As intense as the Stanley Cup playoffs already are, and this series specifically, between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals following three-consecutive games of overtime, and just 48 hours removed from double overtime, both teams were back at it Thursday night from Columbus, and things only got chippier.
The Blue Jackets, looking to take their first-ever, 3-1, best-of-seven series lead, instead were bested by the Capitals. Braden Holtby made 23 saves on 24 shots and Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each tallied a goal to help the Capitals win Game 4 and tie the best-of-seven series at two games.
Wilson, making noise with hits but also goals in Game 1, continued those trends during the first period Thursday. He scored the first goal of the game 6:16 into the first period, beating Sergei Bobrovsky for his second tally of the series.
In the sequence prior to the goal, Thomas Vanek, in the crease behind a sprawled-out Bobrovsky, made the great effort to keep the puck out of the net behind Bobrovsky. Yet on the clear attempt, was there to chip the puck to Wilson, who fired the shot before Bobrovsky could settle.
It’s the fourth time the Capitals have scored the first goal of the series, outscoring Columbus 5-1 in the first period.
Columbus’s power-play came into the game, 4-of-12 (33%). The unit had the first crack, less than a minute in, but failed to muster any offensive consistency, rarely keeping the puck in the zone long enough to set anything up, and whiffing on their first man-advantage without registering a shot.
This was basically how things would unfold for the rest of the evening.
Emotions got heated towards the end of the first period. Wilson got involved in the game with his physical presence, dumping Ian Cole just inside the blue line. Several players during the course of the 20 minutes, including Josh Anderson and Wilson, mingled and traded shoves.
Oshie made it 2-0 Capitals in the second period on the power play, his second of the playoffs, jamming in a loose rebound in the open slot. It’s the third time in the series the Capitals have had a 2-0 lead, having lost those previous Games’ 1 and 2.
As the Jackets came into the third period down 2-0 and looking to overcome a fourth-consecutive deficit, the third two-goal deficit of the series, it was instead the Capitals who scored early in the third period to go ahead 3-0.
Ovechkin sniped his third goal of the playoffs, with Kuznetsov adding his second assist, and Wilson also had a multi-point night.
Holtby, not tested often through much of the game, was perfect on the 15 shots he faced through 40 minutes. His shutout bid was ended 6:22 into the final period. On a long shot from Blue Jackets’ Josh Anderson just outside the faceoff circle to Holtby’s right, Boone Jenner was there to tip it in for the score.
With 3:29 left in the game and down two, John Tortorella pulled his goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, looking to spark any kind late offensive rally. Despite a few good looks, Washington salted away the game with the empty netter and the final score, 4-1.
Each team winning two games on the road, the scene shifts for Game 5 back to Washington with the series all tied at two games. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Ohio and NBC at 3:00 pm.