An old friend came back to haunt the Blackhawks as the host Capitals were able to escape a terribly officiated Winter Classic with a 3-2 victory.
Troy Brouwer scored the game-winner with less than 13 seconds showing on the clock as Washington converted a power play for the first time in the game. It was the Caps’ third power play of the game; they finished 1-4 with the advantage, as Brandon Saad went to the box for slashing during the sequence of events that concluded with Brouwer’s game-winner.
The Hawks got off to another slow start, allowing 15 shots in a first period that saw both teams struggle with the sun light reflecting off the ice. Eric Fehr scored at 7:01 to give Washington the lead before the two teams switched ends at the 10 minute mark because of the conditions. Alexander Ovechkin scored 11:58 to extend the lead to 2-0, a familiar position for a Chicago team that came back from a 3-0 deficit in their last game of 2014.
Only seven seconds into their second power play of the game, Patrick Sharp put the Hawks on the board with his seventh goal of the season.
Chicago scored the only goal of the second period, as Saad was able to beat Braden Holtby for an even strength tally. The Hawks had 90 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage in the middle of the period but weren’t able to capitalize; the Chicago power play was ultimately where the Hawks lost the game.
There were a number of bad calls going both ways in the game, and many Blackhawks fans will point to the questionable hooking call on Jonathan Toews in the game’s closing minute that led to Brouwer’s game-winner as the reason the Hawks came up short on New Year’s Day. But the Hawks converting only one of six power plays was a bigger issue.
In the third period, a potentially bigger issue for the Blackhawks than Brouwer’s goal was the loss of Kris Versteeg. He was hit in the left hand by a Fehr shot and labored to the bench, eventually heading to the dressing room. Versteeg did not return to the game, and coach Joel Quenneville indicated after the game that he could be out for a while, evoking the dreaded “we’ll know more tomorrow” language that often indicates weeks, not days, will be missed.
Corey Crawford made 32 saves (and got some help from the posts a couple times on Ovechkin shots) in the loss, while Holtby made 33 saves in the win.
Toews took 30 of 78 faceoffs in the game for the Blackhawks, winning 17 while picking up an assist on Saad’s goal. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith also had assists in the game. Patrick Sharp was credited with 10 of Chicago’s 35 shots on net, by far the most in the game for either team.
Daniel Carcillo skated 3:38 in only seven shifts.