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Game of the Week: Strong special teams play powers Capitals to 2-1 1st period lead

Mar 13, 2011, 1:30 PM EST

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New York Islanders v Washington Capitals Getty Images

After 20 minutes, the Washington Capitals are looking like a team that is on a seven-game winning streak as they take on another hot team in the Chicago Blackhawks in the NBC Game of the Week.

Washington 2, Chicago 1

If there were two themes to the first period, they would be: the Capitals’ strong special teams play and plays from the point.

Nick Leddy earned an early 1-0 leave for the Blackhawks with a shot from the point, as Matt Hendricks might have screened his own goalie in Braden Holtby. It didn’t take long for the Capitals to tie things up though, which is no surprise since they are one of the league’s best comeback teams. Patrick Sharp was unable to hold in a puck at the point during a Chicago power play, allowing Boyd Gordon to spring loose for a bombastic shorthanded goal.

Just as soon as I was going to critique the Blackhawks for playing Sharp (a forward) on the point, Jason Arnott revealed the upside of such a strategy when he fired a power-play goal past Corey Crawford in the final minute of the first to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. (Then again, Arnott’s point presence moves the even less defensively responsible Alex Ovechkin to a much more natural wing position on the man advantage, so maybe that point isn’t totally moot.)

So far, this game has been everything one can hope for in a contest between two strong, playoff-caliber teams with 19 shots combined. Stay tuned on NBC and feel free to join our chat to follow the action.

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