Grabovski’s hat trick not enough as Caps fall to Blackhawks

  • Michael Prosser

Capitals teammates Mike Green (left) and Alex Ovechkin (right) celebrate a goal in the Capitals 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks (photo courtesy of Jay Cohe)

What a summer Mikhail Grabovski had! First his contract was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs, then he remained a lucrative free agent until signing with the Capitals in August. Now $3 million dollars richer, Grabovski showed not only Caps fans but his former bosses in Toronto just how good of a decision it was for George McPhee to sign the 29 year old center.

Grabovski registered his first career hat trick, and the first hat trick on Opening Night in Capitals history, but it was not enough as the Capitals fell to the Defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 6-4  in front of a sell out crowed at United Center in The Windy City of Chicago Illinois.

Rookie Brandon Bollig took his hands out the ice chest and scored his first career NHL regular season goal for the Hawks just after the team failed to capitalize on its first power play of the season. But after surviving a flurry of Chicago shots, the Capitals struck on the power play when The Great 8 Alex Ovechkin hammered home a Grabovski pass (yes he passes too) to tie the game at 1. But the tie was short lived as Patrick Kane sniped a shot past Braden Holtby not 30 seconds after Ovechkin scored. Chicago lead 2-1 at the end of one.

The second period officially became the Mikhail Grabovski hour (er quarter hour lets say), tying the game a 2 on a

Caps center Mikhail Grabovski celebrates one of his three goals on the night (AP Photo)

Caps center Mikhail Grabovski celebrates one of his three goals on the night (AP Photo)

wrister that beat Corey Crawford on a 2 on 1 play with Jason Chimera. But again the tie was short lived. 4 minutes later the Hawks capitalized on the power play as defenseman Brent Seabrook put a Marian Hossa rebound in the back of the net for a 3-2 lead. After some sloppy play in period, the Hockey Gods gave the Caps a break. While on the powerplay and with the period ending, Andrew Shaw was whistled for tripping at the 20:00 mark officially ending the Chicago power play.

The advantageous Caps power play took center stage again, tying the game a 3 after what looked to be a goal from blue liner Mike Green was tipped in front by who else but Mikhail Grabovski. The Caps would later take the lead on a, yes you guessed it, Mike Green point shot that was tipped in front by….yep you guessed it again Mikhail Grabovski! But just when it looked like the Capitals were going to escape Chicago with two points, former Saginaw Spirit Brandon Saad tied the game at 4, scoring on a 2 on 2 rush in the slot putting the puck over a diving Holtby glove.

As if the Capitals defense, and franchise itself, wasn’t snake bitten enough, former Capitals draft pick Johnny Oduya changed his name to Johnny “On The Spot” Oduya in the 3rd period, scoring the game winning goal with just over 6 minutes to go in the game; a shot that looked to go wide ended up bouncing off of Holtby’s glove and into the net.

“I just kind of lost vision of it.  I was not expecting it to hit me in my glove there, that’s for sure. I was expecting it to go well wide. I’ll have to look at it to see what exactly happened. I just missed it.”

Braden Holtby on Johnny Oduya’s game winning goal

The Hockey Gods seemed to give the Capitals more tidings of good joy by blessing them with a 5 on 3 power play, but the Hockey Gods giveth and the Hockey Gods taketh away as Chicago killed off the penalties. Marian Hossa iced the game with what was credited as an empty net goal despite the fact that it looked like defenseman Mike Green had knocked the puck loose when he dove for it. Never the less the Caps fell to Chicago 6-4.

The team travels back to Verizon Center to host the Calgary Flames on Thursday night before heading to Dallas on Saturday.

 

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Michael Prosser

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