Three nights after their own five-game winning streak was stemmed at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, the Capitals opened a three-game road run with a Friday night game in Chicago against the Blackhawks, the league's hottest team. The Hawks entered Friday's game with a seven-game winning streak, the second longest in the league this season to date.
Thanks to a pair of first-period goals from Jay Beagle and stalwart goaltending from Braden Holtby, Washington scored first and led for most of the night. The Hawks' Marian Hossa scored with 22.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but the Caps prevailed on Marcus Johansson's overtime game-winner, a rocket from the slot at 2:20 of the extra session.
"It's a huge point," says Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, from his team's perspective. "They've got a good hockey team and they check well. They didn't give up much in the middle of that ice, but we certainly had a great look at the end with Hoss scoring a big goal for us. With overtime, anything can happen and they made a nice play on the rush."
Washington was able to effectively neutralize Chicago's top line, and to limit the Hawks in five-on-five play. The Blackhawks scored a power-play goal, and Hossa's goal was a six-on-five strike with goaltender Corey Crawford pulled for an extra skater.
"We did a really good job," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "I thought some of the most effective chances they had today were from their third and fourth lines. They got some really good looks at our net. I don't think [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews are going to miss some of the looks the other guys got. I thought we were fortunate early, and then I thought we locked it down pretty good."
The Caps had good chances of their own as well. Midway through the second period, Crawford had to come off for what Quenneville termed "an equipment malfunction." Backup goaltender Scott Darling had to come into the game cold, and seconds later he was facing a T.J. Oshie breakaway. But Oshie wasn't able to pull the trigger and the Caps missed a chance to expand their 2-1 lead.
"Halfway through my move, I saw that I had the whole net," recounts Oshie. "It's kind of reactionary for me to try to put it upstairs. I watched the replay and as I moved it from my backhand back over to my forehand, the puck just jumped up and flipped over my blade. With [Haws defenseman Duncan] Keith behind you, you think you're going to get caught anyway, but the puck just jumped over my stick."