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Caps Bum Rush Hawks with Six-Pack Attack

Washington scores six times - five of them on the rush - pummeling the Blackhawks behind divrese attack and Holtby's fifth shutout in his last 14 starts.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

Nine weeks ago on a Friday night in Chicago, the Capitals ended a seven-game Blackhawks winning streak with a 3-2 overtime win that was achieved without the benefit of a single Washington power play. 

On Friday night in Washington with the Capitals riding a seven-game winning streak of their own, the Hawks had a chance to return the favor. 

It didn't quite work out that way. 

Video: Beagle scores a pair as Caps blank Blackhawks, 6-0

Once again, the Caps didn't manage to earn a power play against the choir boys in white, but it didn't matter. Washington dismantled the Hawks 6-0, scoring early and often and chasing all-star netminder Corey Crawford to the bench in the third period.

Caps goaltender Braden Holtby turned in his third blank sheet in less than two weeks of the New Year, his sixth of the season and his fifth in a span of 14 starts. 

With Friday night's six-pack attack, the Caps have now scored five or more goals seven times this season, and they've done so five times during the life of their eight-game winning streak.
Video: Caps players talk after a 6-0 win against Chicago
"The only thing we're trying to do after every game is reset, and get back to work next game" says Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who scored for the third straight game. "We've been doing that pretty good lately."

Washington's "fourth line" got the party started at 6:04 of the first. The Caps had more than their fair share of scoring chances on the rush in the first frame, and they scored the game's first goal - and eventually, many others - in that fashion. Daniel Winnik floated a pass to the high slot for Jay Beagle, who threaded a shot through Crawford's five-hole. The goal was Beagle's seventh of the season, and his third against Chicago and Crawford. 

A mere 13 seconds later, the Caps doubled their lead on another rush goal. Alex Ovechkin carried into Chicago ice along the left wing wall, pulling up near mid-circle to feed T.J. Oshie, who was driving toward the net. Oshie quickly put a perfect backhand dish on Backstrom's stick, and the Caps' center one-timed it home to make it a 2-0 game at 6:17. 

Late in the first, the Lars Eller line made it 3-0 on a bit of a modified rush goal. Andre Burakovsky gained Chicago ice on the left side and was taken down as he crossed the line, causing him to push the puck deep into the zone behind the Hawks' cage. Crawford went to field it, but he and his blueliners weren't able to complete a clean exchange. Burakovsky won a puck battle below the goal line and managed to chip it to the front for Eller. Eller's shot was blunted, but it went right to Brett Connolly. Connolly potted it into a yawning cage for a 3-0 Caps lead with 2:11 left in the first. 

In a dominant first period performance, the Caps owned a lopsided 30-11 advantage in shot attempts and a 14-5 lead in shots on net. Nine different Washington forwards were on the scoresheet with exactly one point each.

The Caps limited Chicago to 24 shots on net for the night, but eight of them came in the first six minutes of the second period, when Holtby needed to be at his best and was. 

Washington dodged a bullet in the second when a Vinnie Hinostroza goal at 6:32 was waved off after a Caps coach's challenge. The subsequent video review determined that veteran Hawks winger Marian Hossa interfered with Holtby, nullifying the goal and preserving the Capitals' 3-0 advantage. 

The Caps killed off a pair of Chicago power plays in the second period, and seconds after completing the second of those kills, they made it a 4-0 game.
Video: CHI@WSH: Wilson cuts to the net for easy tally
Shortly after Nate Schmidt exited the box after serving a sentence for holding, Eller skated the puck safely out of the Caps' zone, and put an indirect feed to Schmidt near the Chicago line. Spotting Tom Wilson heading toward the back door, and Wilson had an easy tap in to make it a 4-0 game, just 16 seconds after completing the kill. 

When Oshie scored yet another rush goal at 8:11 of the third, the Caps got into the Chicago bullpen as Hawks coach Joel Quenneville decided Crawford had had more than enough. Scott Darling came on in relief at that point. 

Beagle dented Darling for the only non-rush goal of the night with just 1:32 remaining, giving the relentless Caps center the fourth two-goal game of his career, three of which have come at Chicago's expense. 

"They're a really good team on the rush as well," says Caps coach Barry Trotz of the Blackhawks. "Their [defensemen] are very, very active. They use delays, they've got some really high-skill guys. All that stuff came from good defense. 
Video: Coach Trotz on the 6-0 victory over Chicago
"We did a really good job defending, especially when they were sending people into the fray to outnumber us off the rush. We did a really good job coming into [defensive] zone coverage, and we picked some of those off, we broke up some of those plays and we transitioned the other way. 

"A lot of those goals were piggy-backed off really good 200-foot hockey and we were able to take advantage of it. And when we had those looks, we were throwing the puck around pretty well." 

Holtby stopped Patrick Kane in a one-on-one situation in third, and halted Hossa on a two-on-one late in the final frame to preserve his shutout, the 29th of his NHL career. 

"Ugly start, that's for sure," says Quenneville of his team's weekend slate, which also includes a Sunday home game against surging division rival Minnesota. "There's nothing good to talk about tonight.

"It was a big game to start with, and we didn't meet the challenge. We've had starts like that in this building where you're down 2-0 five minutes into it. It was like, 'Here we go again.'"

Washington has now outscored the opposition by a combined 31-6 at even strength during the life of its current eight-game winning streak.

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