Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday night:
1. A poor first period.
The Blackhawks' first-period inconsistencies continued after they gave up three goals in the opening 20 minutes, including two within a 13-second span. The Capitals had 30 shot attempts compared to the Blackhawks' 11, all at even strength, and no player on Chicago had a positive Corsi.
The Blackhawks' goal differential also slipped to minus-4 in the first two periods this season compared to plus-14 in the third period and overtime combined.
2. Jay Beagle continues dominance vs. Blackhawks.
One of those three first-period goals came from Beagle, who now has four goals in two games against the Blackhawks this season. He has eight goals total in 42 games, which means half of them have come against Chicago.
He also had a season-high eight shots on goal, a few of them coming while shorthanded. According to CSN's stat guru Chris Kamka, Beagle has six career goals in eight games against the Blackhawks and 33 goals in 345 games vs. the rest of the league.
3. A goal taken away.
After a slow start, the Blackhawks began to generate scoring chances in the second period, and appeared to have cut their deficit to 3-1 when Vinnie Hinostroza found the back of the net with 13:28 left. But the goal was overturned following a Capitals challenge due to goaltender interference after Marian Hossa's stick made contact with Braden Holtby.
Here's the NHL's explanation:
"After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Chicago's Marian Hossa intefered with Holtby before the puck cross the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, 'The standard for overturning the call in the event of a 'GOAL' call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to 'Interference on the Goalkeeper,' as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4. Therefore the original call is overturned."
4. Bradley Holtby stays hot.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was on his A-game once again, stopping all 24 shots he faced in the win. He has turned aside 56 of 58 shots in two contests against the Blackhawks this season, good for a .966 save percentage.
It's also his third shutout in his last five starts, and sixth total, which now leads the league. Holtby hasn't allowed an even-strength goal in five straight games, with all three coming on the power play.
5. Capitals are serious contenders.
Say what you want about the Capitals' history of playoff struggles after cruising in the regular season, but this team is no joke and feels different than in year's past. They've now won eight in a row, including shutout wins against Columbus, Ottawa and Chicago, and own a plus-24 goal differential during that span.
They're a top-3 puck possession team, own the third-best penalty kill unit in the league at 86.1 percent and are averaging only 1.95 goals against per game, which ranks No. 1. Those are three key ingredients to a lengthy postseason run, and they're among the best in all of them.