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Great Eight: Capitals crush Blackhawks to extend winning streak

Florida Panthers v Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the third period at Verizon Center on November 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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We’re now two weeks into 2017 and the Washington Capitals have yet to lose in the new year.

They’ve now won eight consecutive games following a 6-0 victory over the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Capitals got off to a quick start, opening up a three-goal lead in the first 20 minutes of the game.

That was all they really needed. They eventually chased Corey Crawford from the Blackhawks crease in the third period.

That, at least for a brief period in the evening, put the Capitals into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

They’ve been gathering strength for a while now, but they’ve put together quite a streak here, highlighted by wins over some of the other top teams in the National Hockey League.

They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets eight days ago, ending that club’s remarkable 16-game winning streak and its subsequent shot at history, before turfing the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago this week.

Those opponents present a difficult stretch of games. The Capitals, however, seemed to thrive. A sample of their recent work:

-- January 5th vs. Columbus: 5-0 win.

-- January 7th vs. Ottawa: 1-0 win.

-- January 9th vs. Montreal: 4-1 win.

-- January 11th vs. Pittsburgh: 5-2 win.

-- January 13th vs. Chicago: 6-0 win.

Braden Holtby recorded the shut out, his third in his last five games.

The top tier of teams in the Metropolitan have played some exceptional hockey to this point in the season. The Capitals are just the latest. It should make for a tremendous drive to the playoffs over these next few months.

Simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough for the Capitals. They will be held to a higher standard and whether they will get over that threshold is something we’ll find out later this spring.

For a while now, though, they’ve held quite a decisive edge on the score board over some very formidable teams.