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Capitals vs. Blackhawks Recap: Top Line Dirty Dances, Caps Win 4-1

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Top-line forwards show their skill, and so does Holtby.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Capitals bounced back on Thursday night with a 4-1 victory over mid-western foe the Chicago Blackhawks. With the captain back in the lineup, the Capitals took it to the Blackhawks early, going up 3-0 behind goals by John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and T.J. Oshie's first as a Washington Capital. A late, dazzling back-and-forth slam dunk by Alex Ovechkin both built the coffin and nailed it closed. The offense was effective and the defense was inoffensive, and when you couple that with the stalwart backstopping the team got from Braden Holtby, you've got yourself a recipe for a bright, red W.

Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:

  • PlusThe Caps' top line of T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov looked lethal and anticipatory, like a clairvoyant mako shark. Finding one another with a plethora of spin-o-ramas and no-look goodness, these guys looked like quite the deadly medley.
  • Minus: Despite his goal (a simple snapshot from the blue line that found its way through traffic), Matt Niskanen did not look fabulous. A couple dangerous giveaways in the Caps' zone combined with some incomplete clearances could have swung the whole game in a different direction.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • What can you say about the top line that hasn't already been said about machetes and porn stars? They looked brutally sharp, and they're always looking to score. This, THIS, is what a creme-de-la-league first line looks like.
  • The second line looked promising, too (two?). Justin Williams is a slippery eel of a forward, and combined with lead Swedes Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky, the Caps' top six look positively buxom with talent.
  • On the other end, Braden Holtby looked like a stone-cold superstar. Saving 26 of 27 shots for a .963 save percentage, Holtby did exactly what the Caps needed of him.
  • The defense wasn't all good, though. Like a case of chronic flatulence, the blue liners stank at clearing the front of the net. Many swats to safety were passed over for slower finesse moves, and that's a dangerous dance.
  • Oshie scored his first goal as a snappy red-sweatered Capital. Here's hoping it's the first of many, many, many-many-many.
  • Niskanen did not cost the Capitals the game, but he did not look very sharp. He got shook a couple times in his own end by tricky forwards, and he did more chaperoning of opponents than flat-out denying.
  • One good-looking blueliner was Dmitry Orlov. Dima made a few good, quick, decisive defensive plays in his own zone, and with the puck, he is an attractive power play point man and a good option joining the rush. He can blast veritable ICBMs with his slap shot, and he can dance along the blue line like Baryshnikov.
  • Alex Ovechkin sure as hell did not oversleep tonight. He returned with a characteristic fire lit under his ass, and careened all over the ice like a Tasmanian devil. Good Ovi, good boy.
  • Nicklas Backstrom is expected to return Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the question now becomes, where does he fit in? The obvious answer is right back on the top line where he belongs, but goodness, the Capitals have an embarrassment of offensive riches on their hands.
  • On the other hand, however sopping wet with potential Andre Burakovsky might be, he is still a work in progress, and looked iffy and unsure at times, like he wasn't totally clear on his assignments. This will improve with time, hopefully, and we'll all be able to wipe our collective Bura brow, bruh.

Slow starts, schmo schmarts. With Ovechkin back in the line-up, the Capitals looked downright nasty on Thursday. Nicklas Backstrom should be back soon, and if the defense can pull its weight and Holtby can continue to stand - well, not on his head, but maybe his shoulders or his trapezius muscles - this Metro could get sexual. The Carolina Hurricanes come to town on Saturday. The home team will be ready. Happy weekend, and Go Caps.

Game highlights: