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FINAL: Blue Jackets 3, Capitals 0

Bjorkstrand scores twice, Korpisalo stops 30 shots in earning shutout win

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets ran their point streak to four games, downing NHL-leading Washington by a 3-0 score at Nationwide Arena on Monday night. 

Game in a Paragraph 

The Blue Jackets came out with energy and earned an early 1-0 lead, but from there the air came out of the game a bit and the teams went to the third period with that same score thanks in part to four good CBJ penalty kills. Columbus then put the game away in the third thanks in part to a pair of goals from Oliver Bjorkstrand. 

Video: Korpisalo pitches shutout as Jackets defeat Caps, 3-0

Quote of the Game

CBJ goalie Joonas Korpisalo: "When we play our own game, we're on top of our game and just go out there and battle and keep the intensity level up, and I think that's what we did today. Especially the start of the game, that was really good. That set up the whole game."

CBJ Notables 

  • Korpisalo improved to 3-0-0 vs. Caps in his career with a 1.08 goals-against average and .966 save percentage thanks to a 30-save outing. It is his second shutout of the year and third of his career.
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied twice for the fifth multigoal game of his career and now has three goals in two games this year vs. the Caps.  
  • Eric Robinson scored his fourth goal of the season and has a 1-2-3 line in his last two games.  

Quick Recap 

Columbus came out flying, with a 10-1 edge in shots in goal in the first six minutes and change, and found a deserved 1-0 lead at 11:32 of the first. Alexandre Texier made the play happen, fighting through the check of Radko Gudas, getting to the right corner and feeding Robinson in front for a nice finish past goalie Braden Holtby.  

The Blue Jackets held the 1-0 lead through the end of the period, with Korpisalo to thank. Three times on the penalty kill, Korpisalo stood tall and turned aside one-timers from Alexander Ovechkin from his patented office on the left side.  

Video: Kopisalo with 30 saves to blank the Caps

If Korpisalo was good in the first, he was great in the second, especially as the Blue Jackets had to kill a pair of penalties early in the frame. He made big stops Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie on the first one, then frustrated Ovechkin twice more on the next CBJ kill. He also made a nifty glove save on Ovechkin's rebound try later in the period, and Ovi had nine shots on goal and no scores by the time the period was over. 

Columbus was outshot 8-2 in the second period, but the second shot for the home team nearly made it 2-0. With about a minute to go in the period, Bjorkstrand was alone in front and found by Boone Jenner, but Holtby was able to squeeze Bjorkstrand's shot.  

He wouldn't miss on his next opportunity, though, tallying just 32 seconds into the third period to give the Jackets a 2-0 lead. After Boone Jenner won a draw, Gustav Nyquist centered from the left wall and Bjorkstrand tipped the puck past Holtby from right on the doorstep for his eighth goal of the year. 

Ovechkin hit the post on a bid to make it a 2-1 game, and that proved crucial as Bjorkstrand made it a two-goal night at 8:46 of the period. It was a fantastic individual effort, as he skated onto a puck in front of the benches, caught Gudas flat-footed as he entered the ice on a change, carted the puck to the net and slipped it around Holtby in one motion.  

The Capitals pushed in the final eight minutes, but Korpisalo often stood strong in completing the blanking. There were also extracurriculars with 2:08 to go, as a hit by Tom Wilson on Vladislav Gavrikov led to David Savard dropping the gloves immediately against the Caps forward. 

3 Takeaways

1. Isn't it fun to watch Korpisalo blossoming in front of your very eyes? This is a goalie who a lot of fans weren't sure if he was ready for the No. 1 role, and it was a fair question. He certainly had to prove it after solid but unspectacular showings as the backup the past three years after a great 2015-16 debut. Now, in his last 16 games, Korpisalo has posted a .924 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average. Hard to expect more out of the Finnish netminder than that. "I feel comfortable out there," he said. "The more games you play, the more comfortable you get. I'm just trying to be myself out there, have fun and enjoy the game. As a team we've been playing really good, too, so it's fun to play out there."

2. The Blue Jackets took the ice without a number of players who were expected to be major contributors this year thanks to injuries, and the team jumped over more than 100 man games lost this year to injury (that's more than three per game with the team 33 games into the year). But look at some of the major contributors -- Robinson notched a huge early goal, while rookie defenseman Andrew Peeke had a key piece of the game, taking a puck to the face early but boucing back to earn his first career NHL point with an assist on Bjorkstrand's second goal. The season debuts of Kevin Stenlund and Marko Dano were solid as well. "You just go play," head coach John Tortorella said. For the second game in a row, the line of Robinson, Texier and Pierre-Luc Dubois set a big tone. "That line has been really good since we put them together. It's another one of those lines that you never expected to put together, and they were a big part of our offense the prior game. Did some really good things tonight."

3. It's weird how things have worked, but the Blue Jackets played back-to-back stellar games vs. the Caps. In each one, the team scored early, went into the third period with the lead, then put up insurance markers to put the game away. That's how it's supposed to work, but in a season where leads have been hard to come by and the team has fallen on the wrong edge of the fine line between wins and losses at times, these two wins eight days apart against Washington have felt good. "We need to extend our leads when we have those type of opportunities, and we have not done that this year and it comes back and it bites you," Tortorella said. "Korpi gave us a chance when we struggled, then we score some timely goals."

Notable 

Washington had a 30-21 edge in shots on goal. ... Columbus went 0-for-3 on the power play but killed all five Washington chances. ... Columbus improved to 6-1-0 in the last seven vs. The Caps and have won four straight, including two in an eight-day span. … Nyquist has points in four straight games vs. Washington while Bjorkstrand has a three-game point streak against the Caps. ... Texier has a 2-1-3 line in his last two games. ... The Blue Jackets improved to 13-4-1 when scoring first. … Columbus led after the second period for just the sixth time this year, moving to 4-1-1. ... The Blue Jackets are 5-0-0 on Monday this season. ... With the 635th win of his NHL career, Tortorella moved to 15th place all-time on the NHL coaches' wins list.

Roster Report 

The Blue Jackets made three changes to the lineup, all injury-related. Forwards Sonny Milano and Josh Anderson were unable to go with upper-body injuries, the same fate that sidelined defenseman Ryan Murray as well. Forwards Stenlund and Dano went into the lineup while blueliner Scott Harrington returned as well.  

Up Next 

The sprint to the Christmas break continues Tuesday night in Detroit as the Blue Jackets take on the Red Wings at 7:30 p.m.  

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