The Chicago Blackhawks handed the Capitals their fifth straight loss on Sunday in an ugly 8-5 defeat. All five of Washington's goals came from defensemen as the team's top forwards continued to struggle.
Here are five reasons the Caps lost.
Missed early opportunities
The game got off to a great start. Tom Wilson fed Jakub Vrana in the middle for a great early opportunity and Lars Eller had another shot with the rebound. Washington also got a power play less than two minutes into the game and was brilliant with the setup, keeping the puck in the zone for the full two minutes and getting a number of high-quality opportunities.
But they didn’t score and that soon loomed very large.
Brandon Saad put Chicago on the board 6:36 into the first and Patrick Kane scored 80 seconds later to make it 2-0, thus erasing the Caps’ strong start.
The goals have been hard to come by for the Caps so when they had the opportunity to take the early lead, they absolutely had to finish. They didn’t and the game got away from them as a result.
A bad play by Madison Bowey
Bowey will be cringing at the replay of the Saad goal for a while. Saad broke the puck out of the defensive zone and carried it into the neutral zone. Bowey had a bead on him until Saad cut to the center. Suddenly Bowey was caught flat footed. He reached for Saad with a weak stick check which Saad easily fought through with no real resistance and he was in on net. He finished the play with the game’s first goal.
This was really the moment when you realized this was not going to be a good day for Washington.
Down 2-0, Brooks Orpik managed to sneak a softy through goalie Colin Delia to make it 2-1. Just 28 seconds later, however, bad luck struck the Caps yet again.
Dmitry Orlov and Jonathan Toews battled for the puck right in front of the crease and it bounced into he air. Orlov swiped at it with his glove to try to clear it from danger, but instead knocked it right over Holtby and into the net. The own goal made it 3-1 and signaled that Washington was in for a long day.
An ill-advised penalty
This game felt like it quickly was getting out of hand. Somehow, however, the Caps managed to keep things close. Dmitry Orlov snuck another squeaker through Delia in the second and John Carlson fired a one-timer early in the third to make the score 4-3. All of a sudden, the Caps had signs of life. With all the momentum on their side, however, Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for hooking Toews just 23 seconds later.
You could tell what was about to happen.
Sure enough, Kane scored 13 seconds into the power play to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead.
The Toews hat trick
Once again, Washington tried to battle back. Matt Niskanen scored with just over six minutes remaining in the game, the fifth goal from a Caps’ defenseman, to pull the score to 6-5. Toews provided the coffin nail just over a minute later with an absolutely brutal play on Orlov.
Toews entered the offensive zone and Orlov took an awful approach. Toews finessed the puck right in front of Orlov which he should have been able to easily sweep away. Instead, he whiffed completely allowing Toews to regain the puck, step past Orlov and fired it under the pad and into the net.
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