The Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks exchanged five goals in the third period, but it was the Caps who came out on top on Sunday in a 5-3 win. The game is the first of a five-game road swing for the Caps who have now won three straight.
Observations from the win
Another strong game for Holtby
The brief reset seems to have done the job for Braden Holtby who made 41 saves. He was also very good on Friday against the New York Rangers. He looked mad after giving up the third goal, but that was a tough shot from one of the most lethal scorers in the game.
Patrick Kane came in on a 2-on-1 and Holtby did not for one second think he was going to pass. Usually you can see a goalie start to cheat over in anticipation of the pass, butHoltby stayed square with Kane the whole way. I watched the game with former goalie Brent Johnson who noted the puck began to roll when Kane shot it. It looked like it was going high, but instead went through the 5-hole which may be why Holtby was annoyed.
Regardless, that was a tough shot to save and he was good overall for the night. Stringing a few solid games together should keep the talk of a goalie controversy at bay.
That’s what Carl Hagelin brings
It was a slow start to the season for Hagelin, but this was one of his better games of the season. He was especially brilliant on the penalty kill and his play to start the breakout and assist Dowd on the shorthanded goal was the turning point of the game (spoiler alert!).
Adjust your expectations when you evaluate Hagelin. He is not a big point producer, that’s not why they got him. Brian MacLellan traded for Hagelin for performances like we saw Sunday.
Nic Dowd needs to stay in the lineup
Dowd now has two goals in two games, but it’s not just about that. The fourth line just looks better with him on it, as does the penalty kill. This should not be a guy having to fight for his spot in the lineup. He’s earned it in my mind.
Drake Caggiula tied the game at 1 in the second period and suddenly the momentum was all on Chicago’s side. Just one minute later, Chandler Stephenson was given a double-minor for high-sticking Kirby Dach. This was Chicago’s moment to take control of the game. Instead, it proved to be the turning point for Washington.
Patrick Kane turned the puck over on the power play and Hagelin picked it up and was off to the races, sparking a 2-on-1 with Dowd. Hagelin made the pass to Dowd who beat Corey Crawford glove-side for his second goal in as many games.
Chicago was given the double-minor power play exactly one minute after tying the game. Just 28 seconds after that, the Caps retook momentum with the shorthanded goal. The Blackhawks’ power play, which had looked dangerous to that point, completely fizzled through the rest of the double-minor.
Play of the night
Alex Ovechkin from the office? Been there, done that. It’s a great shot from the Great 8, but what makes this play so darn pretty is the pass from John Carlson.
A slap shot from Michal Kempny went wide of the net and curled around the wall back towards the blue line. Carlson collected it and immediately fired it on the first touch cross-ice to perfectly feed Ovechkin for the one-timer.
Stat of the night
As hot as Carlson is, this category can just be dominated by him considering the elite company he is keeping these days.
So as not to be monotonous, I’ll give you a bonus stat.
The Caps may have given up three goals on the night, but don’t let that fool you. This was a really strong game for Holtby who faced 44 shots.
Quote of the night
Tom Wilson on the netminder's performance.
"I think Holts had his calm demeanor back, for sure."
Bold...but not quite.
You got the score right. Kuznetsov and Carlson both had assists, Ovechkin had one goal. Well done.
It was a relatively high-scoring game and Chicago did manage 44 shots on goal, but the Caps also blocked 31 of those shots and were perfect on the penalty kill with five kills.
He doesn’t like taking penalties either, but he took a double-minor on Sunday. That is four more PIM than he had all of last season.
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