Having lost four straight, the Blackhawks went to Washington looking to slow down Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals.
In an effort to try to find the right recipe for an offensive outburst, coach Joel Quenneville turned on the line blender. He opened the game with lines of:
Ryan Hartman – Jonathan Toews – John Hayden
Brandon Saad – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Lance Bouma – Nick Schmaltz – Alex DeBrincat
Patrick Sharp – Tommy Wingels – Richard Panik
And in the first period, the Hawks actually outplayed the Caps for a big part of the opening 20 minutes. Without the theoretical benefit of a power play, the Hawks put 16 shots on net in the first period, and controlled the action for ten minutes.
But over a span of 3:28 the Blackhawks were blitzed, during which Anton Forsberg allowed three goals and saw the coach call him to the bench. Nicklas Backstrom scored for the first time in 21 games to open the flurry, followed by a Tom Wilson goal three minutes later. Ovechin scored his 21st of the season 29 seconds after the Wilson goal to push the lead to three.
Forsberg was relieved after 15:22 in the first period, allowing three goals against 10 shots. Jean-Francois Berube made his Blackhawks debut and faced one shot in the remaining time of the first period.
Chicago would get on the board before the end of the period when Bouma put home a rebound for his third of the year.
The Hawks got the first power play of the night when Matt Niskanen went to the box at 5:10 into the second and they… did absolutely nothing with the advantage.
The Hawks got the second power play of the night when Tom Wilson tried to break Gustav Forsling at 10:48 into the second. Chicago… did absolutely nothing with another advantage.
But the Hawks absolutely poured it on in the second period, getting better chances at even strength than when they had a power play (shocking, we know). At the media timeout at 4:48 left in the second, the shots on goal were 21-1 in favor of Chicago since Washington scored their third goal. But the score was still 3-1 in favor of the Caps.
After he got a good, hard hit on Wilson earlier in the period, Bouma and Wilson took a few whacks at each other with every opportunity in the second. With 2:41 left in the middle period, Bouma got caught and wento to the box for the Hawks’ first penalty of the night and – you guessed it – Ovechkin scored. It was up to 4-1 Capitals.
Eight whole seconds after the Ovechkin goal, Hartman hit Dmitry Orlov in the mouth with a follow-through and appeared to knock a chunk of Orlov’s tooth out. He picked up a double-minor on the play.
Thankfully, Ovechkin was sent to the box 20 seconds into the first penalty on Hartman – and with exactly 60 seconds left in the period – and the teams skated out the final minute 4-on-4.
The Blackhawks out-shot the Capitals 15-6 in the second period and were outscored 1-0. Braden Holtby was superb.
Evgeny Kuznetsov added another goal to the Washington side of the scoreboard at 10:23 into the third. Chicago got a third power play two minutes later when Brooks Orpik hooked Panik. And the Blackhawks… did… nothing… with… it.
With less than five minutes left in regulation, Ovechkin – who had four points in the game – was hit knee-to-knee by Hartman immediately following the end of the Orpik penalty. Wilson didn’t like the play and took a shot at Hartman. Both went off for two minutes for their respective stupidity.
During the 4-on-4 Toews got a breakaway and scored his eighth of the season to cut the score to 5-2.
Madison Bowey went to the box as the Hartman-Wilson minors ended and the Hawks got a power play in the closing three minutes. But Panik turned the puck over in front of the net and Wilson flipped the puck the length of the ice and into the empty net for a short-handed goal to make it 6-2.
The Blackhawks have now lost five straight and have been outscored in those five games 19-10.
Berube faced 14 shots in relief of Forsberg, stopping 12.
Toews won 17 of 25 faceoffs in addition to his goal.
Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with seven shots on net; he was minus-four and a turnover directly led to Washington’s first goal.
Panik put two shots on net for the night’s moral victory.
Tom Wilson had a four-point night.
The Blackhawks looked good for ten minutes to start the game. They put pressure on in the second period. But their defensive lapses, bad passing and mediocre special teams led to another blowout loss.
Line changes are improving anything; rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic isn’t solving anything. It looks more and more every night like personnel changes are necessary.