Caps March to Chicago

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Each of the Capitals’ last two trips to the Windy City has come in the month of March. Each produced vastly different results. And each was memorable for multiple reasons. On March 19, 2008, the Caps reached Chicago on the heels of an important 4-2 win over the Predators in Nashville the previous night. It was the Capitals’ first trip to Chicago in more than four years, and it was the second game of a crucial six-game road swing. Cristobal Huet backstopped the Caps’ win in Nashville, and Alex Ovechkin had three points, including his 58th goal of the season. Playing the second of back-to-back games, the Caps went with Olie Kolzig in goal against the Blackhawks. Washington came out flat in the first, and the Hawks jumped all over the Caps. Chicago outshot Washington 18-6 and outscored the Caps 4-0 in the first period on its way to a resounding 5-0 victory. Prior to the game against the Blackhawks, the Capitals had outscored their opponents by a combined total of 22-3 in the first period of their previous 15 contests. The game also ended a four-game Washington winning streak, and it ended a streak of seven straight games in which the Caps scored at least one power play goal. Prior to the game, the Hawks honored legendary Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito with a terrific ceremony at center ice, one that culminated with Kolzig and then-Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin “facing off” for a ceremonial puck drop from Esposito. The three netminders had a combined total of 993 NHL victories between them at that time. Kolzig stopped 37 of the 42 shots he faced in a losing effort that night, a game that proved to be his last in a Washington sweater. The game also proved to be the last loss suffered by the Caps in the 2007-08 regular season. With Huet starting each night, Washington went on to win its last seven straight games – its first winning streak of five or more games in more than seven years – to claim the Southeast Division crown on the final day of the campaign. On March 14, 2010, the Caps returned to Chicago to start a four-game road trip with a Sunday matinee match against the Hawks at United Center. Playing a Blackhawks team that had lost on the road in Philadelphia a day earlier, the Caps’ game plan was to physically wear the Chicago team as much as possible. With that in mind, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin finished his check on Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell in the corner behind the Chicago net in the first period, but the hit earned Ovechkin a five-minute major for boarding, a game misconduct and – eventually – a two-game suspension from the NHL. Already down 1-0 to their hosts, the Caps gave up another goal during the Ovechkin penalty and fell into a 3-0 hole on a John Madden goal in the second. Washington kept throwing the body, though; the Caps outhit the Hawks 23-14 in the second period and 43-32 on the afternoon. The Caps’ physical diligence finally paid dividends in the third. Washington took over the game, teeing up 28 shots to Chicago’s 11 in the third, and outshooting the Hawks 11-1. (The Hawks’ only shot on goal in the third came with two seconds remaining.) More importantly, the Caps scored three times in a span of just 2:16 to draw even and force the game to overtime. That’s when Nicklas Backstrom scored on a 3-on-2 rush to give the Caps a 4-3 win. That game marked the third time the Caps had come back from a three-goal deficit to win a game that season, and it raised Washington’s record to 16-7-4 in games in which the opposition scored first, and a league-best 7-9-3 when trailing after 40 minutes of play. Sunday’s game between the Caps and Hawks should be fun, but it may not match the goings-on of the last two meetings between these two teams in this fair city.

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Net Change

January 14, 2013

We woke up in Chicago today to the news that the Caps have summoned goaltender Braden Holtby from AHL Hershey. This is Holtby’s fourth recall of the season and his third since the All-Star break. He has played in just one game with the Caps this season, a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 13


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