Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals needed only a few minutes to spoil the New Year's Eve party in Columbus. Ovechkin started and finished the Caps' four-goal eruption in the third period as Washington overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Blue Jackets 4-2 on Saturday night.
Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Dennis Wideman scored in a span of 2:53 early in the final period to turn a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead by the 7:16 mark. Ovechkin's goal at 11:03 on Washington's only power play of the night added some insurance as the Caps won their third in a row -- spoiling the postgame fireworks display at Nationwide Arena with one of their own.
"It’s a big win for us," said goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who made 35 saves. "Losing here would have erased the big effort against Buffalo and Rangers earlier this week."
The Blue Jackets, last in the NHL with just 25 points, delighted the sellout crowd of 18,199 by scoring twice in the late stages of the second period to take a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes.
Rookie defenseman John Moore jumped into the play, took a pass from Rick Nash and beat Vokoun with a wrister from the slot at 14:47 for his second of the season. Samuel Pahlsson made it 2-0 with 35 seconds left when he fired a rebound past Vokoun for his second.
"We weren't too sharp early on," Wideman said. "They definitely outworked us for the first 40 minutes of the game. We knew we had to pick it up a little bit."
They did just that.
Ovechkin, who scored twice in Friday's 3-1 win against Buffalo, cut the deficit in half when he one-timed a shot behind Steve Mason at 4:23. Semin tied it at 6:48 during a 4-on-4 when he took Wideman's pass at the top of the slot and zipped a wrister through traffic that Mason barely saw.
With the Jackets reeling, Wideman took a feed from Marcus Johansson, raced into the right circle and teed up a slap shot that tipped the stick of defenseman Aaron Johnson and flew past Mason, completing the comeback.
The goals by Semin and Wideman came with each team down a skater, opening up the ice for Washington's skilled players.
"The 4-on-4 there was our skill," coach Dale Hunter said. "Alex made a great shot, Wides made a great shot. There were big plays by the people setting them up. We moved the puck around well on the 4-on-4 and created two goals."
Ovechkin's power-play goal was Washington's 12th third-period goal in its last six games -- and Ovi's fifth in four games this week. He has six goals and nine points during a six-game scoring streak.
"I feel good," he said. "I feel my shot coming back. They give me the puck and when I have the opportunity, I shoot it."
Wideman said Vokoun's 25 saves through two periods were key in giving the Caps the chance to come back.
"The game would have been a lot further out of hand if Vokie hadn't played as well as he did. He kept us within reach. We hung in there and turned it around in the third."
It was yet another disappointment for the Blue Jackets, who have been outscored 52-26 in the final period so far this season. Before turning a 2-1 lead into a 4-1 win at Dallas at Thursday, they had failed to win in regulation in eight straight games despite leading after two periods.
"It's frustrating the way we played so well in the first two periods and get such a bad outcome," forward Derek Dorsett said.
It was a nightmare for the sellout crowd -- as well as for Jackets coach Scott Arniel.
"It's awfully frustrating, and it's really disappointing," Arniel said. "For 50 minutes of that game, we were picture perfect. A lot of that that you saw tonight was four games in six nights. We looked like a tired hockey club and made a couple of mistakes. And some of their skilled players made some real good plays, too."
Material from team media was used in this report