Blackhawks Edge Capitals, 4-3 (SO); Fourth-Line Strikes Twice

Photo: John McCreary/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals’ third-period collapse on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Florida continued to haunt them on Thursday night when they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3 in a shootout at Capital One Arena.

The point lifted the Capitals three points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who have two games in hand on the Capitals, for first place in the Metropolitan Division and one point behind the Florida Panthers (one game in hand) and Toronto Maple Leafs (has played one more game than the Capitals) for first in the NHL. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 25 saves in the loss, his first start in five games.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Blackhawks

Graphic: @Capitals

Right-wing Daniel Sprong returned to the lineup after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch while center Michael Sgarbossa came out and center Connor McMichael dropped down to centering the fourth-line. Defenseman Justin Schultz returned to the lineup after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury and Dennis Cholowski came out.

Scratched: Sgarbossa, LHD Matt Irwin

Injured: C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, missed 24th straight game, week-to-week), RW T.J. Oshie (lower-body, sixth/16th in past 17, day-to-day), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 14th, indefinite), LW Conor Sheary (lower-body, sixth, day-to-day)

First Period

Left-wing Alex DeBrincat deked and backhanded a shot past Vanecek after a give-and-go with right-wing Patrick Kane and an indirect pass from defenseman Seth Jones from the defensive zone to open the scoring for the Blackhawks with one minute left.

The Capitals led 5-4 in blocked shots and failed to score on one power play in the first period.

The Blackhawks led 9-8 in shots, won 60% of the faceoffs, and had no giveaways while the Capitals had one through 20 minutes.

Each team earned eight hits and two takeaways in the opening stanza.

Second Period

Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy left the game and did not return after taking a huge hit from Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

After a turnover by the Blackhawks in the offensive zone, the Capitals’ fourth-line went the other way and left-wing Carl Hagelin fed center Nic Dowd from the left dot for a tap in in front to finish off a three-way passing play between the duo and right-wing Garnet Hathaway and tie it 1:10 into the period.

Left-wing Dominik Kubalik sneaked behind the Capitals defense, got a feed from DeBrincat behind him, and ripped a shot past Vanecek to the top corner from the low slot on the power play to retake the lead for the Blackhawks at 12:57.

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov finished off a loose puck in the blue paint after center Aleksei Protas deflected Ovechkin’s shot off of the post and the puck hit goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s pad to tie it once again with 2:29 left.

The Capitals led 10-9 in second-period shots, 22-14 in hits, 4-3 in takeaways, and did not score on one power play in the first two periods.

The Blackhawks led 9-8 in blocked shots, won 59% of the draws, and took advantage once on their two opportunities on the man advantage through 40 minutes.

Each team tallied 18 shots and two giveaways through two.

Third Period

Dowd sprained Hathaway on a breakaway out of the penalty box from the defensive zone and Hathaway was stopped by Fleury but the puck squeaked past him to give the Capitals their first lead of the game at 57 seconds. Hathaway earned his fourth multi-point game of the season.

Jones wristed a bullet from out high past Vanecek’s glove after getting a feed by center Josiah Slavin from the half-wall to tie it for the Blackhawks with 8:57 to go.

The Capitals led 32-22 in hits, 10-5 in takeaways, 15-14 in blocked shots, and did not score on one power play.

The Blackhawks led 26-25 in shots, including 8-7 in the third period, 9-8 in blocked shots, had three giveaways while the Capitals had five, and took advantage once on their two opportunities on the man advantage.

Each team split the battle at the faceoff dot.

Overtime

The Capitals led 3-2 in shots but neither side would end the game in overtime. Each team fired the puck on net 28 times.

Shootout

Kuznetsov hit the post after gliding in on the right side.

Center Jonathan Toews was shut down by Vanecek after trying to go five-hole.

Sprong hit the post after burning and churning down the wing.

Right-wing Patrick Kane skated in, deked, and put one through the five-hole of Vanecek.

Fleury shut down Ovechkin through the five-hole and the Blackhawks took it.

The loss snapped the Capitals’ eight-game home winning streak vs. the Blackhawks but they have earned a point in nine straight home games against Chicago.

Next game: Saturday vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington locally, ESPN+ out of market)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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