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Recap: Jackets bounce back, but fall in OT, 4-3

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They trail the series 3-2 as it returns to Columbus on Monday

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals
An improbable and yet quintessentially Matt Calvert goal
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Good news: The Columbus Blue Jackets played much better in Game 5 on Saturday than they did in Game 4 on Thursday. It was arguably their best game of the series.

Bad news: That wasn’t enough, as they fell 4-3 in overtime (of course it was overtime) against the Washington Capitals.

In light of that contrast, let’s look at the good and bad of this game:

THE GOOD

GOALS!

For the first time in the series, the Jackets struck first. It started with the PK standing tall after a Thomas Vanek slashing penalty. Matt Calvert was the star. First he covered for Brandon Dubinsky after Dubi lost his stick, dove to block a shot, then scrambled to the bench to retrieve his stick. Then Calvert dove himself and cleared the zone. After Washington collected and re-entered, Seth Jones attacked Alex Ovechkin along the wall and jarred the puck loose. Calvert took it in the neutral zone and was off to the races. He was joined by Josh Anderson in a 2-on-1 against John Carlson, but Calvert kept the puck and sent it off Braden Holtby’s left side.

The Caps opened the second period with an Evgeny Kuznetsov goal to take the lead, 2-1. Shortly after, the Jackets responded, with Calvert performing his Matty Hustle routine again. After forcing a turnover in his defensive zone, he collected the flying puck and charged in unimpeded. What resulted was the most quintessentially “Matt Calvert” goal possible. His initial shot attempt was a complete whiff. He did a spin move to get the puck under control and reorient himself. In the process he threw the puck into the net, with his body immediately following.

Again the Capitals regained the lead, but again the Blue Jackets responded. This time it was early in the third period. Alexander Wennberg (more on him below) made a great diving save to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Ian Cole was in position to fire it at the goal. Oliver BJORKSTRAND was camped out in front of Holtby and deflected it in.

Wennberg

All week we’ve been lamenting the absence of our skilled Swedish center. In Game 1, we iced 3 legit scoring lines. With Wennberg out, and the line shuffling that resulted, we were left with just 1. Nick Foligno couldn’t do with Vanek and Boone Jenner what Wennberg could, and bottom 6 couldn’t get anyting going, either. In this game, Wenns was back with Vanek and Boone, while Foligno started between Calvert and Anderson while Mark Letestu was between BJORKSTRAND and Dubinsky. By the third, BJORKSTRAND had earned some extra shifts with Wennberg and Jenner. Dubi and Letestu were the only CBJ forwards with less than 10 minutes of ice time.

Third Period

The third period was ALL Blue Jackets. Look at these numbers for that period:

Shot attempts: 35-11
Unblocked shot attempts: 28-5
Shots on goal: 16-1
Scoring chances: 17-4
High Danger Shot Attempts: 9-2
Goals: 1-0

Bob

25 saves on 29 shots may not look impressive, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Once again Bob made some huge saves at some key moments, especially in the early minutes of overtime. As for the goals he allowed, see the next point.

THE BAD

Bad Bounces

Washington’s first goal was a Nicklas Backstrom shot from behind the goal which hit the skate of a kneeling David Savard, shot up into the air, spinning, and landed behind Bob in the goal. The third goal was a deflection by T.J. Oshie of a Carlson shot, 14 seconds into a power play. The game winning goal in overtime was a Backstrom deflection of a Dmitry Orlov shot.

The Kuznetsov goal was one Bob could have stopped, but his breakaway was the result of a complete mental lapse by Bob’s teammates. 4 skaters went off for a line change, leaving Kuzetnsov wide open on the far side to receive an Orlov pass and go to the net with no resistance.

The Blue Jackets won the expected goal battle, 4.02 to 2.62. Ouch.

Power Play

0 for 5. Only 7 total shots on goal. The first power play unit had a few good shifts, but the second unit did nothing good with their chances. The first unit was the same as the last three games, with Vanek in front of the net. I think that Wennberg should return to that spot. It worked so well in the regular season when the PP finally started to click.

Penalties

5 penalties committed by Washington and 4 committed by Columbus. The refs called this one tight, but fair. Fortunately, the teams got the message and the third period and OT went by without an infraction.

First Line/First Pair

Not a banner game for the Panarin/Dubois/Atkinson line or the Jones/Werenski pair. Are all of the minutes taking their toll? Note: I’m not blaming Torts here. These games are high stakes, and very close. That’s exactly when you should ride your stars. But you can’t have all of these overtime games without seeing some fatigue setting in. Those 5 skaters led the Jackes in ice time, yet only Jones had a point. With what we saw from the other lines, Torts should be able to balance ice time some more on Monday, and control matchups due to having last change.

UP NEXT

The series returns to Columbus on Monday for Game 6. If the Jackets can play like this again, I think they have a very good chance to even up the series. See you there!

Additional videos:

Full highlights:

TORTS SAYS THERE WILL BE A GAME SEVEN:

NBC’s analysts weigh in on Torts’ statements, and whether Columbus can bounce back: