CHICAGO, OCT. 25 -- Mr. Steady and Reliable made a mistake. A big one. They don't occur that often, so when they do they seem more shocking. Plain and simple, Washington's Rod Langway gave the puck away to Steve Larmer and, eight seconds into overtime, Larmer slapped a shot past goalie Don Beaupre for a 3-2 Blackhawks victory in front of 17,385 at Chicago Stadium.

"I made a very bad play," Langway said. "Hatchie {Kevin Hatcher} gave me the puck and I had the responsibility of getting it out of the zone. I should have gone up the boards with it. But I went up the middle and Larmer picked it out of the air. No one's fault but my own. If you lose on a quality play, you can live with that, but not a play like that."

The Capitals never trailed until Larmer scored his second and final goal of the night, and Capitals Coach Terry Murray was not terribly far off when he said, "There was nothing wrong with our performance."

The loss broke a three-game winning streak for the Capitals, who will try to get back on track Saturday night in Calgary.

Both Chicago's Ed Belfour and Beaupre played wonderfully. The Capitals took a 1-0 lead on Peter Zezel's goal and, after Steve Larmer evened the score, John Druce scored his fifth goal in four games for a 2-1 Washington edge. But Chris Chelios tied it at 2 with 14 minutes left in the third period.

"My guy was busy watching the play, so I took a chance," Chelios said.

Their second straight win gave the Blackhawks first place in the Norris Division. Chelios tied a personal career high with four points in that first win. Chelios, who went to Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, came home in this summer's trade with Montreal, which got center Denis Savard.

Savard had trouble getting along with Chicago coach and general manager Mike Keenan, so when Keenan benched Chelios for a much of a period last week, a bit of a spat developed.

Chelios expressed bewilderment at the decision and, a day later, Savard was quoted as saying Keenan wasn't always truthful and that Chelios shouldn't worry about figuring out the enigmatic ways of Keenan.

Chelios, who entered the game with 14 points, helped the Blackhawks on their first goal tonight, but that only squared things.

Belfour stopped Hatcher's slap shot, but Zezel nudged the puck past the fallen goalie for his fifth goal of the season. All five have come on the power play.

Beaupre shut out the Blackhawks, 4-0, the last time these teams met, Feb. 27 at Capital Centre. Right off the bat tonight, Beaupre stopped Michel Goulet on a good chance. Late in the second period, he would deny Goulet on a wonderful opportunity. Soon after Zezel put the Capitals ahead, Beaupre stopped Mike Peluso and then Jeremy Roenick.

Langway was called for hooking 18 seconds into the second period, and the Blackhawks converted, although Beaupre didn't have much chance on the goal. From the right point, Chelios flipped a looping backhander toward the goal.

The puck was headed wide, but Larmer, the Blackhawks' leading scorer, swung at it and seemingly deflected it. Whoever or whatever it hit, it went in for a 1-1 tie with 55 seconds gone in the second period.

Belfour was playing well for the Blackhawks, but the Capitals were taking advantage of rebounds that Chicago wasn't clearing. This time, though, there was a reason. The Capitals had a five-on-three power play with Goulet and Troy Murray in the box. Belfour stoped Hatcher's shot, but Druce snapped a shot by him for a 2-1 lead with three seconds left in the power play and 12:58 left in the period.

But the Blackhawks tied it at 2 with 14:07 left in the game, when Chelios put in a rebound after Beaupre had stopped Wayne Presley's shot.

Having recently been in the doghouse, Chelios empathized with Langway.

"Rod's a friend of mine," Chelios said, "but better him than me."

Capitals Notes:

The NHL ruled that Laurie Boschman of the New Jersey Devils had no "deliberate intent" to injure Capitals right wing Dino Ciccarelli. He broke his right thumb in the game Saturday.

Ciccarelli had a pin inserted near the bottom of his right thumb during surgery this week. He will be out six to eight weeks.

The Capitals had no comment on the ruling.