WASHINGTON (AP) — Jay Beagle scored twice to lead a balanced blowout for the Washington Capitals as they won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-0 Friday night in a matchup of the NHL’s hottest teams.
Nicklas Backstrom, Brett Connolly, Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie also scored for Washington, which snapped Chicago’s winning streak at four.
The Capitals have ended five different opposing win streaks of three games or more already in 2017 while playing their best hockey of the season.
With the victory, they reached 61 points and passed the Columbus Blue Jackets for the most in the league.
Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots he faced and got the benefit of goaltender interference on Vinne Hinostroza’s would-be goal for his fifth shutout in the past 14 games. The Vezina Trophy winner is 9-2-2 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .950 save percentage over that time.
The Capitals tilted the ice against the Blackhawks, outshooting them 14-5 in a three-goal first period and dominating throughout, even when Chicago was on the power play. Blackhawks All-Star goaltender Corey Crawford allowed five goals on 30 shots before giving way to Scott Darling.
Beagle continued his own personal run of success against Chicago, opening and closing the scoring to reach eight goals on the season. The fourth-line center has four goals in two games against the Blackhawks this season and six in eight career games against them.
Three of his four multi-goal games have come against Chicago.
Alex Ovechkin contributed career point No. 1,002 with a secondary assist on Backstrom’s goal. Backstrom, who assisted on Oshie’s third-period goal, has scored in three games in a row.
It’s no coincidence that Holtby, Ovechkin and Backstrom are rolling as Washington is on its longest winning streak of the season. Holtby hasn’t allowed a 5-on-5 goal in five games as the Capitals climbed past the Blue Jackets, who were in action at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
NOTES: D Karl Alzner became the first player in Capitals franchise history to play 500 consecutive regular-season games. Alzner joined Keith Yandle and Jay Bouwmeester as the only defensemen since 1943-44 to play 500 games in a row. Baseball ironman Cal Ripken Jr. was featured in a video message congratulating Alzner on the achievement. … Washington improved to 23-3-3 when scoring first. … D Michal Rozsival returned to the Blackhawks’ lineup after missing six consecutive games as a healthy scratch, replacing Michal Kempny.
Blackhawks: Host the Central Division-rival Wild on Sunday, their first game against Minnesota this season. The Wild trail the Blackhawks by just two points and have played five fewer games.
Capitals: Try to make it nine straight when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at 1 p.m., moved back from 12:30 as a domino effect from the Steelers-Chiefs AFC playoff game shifting to prime time because of weather in Kansas City.
By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Writer
Photo Courtesy AP Photo/Nick Wass