On Saturday night the first-place Columbus Blue Jackets hit the Nation's Capitol for a key four-point Metropolitan Divisional showdown. Entering play Columbus had lost just twice in regulation on the road since Nov. 1.
Markus Nutivaara was a late scratch as he is dealing with what the team labeled as the ever-so-murky upper-body injury. Tyler Motte was a healthy scratch with Matt Calvert drawing back into the lineup after missing 12 games.
Here’s how it went down.
Well, we’re used to super-human Sergei Bobrovsky but perhaps he was fending off a little bit of rust after four straight off days. Just 1:03 into the opening frame, the Caps struck first when Brett Connolly sniped one past the Russain net-minder from the slot.
A wicked wrister #CapsJackets #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/W7HyaZ9YqV— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 3, 2017
It would quickly feel reminiscent of the last road game Columbus played in Montreal nearly a week ago.
Moments later, Alex Chiasson put the Capitals ahead 2-0, 1:03 after the first goal, essentially the same way Connolly scored his shot. Creating space in front of the net.
The other Alex! #CapsJackets #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/StlfYhLDrC— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 3, 2017
Columbus' first grade-A scoring chance came by way of a 2-on-0 by Zach Werenski and Josh Anderson from the blue line, but Anderson came away with nothing as Braden Holtby made the stone cold pad save.
Columbus had several low scoring chances but Holtby was there every time throughout the first period.
#CBJ down 2-0 after one.— Alison (@AlisonL) December 3, 2017
Ended up getting 58.06% of shot attempts, but just 47.37% of scoring chances.
Had 50% of hi-danger attempts.
Teams alternated surges of shots. WAS capitalized on their first wave. pic.twitter.com/qDOLJmhHBK
Washington had just three shots after the first 17:00 and was outshot 8-6 throughout the first. Aside from several hits from both teams, there were no penalties.
Seth Jones has logged on pic.twitter.com/ySv82brZTi— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) December 3, 2017
Brett Connolly G
Brooks Orpik A
Lars Eller A
Alex Chiasson G
Matt Niskanen A
Devante-Smith Pelly A
Down two goals for the second consecutive road game, Columbus dialed up the pressure. Utilizing a domineering forecheck, Artemi Panarin sniped home his second goal in as many games and seventh of the season. The tally was his first against the Capitals in his career.
FRENCH BREAD. pic.twitter.com/9GuyOtCTlh— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) December 3, 2017
The Jackets had six of the first seven shots to begin the second. Bobrovsky came up big with 6:45 left in the period after the Caps exhibited their own net-front presence. With 4:48 remaining in the period, Boone Jenner took the first penalty of the night for holding.
After the initial faceoff and ricochet off the post in the Blue Jackets end, the penalty kill continued to come up big. Foligno had his second big chance of the period, first pulling off a toe drag deke around Alexander Ovechkin, then following up with a nifty between-the-legs shot that couldn't beat Holtby. Way back at the beginning of the period, Foligno had a breakaway but shot wide.
It was a nice welcome back for Matty Calvert, who tied things at two on a short-handed chance, the Jackets' first of the season.
MAT-THEW CAL-VERT (clap, clap, clap clap clap) pic.twitter.com/bi9bASM4Kx— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) December 3, 2017
Jenner committed his second holding infraction of the game, leading to the Capitals’ second power play, and it was vintage Ovechkin putting Washington back ahead by one and 3-2 through 40 minutes.
Prior to that Ovechkin goal, #CBJ had killed 25 of 26 opposing PPs in 11-plus games since allowing three PPGs in the third period vs #NYR on Nov. 6 at MSG.— Brian Hedger (@JacketsInsider) December 3, 2017
That goal by Alex was kind of big.
With his 218th career power play goal, Alex Ovechkin has passed Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr for 10th place on the NHL's all-time power play goals list. Additionally, Ovechkin has tied Mark Recchi (577) for 20th place on the all-time goals list.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 3, 2017
#CBJ score two in the second, but allow one. 3-2 after 40 minutes of play.— Alison (@AlisonL) December 3, 2017
In the second, Jacket with:
34.88% of 5v5 shot attempts
47.62% of 5v5 scoring chances
60% of hi-danger attempts pic.twitter.com/gW05QNOKkN
Artemi Panarin G
Pierre-Luc Dubois A
Matt Calvert (SH) G
Brandon Dubinsky A
Alexander Ovechkin G
Nicklas Backstrom A
John Carlson A
Just as the first period went, this time it was Evgeny Kuznetsov who hammered home the Capitals' fourth tally, just 1:08 into the period.
Kuzy stays in the #CapsJackets #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/eihMrb6kf3— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 3, 2017
Just like the game up to that point, Columbus kept coming in waves, creating chances in the offensive zone, and making it hard for Washington to clear. At one point the Jackets had an 11-2 shots advantage, but for the most part, couldn't solve Holtby.
Cam Atkinson was the latest Jacket to be stopped, as Holtby came up high with a glove save.
Finally, the Jackets were able to pull within one, a familiar trend between the two clubs in recent history. Four of the five matchups last season were decided by a lone goal, and this time, Zach Werenski’s eighth brought Columbus to within one. That set up the big push late but they just could not find the equalizer, as the Caps held on for the 4-3 win.
Evgeny Kuznetsov G
T.J. Oshie A
John Carlson A
Zach Werenski G
Pierre-Luc Dubois A
Seth Jones A
Josh Anderson led the way with seven shots on goal. Artemi Panarin has five points in his last four games. The line of Panarin-Dubois-Anderson continues to jell.
A look at #FrenchBread tonight. pic.twitter.com/DDywQOJv8p— Alison (@AlisonL) December 3, 2017
As par for the course, the resiliency was there. As Torts talked about post game, some of the lacking details, whether offensive zone penalties by Jenner or blown coverages early, were the difference.
Torts on #CBJ showed resiliency after slow start: pic.twitter.com/QsLDbi9C2Q— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 3, 2017
Throw this one away and we'll get back to it at home Tuesday against the Devils.