Capitals Defensemen Shine but Team Falters 8-5 to the Blackhawks

The Washington Capitals drooped their fifth game in a row in a 8-5 offensive shootout loss the Chicago Blackhawks in a Sunday afternoon matinee at United Center in Chicago. All five Capitals goals came from defensemen with All-Star John Carlson pacing the way with two while Brooks Orpik, Dmitry Orlov, and Matt Niskanen each added a goal of their own. In the end though, the Caps goaltending couldn’t overcome a Blackhawks attack highlighted by a four-goal afternoon from Jonathan Toews. The Cap shave now dropped eight of their last 11 games and are still looking for answeres. They haven’t dropped five games in a row since the start of the 2014-15 season.

Things got off to a poor start for the Caps. After failing to cash in on the power play on a hesitation pass from Jakub Vrana they dug themselves into a 2-0 hole with goals from Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane.

These goals happened in the span of a minute and 20 seconds and would be the beginning of a long day for Braden Holtby, who earlier this week missed two games due to vision trouble. He did recover and get the start in Friday night’s 2-0 loss to Barry Trotz’s Islanders.

The Caps got a goal from their veteran defenseman leader Brooks Orpik, who just six days ago played in his 1,000th NHL game. The goal was Orpik’s second of the season.

The home team snatched the momentum right back off a misplay by Dmitry Orlov. Orlov tried to deflect a shot but would up past Holtby into the Caps’ own net. It made it 3-1. The goal was credited to Jonathan Toews.

The Blackhawks took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after the opening 20 minutes. The Caps led in shots 15-9. In the second, Alex DeBrincat made it 4-1, ending Holtby’s afternoon. Pheonix Copley entered the game in relief.

There was a big trip to the penalty box for both teams. Duncan Keith slashed Tom Wilson while he was roughing Brent Seabrook. Additionally, Devante Smith-Pelly was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct and David Kampf hooked Michal Kempny. Shortly after, Alex Ovechkin and Connor Murphy were penalized for roughing and we got a nice Sunday episode of Full House: Sin Bin Edition.

Then Blackhawks goalie Collin Delia practically stood on his head with spectacular saves on shots from John Carlson twice and Tom Wilson.

But then the momentum shifted toured the defending Stanley Cup champs who were determined to put an end their four-game winless drought. Orlov redeemed himself to make it a two-goal deficit with a sharp-angle shot for his third goal of the season.

The score would be 4-2 after 40 minutes with the Blackhawks leading in shots 12-9 in the second period. The Caps inched closer with a blast from All-Star defenseman John Carlson for his seventh of the year.

The Blackhawks answered 36 seconds later with Kane’s and Toews’ second goal of the game.

The Caps made a last ditch effort with more offensive firepower from the defense. Carlson netted his second goal of the game, eighth of the season.

Then the Caps closed the gap to 6-5 thanks to Matt Niskanen’s sixth goal of the season.

The Blackhawks answered with Toews completing the hat trick 62 seconds later.

The Blackhawks added an empty net goal by Toews. The Caps outshot the Blackhawks 14-7 in the third and outshot them overall 38-28 but it simply wasn’t enough. Holtby stopped seven of the 11 shots he faced for a .636 save percentage while Copley tried his best to keep the Caps in the game, stopping 14-of-17 for an .824 save percentage.

Washington has a back-to-back beginning Tuesday night at Capital one Arena hosting the San Jose Sharks before heading to Toronto on Wednesday night for a nationally televised tilt with the Maple Leafs. Then Carlson, Holtby, and head coach Todd Reirden head to San Jose for All-Star weekend.

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