Caps save their best for critical time to even series

Chris Russell
April 20, 2018 - 7:54 am
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Capitals played perhaps their best game of the season -- when they needed it the most -- on Thursday night in Columbus as they evened their best-of-seven opening round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1 at Nationwide Arena in Ohio.

Game 5 is Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena. 

From start to finish, it was a “nation” of domination for the Caps, who were desperate on Tuesday and anything but 48 hours later.

In addition to the 4-1 margin on the scoreboard, the Caps out-shot the Blue Jackets 33-24, won 64% of their faceoffs and blocked 20 shots compared to 14 for John Tortorella’s team. Braden Holtby was screened for the only goal he allowed midway through the third period. Holtby made 23 saves on the night and has been a steadying force since the third period of Game 2. 

Some other stars that shined for Washington:

T.J. Oshie scored the Caps second goal of the night as he slammed home a rebound from the high slot. Oshie’s goal came on a rebound after a flurry of shots by Alex Ovechkin and a key save of the puck at the point by John Carlson. Oshie had a long shift in the third period that he was just dominant on as the Caps were protecting a two-goal lead and put heavy pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky.

Oshie finished with only three shots on goal but made a tremendous impact for a player who struggled a bit in Game 3 game and is way less than fully healthy.

For a second straight game, Tom Wilson not only scored the opening goal for the Capitals but was awesome. He was probably the worst Capital player in the first two games and he’s clearly been the best in Columbus. Wilson scored that first goal jumping in off the bench and rifling a shot past Bobrovsky on the short side after his teammates put heavy pressure on Columbus.

Wilson finished with seven shots on goal, had three hits and an assist in nearly 20 minutes of ice time. He was called for a very iffy penalty on what appeared to be a clean hit, but the Caps killed it off.

Wilson also helped set up Ovechkin’s key third goal with a rush and good, hard shot from the right wing in transition. Wilson also had three hits and helped kill penalties.

Chandler Stephenson was bumped up to the second line with Oshie and Nick Backstrom, because of his solid play in the series. Stephenson had two shots on goal, won all of his faceoffs and also contributed on the penalty kill like Wilson.

Alex Ovechkin scored perhaps the most crucial goal of the Caps season to make it 3-0 on Thursday night. He finished with a goal, an assist, + 1 and five shots on Bobrovsky.

Evgeny Kuznetsov put the finishing touches on the win with an empty net goal to make it 4-1 but also had a beautiful assist on Ovechkin’s key goal from behind the Columbus goal line. Kuzy also assisted on Wilson’s goal and was a +3 on the night with four shots on goal.

Christian Djoos continues to show well for the Caps, Dmitry Orlov was a lot better tonight than he has been in the series, John Carlson had the assist and key save of the puck on the Oshie goal and Brooks Orpik was a + 2 with two hits.

Overtime: Finally, there was none, which is good for everybody, especially after a double overtime win Tuesday and a quick turnaround to game five with travel.

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