Halak, Caps blank Chicago, 4-0

WASHINGTON, DC – The Capitals shut out the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-0, behind Jay Beagle’s first career multi-goal game and Jaroslav Halak’s 34 saves at the Verizon Center in Washington. This was the Capitals’ first game since they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Blackhawks qualified safely long ago, and were only playing for seeding in the Western Conference playoffs, resting injured stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.Washington Capitals logo

“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. Do it for yourselves, and do it for the people who paid to come watch you play. You owe them,” said Washington head coach Adam Oates.

“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. They came to see us and they want to see the game and they want to see nice play,” said Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

“It doesn’t matter what’s on the line, it’s important that we show up and play, wearing the Hawks jersey. It doesn’t matter who’s playing or who’s not playing, you want to go out there and work your hardest and play your best. Tonight we clearly didn’t do that,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp.

Ovechkin opened the scoring 2:04 into the first period with his NHL-leading 51st goal, and 24th power play goal, setting a new Capitals record. Ovechkin ripped one past Corey Crawford from his favorite spot in the left circle.

Beagle scored his first goal of the game on a back door play after Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov passed it around the crease at 9:22 of the first period.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:19 into the second period by banking his shot off Crawford’s back for his 18th goal of the season.

Beagle finished the scoring with a near-identical goal to his first one, with the assists coming from Jason Chimera and Joel Ward this time.

“[Dmitry] Orlov made a great pass to me on that first one and then Chimmer [Jason Chimera] made a great backhand pass to me. It almost surprised me in the slot, that it came out to me that fast and that crisp. Trying for the third one, the guys were hitting me no matter where I was. It was a fun game to be a part of,” said Beagle.

“It was great to see the crowd knew he had two goals. We were hoping for him every time he got that chance, and you know what he played great. Obviously we’re very happy for him because he’s a very well-liked guy on our team. He works so hard, and it’s his first time he’s had two goals. He’s never had it before. We’re all very excited for him,” said Oates.

Crawford finished with 16 saves on 20 shots.

“It feels like everything was just working for them. In this game tonight, everything worked and they created some good opportunities. I gave them a couple bad ones, but it just felt like everything they did worked, and everything we did didn’t,” said Crawford.

“We’ll throw this in the garbage can and learn a little bit from it. Certainly we’re not happy about the way it was played out, but it was one of those games,” said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville.

The Blackhawks are now locked into the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, with a matchup against the San Jose Sharks looming.http://

The Capitals’ season will end on Sunday with a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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