Washington Capitals

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks left wanting more

The Blackhawks were easily the better team at even strength against one of the deepest teams in the NHL. They led in total shot attempts (84-49), shots on goal (44-30), even-strength scoring chances (36-20) and even-strength high-danger chances (16-9), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't pull out a win.

The Blackhawks put up 44 shots on goal against a Capitals team that allowed the second-fewest shots per game (27.8) going into the matchup. They deserved a better fate.

"I think we dictated most of the play tonight and we weren't rewarded for it, but that's the way hockey works sometimes," Drake Caggiula said. "You don't always get the bounces, you don't always get the results you're looking for, even if you play the prototypical game or the perfect game. We didn't get rewarded tonight but this is something we can build off of heading into the next one."

2. Kirby Dach's NHL debut

After being sidelined for the first week of training camp and working his way back from a concussion, the Blackhawks' No. 3 overall pick finally made his much-anticipated NHL debut. And he held his own.

Dach centered the second line with Dylan Strome playing left wing and Patrick Kane in his usual spot at right wing. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and went 1-for-5 at the faceoff circle in 13:41 of ice time. His only noticeable blemish was not picking up Alex Ovechkin in time before he rifled a shot past Corey Crawford.

"Obviously you want to win in your first game in and help the team that way, but I felt good out there," Dach said. "But at the same time, there's things I can clean up in my game to kind of help the team moving forward."

3. Special teams is the difference

The reason the Blackhawks lost this game was their lack of success on special teams. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, which included a four-minute double minor in the second period.

It was unfortunate because the Capitals entered Sunday's matchup with a +11 goal differential and +44 shot differential in the second period and a -5 goal differential and -13 shot differential in the first and third periods combined, but the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize in the middle frame even thought they outshot them 15-9. Caggiula's goal was negated just 1:28 after by Nic Down.

"You can look at in the second there, we had a lot of momentum, give up a shorthanded goal, so we gotta be better in that department," Kane said. "We also gotta be better on the power play. Comes down to things like that, but good team and I thought we had a pretty good effort overall tonight."

4. Third line stands out again

The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad continues to be the driving force on offense for the Blackhawks, especially when it comes to possession. They were on the ice for 22 shot attempts for and nine against, 14 scoring chances for and four against, six high-danger chances for and one against, and one goal for and zero against in 9:07 of 5-on-5 ice time. 

Kubalik led the charge with 14 shot attempts (10 on goal) and scored a greasy goal to pull the Blackhawks within one in the third period. Kane evened it up shortly after. 

"Turned the game for us," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kubalik's goal. "I think we were playing well, but they just took it to another level. Not only did they score, but it was an explosive shift there. And it wasn't the only good shift they had, but it really gave us momentum. They've been good."

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Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

FINAL SCORE:

Capitals 5, Blackhawks 3

Snap judgments:

— The Blackhawks won the even-strength battle, but special teams was the story of the game. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 and gave up a shorthanded goal.

— Kirby Dach made his NHL debut and held his own, centering the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:41 of ice time. He also went 1-for-5 in the faceoff circle with his sole win coming on the opening draw of the game.

— The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad was excellent. They controlled 70.9 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 77.8 percent of the 5-on-5 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Kubalik had a game-high 10 shots on goal.

Three stars:

1. Capitals RW Tom Wilson — Game-winning goal, three shot attempts (two on goal), four blocked shots, three hits and two takeaways in 16:48 of ice time

2. Capitals G Braden Holtby — Stopped 41 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .932

3. Blackhawks RW Dominik Kubalik — One goal, 14 shot attempts (10 on goal), two hits and one takeaway in 14:15 of ice time

Must-see highlights:

— Caggiula finishes off pretty goal by fourth line

— Kubalik's second goal of the season

— Kane goes five-hole Holtby to tie it up

What's next:

The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.

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Four takeaways: Early mistakes doom Blackhawks as road woes continue in Washington

Four takeaways: Early mistakes doom Blackhawks as road woes continue in Washington

WASHINGTON — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Wednesday:

1. Early mistakes

A lot happened before the first TV timeout. And it wasn't great for the Blackhawks. 

Tom Wilson scored 54 seconds into the game to put the Capitals up 1-0. The Blackhawks had a chance to respond 1:16 later with a power play opportunity, but failed to record a shot on goal during it.

The Capitals were awarded a power play shortly after that and cashed in at the very end of it, with Andre Burakovsky burying a beautiful backhand pass by Jakub Vrana to make it 2-0 at 6:34.

"We did a lot of good things," Duncan Keith said. "We played hard. We can be a little bit better with the puck. Maybe a little bit more patient at times and more crisp, cleaner with it and have guys going to the net. That's a step for sure. They got a good team over there and they got skill that can capitalize on chances if you give them up. We didn't give up a whole lot. But when we did they capitalized."

2. Playing catch-up

After getting outshot 8-0, the Blackhawks pushed back by recording 14 of the next 15 shots on goal. But they had nothing to show for it. Instead, the Capitals got the next goal to go up 3-0 near the midway mark of the second period.

There was another push by the Blackhawks after Brandon Saad made it 3-1 at 11:37 and Erik Gustafsson cut the deficit to 3-2 at 5:23 of the third period. But the Capitals answered 1:49 later when Devante Smith-Pelly scored to make it 4-2.

"That's part of hockey," Saad said. "We don't want to give up goals that quickly, but at the end of the day when it happens, just keep fighting and you've got to play a full 60 minutes regardless."

3. Saad-Toews-Kane line shines

The Blackhawks are overloading one line by putting Saad with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and they were arguably the best trio of any team despite the end result. They drove possession, created scoring chances, and cashed in when Saad made a terrific individual effort to put the Blackhawks on the board.

Saad has scored in three straight, Kane has picked up at least a point in every game except four, and Toews stretched his point streak to five games. All of them saw by far the most ice time of any team forwards: Kane (24:36), Toews (23:47), Saad (22:33).

"They were really good," Colliton said. "They’re skating well and working hard away from the puck. Of course we want them to score more, but they’re playing well and that’s why I played them so much. Because they looked fresh and it looked like they could get us back in the game at any point and that’s what we’re looking for from them.

"I was trying not to," Colliton continued regarding the trio's heavy ice time. "But I looked after the second period and they’re all around 14-15 minutes. I’m trying not to play them, but I felt like we could come back. We had to give it a shot."

4. Road struggles continue

The Blackhawks have been making progress as of late by picking up at least a point in four straight games going into Wednesday. But they're still struggling to pick up wins on the road, with their last victory coming Oct. 20 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was more than a month ago.

With this loss, the Blackhawks are 0-6-1 in their past seven road games after starting the season 2-0-1. That's not great news when you look at the schedule as Wednesday marked the first of a stretch where they will play seven of the next nine on the road.

The Blackhawks also extended their losing streak in Washington to eight games, having last won in our nation's capital on Jan. 10, 2006 in a 4-3 overtime victory.