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Capitals vs. Blackhawks Recap: Holtby Comes up Big for Caps in 5-3 Win

On a night when the team defense is less than sharp, Holtby saves the bacon - and the two points - to kick off the road trip.

Washington Capitals v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have not done too well against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago that last 11 years. Since 2008 the Capitals are 3-6 in Chicago being outscored 24-41. That’s 2.6 goals per game, which isn’t too bad, but then a disastrously bad 4.55 goals against per game. To say the Capitals aren’t good in the windy city is putting it lightly. Even the three wins they do have in Chicago it was a one goal game each time (3-2, 3-2, 4-3).

Luckily they finally bucked the trend and won by not just one but two goals! With the help of an empty netter the Capitals won 5-3, making it the first time they have won in Chicago by more than a goal since 2004.

Plus: Braden Holtby was the surprising hero this game after his rough start to the season. Without him the Capitals probably get buried in the 2nd period. Holtby now has back to back good games. He needs to keep building off of that.

Minus: Just about everyone else sucked. They weren’t horrific but it felt as if Chicago was playing a bit harder and wanted it more. Outside of the bottom six everyone else got buried in scoring chances.

Ten more notes on the game:

  1. TJ Oshie scored another power play goal, making it his fourth power play goal and seventh overall goal, which leads the team. Ovechkin who?

2. Speaking of the power play, it got off to a rough start to the season, but since Evgeny Kuznetsov has returned the power play has been nine for 26, a 34.6% rate. That number probably won’t stick but it’s better than the 21% they were rocking earlier.

3. Since Kuznetsov has returned he has seven points in six games. He still has a lot of work to do defensively but at least he’s putting up points now.

4. As stated earlier, everyone was pretty garbage except the bottom six, specifically the fourth line, which had the highest rated xGF% among all lines between both teams. Nic Dowd even chipped in with a crucial short handed goal. If Brendan Leipsic had any luck he’d have a couple goals already this season. He looked, as usual, great tonight.

5. That aforementioned shorthanded goal came on a double minor from Chandler Stephenson, who had all of zero penalty minutes last season. Not only did the Capitals kill off the double minor and score a goal themselves, but they allowed all of one shot during those four minutes.

6. Sticking with special teams, the Capitals were perfect, scoring on their one power play chance and killing all five of their penalty kills. Refs could have maybe helped out the Capitals a little.

7. Radko Gudas went two straight games sticking up for teammates. Last game against the New York Rangers he took exception to a high hit on Michal Kempny, and for the game against the Blackhawks, someone went high on Ovechkin. Gudas went to the aid of his teammates both times. He is probably a favorite in the locker room by now.

8. John Carlson extended his point streak to seven games on his amazing pass for Ovechkin’s 6th goal of the season. The assist was Carlson’s 18th point in the first ten games of the season. That made him the third NHL defensemen EVER to hit at least 18 points in their first 10 games, tying Bobby Orr and getting two points shy of Paul Coffey. That’s some amazing company.

9. All three of Chicago goals came off pretty brutal, unnecessary turnovers. The odd thing it was from some of the most steady players on the team. Gudas, Oshie, and Eller were are responsible. Luckily Oshie (one goal) and Eller (two goals) made up for their mistakes.

10. Carl Hagelin, who is a near perfect Swedish child, got his second assist of the night, the second time he’s had a multi-point game for the Capitals. Both assists were primary and were pretty sweet passes.