Photos by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals were blasted by the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday by a 7-1 score. The Capitals generated just 19 shots on goal, lost to a team that had lost eight in a row, gave up 44 shots on goal (21 shots against in the first period) and Alex Ovechkin was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.
The loss was dreadful for a Capitals’ team that was looking to build on one of the best road games of the season on Thursday in Minnesota. The Capitals dominated the Wild and won 5-2 over a team that had points in 15 consecutive home games.
The ‘Madison Muff’ halted Washington’s point streak at four (2-0-2). The Capitals were lackluster on Saturday but the game could benefit them in the long-term.
This game is similar to the game in Anaheim last season when the Capitals fell behind 3-0 in the second period and lost the game 5-2 on March 12. The game finished off their annual California road trip, where they dropped all three games by a combined score of 13-6. After that game, the Capitals went 7-0-1 in their next eight games and 11-2-1 to finish the season.
The Capitals went through a similar stretch earlier this season when they lost to the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche by a combined score of 12-5. The 6-2 loss in Denver to a 48-point team from last season really stung the Capitals and served as a wake-up call. The Capitals went 12-4-0 the next 16 games.
The Capitals also got pounded on by the Vegas Golden Knights, who jumped on the Capitals and took a 3-0 lead in the first period, on December 23. The Capitals went 7-1-1 in their next nine after that, including a season-high five-game winning streak.
The Capitals have been inconsistent since returning from their bye week on January 18 and are 5-3-4 in the dozen games since returning from their mandated five-day break. The game on Saturday could just be what they need to wake up as they have a game coming up against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning at home on Tuesday.
The Caps have seen their five-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins dwindle to one, though the Capitals have two games in hand. By the time tomorrow’s slate of NHL activity wraps up, the Capitals could very well enter their game at Buffalo on Monday in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins visit Nationwide Arena tomorrow to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With 24 games until the postseason, the Capitals need to bring a laser-like focus to their game, both offensively and defensively.
By Harrison Brown