Bjorkstrand—who was supposed to be a healthy scratch until Cam Atkinson fell ill and sat out—gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead before Duclair—who signed for the league minimum over the summer after flaming out in Chicago—put Columbus back in front in the third.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves and looked like vintage Bob to help the Blue Jackets win back-to-back games for the first time since October 27.
The Blue Jackets probably wanted to build on Tuesday’s win over Dallas while exacting whatever revenge they could on the franchise that dumped them out of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus looked aggressive and physical, harassing Caps whenever they had the puck and rarely sinking back to wait for a Washington attack.
The visitors charged out of the gate quickly as Boone Jenner hit the crossbar 16 seconds in, part of an opening-game (and short-lived) run where the CBJ carried the play.
The ice began to tilt the other way and Josh Anderson committed a cross checking penalty five minutes into the game. The penalty kill was up to the task, though, holding the Capitals without a shot during the night’s first power play.
In a scary sight at the 12:28 mark, referee Brad Meier left the game with a knee injury (one of those splits and buckles that make you wince) and would not return.
The Caps began to pepper Bobrovsky with chances while regularly repelling the Blue Jackets from their own zone, but Bob held strong:
Columbus caught a break with 4:32 left when Evgeny Kuznetsov interfered with Brandon Dubinsky for the team’s first penalty. Remember how recently the Blue Jackets couldn’t find their breezers with both hands while on the power play? Naturally, they turned in an absolutely gorgeous goal thanks to BJORKSTRAND finishing a perfect Nick Foligno feed:
Blue Jackets 1, Capitals 0, 2:44 left in the first period
That was their only shot of the power play, because of course it was.
Bob kept the Caps scoreless for the rest of the frame with some of his 15 first-period saves the Blue Jackets took into the first intermission.
After several minutes of fairly even play, Alexander Wennberg wedged his stick under the arms of Lars Eller on the backcheck for a hooking penalty with 13:09 left in the second period. Sure enough, the Blue Jackets would pay for the unnecessarily infraction as Matt Niskanen slapped one home on the power play. The goal arose when T.J. Oshie blocked a shot from the point and the Caps recovered the puck, allowing the PP to set back up and slowly work their way closer to the net to set up Niskanen’s equalizer.
Blue Jackets 1, Capitals 1, 12:07 left in the second period
There must be something about Lars Eller that worried the Blue Jackets, because David Savard held him along the boards a few minutes later for another Washington power play. The Caps threatened and registered a couple of shots, but the penalty passed without incident and the game stayed knotted at 1-1.
Soon after, Sonny Milano found the back of the net late in the period to—whoops, sorry. That’s the Cleveland game.
With 1:47 until the break of the CBJ contest, Michal Kempny went to the box for holding (shortly after another spectacular Bobrovsky save on Ovechkin).
Despite no goal before the horn, Columbus did almost everything they’re supposed to do on the power play: showed patience with the puck, waited for good looks, crashed the net after a shot. Alas, the period ended at 1-1.
The second period belonged to the Blue Jackets in terms of possession (and shots, 16-10), with a 81.82 CF% during five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The rest of the penalty expired with no score shortly before Pierre-Luc Dubois walked right in and nearly scored a beautiful goal…but Braden Holtby was able to keep him out of the net with a last-second kick save.
Jenner and Foligno tested Holtby again—we’re talking scream-inducing close chances—and the Blue Jackets buzzed enough to draw a Dmitry Orlov penalty for the team’s third power play.
With virtually no angle to see the net, Anthony Duclair scored on the man advantage to put the Jackets back in front. Artemi Panarin threw it wide and the rebound bounced to Duclair, who took advantage of a stickless Niskanen and banked it in off the defenseman:
Blue Jackets 2, Capitals 1, 14:51 left in the third period
Duclair went down the tunnel immediately after the goal but returned shortly after.
The physicality ramped up as the game progressed; Columbus looked to keep its foot on the gas while an increasingly desperate Washington team worked to tie it up.
Dubois held a stick with exactly seven minutes left in regulation, putting the dangerous Caps back on the PP. Bobrovsky made a shoulder save on a Niskanen shot and the PK blocked an Ovechkin slapper, helping the Blue Jackets survive the penalty.
The Washington PP kicked off several minutes where Columbus had to simply weather the storm, failing to clear three straight times on one particular shift. Bobrovsky turned back the shots that the Blue Jackets didn’t block (good one from Savard), finally prompting the Caps to pull Holtby at the 90-second mark.
After some frantic 6-on-5 action, Savard hooked Jakub Vrana behind the net with 42.9 seconds left on the clock for yet another penalty.
Facing a 6-on-4, the Blue Jackets battened down the hatches. Jenner partially blocked a shot and every other Washington chance sailed wide, allowing Columbus to take two points from a key division opponent.
- Bob has stopped 60 of his last 62 shots, according to team PR. Seven of his saves came from seven high-danger shots. He’s back, friends.
- How good of a pickup has Anthony Duclair been? Fun Fact: Not only is he tied for the team lead with seven goals, but all of his goals have come in CBJ wins. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
- Brandon Dubinsky won 10 of his first 11 faceoffs and finished the night 11-of-14, He went 8-for-11 in the defensive zone. Not too shabby.
- Alexander Wennberg played two shifts in the final third period, missing the final 12 minutes. He played 9:06 on the night.
- Artemi Panarin assisted on Duclair’s goal, snapping a four-game pointless streak.
- Big night for Bjorkstrand, who, to borrow a phrase from Dante Hicks, wasn’t even supposed to be here today. The Dane finished with 64.29 CF% and 65.38 FF% in all situations for his 14:49 of ice time.
- The Blue Jackets are back at it again on Saturday night against the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena.