With both the Blue Jackets and Capitals on losing streaks since the all star break, both teams were looking to get back on track - particularly with the knife fight that is the Metropolitan Division playoff race.
With the home ice advantage in the first game of the home and home series, the Jackets needed to come out and get to work and early on they did just that, with Columbus opening the scoring when David Savard hammered a shot past Brayden Holtby.
The Capitals weren’t going away that easily, though, with Nicklas Backstrom drawing a hooking penalty and John Carlson would cash in, tying the game.
Still, the Jackets didn’t give up on the period, particularly after a Tom Wilson / Josh Anderson fight sparked the bench. Even though the Jackets didn’t score, they kept their feet moving and pucks going to the net, drawing a power play of their own in the final seconds of the first.
The second period started on the power play, but the Jackets struggles with the man advantage continued tonight, generating two shots on goal but failing to convert. In many ways the Jackets had the better second period, with some excellent individual performances from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Jones in particular, but there was only one way that mattered on the scoreboard - and that one went to the Capitals thanks to Tom Wilson’s backhand goal from the high slot.
#CBJ continue to press, can’t solve Holtby. Trail 2-1 after two.— Alison (@AlisonL) February 7, 2018
67.57% of 5v5 shot attempts
69.57% of 5v5 scoring chances
54.55% of 5v5 hi-danger attempts
Attempts: Savard (6)
Shots on goal: Bjorkstrand (5) pic.twitter.com/7HmuN1qJk7
By nearly every measurement, this should have been a game where Columbus was in control, but give it up to Brayden Holtby - he was doing the work his team needed, protecting their lead even as the Blue Jackets continued to throw everything they had at him.
Finally it seemed that things were going the Jackets way when Brandon Dubinsky caught his own rebound and scored to tie things up late in the third, particularly when the Jackets drew a penalty with less than three minutes to go, giving them a chance to break through and ice the game on the power play.
Twice, it looked like they might just do it.
Twice, Holtby came up with the save.
As time wound down, it seemed that the contest would be decided in OT when cruel fate had one last trick to play.
An Alexander Ovechkin shot would strike Bob in the mask, and the puck rebounded to strike David Savard in the side of the head, who dropped to his knees on the ice.
That meant that T. J. Oshie could get to the puck and poke it across to a waiting Nicklas Backstrom, who had gotten free of coverage on the other side of the crease, and there was no way Bobrovsky could get across to make the stop.
The Capitals would take the lead with 44 seconds to go in regulation, and though the Jackets did make a good try with an extra skater to force OT, it wasn’t in the cards.
It really was a great performance by the team - probably one of their most complete games in the last month or two. But the bounces didn’t go their way, and what few mistakes the team made all came back to haunt them.
It was a hard result to swallow watching it. I can’t imagine how bitter that pill was to take as a player.
In his post game press conference, Torts summed it up pretty succintly: “We have shit for luck right now.”
I’m not sure there’s anything else to be said.