Washington Capitals (24-6-5; 53 pts) v. Columbus Blue Jackets (13-14-6; 32 pts)
TLDR; Joonas Korpisalo hands the Capitals their first shutout loss of the season, Oliver Bjorkstrand tallies two, Washington still leads Metro.
As has been customary for the Capitals, the first 20 minutes were slow and rambling. Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby was challenged early, forced to make a point-blank stop just 60 seconds in. Similar to Washington’s last game against Columbus, one week ago, the Blue Jackets dominated play, and kept the Caps in their defensive zone for much of the period. Alex Ovechkin was gifted a perfect shot opportunity just beyond the eight-minute mark of the period, but was unable to solve Korpisalo. Columbus received the first power play of the game as John Carlson was called for interference, but the Caps’ 4th ranked penalty kill successfully kept the Blue Jackets’ 21st ranked power play off the board. Dmitry Orlov has been extremely good on the penalty kill so far this season. Unfortunately, one minute later, Eric Robinson would score his 4th of the season, giving Columbus a 1-0 lead. Just moments after Robinson’s goal, Oliver Bjorkstrand nearly made it 2-0 in favor of the Blue Jackets. Impressively (?), Columbus has managed to win each game in which they’ve scored first. Washington received their first power play as Cam Atkinson went off for high-sticking against Garnet Hathaway. The Capitals only registered two shots on goal through their first power play, but received a second opportunity with the man advantage at the 19:14 mark, as David Savard was called for hooking. The Capitals, down 0-1 heading into the intermission, would start the second period on the power play.
End of 1st
Washington started the second with the remainder of a late-first period power play. Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo robbed TJ Oshie of the equalizer, and Washingtons’ power play would expire without a goal. The Capitals are the quintessential Comeback Kids, and lead the league in wins after trailing through one period (7-7-2). Washington earned another man-advantage after Alexander Wennberg went off for hooking just two and a half minutes into the middle frame, but did not convert. Shortly thereafter, Columbus would receive their second power play with Jakub Vrana having been called for holding. Washington’s penalty killers proved effective once again, holding Columbus to just one goal from the first. Andrew Peeke (CBJ) who left the game in the first after taking a puck to the face returned for the second donning a face shield. Too many giveaways by the Capitals hurt them in the second. A few more strides through the center could have turned giveaways into successful offensive zone entries. Although there were no goals scored in the second, both teams had a handful of prime scoring opportunities. Kevin Stenlund, who had recently been recalled from the AHL, was called for holding-the-stick, but Washington ended up scoreless. The Capitals actually out-shot the Blue Jackets 8-to-2, but were 0/4 on the PP through 40 minutes. Columbus has allowed power play goals in 5 of 6 games on the road, but has only allowed 9 on home ice. Joonas Korpisalo was just a little too good, but Holtby was better, as he made a killer save with just seconds remaining.
End of 2nd
At the start of the third period, Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with 15:54 TOI, (9) shots on goal, and (6) high-danger scoring attempts. However, Columbus would strike again before Washington had the chance. Oliver Bjorkstrand finally potted the puck past Holtby, 32 seconds into the final frame. The remaining 20 minutes consisted of start-and-stop play, making it increasingly difficult for Washington to establish any sort of momentum. It seemed as though the Capitals tried to play too methodically, too “planned”. In support of Korpisalo’s shutout bid, Bjorkstrand would score his 9th of the season at the 8:46 mark. Bjorkstrands’ second of the night came off of a neutral zone turnover mixed in with a sloppy line change. Capitals head coach Todd Reirden elected to pull Holtby with just over five minutes remaining, in hopes of scoring at least one. This season, Washington has not been involved in a shutout, win or lose. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, David Savard and Tom Wilson decided to square up, and both would go off five minutes for fighting. Despite a great showing by Braden Holtby, the Capitals would drop their second game against the Blue Jackets.
End of 3rd
Columbus Blue Jackets
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game
1. Capitals’ penalty kill has kept them ‘in the game’ since Hagelins’ return.
2. Alex Ovechkin will never score again.
3. Washington maintains the top spot in the Metropolitan division, despite first shutout loss of the season.
Capitals Road Ahead
Washington (24-6-5 53pts) @ New Jersey (10-17-5 25pts)
Tampa Bay (16-12-3 35pts) @ Washington (24-6-5 53pts)
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