CHICAGO—Things aren’t going right for defending Stanley Cup champions.

Jonathan Toews scored three goals and had two assists, Patrick Kane contributed a pair of goals and assists each and the Chicago Blackhawks handed the Washington Capitals, the aforementioned titlists, a thumping with an 8–5 victory on Sunday.

The beatdown was the lastest in series of sluggish performances by the Capitals. It also marked their season-high fifth consecutive loss.

The loss prompted the Capitals to hold a short players-only meeting after the loss.

“Our biggest battle is that we’re not complacent,” said goaltender Braden Holtby, who allowed four goals on 11 shots before he was replaced by Pheonix Copley 2:30 into the second. “It’s one of those things that’s going to be hard, is getting over the fact last year is last year. You move on.”

Washington’s defensemen accounted for each of its five goals while star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov were kept off the scoresheet. Carlson scored twice, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen each had a goal and an assist, and Brooks Orpik got his second of the season.

It was part of an up-and-down day for Orlov, who got his third goal of the season when his shot from the left boards went under Delia 15:24 into the second. But he also batted a puck out of the air and over Holtby to hand Toews his first goal 14:53 into the first.

The win was a boost for the Blackhawks.

While Chicago’s power play has been humming along quite nicely, the last-place Blackhawks have been struggling with their even-strength attack. Coach Jeremy Colliton mixed up his lines in response, putting Toews together with Kane—a common answer for predecessor Joel Quenneville during his 10-plus seasons in charge.

It worked.

“I know what he likes and how he likes to play and vice versa,” Toews said. “I think we can complement each other well. Obviously Kaner’s been playing with a ton of confidence, so for me it was just go out there and make his life easier and get him the puck and get to open areas.”

Brandon Saad and Alex DeBrincat also scored and Dylan Strome added an empty-netter as last-place Chicago stopped its own five-game slide. Collin Delia made 34 saves, including impressive stops on John Carlson and Tom Wilson in the second.

Carlson trimmed Chicago’s lead to 4-3 when he blew a one-timer past Delia 3:09 into the third. Kane responded with a power-play goal, and Toews sent a wrist shot past Copley to make it 6-3 at 7:20.

It was Kane’s 14th goal in his last 14 games. He has seven goals and 12 assists during an eight-game point streak.

After Washington pulled within one again on goals by Carlson and Niskanen, Toews danced around Orlov and beat Copley with 5:03 remaining. Toews’ 21st goal made it 7-5 and completed his sixth career hat trick.

“To see the caliber and level he brings and elevates in those key moments, it’s really special,” Kane said.

NOTES

  • Blackhawks D Henri Jokiharju was a healthy scratch. The 19-year-old Jokiharju has no goals and 12 assists in 36 games in his first NHL season. “We’ve got some young players. Eighty-two game season, it’s hard to keep that level night-in and night-out,” Colliton said. “So we may end up with a rotation where they’re able to, it’s not necessarily performance specifically why they’re coming out.”
  • First-year Capitals coach Todd Reirden is from nearby Deerfield, about 30 miles north of Chicago. “I didn’t have to get a lot of tickets. I do have a lot of passes,” a smiling Reirden said before the loss.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.

Blackhawks: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Recommended for you

Load comments