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Oshie helps Capitals defeat Blackhawks

by Katie Brown

WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov combined for five points in the Washington Capitals' 4-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at Verizon Center on Thursday.

Oshie, who opened the scoring in the first period, was relieved to get his first goal with the Capitals after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the offseason.

"Those guys have been feeding me the puck left and right it seems like, and I haven't been able to put any in," Oshie said. "It wasn't clean, but it found the back of the net. I'm so happy with it. I think a big part of that is I sort of settled down a little bit and started getting a little bit more comfortable and just playing hockey."

The Capitals bounced back from a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, with Ovechkin returning to the lineup after he was benched against San Jose for missing the morning skate.

Coach Barry Trotz was pleased with the production of his top line; their performance against the Blackhawks was exactly what the Capitals envisioned when they traded for Oshie.

"I think what happens with a line is it needs some time to talk things out," Trotz said. "And I think that there's a mutual respect. A guy like T.J. and Ovi, who has played in this league and scored so many goals, you want to get the puck to him … I think that they're just learning each other."

Ovechkin and defensemen John Carlson and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Capitals (2-1-0).

"It's definitely a starting point for us to build on," said Oshie, who had an assist on Ovechkin's goal. "No game's ever going to be perfect, but tonight was a step in the right direction."

Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 26 saves in his third start of the season. Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson each had two assists.

Defenseman Viktor Svedberg scored for the Blackhawks (2-3-0)

Reunited with Ovechkin on the top line, Oshie scored on the power play at 8:48 of the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Kuznetsov sent the puck to the high slot, where Oshie scored over Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling's right shoulder. The goal broke Oshie's 13-game scoring drought; his previous goal was March 15 with the Blues.

"We just wanted to come out hard and set the tone right away," Ovechkin said. "I think the first period was a good example how we have to play; get the puck deep and finish our checks."

Carlson scored at 3:09 of the second period for a 2-0 Washington lead. Stanislav Galiev's pass nearly went over the blue line, but Carlson stopped it at the point, spun around and sent a slap shot over Darling's right shoulder for first goal of the season.

Niskanen put the Capitals ahead by three at 2:32 of the third period, but Svedberg scored 41 seconds later to make it 3-1.

Ovechkin scored off a feed from Kuznetsov at 14:18 of the third period to make it 4-1, and has three points in his past two games.

Each team made changes to its lineup after being shut out in its previous game.

Defenseman Nate Schmidt and forward Michael Latta were scratched for the Capitals. Defenseman Taylor Chorney made his season debut, and forward Chandler Stephenson, recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday, played his first NHL game.

The Blackhawks scratched forward Ryan Garbutt and defenseman David Rundblad, and forward Kyle Baun made his season debut.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville saw some improvement in Washington compared to the 3-0 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

"Tonight was much better than last night," Quenneville said. "Last night, I didn't like it at all. Tonight, we had some good opportunities and had some zone time and had some good looks. So, it was one of those nights if you get one earlier in the game, it might have helped us."

The Capitals limited the Blackhawks to five shots on goal in the third period, two in the final 9:59 of the game.

"I mean, we're not happy with how we played the last few games," Chicago forward Marcus Kruger said. "First, we've got to try to find ways [to score], and that's usually [what] we do. So, let's see how it is, and all of us got to be better and take responsibility."

Kuznetsov played in his 100th career NHL game for the Capitals.

Darling made 20 saves in his second start of the season.

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