Khabibulin, Blackhawks Blank Capitals

CHICAGO (AP) -- Nikolai Khabibulin made 25 saves in his first start in nearly a month to earn his second shutout this season, and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Washington Capitals 5-0 on Wednesday night.

Jason Williams, Jonathan Toews, Yanic Perreault and Patrick Sharp scored in the first period for Chicago, which ended Washington's four-game winning streak.

Rene Bourque also scored for the Blackhawks, who snapped a four-game home losing slide (0-3-1).

Khabibulin made his first start since Feb. 20, when he blanked Minnesota 3-0. Following that game, he missed 12 games with back spasms before relieving Patrick Lalime on Sunday.

Khabibulin's shutout was the 38th of his career.

The Capitals remained two points behind idle Philadelphia in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Washington's Olaf Kolzig made 37 saves

Chicago outshot Washington 18-6 in the first period and jumped ahead 4-0.

Williams was credited with the opening goal 1:27 in, after apparently deflecting James Wisniewski's shot from the point. The goal withstood a video review.

Toews made it 2-0 1:52 later when he went from the side to the front of the net and swatted in his own rebound.

Perreault fired a high shot past Kolzig's glove at 9:14 to extend Chicago's lead to 3-0. Sharp fired in a rebound with 2:06 left in the first to stretch it to 4-0 after Kolzig made a pad save on Andrew Ladd.

Bourque converted a breakaway at 10:19 of the second to make it 5-0.

Khabibulin wasn't heavily tested, but made a handful of tough stops.

He made a point-blank pad save on Sergei Fedorov in the final seconds of the first period and a glove save on a rebound by Brooks Laich midway through the third.

Khabibulin made a spectacular diving glove save on Alexander Semin with 2:58 left in the third.

The Blackhawks honored Hall of Fame goalie Tony Esposito in a pre-game ceremony.

Esposito, who played in 873 games for the Blackhawks from 1969 to 1984, posting a team-record 418 wins and 74 shutouts. His jersey number, 35, is one of five retired by Chicago.

Esposito, selected an "ambassador" by the Blackhawks earlier this season, was joined by his older brother and Hall of Fame forward, Phil, during the ceremony.

"It's an honor to be here with the new, young vibrant Hawks," Tony Esposito said. "I know they're going to get better and we're all going to fill this building."

Notes:@ Wednesday's crowd of 20,942 was the Blackhawks' ninth sellout of the season ... Perreault returned after missing 18 games with a broken wrist. ... Chicago LW Ben Eager missed his sixth game with a shoulder injury. ... Five Capitals sat out with injures: D John Erskine, C David Steckel, C Michael Nylander, D Brian Pothier and RW Chris Clark.


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