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The Western Conference’s Chicago Blackhawks visited the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena Wednesday night, and were promptly demolished by the best top-line performance of the season from the Caps.
Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: This was the best game of Tom Wilson’s career, full stop. He looked like a bona fide first-line stud alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstom, future Hall Of Famers, and.....and I don’t know what to do with that information. Four points, two goals, and nine-tenths of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Bravo, Knuckles.
Minus: In the final minutes of this blowout, Chicago’s Ryan Hartman threw a nasty and deliberate-looking knee-on-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin, the league’s leading goal-scorer. Ovi was very slow to get up.
And now, this...
Honestly the Blackhawks are probably bigger rivals with the Winter Classic than the Capitals at this point.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) December 6, 2017
Ten more notes on the game:
1. IT’S WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY, Y’ALL! Even though though this “rivalry” may be tenuous at best, it would be fun to see how the Capitals would respond on national television, and under the pasty white-hot glow of Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire.
2. With American Warhead T.J. Oshie out with an upper-body injury suffered against the Sharks, would Jakub Vrana, et youthful al., step up and answer the frosty bell?
3. The proverbial ice was finally broken with 8 minutes left in the first period. A deft Tom Wilson steal-and-feed led to a genius bump set from Alex Ovechkin. Ovi fed Nicklas Backstrom, who ripped a snapshot into the back of the net. In so doing, Backstrom snapped his career-high 21-game goal scoring drought. Also worth noting: Tom Wilson looked FANTASTIC on the top-line all night. I am not prepared for this upside-down reality, but it makes me tingly.
4. Minutes later in the first, Tom Wilson snatched ANOTHER sneaky-deeky turnover, this time in the offensive zone. Wilson hit the immediate 360-degree spin-o-rama protocol and ripped a BB into the back of the net. The Top Line Tom Turkey gave the Caps a 2-0 lead.
5. Just scant scintillating seconds later, Tom Wilson (again!) got loose on a breakaway. His initial shot was saved, but a trailing Alex Ovechkin slurped up the rebound and delivered it home like FedEx to make it 3-0 Capitals. For those of you keeping score at home: that’s right - the ENTIRE first line scored in the first period.
6. Alas, with two minutes left in the fame, Chicago’s Lance Bouma made Braden Holtby pay for a juicy rebound, getting a bit of moral support for the Blackhawks before the buzzer and making it 3-1 Washington at the first intermission.
7. The second period was all Blackhawks. With five minutes left in the period, the shots on goal showed 15-to-1 Chicago. BUT, hahahaha, life is unfair and hilariously advantageously cruel sometimes! And in the waning minutes of the period and the Capitals on a Tom Wilson-drawn power play (one of two minors he drew in the game), Brett “The Threat” Connolly cashed in on an Ovechkin rebound with a heads-up snapper to make it 4-1 Capitals.
8. Moments later, poor, previously-kinda-handsome Dmitry Orlov caught a Chicago stick high and in the mouth, and cameras saw him spitting blood and - yes - teeth on the ice. Ol’ Dima got a festive new smile, and the Capitals got a four minute double minor. Nothing came of it, but Orlov can maybe now catch some endorsement work for local orthodontics practices.
9. Halfway through the final period, Evgeny Kuznetsov one-timed home a beautiful tap-tap pass from Ovechkin to give the Capitals a 5-1 lead and his 10th goal of the year.
10. Chicago’s Jonathan Toews would answer, but (ya boy!) Tom Wilson banked the full-ice 200-foot empty netter to secure the 6-2 win for the good guys from Washington.
Not a stellar second period, but gosh darn did the top line look good in this game. IS TOM WILSON ACTUALLY BECOMING A TOP-LINE FORWARD???? IS THAT REALLY POSSIBLE???? WE DARE NOT BELIEVE IT!!!!