BLUE JACKETS VS. CAPITALS
FRIDAY, 7 PM
GAME NOTES | PHOTO GALLERY
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 5 | CAPITALS 1
WATCH: Cam Atkinson's second of the night boosts the Jackets' lead to 5-1.
WATCH: Mark Letestu makes it 4-1 Columbus on the power play.
GOAL AUDIO: Letestu (PPG) | Atkinson's second
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: You knew the Capitals would want to come back with a better effort in the middle frame, but they got down 3-0 just 1:44 into the second as the Blue Jackets took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone. Umberger made a great play to steal the puck and break into the zone, and he found Johansen cross-ice who whipped his 18th of the season between Grubauer's legs - and that was it for the Capitals' starting netminder. Braden Holtby had to make a couple of tough saves right off the bat to keep it 3-0, and at the other end, Washington got kind of a fluky goal from John Carlson to make it a 3-1 game. The Blue Jackets have forechecked well, defended well and have a power play goal in this game. They'll open the third period with 1:42 of man advantage time.
WATCH: Ryan Johansen tallies his 18th of the season for a 3-0 Jackets lead in the second period.
WATCH: Cam Atkinson follows up on the door step and makes it 2-0 Columbus.
GOAL AUDIO: JOHANSEN | ATKINSON | WISNIEWSKI
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The game didn't start off how the Blue Jackets were planning, but they got their legs under them about midway through the first period. Washington established some zone time in the Columbus end - particularly early on - and the Blue Jackets took a couple of minor penalties (one successful penalty kill) as a result. They out-shot the Capitals 13-12 and many of those came after the first six minutes when the visitors had the edge in play. But Wisniewski's rocket one-timer (PPG) gave the Blue Jackets some life and they got a big goal at the end of the first from their energy/secondary offense/do-it-all line; Calvert was denied twice on the door step but Atkinson stopped at the net to clean up the loose change.
WATCH: James Wisniewski tees off on the power play, giving the Jackets a 1-0 lead.
INSIDE EDGE: Bob & Jody break down tonight's game against the Washington Capitals!
PRE GAME AUDIO: RJ Umberger | Todd Richards
WATCH: Ryan Johansen talks about tonight's game against the Capitals.
WATCH: Nathan Horton shares his thoughts on a big divisional tilt tonight at Nationwide Arena.
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards' pre-game press conference.
UPDATE (11:00 AM): Some other updates from the coach...
- The Blue Jackets have to be mindful of their discipline tonight against a Capitals team that possesses a lethal power play. Puck management and game management lead the way in terms of keys to achieving discipline.
- Keys to the Jackets' penalty killing? "Blocking shots, winning battles."
UPDATE (10:55 AM): Todd Richards just told the media that Tyutin wasn't feeling much better this morning and it's not looking good that he'll play tonight. It appears as if Dalton Prout will draw in.
UPDATE (10:25 AM): Here are the Jackets' forward lines for tonight's game...
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Anisimov - Horton
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
MacKenzie - Letestu - Tropp
UPDATE (10:08 AM): Sergei Bobrovsky is operating in the starter's net today, and he's the likely starter tonight against Washington.
UPDATE (10:05 AM): Fedor Tyutin, who missed yesterday's practice with an illness, is not on the ice for the morning skate here at Nationwide Arena. If Tyutin can't go, Dalton Prout has been recalled and would likely go in his place.
MORNING SKATE: Off (from game action) since Monday, the Blue Jackets aim for their fifth straight win on Friday night. The Blue Jackets are scheduled to take the ice for their morning skate at 10AM Monday at Nationwide Arena, we'll have complete game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Capitals, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets aren't going to tinker much with a winning lineup, but they could have one move to make on defense prior to Friday's game. Fedor Tyutin wasn't feeling well Thursday and did not practice. The team recalled defenseman Dalton Prout from Springfield in the event Tyutin cannot suit up against the Capitals.
Forward lines remain the same as all players are healthy up front. Look for Sergei Bobrovsky to make the start in goal for the Blue Jackets.
Two teams with which the Blue Jackets have had troubles this season - Washington (0-1-1) and Pittsburgh (0-4-0) - locked horns in a heavyweight battle Wednesday night at CONSOL Energy Center. The Capitals had a couple leads, including one in the third period, but couldn't make it hold up; the Penguins
, as they so often do, rallied on home ice and stole two points with a 4-3 regulation win.
Now, that's good news for the Blue Jackets, who are one of the handful of teams trying to chase down the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division standings. It also sets the stage for a (dare we say) massive game on Friday night in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets can pull within two points of the Capitals with a regulation victory and keep pace with the teams around them. It's jam-packed, it puts a ton of pressure on the teams chasing to keep winning (especially when those ahead aren't providing much help) but it creates a wildly entertaining playoff race.
If the Blue Jackets are going to take another step up the ladder on Friday night, they'll have to exorcise some demons from earlier this season.
Columbus was sputtering a bit back in October when they met the Capitals for the first time at Verizon Center, and it wasn't a positive result. Washington was the better team throughout and the Blue Jackets struggled to match the pace set by the home team, and at the end of a long night, the Blue Jackets had dropped their fourth straight game (third straight on the road). Less than a month later, it was the Blue Jackets who had the better of the play in D.C., holding a late third-period lead thanks to a go-ahead goal by Cam Atkinson
The Capitals needed another shift or two to get things tied up again. Mikhail Grabovski made it 3-3 and Alex Ovechkin won the game in overtime, and they have not seen the Blue Jackets since. Friday's game is the third of four meetings in the season series between the two teams, and it is without question the most important one yet.
AT BUFFALO SABRES
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.
FIRST NIAGARA CENTER