After Friday's quick start in Dallas, it seems the Blackhawks might have learned how a quick jump can lead to a strong lead. Tonight saw them apply that lesson, and the Washington Capitals never really seeming to show up to play at all. The Hawks were out to a 2-0 lead in the first 8 minutes, while it took the Caps almost 16 minutes before they registered a shot on net. The first goal saw Duncan Keith fire a shot from the point that deflected off Andrew Shaw and past Caps goalie Michael Neuvirth at 3:35, and 4 minutes later Viktor Stalberg blasted past the Washington defense and put the puck past Neuvirth before he barely had time to recognize.
The second saw the Caps get a goal early after a Nicklas Hjalmarsson turnover, but the Hawks answered on a beautiful give-and-go that with Andrew Brunette that left Patrick Kane with a wide open net. Shaw added his 2nd of the night on a nifty wrap around to make it 4-1. Alex Ovechkin made himself known with a highlight reel goal that abused Duncan Keith, but Chicago's defense tightened up in the third and an empty netter from Bryan Bickell brought the final margin.
A few quick thoughts to wrap it up:
- Though only notching one goal, Patrick Kane was a force to behold, leading the team in shots and carving through neutral ice numerous times. Kane held his own in the face off circle and defensively as well, and continued his strong overall play since shifting back into the middle.
- Bickell and Shaw both with 3 point games. When you see that in the box score, you know it's probably a good result for the men in the Indianhead sweater. The checking line is running on all cylinders lately though, and I think it's no coincidence the Hawks have been winning since this occurrence.
- Speaking of Shaw, despite his scoring run in his debut, I hadn't been fully on board, given his numerous defensive lapses and giveaways in the neutral zone. However, Shaw just doesn't quit, and is proof that hard work gets results. And tonight saw him improving some in his own end, and had a bit of a battle with Ovechkin all night.
- Michael Frolik was in the lineup for the first time in 8 games, and didn't look much worse for wear in limited time. I'm sure he'll end up back in the pressbox for some unknown reason.
- While it wasn't a sterling performance in net by Corey Crawford, he made a few tough saves and had a strong D in front of him, limiting the high-octane caps to 3 shots in the first and only 18 in the game.
- Ovechkin's through the legs jocking of Keith was a beautiful move and a great shot from a tough angle, but might've been one Crawford got caught leaning on. In other news, Alex Semin is already in playoff invisible mode, assuming the apitals even hold on to their 8th seed.
Overall, the Hawks controlled the pace of the game almost throughout, minus the first 5 minutes of the second, but the result of the game never seemed in doubt. Washington, meanwhile, looked like they'd rather have been anywhere else then on the ice. And for that reason, the Hawks get another meaningful two points.
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