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Series Preview: A look back at Jackets vs. Caps before the road ahead

Washington took the first three games, but Columbus was close in all three.

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

How much will the four-game season series against the Washington Capitals matter in the Blue Jackets/ preparation for their showdown in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

"That means nothing," said defenseman Seth Jones, who had one goal, four assists and five points to lead Columbus against the Capitals this season. "I don't think we were very good in the season series with them. We lost the first three. I hope that doesn't mean anything, but it's a clean slate. That's what this is about. Whoever shows up to play wins the series."

Those sentiments echoed those of Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who said the results of the season series don't mean anything.

"To me, when we played them the first time, it didn't matter to me when we were playing them the second time," he said. "I don't even remember how we played them, what happened. No. It's a clean slate."

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Video: Tortorella comments on Panarin and Bob's importance

That said, there is something to be gleaned from the games these teams met this season. It's more of a big-picture concept than the game-to-game results.

"Obviously, I'm not going to [lie to] you," Tortorella continued. "We, as coaches, look more for tendencies. They have a good idea how we play. There's no secrets in the game. I know their tendencies. It's how much information we give to the players. When you get into a series, you can touch upon more tendencies than you do when you play them on a Monday in October and won't see them again until maybe February."

Those merely interested in watching the series, however, are a different story.

So, as the coaches and players search for tendencies on both sides, here's a little memory-jogger on how the Capitals went 3-1-0 and the Jackets made sure it wasn't a clean sweep:

GAME 1

Date: December 2, 2017

Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Score: Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3

 

Goals: 1st period - (WSH) Brett Connolly 1:03, (WSH) Alex Chiasson 2:06; 2nd period - (CBJ) Artemi Panarin 3:51, (CBJ) Matt Calvert 16:28 (SH), (WSH) Alex Ovechkin 19:22; 3rd period - (WSH) Evgeny Kuznetsov 1:08, (CBJ) Zach Werenski 16:58

Leading scorers: (CBJ) Pierre-Luc Dubois (two assists); (WSH) John Carlson (two assists)

 

Shots: Blue Jackets 35, Capitals 23

Corsi: Blue Jackets 56.4% (66-51), Capitals 43.6% (51-66)

Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 37, Capitals 26

High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 10, Capitals 7

 

What happened: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the net after getting a two-game rest period that followed a string of eight straight starts. Bobrovsky rested and worked on technical aspects of goaltending while Joonas Korpisalo made his first consecutive starts.

The Capitals took a quick 2-0 lead just 2:06 into the game on goals scored exactly 1:03 apart by Connolly and Chiasson, but Bobrovsky reset his focus and didn't allowed another goal in the first.

Panarin scored off a one-timer and Calvert scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to tie it, 2-2, in his first game back from an injury absence, but Ovechkin made the Jackets pay for the second of two holding penalties called on Boone Jenner. The Capitals' superstar scoring his 19th goal of the season to cap a power play with just 38 seconds left in the period for a 3-2 lead.

Kuznetsov scored the eventual game-winner just 1:08 into the third, giving Washington a 4-2 lead, but the Jackets made it interesting. Columbus outshot the Capitals 17-3 in the period, dominated puck-possession and nearly got goals from Cam Atkinson and Dubois in the waning stages.

Instead, Braden Holtby made a great save to turn away Atkinson's wrist shot with 3:47 left, and then - after Werenski cut it to 4-3 - the Capitals' goalie got some good fortune. Dubois' shot got through him and headed for the net but was stopped short of the goal line. Panarin could've tapped it into the net, but thought it was heading in on its own. He threw his hands up to celebrate and the game-tying goal was prevented.

Quote: "I thought everybody in the building thought it was in. I guess it just stopped on the red line. You can see on the red line there, with 'Bread.' If he didn't think it was going in, he would've tapped it in there. Everybody on the ice [for us] had their hands in the air. It's just too bad it didn't trickle in." - Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson, on Dubois' near-miss late in the third.

Video: CBJ@WSH: Calvert flicks wrister past Holtby for SHG 

GAME 2

Date: February 6, 2018

Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Score: Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2

 

Goals: 1st period - (CBJ) David Savard 1:58, (WSH) John Carlson (PP) 4:54; 2nd period - (WSH) Tom Wilson 5:00; 3rd period - (CBJ) Brandon Dubinsky 13:55, (WSH) Nicklas Backstrom 19:17

Leading scorers: (WSH) Backstrom (one goal, one assist), (WSH) Alex Ovechkin (two assists); Five with one point for Columbus

 

Shots: Blue Jackets 39, Capitals 25

Corsi: Blue Jackets 56.7% (59-45), Capitals 43.3% (45-59)

Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 39, Capitals 26

High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 13, Capitals 12

 

What happened: Once again, the Blue Jackets controlled the puck more often, outshot the Capitals by a wide margin and lost in regulation.

David Savard's goal about two minutes after the opening puck-drop gave Columbus a quick 1-0 lead, but the Washington overcame it with goals by Carlson, on a power play in the first period and Wilson at even strength in the second.

Dubinsky was nearly the hero for the Blue Jackets, scoring his first goal in four games after returning from a fractured orbital bone near his left eye, but his game-tying goal didn't keep it tied long enough. After he scored off his own rebound to tie it 2-2 with 6:05 left, Backstrom scored his 200th career NHL goal with 42.9 seconds left to win it.

Less than a minute after the Capitals killed a late Blue Jackets power play, Ovechkin sent a long wrist shot toward the next from the left wing. The puck hit Savard, landed in front of Oshie and he sent a backhand feed across the ice to Backstrom in the bottom of the right face-off circle.

The Capitals' star center one-timed the puck into the net, again denying Columbus of a point or two. It was the third straight regulation loss and fourth straight game without a win for the Blue Jackets, who were stonewalled on that late power play.

Holtby made two good saves against slap shots from Jones and defenseman Brooks Orpik blocked a one-timer from Panarin with his left skate, standing right in front of the right post.

Quote: "It's a kick in the stomach. That one hurts. I mean, forget the coaches. How about the guys with the uniforms on? That's a tough one for them. So, we've got to regroup and just stay within ourselves there, and just keep on playing." - Tortorella

Video: WSH@CBJ: Bobrovsky stones Burakovsky two times

GAME 3

Date: February 9, 2018

Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Score: Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 2

Goals: 1st period - (WSH) John Carlson 5:09, (CBJ) Pierre-Luc Dubois 6:28, (WSH) Evgeny Kuznetsov 19:58; 2nd period - (CBJ) Artemi Panarin 0:27, (WSH) Jay Beagle 4:38, (WSH) Lars Eller (PP) 6:06

Leading scorers: (CBJ) Dubois (goal), Panarin (goal) and Jones (assist) all had one point; (WSH) Eller (goal, assist), (WSH) Kuznetsov (goal, assist)

Shots: Blue Jackets 37, Capitals 17

Corsi: Blue Jackets 58.8% (60-42), Capitals 41.2% (42-60)

Scoring chances: Capitals 27, Blue Jackets 23

High-Danger chances: Capitals 10, Blue Jackets 9

What happened: This was the start of the Blue Jackets' fathers weekend, when fathers, brothers and close friends tagged along for the one-game trip to the nation's capital.

Yet again, a similar storyline unfolded. The Blue Jackets dominated possession and shots, but the Washington capitalized enough to win on the few chances it got in the game. Carlson and Dubois exchanged goals early in the first, with Dubois' father, Eric, watching and smiling from the suite level above.

The joy was short-lived for the Blue Jackets, though, as Kuznetsov put Washington back in front with just two seconds remaining in the first period. Seconds after leaving the penalty box, the Russian center skated into the lower half of the left faceoff circle and one-timed a loose puck past Sergei Bobrovsky for a 2-1 lead.

It could've been the beginning of a Capitals scoring barrage to start the second, after giving Washington a boost heading into the first intermission. Panarin, however, made sure that didn't happen. The high-scoring Russian left wing skated to the low slot, tipped the puck over Braden Holtby's shoulder and tied it 2-2.

The Capitals scored the next two goals, which were the last two scored in the game - by Beagle and Eller. Once again, the Blue Jackets outshot an opponent by a large margin (20) and still lost without earning a point.

Quote: "If there was so much to fix, I would be a lot more worried. But you can't tell me there's lots to fix, besides putting some pucks in the net. You can't really pick apart our game. We're doing a lot of good things, so I'm not going to focus on some of the bounces that aren't going our way. I'm going to focus on things we're doing well, because that's how you get out of it." - captain Nick Foligno

Video: CBJ@WSH: Panarin redirects Jones' shot past Holtby

GAME 4

Date: February 26, 2018

Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Score: Blue Jackets 5, Capitals 1

Goals: 1st period - (CBJ) Artemi Panarin (PP) 5:31, (WSH) Alex Ovechkin (PP) 6:57, (CBJ) Sonny Milano 7:53, (CBJ) Mark Letestu 14:32, (CBJ) Seth Jones (PP) 18:17; 3rd period - (CBJ) Cam Atkinson 17:18

Leading scorers: (CBJ) Atkinson (goal, two assists), (CBJ) Jones (goal, two assists) and Artemi Panarin (one goal, one assist); (WSH) Carlson (goal), (WSH) Oshie (assist)

Shots: Blue Jackets 35, Capitals 26

Corsi: Blue Jackets 60.5% (49-32), Capitals 39.5% (32-49)

Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 24, Capitals 15

High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 10, Capitals 5 

What happened: This date is remembered more for what happened prior to the game, in the hours leading up to the mid-afternoon NHL Trade Deadline.

A day after adding veteran center Mark Letestu in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, bolstering the experience and depth of the bottom-six forward group, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen completed two more key trades.

He got defenseman Ian Cole, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins, from the Ottaway Senators and then added veteran scoring forward Thomas Vanek from the Vancouver Canucks.

Cole and Letestu played against the Capitals and the latter scored in front of Blue Jackets fans, who gave him an ovation in his return to Columbus. His goal made it 3-1 in the first period, following earlier goals from Panarin and Sonny Milano, and Jones made it 4-1 a little less than four minutes later.

Just like that, the Blue Jackets started making up for those close-calls that went against them in the first three games.

At the end of the first, Matt Calvert and Ovechkin got into it as the seconds wound down. Calvert was assessed a match penalty in the fracas, which didn't make Tortorella happy. The Jackets' coach and Capitals' superstar had a heated exchange near the benches after the teams came out for the second period, which Tortorella took the blame for in his postgame press conference.

Atkinson scored late in the third for the final margin, as the Blue Jackets routed the Capitals.

It wasn't all good news, though. Josh Anderson tried to cut insideof Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov late in the third period, with a four-goal lead and sprained his knee on Orlov's hit. Anderson missed the month of March.

Quote: "It's good win for us. We kind of owed this team. We let a couple get away from us the past couple times we played them. Great team win." - Jones

Video: Jones, Atkinson power Blue Jackets past Caps, 5-1

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