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Halak, Capitals blank Blackhawks
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Jaroslav Halak stopped 34 shots for his first shutout in a Capitals uniform and Jay Beagle scored twice in Washington's 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Halak, who notched his 30th career shutout and fifth this season, had his previous four whitewashes this year playing for St. Louis. He was traded to Buffalo and then dealt to Washington, but on Friday was able to stop a personal five-game skid.
Alex Ovechkin notched his league-leading 51st goal of the season and Nicklas Backstrom also lit the lamp for the Capitals, winner of four straight. Despite the surge, the Capitals will not make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"I told the guys when we found out it was over that part of their job as a professional is to play as hard as you can," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Do it for yourselves, and do it for the people who paid to come watch you play. You owe them."
The Blackhawks, who are locked into third place in the Central Division, have lost six of their last seven road games. Corey Crawford gave up four goals on 20 shots in the first two periods, and Antti Raanta turned aside all seven shots he faced in the final frame.
"We'll throw this in the garbage can and learn a little bit from it," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Certainly we're not happy about the way it was played out, but it was one of those games."
Chicago had a four-game winning streak broken.
The Capitals took advantage of a power play opportunity when Marcus Kruger was sent off for holding only 63 seconds into the game. John Carlson held the puck in the high slot and delivered a pass to Ovechkin for a successful one-timer at the 2:04 mark.
"It's pretty hard to be mentally ready for these types of games because you are out of the playoffs and the season is over in one more game, but we play for the fans," Ovechkin said. "They came to see us and they want to see the game and they want to see nice play."
Washington doubled its lead 9:22 into the first. Dmitry Orlov passed the disc from the slot to the right side of the net. The puck deflected off the body of Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and bounced on the ice nearby to Beagle, who banged it into the net.
Joel Ward nearly scored a short time later, but he hit the left post on a breakaway attempt.
The Caps widened the gap 1:19 into the second when Backstrom scored from a sharp angle after a shot from the goal line, left of the net.
Beagle notched his second goal of the night with 3:44 remaining in the middle period. Jason Chimera pass the puck from behind the net to a wide open Beagle in front for the wide open tally.
Halak made 17 saves in the final period.
The Blackhawks conclude their regular season Saturday at Nashville, while the Caps host Tampa Bay Sunday afternoon ... This was the first time the Blackhawks visited Washington since March 13, 2011 ... Washington center Marcus Johansson sustained an upper body injury in the second period and did not return ... Ovechkin and Backstrom also had an assist ... It was Beagle's first ever multi-goal game in the NHL.
04/11 22:49:23 ET
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