The Washington Capitals were hot right out of the gate and maintained momentum and offensive stride as they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks Friday, 6-0.
With the victory, the Capitals move to first place in the Metropolitan Division, as well as first in the NHL. However, whether or not they’ll remain in that spot depends on if the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat Tampa Bay. Chicago suffered their first defeat since their Winter Classic loss on Jan. 2 but still hold onto their first-place spot atop the Central Division.
The Capitals have now beaten the Blackhawks in five of their last six meetings, and they also picked up their eighth straight victory.
From the get-go, the Capitals were doing everything right. They had plenty of chances early on and made the Blackhawks pay. Washington’s fourth line opened the scoring about six minutes into the first when Daniel Winnik pounced on a loose puck and dished it to Jay Beagle, who fired a quick wrist shot past Corey Crawford.
Just 13 seconds later, the Capitals would strike again on one of the top passing plays of the season. Alex Ovechkin entered the zone with a head full of steam, then dished the puck to T.J. Oshie, who set up Nicklas Backstrom on a bang-bang play that led to Backstrom’s 12th goal of the season, putting him on a three-game goal scoring streak.
The Blackhawks would try to conjure up some shots and gain momentum, but they only managed five shots on net through the first period. Near the end of the first, Brett Connolly picked up his sixth goal of the season on a tap-in following a turnover, sending Chicago to the locker room down 3-0 at the end of 20.
The Blackhawks had a strong start to the second frame, getting as many opportunities on net as possible. They went on a 10-1 shooting streak to begin the middle period, to which Holtby responded with outstanding, routine saves. Finally, however, they thought they broke through. Vinnie Hinostroza managed to fire the loose puck into a wide-open net before Holtby could get across. However, the call on the ice was reversed, due to goaltender interference from Marian Hossa, and the score would remain 3-0.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) January 14, 2017
Following the coach’s challenge, the Blackhawks appeared to lose a lot of their momentum, and the Capitals only gained more energy as they continued. With around three minutes to go in the second, a falling Nate Schmidt managed to send a cross-ice pass to Tom Wilson in front of the cage, who tapped the puck past Crawford, ending his 14-game goalless drought.
The Blackhawks were weary and tired coming into the third, with little motivation or much more to offer. They managed seven shots, but ultimately, Washington continued to power through to the final seconds. With about eight minutes to go in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom dished the puck to T.J. Oshie, who fired a shot that deflected off a Blackhawks defender and past a surprised Crawford, effectively ending the netminder’s night between the pipes. This is the third time in 11 games that the Capitals’ offense forced the opposing team to pull their starters from the game.
With about eight minutes to go in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom dished the puck to T.J. Oshie, whose pass back to the middle deflected off Niklas Hjalmarsson and past a surprised Crawford, effectively ending his night between the pipes. This is the third time in 11 games that the Capitals’ offense forced the opposing team to pull their starters from the game.
With around two minutes to go, Jay Beagle picked up his second goal after firing a loose puck on the doorstep past Scott Darling. He also had a close opportunity for a hattrick in the end. Ultimately, though, the Capitals came out with a 6-0 win, and absolutely dominated Chicago from start to finish in one of their best, well-rounded games of the 2016-17 campaign.
WSH- Jay Beagle (7) assisted by Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson
WSH- Nicklas Backstorm (12) assisted by T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin
WSH- Brett Connolly (6) assisted by Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky
WSH- Tom Wilson (3) assisted by Nate Schmidt and Lars Eller
WSH- T.J. Oshie (9) assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Nate Schmidt
WSH- Jay Beagle (8) assisted by John Carlson and Tom Wilson
THW Three Stars
WSH- Braden Holtby (24 saves, sixth shutout)
WSH- Jay Beagle (two goals)
WSH- Tom Wison (one goal, two assists)
Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center, 1 p.m. EST on Jan. 15
Broadcast Channels: CSNMA, CSNP
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
United Center, 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 15
Broadcast Channels: NBCSN
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.