It’s tough to imagine a worse start for the Washington Capitals given the magnitude of their situation.

They trailed 2-0 before Sunday’s game was eight minutes old, didn’t record a shot until 3:58 remained in the first period and never fully recovered in a 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks at United Center.

The only good thing to happen to the Caps, in fact, occurred about 800 miles away, where the Hurricanes rallied in the third period to beat the Jets in Winnipeg, 4-3. As a result, they maintained their two-point edge in the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Last game in Winnipeg, we felt that might [have been] a big turning point in our season,” Troy Brouwer said. “So to come in here tonight and to not get one or two points, we’re really digging ourselves a hole, really putting ourselves in a tough spot, especially going into Detroit tomorrow.”

A few more notes that didn’t make my game story:

*The Blackhawks’ third line of Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw accounted for three of their goals, which included an empty netter. Alex Ovechkin was on the ice for all three.

“I was in his ear all game,” Shaw, a rookie, told Chicago reporters. “I kind of shut him up when I put my second one in. … I think after their first goal he said something like, ‘OK, now we’re back in this game.’ And then I think we scored next shift.”

*The Capitals were crushed in the faceoff circle, winning only 35 percent. Keith Aucoin lost 10 of 12, while Marcus Johansson lost all six draws he took.

*The power play went 0 for 1, failing to register a single shot. It marked the sixth time in the past 11 games that the unit received one or fewer opportunities.

*On a positive note, concussed center Nicklas Backstrom skated today in Arlington. It marked the sixth consecutive day he’s been on the ice.