Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Jay Beagle recorded the first two-goal game of his NHL career and Jaroslav Halak answered his critics with a 28-save shutout to give the Capitals their fourth straight victory. Alex Ovechkin added his league-leading 51st goal [24th on the power play] and Nicklas Backstrom netted his 18th.
What it means: Not a heck of a lot. The Caps improved to 38-30-13 for 89 points. The Blackhawks had their four-game win streak snapped, but they are destined to finish third in the Central Division and will begin their defense of the Stanley Cup on the road against either the St. Louis Blues or Colorado Avalanche.
Injury alert: Capitals center/left wing Marcus Johansson was struck on the wrist by a Backstrom shot in the second period and did not return.
Waiting game: Capitals coach Adam Oates said he will wait until Monday to publicly discuss his thoughts on why the Capitals fell short on making the playoffs this season.
Support for McPhee: Blackhawks director of player personnel Pierre Gauthier, who has been hired and fired as general manager of the Mighty Ducks, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, said he is not overly concerned about the future of Capitals general manager George McPhee, whose team will finish out of the playoffs for the first time in seven years. “He’s a very smart hockey man and a good guy,” Gauthier said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not worried about him at all. But I do know what he’s going through.”
What’s next: The Caps will close out their season Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Verizon Center against the Tampa Bay Lightning.