Caps' top line carries them past Blackhawks
WASHINGTON -- Alexander Ovechkin scored his league-leading 21st goal, Nicklas Backstrom ended a 21-game goal-scoring drought and Tom Wilson scored twice as the Washington Capitals cruised to a 6-2 victory on Wednesday over the sliding Chicago Blackhawks.
The Capitals' high-flying offense, sparked by the top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Wilson, scored three goals in a 3:28 span of the first period to chase Chicago goaltender Anton Forsberg, who was making a third consecutive start for the first time in his career.
Washington used a picture-perfect tic-tac-toe passing play to set up its first goal at 11:54 of the opening period, with Wilson and Ovechkin assisting on Backstrom's fourth goal of the year and his first since Oct. 14.
Wilson put the Capitals up 2-0 just under three minutes later, sliding a shot under a seemingly surprised Forsberg's right pad. Just 29 seconds later, Wilson's breakaway shot was turned away by Forsberg, but the rebound went through Artem Anisimov's legs and right to Ovechkin, who didn't miss from point-blank range.
Washington's captain now has eight goals in his last seven games.
That was enough for Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who brought in backup netminder J.F. Berube from the bench.
The Blackhawks shook up their lines to get some more offense, and even though they fired 39 shots at Braden Holtby, the changes didn't result in a lot of good looks.
Lance Bouma poked in a rebound of a Connor Murphy shot to make it 3-1 in the second period, and Jonathan Toews scored a breakaway goal off a turnover for the Blackhawks late in the third period.
Berube finished with 12 saves for Chicago, which is 0-3-2 in its last five games.
Brett Connolly and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for the Capitals, who have won six of seven to move into a tie for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
NOTES: Washington has now won seven straight home games against Chicago. ... Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there was a "likelihood" that G Corey Crawford would return to the lineup Sunday against Arizona. Crawford has been on injured reserve since Nov. 30 with a lower-body injury. ... Capitals RW T.J. Oshie (upper body) did not play. C Chandler Stephenson saw action after missing one game with an upper-body injury. ... D Taylor Chorney and C Tyler Graovac were the Capitals' scratches, and the Blackhawks scratched D Michal Kempny, D Jordan Oesterle and C Tanner Kero. ... Chicago returns home Friday to face Buffalo. Washington closes its season-high five-game homestand Friday against the New York Rangers.