In their last meeting, the Jackets stole a victory from the Capitals and for most of the opening period last night, it looked as though they were on their way to repeating the feat.
Scoring the first goal of the game is crucial for the Jackets, and they did so in the first period. Kerby Rychel was banging bodies in the corner to the right of starter Sergei Bobrovsky-in his first start since coming off his latest IR stint- and linemate Rene Bourque got into the action. Bourque won a board battle and got the puck to William Karlsson, who hit the jets and skated up-ice. Rychel joined the rush, which at that point had developed into a two-on-one. Karlsson fed a last-minute, cross-crease pass to Rychel for the tap-in. It was Rychel's first NHL goal.
Midway through the period, with the Jackets leading on the shot clock 10-1, the Caps took advantage of a bad pinch by Dalton Prout as Braden Holtby rimmed the puck around the glass. Alexander Ovechkin was there to pick up the puck as it bounced past Prout, and as he entered the Columbus zone he fed a pass to T.J. Oshie in the high slot, who then slid it to Nicklas Backstrom for the wrister, beating Bobrovsky.
The Jackets continued to press on, easily out-chancing the Capitals, but it was the away team that was able to once again capitalize on a mistake from the Jackets' third defensive pairing. This time it was Justin Falk sending a bad pass to the middle of the ice as he was taken down. The puck went right to the stick of Marcus Johansson, who fed Jason Chimera for the goal.
For those who were keeping track, that's two Washington goals, on just their second and third shots of the game. Two mistakes by the third pairing, two goals against.
The woes would continue for the duo in the second period. Three minutes into the middle frame, Falk was whistled for a high stick on Johansson, and was given the extra for the "injury". With back-to-back minors to work with, the Caps were successful on both.
Running tally: three mistakes by the third pairing, four goals-against. 4-1 Washington midway through the game.
The Jackets were able to cut the lead in half with 10:45 left in the second. Ryan Stanton was sent to the box for holding on Rene Bourque, and the Jackets responded with a powerplay goal. Seth Jones made a terrific play at the blueline to keep the puck in the zone, while at the same time flipping the puck over to Alexander Wennberg. Wennberg fed Boone Jenner down low, who then took the puck hard to the net, and after a couple of whacks the puck beat Holtby.
Just as Boone's goal was being announced, Andre Burakowsky beat Bobrovsky with a wrister from way out, a goal I'm sure Bob would have loved to have back. If there was any momentum gained from the Jenner goal, it was quickly wiped out.
Frustration would boil over for Falk as he was battling Johansson in the corner. Falk dropped his gloves to fight, while Johansson backed off. Noted shithead Michael Latta would then step in, with the pair duking it out to a draw.
The Jackets inched closer in the third, with Ryan Murray knocking in a loose puck to cut the lead to 5-3. This was off a Jones shot that was sent intentionally wide. The pairing was rock solid all night, a stark contrast to their mates on the third pairing.
With 9:20 left, Ovechkin was given a penalty shot when his feet were swept out by Cody Goloubef during a breakaway. Not Ovechkin's strong suit, he was stopped by Bobrovsky.
The Caps would add an empty netter, making the final score 6-3 for the visitors. Evgeny Kuznetsov had four helpers for Washington.
For the advanced stats for this game, head over to War on Ice.
The Jackets are back at it on Thursday against the Flames.