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Blackhawks fall 5-3 to Capitals in Kirby Dach’s NHL debut

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Holtby made 41 saves and Chicago went 0-for-5 on the power play.

Washington Capitals v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

In top prospect Kirby Dach’s NHL debut, the Blackhawks couldn’t convert on five power play opportunities and lost 5-3 to the Capitals on Sunday at the United Center.

Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Patrick Kane scored for Chicago, and Alexander Nylander collected two assists. Corey Crawford made 25 saves on 29 shots and dropped to 1-3 on the season.

Chicago recorded 44 shots and 16 high-danger scoring chances, but Braden Holtby had the best start of his season with 41 saves.

Dach finished with 13:40 minutes of ice time, a drawn penalty, a block, went 1-for-5 at the faceoff dot, had a 50.0 Corsi-For rate and was on the ice for one goal against.

How it Happened

The Blackhawks opted to start the game with the Dylan Strome - Dach - Kane line facing off against Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals. It gave Chicago’s top prospect the chance to experience the United Center anthem from the blue line and take the opening faceoff in his first career NHL game.

A few shifts later, Dach was able to drive the net from the corner and create a scoring chance with a slick backhand pass to Kane’s tape in the slot. It was one of the 11 scoring chances Chicago generated in the first period, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Andrew Shaw took an offensive zone holding penalty at 10:43 that could have been avoided. It was his team leading sixth penalty. Jonathan Toews won the resulting defensive zone draw, but wasn’t able to get a clear past Ovechkin who cycled it down low. Duncan Keith spiraled into incoming Washington forecheckers and turned the puck over to Evgeny Kuznetsov who found a wide open T.J. Oshie streaking towards the slot. Corey Crawford had no chance.

Then a solid puck possession shift by the fourth line, particularly Nylander, got some momentum back for Chicago. It led to a power play with a drawn tripping penalty by Shaw.

Late in the first period, Toews and DeBrincat had an impressive offensive zone entry and created a scoring chance with a give-and-go, but Holtby was able to block away DeBrincat’s high-danger shot.

Following a scuffle at the end of the first, Radko Gudas went to the sin bin for an extra roughing call on Connor Murphy, which gave the Blackhawks a power play to start the middle frame.

Holtby didn’t give up any rebounds and Chicago couldn’t capitalize on their second power play opportunity.

Then Crawford had his chance to shine with a comfortable looking save on a shot from the slot by Tom Wilson after a turnover in the corner by Brent Seabrook.

Not long after, vintage Duncan Keith showed up with a well executed tight gap and stick check on Jakub Vrana who was dangerously streaking into the defensive zone.

At 11:35 the Blackhawks fourth line had another impressive shift that started with a takeaway by Ryan Carpenter at the blue line and ended with a beautiful behind the back pass from Nylander to Caggiula, who tapped it in for his second goal of the season:

Just over a minute later, Dach got his lip cut by a Chandler Stephenson high stick and Chicago was awarded a four minute power play.

However, on a backdoor pass from Kane, Alex DeBrincat’s stick snapped on the one-timer and Erik Gustafsson ended up throwing a knuckling puck to Kane on the opposite wall. The puck bounced funny off the boards right to speedster Carl Hagelin for a 2-on-1 with Nic Dowd. Gustafsson tried the ‘Seabrook dive’ to block the pass, but it got through to Dowd who beat Crawford with a quick wrister for a short-handed tally:

The rest of the power play opportunity was a momentum killer, but Chicago’s fourth line and third line was able to generate offensive zone pressure and bring life back into the United Center crowd.

Chicago threw a flurry of shots towards Holtby, but many were blocked by sprawling Washington skaters. Through two periods, the Capitals had blocked 17 shots on 38 shot attempts by the Blackhawks.

Kane drew a tripping call 33 seconds into the third period, but Chicago wasn’t able to convert on their fifth power play opportunity of the game. Then the goal scoring frenzy started.

Following a shot from the point, Dylan Strome flew the defensive zone prematurely and Dach was caught puck watching leaving Ovechkin open for a one-timer from his favorite spot on the ice. Ovi did what he does best and picked up his sixth goal of the season.

At 13:55, Dominik Kubalik got the Blackhawks back within one goal after a dominant shift by the third line:

Shortly after, Crawford stoned Ovechkin on a similar opportunity that he scored on earlier in the period.

Then Nylander got a chance for a shift with Kane. He read a backhand pass from Lars Eller at the defensive zone blue line and deflected it to Kane speeding into the neutral zone. Kane drifted in on a 2-on-1 with Nylander and sniped it five hole to tie the game with 10:02 minutes left:

Less than two minutes later, Tom Wilson stole a stretch pass from Calvin de Haan and started a 3-on-2 rush into the Blackhawks defensive zone. Hagelin bumped into Seabrook as Eller circled the net. The puck found its way to Hagelin who knocked it backdoor to a wide open Wilson. Seabrook looked like he was interfered with, but there was no call from the referee.

Chicago pushed hard for the last five minutes, but Eller sealed the Capitals victory with an empty netter.

Game Charts

Puck possession game flow
Natural Stat Trick
Shot heat map
Natural Stat Trick

Three Stars

1. Braden Holtby (WSH) - 41 saves on 44 shots, ten high danger chances saved

2. Tom Wilson (WSH) - Game winning goal, three hits, four blocks

3. Alexander Nylander (CHI) - Two assists, 55.2 Corsi-For rate, three takeaways

What’s next?

The Blackhawks host the Golden Knights at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the United Center.