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Labatt Recap: Jackets top Caps in shootout thriller

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

After closing out the 2015 calendar year with an exciting 6-3 win against the Dallas Stars, the Blue Jackets were looking to carry their recent success through the first game of the new year against the Washington Capitals— and that’s exactly what they did.

Columbus kicked off the 2016 portion of its 2015-16 campaign with a 5-4 shootout win over Washington at Nationwide Arena. Ryan Johansen had the deciding goal for the Jackets, and Brandon Dubinsky also scored in the shootout.

“It was a lot of fun,” Johansen said. “You always want to be in these types of games, two good teams, close (match-ups), so I’m sure everyone enjoyed their night tonight and I’m proud of the guys for getting it done.”

The Jackets found a way to win tonight despite facing some major adversity…

Anton Forsberg saves a shot
Forsberg fights off a shot from Alex Ovechkin in overtime.
Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney had to leave the game with 4:05 left in overtime when he fell and was helped off of the ice. Backup goaltender Anton Forsberg, on emergency recall, made his first NHL appearance of the season and sixth of his career.

“A lot of ebbs and flows, a lot of momentum changes, a lot of good things, a lot of bad things… the biggest thing is how about Forsberg,” head coach John Tortorella said after the game. “I mean, what a spot he’s put into and my God he played well.”

Forsberg stopped six shots in overtime and two of three in the shootout, helping the Jackets defeat the Capitals and earning his first NHL win.

“It’s kind of crazy. Obviously, it’s not my win,” Forsberg said. “Curtis did a great job there… and the team played real well coming back there.”

McElhinney made 23 saves on 27 shots, a few of the highlight reel variety, before leaving the game. Entering the game in a tough situation, Forsberg impressed his teammates as well as the head coach.

“The kid just ends up in a shootout,” Tortorella said. “It’s just crazy. It was a crazy game and we found a way to win it, so that’s good.

“We won two in a row here (against) two of the best teams in the league. (It was) ugly as hell at times, but you still find a way to win ‘em, so I’m happy for the team as far as some of the things that went on tonight.”

The Capitals came into the game with the second highest point total in the NHL and the Metropolitan Division lead, but the Jackets opened the scoring and fought back with three goals to tie the game 4-4 after 60 minutes of regulation.

The game started off quickly after Capitals’ defenseman Dmitry Orlov received a penalty at 1:24 of the first period for slashing Brandon Saad and, just seven seconds later, Jack Johnson opened the scoring at 1:32 of that frame.

Later in the period, after Boone Jenner received a penalty at 7:04 for tripping T.J. Oshie, the Capitals evened the score when Oshie scored on McElhinney eight seconds into the power play at 7:12 of the first.

Saad put the Jackets back on the board, thanks to a swift set-up by Alexander Wennberg. The goal marked Saad’s 15th of the season and extended his points streak to seven games.

But, once again, the Caps came back to draw level while on the power play.

Jack Johnson scores in the 3rd period
Johnson connects again with his second goal of the game.
With Rene Bourque in the box, left winger Jason Chimera scored on McElhinney at 11:47 of the first, making it a 2-2 game at the end of the frame.

The second period saw good chances for both sides, but Marcus Johansson tipped the puck in the net to put the Capitals up at 16:07 of that frame.

During the third period, Johnson scored his second goal of the night at 4:47 of the frame. His goal marked his first career multi-goal game, with both goals coming on the power play.

In keeping with the momentum shifts of the game, it didn’t take long for the Capitals to come right back. Washington took a 4-3 lead after Evgeny Kuznetsov finished off a rush at 5:27 of the third.

In a last-minute attempt to even the score, the Jackets pulled McElhinney and soon afterwards Saad scored his second goal of the night to tie the game and push the Capitals into overtime.

“We’re just trying to find a way,” Tortorella said. “We’ve talked as a team that no matter what people are saying about us, and from the outside pointing into us, we need to be together.

“We did a ton of good things tonight. We did a ton of bad things, and we just gotta keep on trying to get better each and every day and not be concerned about anything that’s being talked about and just stick together and play.”

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