Postgame Notebook: Capitals 4, Blackhawks 1
For the first five plus games of its seven-game pre-season slate, Washington’s performance could best be characterized as uneven. The Caps went 1-3-1 in those five games, and they slogged their way through the first two periods of the sixth of those games on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.
When the puck dropped to start the third period on Friday, the light went on. It has stayed on almost constantly since, enabling the Caps to finish up the exhibition season with a pair of wins and a 3-3-1 record.
In Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Hawks picked up where they left off in Friday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Sabres. Washington was dominant in the first 30 minutes of Sunday’s game against Chicago, and when the Capitals – leading by a slim 2-1 margin at the time – did hit a lull midway through the second period, goaltender Michal Neuvirth
was there to deny Chicago’s ongoing bid for the tying marker.
At one point in the latter half of the middle frame, Chicago had taken nine of the 10 previous shots in the game. Neuvirth had stopped them all, do so in sublime fashion on several occasions.
and Mathieu Perreault
staked the Caps to a 1-0 lead at 11:18 of the first. After some good work down low from linemates D.J. King and Jay Beagle
, Perreault slam-dunked a Green point shot that teetering near the goal line after wobbling through Chicago netminder Corey Crawford.
With 3:19 remaining in the first, the Caps grabbed a 2-0 lead. Brooks Laich
worked a give-and-go with linemate Joel Ward
in the right circle. Taking the puck back from Ward and driving toward the slot, Laich snapped off a wrist shot that eluded Crawford and gave the Caps a two-goal advantage.
Washington couldn’t quite get out of the first with that two-goal lead. Just 14 seconds after Laich was seated for goaltender interference, Chicago’s Marian Hossa beat Neuvirth to halve the Hawks’ deficit.
The Caps dominated the first half of the second, but couldn’t pad their lead. Chicago started buzzing midway through the second, and was helped by a pair of Washington penalties. But Neuvirth sealed off the front of the cage.
The Blackhawks’ Peter LeBlanc was bounced from the game for a head shot on Washington’s Alexander Semin
at 12:37 of the third. The Caps got a five-minute power play out of the incident, and Green cashed in with a goal in the latter stages of that man-advantage. Beagle finished the night’s scoring with a shorthanded empty-netter with 1:13 left on the clock.
From the start of the third period of Friday’s game against Buffalo to the middle of the second on Sunday against Chicago, the Caps owned a 39-15 advantage in shots on goal and a 3-1 edge on the scoreboard. That stretch of strong play covered a span of 55 minutes.
Made It –
Perreault came to camp as a bubble guy, one of about eight forwards competing for about three available spots. And he has certainly made the Capitals’ opening night roster. Perreault has lacked consistency at the NHL level in the past, but he has been the team’s most consistent and productive forwards this fall. He has also been one of its hardest working skaters.
Perreault played in four pre-season games, leading the Caps with three goals and five points.
By The Numbers – Alex Ovechkin
led all skaters on both sides with eight shots on goal. Ovechkin hit the target on eight of 10 shot bids; he had two blocked and didn’t miss any … Washington outhit the Hawks 17-8 … John Carlson
and Mike Knuble
led the way with three hits each … Roman Hamrlik
led the Caps with four blocked shots … Laich was 11-for-16 (69%) from the face-off circle.