The Capitals don’t expect Boyd Gordon to score many goals, but when he managed to get a shorthanded breakaway in the first period Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks and sent a surprising slap shot past goaltender Corey Crawford, it couldn’t have been better timed. Gordon’s goal, just his third of the year, helped give the Capitals a momentum boost after they had surrendered the first tally of the game to Chicago.

That it was a shorthanded goal seemed fitting, seeing as that’s where Gordon often stands out the most for the Capitals -- particularly since he’s taken over the main centering role on the fourth line since Washington sent David Steckel to New Jersey at the trade deadline for Jason Arnott.

Over the last seven games, Gordon has blocked 15 shots, scored two of his three goals on the year and continues to log some of the most time among Capitals forwards on the penalty kill, which thwarted 12 of the last 13 penalties against.

“Mentally, it’s been a lot easier on him,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He knows that’s his job now. In the past, I love both the way him and Dave Steckel played together, but it was always one or the other and you had to make a choice. We made the choice and now one guy has stepped up. Gordo’s done [everything] from winning faceoffs to scoring goals now to feeling, I’m sure, a lot more confident. He’s playing as well as I’ve seen him play all year and probably back to last year.”