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Capitals vs. Blackhawks Recap: Chicago Downs Washington 8-5

Five goals from defensemen were not enough to stave off the Blackhawks and a Toews hat trick

NHL: Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s brunch-time game featured the worst team in the league and a team that’s been playing like the worst team in the league as of late. Going into today, the Blackhawks had lost seven of their last eight games and the Capitals had lost seven of their last ten. Caps’ coach Todd Reirden put the lines and defensive pairings in a bit of a blender for today:

Would these changes be enough to stave off their first five-game losing streak since October/November of 2014? Spoiler: they were not.

Here’s Sunday afternoon’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Five Capitals skaters had two-point games: John Carlson (2G), Matt Niskanen (1G, 1A), Dmitry Orlov (1G, 1A), Andre Burakovsky (2A), and TJ Oshie (2A).

Minus: The Capitals allowed eight goals on 28 shots and never held the momentum of the game for more than a few minutes.

And now, this…

Thirteen more notes on the game:

1. 6:36 into the first, Brandon Saad got the Blackhawks on the board first with a goal after a horrible misplay by Madison Bowey. Saad cut through the middle of the ice, made Bowey look like he was standing still, and gave himself enough room to shoot. The Capitals, who really needed the first goal in this game, were now down 0-1.

2. Just 1:20 later, Patrick Kane gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead. Braden Holtby, who was screened by the recently-traded Drake Caggiula, had no chance. Definitely not the start Washington wanted.

3. The Caps needed to get one back, and who better to answer the call than Brooks Orpik. That’s right folks, Brooks Orpik scored his second goal of the season and the 18th goal of his 16-season NHL career this afternoon. A good shift by the Caps ended in their second five-on-five goal in five games. Fun fact: Brooks Orpik has more five-on-five goals than Evgeny Kuznetsov.

4. 30 seconds later, the puck found the back of Holtby’s net courtesy of...Dmitry Orlov. Yeah, you read that right, it was an own goal. The goal was credited to Jonathan Toews, but it was Orlov who accidentally swatted the puck into the net with his hand. Yikes.

5. Less than three minutes into the second period, the Hawks extended their lead to three with a goal from Alex DeBrincat. Tom Wilson got himself incredibly out of position on the rush down the ice and left DeBrincat all alone, and he had plenty of room to make it 4-1 Chicago. Enter Pheonix Copley, maybe he could convince his team to play better in front of him.

6. Dmitry Orlov was probably feeling really bad about that own goal from earlier, so with less than five minutes to go in the second period, he got the Capitals a goal too! Collin Delia made a series of incredible saves on the Capitals, but a minute Orlov fired the puck from a severe angle and snuck it past him.

7. Three minutes into the third period, John Carlson pulled the Caps within one with his seventh goal of the season. It was a good play all around: a faceoff win, a nice pass from Orlov to Carlson, and a wicked slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle.

8. 36 seconds later, on a power play after Nicklas Backstrom was called for tripping, Kane scored his second goal of the game. All of the momentum and energy the Caps got from Carlson’s goal was suddenly pushed out of the arena by the sounds of “Chelsea Dagger”.

9. Less than four minutes later, Jonathan Toews got his second of the game after a two-on-one with Kane. Brooks Orpik was the “one” on that play, and while it wasn’t his fault he was the only Capital back on the play, Toews made him look silly. 6-3 Chicago.

10. Just over halfway through the third, John Carlson got in on the two-goal game fun with his second of the game. Carlson fired the puck through traffic and over Delia’s shoulder after a bit of a scramble in front of the net, making this his third career two-goal game. Please don’t let Oshie hopping out of the way on the play go unnoticed.

11. A few minutes later the Caps were within one again, this time because of a Matt Niskanen goal. The Niscannon fired the puck from one leg through the screen and hit twine for his sixth goal of the season.

12. Just 1:02 after Niskanen scored, Jonathan Toews notched a hat trick after breezing by three Capitals skaters and firing the puck past a confused-looking Copley. This was the third time this afternoon that the Caps managed to get within one only to have Chicago answer back quickly.

13. Dylan Strome scored the empty-netter nail in the coffin with less than two minutes to go. When the Caps allowed seven goals in Chicago last season, we traded for Kempny. What does eight goals get us?

The Capitals get a day off before returning to Capital One Arena to face the San Jose Sharks.