Capitals score 3 goals late in second period to beat Blackhawks
CHICAGO — After finding ways to lose the past two weeks, the Washington Capitals turned the tables on a tough opponent.
Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, and Joel Ward scored in a 4:52 span late in the second period, and Washington rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Friday night, ending a five-game losing streak.
Braden Holtby made 38 saves for the Capitals, who were 0-4-1 since winning at Calgary on Oct. 25.
Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith scored for Chicago, which led 2-0, but then came unglued after Burakovsky scored with just under 5 minutes left in the second.
“Chicago is a very good hockey team and they made us look pretty normal,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “But we were resilient.
“Holts was good in net and we got some timely goals, finally. Back-to-back-to-back.”
And for the first time since their last victory, the Capitals allowed fewer than four goals.
“It felt like this got switched over for us,” said Ward, whose deflection with 5 seconds left in the second turned out to be the game winner. “We were up 2-0 in a couple of games and had the lead slip away.
“Shows you how fast there can be a turn of events.”
For the Blackhawks, that turn was in the wrong direction.
“I thought we played a perfect 35 minutes, then basically shot ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “A couple of plays that are totally unacceptable.”
Corey Crawford made 21 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of four and are 3-6-0 in their last nine.
The Blackhawks played their first game without forward Patrick Sharp, who is expected to miss a month after injuring his right knee Tuesday at Montreal. Sharp led Chicago last season with 34 goals and 44 assists.
Washington star Alex Ovechkin was held without a point after having two assists on Tuesday to become the leading scorer in franchise history.
The Blackhawks dominated as the first period progressed. Saad opened the scoring with 2:48 left in the period on Chicago’s 15th shot to complete a 2-on-1 break with Marian Hossa.
After taking Hossa’s cross-ice pass, Saad fired a low one-timer that struck the inside of Holtby’s left pad and slid into the net.
Ovechkin was penalized for an illegal hit to the head of Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with 16 seconds left in the first, and Keith scored on the power play 56 seconds into the second to make it 2-0. He swooped into the right circle and fired in a rebound through traffic.
The Capitals then connected three times late in the period to take the lead. The last two goals came 42 seconds apart in the final minute.
“We were doing a lot of things right, had a 2-0 lead and nothing serious and giving up nothing,” Quenneville said. “Then we make a bad decision and it’s in our net. And it’s in our net. And it’s in out net.”
Burakovsky cut it to 2-1 with 4:57 left to complete a 2-on-1 with Troy Brouwer. After faking a pass, he closed in and fired a perfect shot over Crawford’s left shoulder and just under the crossbar.
“We got an unbelievable goal by (Burakovsky) there to get us going,” Ward said. “That transitioned for a couple of other guys to chip in.”
The Blackhawks were scrambling in their zone following a failed clearing attempt, and Johansson tied it at 2 with 47 seconds remaining in the period on a low shot from right circle that ticked in off the stick of Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Ward’s goalmouth deflection of Matt Niskanen’s shot from the point with 5 seconds left in the frame put Washington ahead.
The Blackhawks didn’t regroup and didn’t sustain consistent pressure until late in the third. Holtby made an sharp save on Kris Versteeg’s shot from the left circle with about 90 seconds left.
Washington C Brooks Laich returned after missing seven games with an injured shoulder. … The Blackhawks recalled F Peter Regin from Rockford of the AHL to fill Sharp’s roster spot. Also still out for Chicago is F Daniel Carcillo (lower body), who missed his seventh game. … The Capitals and Blackhawks meet again in the NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park on Jan. 1. To promote the outdoor game, the two teams wore Winter Classic stocking caps in Friday’s warm-ups.
*Photo courtesy of Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images