A couple short years ago the Capitals and Blackhawks playing a matinee at the United Center would have been an ideal nationally televised matchup.
But the Caps came in having lost their last four and the Hawks had lost their last five on Sunday. And even though Washington is still the reigning Stanley Cup champions, right now this game was just a tougher sell.
That’s okay. There were still elite players on the ice, and did they ever put on a show.
Washington came out strong but the Hawks struck first. Brandon Saad made what might be his best individual play of the season to get Chicago on the board.
David Kampf was credited with the only assist on the Saad goal.
Patrick Kane was next on the list. He scored his 28th of the season 80 seconds later.
Jonathan Toews started his big day with an assist on Kane’s first of the day. Brent Seabrook was also credited with an assist.
Brooks Orpik cut the lead in half at 14:25 but Toews “scored” his first of the day less than 30 seconds later.
Washington out-shot the Hawks 15-9 in the first but Chicago held a 3-1 lead.
Because of course.
Alex DeBrincat scored his 25th of the season at 2:30 into the second period and that was it for Braden Holtby.
Holtby got the hook after allowing four goals against 12 shots. Enter Pheonix Copley.
Dmitry Orlov scored at 15:24 to cut the Blackhawks lead back to two as things started to get increasingly physical. Tom Wilson, noted dirtball, started running at people – including Kane. Alex Ovechkin also made sure to give Kane a whack every time he was within reach as the game progressed.
The Blackhawks out-shot the Capitals 12-9 in the second and took a 4-2 lead to the third period.
John Carlson cut the lead to 4-3 three minutes into the third period. This has been a time when the Hawks have fallen apart in recent games, but on Sunday the home team responded quickly with purpose once again. Kane scored a power play goal 36 seconds after the Carlson goal to push the lead back to two.
At 7:20 Toews scored his 20th of the season to make the lead three.
Those goals became important because the defense wasn’t doing much for Chicago. Carlson scored again at 10:38 and then Matt Niskanen scored at 13:55 to cut the lead back to one. All five of Washington’s goals had come from defensemen while Chicago was relying on their stars up front.
Toews and Kane weren’t done, though. Kane set up Toews for his third of the day 62 seconds after the Niskanen goal to give the Blackhawks a 7-5 lead.
Toews was up to five points in the game.
That's the sixth regular-season hat trick for Jonathan Toews and his second of the season. #Blackhawks
— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) January 20, 2019
Dylan Strome scored into the empty net with 1:49 showing on the clock off a nice chip from DeBrincat. The goal, added to two assists, gave Strome three points in the game. Kane added an assist on the Strome goal for his fifth point of the day.
The only Blackhawks defensemen to skate more than 20 minutes were Connor Murphy and Carl Dahlstrom. Slater Koekkoek skated 15:58, the lowest total on the blue line, but led the team with six hits.
Toews finished plus-four and won 11 of 17 faceoffs with six shots on net. Kane was plus-five with five shots on net.
Collin Delia stopped 34 of 39.
The Blackhawks had scored 17 goals during their five-game losing streak coming into Sunday and promptly hung eight on Washington. Ovechkin, who was shadowed a lot by Dahlstrom, was held to two shots on net.