Washington scored three times in a dominant first period, added three more goals later on and got another spotless performance from Braden Holtby in a 6-0 Friday night dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks at Verizon Center. The win is the Capitals' eighth straight; they have yet to taste defeat in calendar 2017.
Four of Washington's last five wins during the current streak have come against teams that came into that night's game with more or as many standings points as the Capitals. The Caps won each of those four games by at least three goals, and outscored the opposition by a combined 19-3, including 16-0 at even strength.
Blackhawk Beater - Caps center Jay Beagle had a two-goal game against the Hawks on Friday, the fourth such game of his NHL career. Three of those two-goal games have come at Chicago's expense, and two of them have occurred this season.
"That's amazing," says Caps defenseman Karl Alzner. "I saw that stat. Six goals [against the Hawks] in eight [career] games. That's crazy.
Video: CHI@WSH: Beagle slides home his second of the game
"He's just a hard worker. And the Blackhawks are a team that everybody in the league uses as a benchmark, no matter where they are in the standings. It might be one of those things in the back of his mind that he's going to use it as a personal benchmark to outwork everybody on that team, and he's been doing a pretty good job of it."
With eight goals on the season, Beagle is just two shy of matching his single-season career high of 10 (established in 2014-15) with 40 games remaining.
Half A Grand - Speaking of "amazing" and "hard worker," Alzner played in his 500th consecutive game on Friday, adding to his own franchise record and becoming just the third NHL blueliner since 1943-44 to reach that milestone.
Alzner turned in his typical yeoman's night's work against the Hawks, skating 19:59 on the night, blocking a shot and rolling up a plus-4.
Video: Tribute to Karl Alzner on 500 consecutive games
Fourth is First - Washington's ostensible "fourth line" of Beagle between Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson has been one of the team's most consistent and dependable units this season. In addition to chipping in with some timely offense, all three members of the trio are important cogs in the team's penalty killing machine, and the line is frequently deployed in a shutdown role against other teams' top units.
Beagle scored the game's first goal at 6:04 of the first period of Friday's game, marking the eighth time this season a member of that line has scored Washington's first goal of the game and the sixth time that unit has delivered the first goal of the game for either side.
Video: CHI@WSH: Holtby uses his pad to rob Anisimov twice
The Great Wall Of Holtby - Holtby blanked the Hawks on 24 shots, making strong stops on Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa to preserve his third shutout since the calendar turned to 2017. Holtby has six shutouts on the season - including five in his last 14 starts - and 29 for his NHL career.
In his last 17 starts, Holtby is 11-2-3 with five shutouts, a 1.45 GAA and a .948 save pct. He has reeled off five consecutive victories and with 156 wins and 26 shutouts since 2012-13, he leads all NHL netminders in both categories over that span.
Rush, Rush - Five of Washington's six goals in Friday's game came off the rush, and the Caps had many other rush opportunities and looks at the Chicago net that did not culminate in flashing red lights.
"We played quick," says Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who scored for the third straight game on Friday. "I feel like as soon as we get the puck, we're trying to get going in transition. That's what we've been talking about."
Video: CHI@WSH: Backstrom buries Caps' second in 13 seconds
First Impressions - With its three-goal outburst in the first period on Friday, Washington improved upon its league-best first-period goal differential. The Caps are now plus-24 in the first frame this season, having outscored the opposition by a combined 41-17 in the game's first 20 minutes.
The Caps have scored the game's first goal in six straight games and in 29 of 42 tilts this season.
Draw Men - The face-off circle is another area of the game in which Washington demolished the Hawks on Friday. There were only 43 draws taken all night long in what was mostly a free-flowing, fast-paced contest. The Capitals won 31 of those draws for a 72% success rate on the dot. Lars Eller won nine of 10 (90%) and Backstrom won nine of 11 (82%) while Evgeny Kuznetsov won eight of 12 (67%).
On the Chicago side, rookie pivot Tanner Kero won just one of a dozen draws (8%) and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews was 3-for-12 (25%).
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears surrendered four power-play goals and suffered a fifth straight setback on Friday night against the Phantoms on the road in Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms went 4-for-12 with the extra man in a 6-2 win over Hershey.
Both Bears goals came from defensemen, as Darren Dietz netted his third goal of the season with help from Liam O'Brien and Christian Thomas while Aaron Ness notched his fourth goal of the season on a Hershey power play with help from Chris Bourque and Travis Boyd.
Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek was reached for six goals on 30 shots as his record fell to 9-6-5 on the season.
Hershey gets back on the horse and seeks to stop the skid on Saturday night at Giant Center when it hosts the Phantoms in the back end of a home-and-home set.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays suffered a 2-1 Friday night road loss to the Everblades in Florida. The Stingrays took an early 1-0 lead on Rob Flick's power-play goal, but it was all the offense they could manage and it wasn't enough. Parker Milner stopped 30 of 32 shots in the South Carolina nets in a losing effort.
The Stingrays remain in Florida for a Saturday night game against the Everblades.
By The Numbers - Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen topped the Caps with 22:25 in ice time on Friday … Beagle led the Caps with seven shots on net, a single-game career best. He also paced the Capitals with seven shot attempts … Brooks Orpik led Washington with four hits … Ten different Caps laid out to block a total of 16 Chicago shot attempts.