Capitals seeking offensive spark against Blackhawks

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As the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals prepare to battle the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday afternoon, two things are clear.

The last-place Blackhawks are obviously struggling, but so are the Capitals.

The Capitals dropped their fourth straight on Friday as the New York Islanders handed them a 2-0 loss in D.C. as former Caps' coach Barry Trotz returned to town for the first time since leaving after winning the Cup last June.

Washington has run into offensive problems recently under head coach Todd Reirden, Trotz's former assistant, mustering only four goals in those four losses.

The Capitals have not won since beating Boston 4-2 on Jan. 10. Since then, they've been outscored 15-4 and just don't seem to have the spark they usually play with.

"We need to be better, and that's right from the top of our list to the bottom of our list," Reirden said after Friday's loss. "We need more from our players. We're just going through a phase right now in our game where we're having trouble finding the back of the net. We need to improve; we need to get better."

The Capitals did get starting goalie Braden Holtby back on Friday. He missed two games after injuring his eye in a 2-1 overtime loss to Columbus on Jan. 12. He got poked with a stick and needed to leave that game about midway through.

His eye took longer to heal than expected, but he played well against the Islanders. He gave up two goals in the third period and finished with 23 saves as New York played an aggressive style that slowed the Washington offense.

That win let the Islanders jump over the Caps into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Chicago also comes into this game on a losing streak. The Blackhawks have dropped five in a row and are 1-4-3 in their last eight. Five of the losses have been by one goal.

Chicago hasn't played since a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

"We had a couple of letdowns, mental errors or whatever it may be, that ended up in the back of our net," coach Jeremy Colliton told NHL.com after the loss to the Rangers. "We really played well at the beginning of the game."

For Chicago, its 16 wins and 41 points are the lowest in the NHL in each category.

Patrick Kane tops the Blackhawks with 65 points (27 goals, 38 assists) in his 48 games. Alex DeBrincat has been hot lately and has 24 goals and 39 points.

One piece of good news for the Blackhawks came when goalie Corey Crawford, on injured reserve with a concussion, worked out on the ice before practice Saturday.

--Field Level Media