With center Artem Anisimov out, Blackhawks scrambled their lines but couldn't come up with enough offense.
The Blackhawks started the season with the best point total in the Western Conference through their first 14 games. They entered Friday night on a seven-game winning streak despite not playing what they think is their best hockey.
One of the reasons they had such a strong start was center Artem Anisimov, who was among the league leaders in points and goals. Anisimov was one of the Hawks who could score timely goals when the Hawks needed them most — and helped them bank points in the standings with three game-winners.
But the Hawks were without Anisimov on Friday night because of an upper-body injury he suffered Wednesday.
They felt his absence, but they managed to scratch out a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals, who prevailed thanks to 32 saves from Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby and two goals from center Jay Beagle. Marcus Johansson scored the winner 2 minutes, 20 seconds into overtime.
As has become typical this season, the Hawks scored when they absolutely had to, with Marian Hossa scoring a goal in close on Holtby with 22.3 seconds remaining. Hossa continued his hot start with his seventh goal this season, helping to make up for Anisimov being out of the lineup, but the Hawks didn't have enough firepower to pull out a victory.
"You can't continue to rely on scoring goals late in the game like that," said Jonathan Toews. "We just have to focus on trying to play ahead of a team like that."
Anisimov's injury forced coach Joel Quenneville to rearrange his lines at the start of the game. Marcus Kruger, a defensive-minded center, found himself between Artemi Panarin and Hossa, two of the Hawks' most prolific scorers this season, while Nick Schmaltz drew the top-line left-wing assignment with Toews and Patrick Kane at the start for the second consecutive game.
But the top line had trouble generating chances thanks to increased attention from the Capitals defense.
Through the first two periods, Kane and Toews did not record a shot on goal. Quenneville replaced Schmaltz with Ryan Hartman in the third period.
"They were sitting back, and we had to dump pucks in and we weren't getting any pucks back on the forecheck," Toews said. "Every time we try and get the puck down to their goal line, it was tic-tac-toe and out of their zone every time."
There was an odd moment in the second when Crawford went into the Hawks' dressing room with an equipment malfunction with 7:02 left. Scott Darling replaced him, but Crawford returned 1:18 later during a stoppage.
Chris Hine's three stars
1. Jay Beagle, Capitals: Scored two goals for Capitals.
2. Braden Holtby, Capitals: Was stellar with 32 saves.
3. Marcus Johansson, Capitals: Scored the winner in overtime.