murphy in the left circle while Bouma drove to the net to put home the rebound.
The Blackhawks dominated the second period, outshooting the Capitals 16-6. In fact the Blackhawks had a 22-7 shot advantage from when Berube entered the game until second intermission. However, Washington scored the only goal of the second period as Brett Connolly scored on the power play at 18:32 by slamming home a rebound off an Ovechkin shot seconds after a failed clearing attempt by Nick Schmaltz.
The Capitals extended their lead to 5-1 at the 10:23 mark of the third period. Everyone in white was watching Ovechkin behind the net, so he was able to get the puck out front to Evgeny Kuznetsov who was able to beat Berube despite having four Blackhawks defenders within six feet of him.
The teams were skating with four players a side about six minutes later because Ryan Hartman went knee-to-knee on Ovechkin and Wilson took exception to it. Jonathan Toews took advantage of an Ovechkin mishandle at the blue line and beat Holtby through the five-hole for an unassisted breakaway goal. Toews now has goals in back-to-back games. Granted they have both come during “garbage time,” but this teams needs his offensive game to get going in a bad way.
Wilson scored his career high fourth point with a shorthanded, empty-net goal at 17:40. The fact the Blackhawks let Wilson score four points against them is just infuriating.
The Blackhawks outshot the Capitals 39-25, but there were not many shot that really challenged Holtby. Many of those 39 shots were put right into his chest and he was rarely forced to make a difficult save.
The two worst teams in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes, will be in town over the weekend. If the Blackhawks do not get four points out of these next two games then some big changes need to be made.