The Hawks were coming off a tough 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers in Chicago on Wednesday, while the Caps were fighting illness, injury, and a 2-4-1 record in their previous seven contests.
Neither team appeared especially interested in reversing their recent fortune; no shots were recorded for either team in the first five minutes of play. Although that statistic was reversed for each team, only Chicago would make good on any of their shots in the first period. Jamal Mayers notched his third goal of the season by putting back a rebound of a shot by Dave Bolland at the 14:33 mark. The visitors made it 2-0 in the dying moments of the first period when Steve Montador sent a soft wrist shot to the Caps’ net that goalie Michal Neuvirth whiffed on when he tried to glove it down. The Hawks went to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, even though the Caps out-shot them, 9-7.
The second period opened with Braden Holtby taking over in net for the Caps, and things started in ugly fashion for him. Jonathan Toews won the draw to open the period back to Duncan Keith. The Blackhawk defenseman sent the puck up to Patrick Kane at the Capitals’ line where he turned and circled for the Caps net. His wrist shot snuck though Holtby’s five-hole, giving Chicago a 3-0 lead just 16 seconds into the middle frame.
The Blackhwaks sensed blood in the water and went for the kill with heavy pressure on Holtby. They were unable to add to their goal total, and gradually the Caps tilted the ice in the other direction. Their efforts paid off when Jay Beagle drew a tripping call on Patrick Kane as Beagle wrestled the puck away from him. The Caps converted the power play opportunity a half-minute later when Nicklas Backstrom slid a pass from close quarters to Mathieu Perreault at the post to the left of goalie Ray Emery. Perreault redirected the puck past Emery’s skate to put the Caps on the board. They could get no closer over the last five minutes of the period, though, and the teams went off at the second intermission with the Blackhawks holding a 3-1 lead.
Chicago made it 4-1 at the 4:02 mark when Keith recorded his fifth goal of the year, wristing a shot past Holtby off a faceoff win by Jonathan Toews.
Joey Crabb got the Caps got closer at the 13:25 mark when he banked a shot off the skate of Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya. Troy Brouwer made a game of it when he snapped the puck past Emery at the 17:44 mark with Brent Seabrook draped all over him.
That would be as close as the Caps would get. They would have chances late with Holtby pulled for an extra attacker. Nicklas Backstrom hit a post with 30 seconds left, and Alex Ovechkin sent a shot just wide before the final horn. But Chicago escaped with a 4-3 win, giving the Caps their sixth loss in eight games.
Notes: Michal Neuvirth was listed as day-to-day after being removed at the first intermission with flu symptoms.
Blackhawks 4 – Capitals 3