With trade deadline drama behind them, Capitals cruise past Blackhawks

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Three first-period goals made Saturday night’s matchup with Connor Bedard’s beleaguered Blackhawks a comfortable one in a 4-1 victory.

It had been a tense couple of weeks for the Washington Capitals. As the trade deadline neared, they were battling to stay in the playoff race, knowing all the while it was more likely than not General Manager Brian MacLellan would sell rather than buy.Coach Spencer Carbery described the feeling from his group as “anxiousness,” with the players caught between trying to stay focused on the task at hand and getting swept up in the rumor mill.

“Just us knowing that that has passed and this is our group now, moving forward into the last 21 games of the season, and hopefully on,” he said Saturday morning. “You can feel that this morning — a little bit of a weight lifted off the group.”— and Mike Sgarbossa just 1:44 apart in the first period to give them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Aliaksei Protas appeared to make it 4-0 shortly after Wilson’s tally, but his goal came off the board after the Blackhawks challenged for offside; Max Pacioretty was ruled to be across the blue line ahead of Protas, who had the puck.Winning that challenge gave the Blackhawks some life. When Pacioretty went to the penalty box for interference a few minutes later, Chicago’s quest to get back in the game went up another level. But behind four saves from Lindgren, Washington maintained its grip.

Facing a four-goal deficit in the final 20 minutes, the Blackhawks — who remain a standings afterthought despite winning the draft lottery last season and selecting generational talent Connor Bedard first overall — had few chances to make things interesting. Tyler Johnson ended Lindgren’s bid for a second straight shutout at 9:49 of the third period, but that was as close as Chicago could get.

The Capitals went on the penalty kill with 5:44 left when Wilson was sent off for tripping, but Washington killed the penalty — helped by Bedard hitting the crossbar and a flashy, full-extension save by Lindgren on a Bedard one-timer from the left circle — and went on to post its third win in four games.With huge fourth quarter, Wizards end 16-game losing streak


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