Jared Boll played what might have been his best game of the season last night in Washington. He was physical, engaged, scored a huge goal in the third period...but none of that could erase the taste in his mouth after the Blue Jackets saw two points dissipate into one.
CAPITALS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 3 (OT)
He said the Blue Jackets have to get better at closing out games and doing whatever they can to be sharper when playing with a lead in the third period - which is exactly what cost them a regulation victory at the Verizon Center. Mikhail Grabovski tied the game after a long defensive zone shift for Columbus, and Alex Ovechkin notched the overtime winner on what could best be characterized as a defensive breakdown in front of Sergei Bobrovsky.
When Cam Atkinson left the Capitals defense in the dust to score the go-ahead goal, it sure felt like the Blue Jackets were headed for two points and their first road victory since Oct. 10. But it wasn't to be on this night, and the frustration with letting a victory slip away was palpable in the team's post-game comments.
On a positive note: the Blue Jackets played their game tonight. They were physical, they rolled four lines and their puck management was pretty sound in all three zones. Heck, the first time you really heard Ovechkin's name called all night was the game-winner - but that's all it takes in this league, and especially for one of the game's best players.
Columbus stood tall against the league's best power play, too, and got a shorthanded goal from Brandon Dubinsky to open the scoring in the second period. They probably gave the Capitals a few more opportunities than they wanted, but the Blue Jackets had sticks in lanes, bodies in front of shots and a high level of compete for 50-50 pucks while shorthanded.Here are some random thoughts, notes and observations...
- This became a "top-four defensemen" type of game in the third period, and the TOI numbers reflect that. Nikita Niktin (13:09) and Dalton Prout (12:48) did not see any shorthanded ice time, and only Prout saw special teams time with 15 seconds of power play duty.
- Tyutin (25:00), Johnson (25:32), Wisniewski (23:44) and Murray (22:55) carried the mail for the Blue Jackets on the back end, and the Tyutin/Johnson pairing had a strong night with a combined +3 effort. They drew a lot of tough assignments tonight against a Capitals team that can score goals in bunches, and it's a credit to the Jackets' group of defensemen that, for the most part, Washington's top players didn't do much damage.
- Dubinsky was the best forward on the ice for either side; he played 22:34, won 7-of-8 face-offs (88 percent) and picked up a goal and an assist. With the shorthanded goal he scored in the second period, Dubinsky is now tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded goals (2).
- Sean Collins was part of a fourth line that saw increased minutes when Derek MacKenzie missed part of the game with a lower-body injury. Collins played 11 minutes in the game, was very good down low in the offensive zone, and picked up his first NHL point (an assist) on Jared Boll's game-tying goal in the third period.
- The Blue Jackets won 36-of-58 face-offs in the game...that's a staggering 62 percent efficiency on the dot.