BLUE JACKETS 5 | CAPITALS 1
There's a bolded line of demarcation that separates knowing a big game when you see it, and playing like it's a big game. The Blue Jackets, winners of four straight entering tonight's game, wanted to exorcise some early-season demons against the Washington Capitals - a team they're trying to track down in the Metropolitan Division standings.
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 5 | CAPITALS 1
Columbus scored five goals on 36 shots, chased Capitals starter Philipp Grubauer after three goals on their first 14 shots, and rolled to a 5-1 victory at Nationwide Arena
That's five straight wins for the Blue Jackets, who are up to 50 points and right in the thick of a frantic playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Here's how it all went down: the Capitals came out with the first push, buzzing around Sergei Bobrovsky
early in the first period but the Blue Jackets got their legs going around the midway point. They drew the Capitals into careless penalties, tallied the first goal on the power play, and got a huge goal (the eventual game-winner) from Cam Atkinson
in the final minute of the first period.
Washington tried to claw back into the game in the second period, but only got as close as 3-1 thanks to a long-range wrister from John Carlson. But the Blue Jackets had a better, more authoritative response in the third period. Mark Letestu
, riding some kind of hot streak, scored on the power play 1:08 into the final stanza to boost the Jackets' lead to 4-1. Three minutes and change later, Atkinson struck again with a wrister through traffic just as a Washington penalty had expired.
At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky made 26 saves to record his fourth victory in four starts since returning from injury in New York on Jan. 6.
The Blue Jackets entered the third period with 1:42 remaining on a power play caused by a Mike Green holding penalty. Cash in, and it's a comfortable lead and they can breathe a bit easier.
If the Capitals kill it off, they've got the early momentum in the third period. Letestu's goal was a big one, going bar-down over Braden Holtby and giving the Blue Jackets some wiggle room early in the third.
1. CAM ATKINSON (CBJ)
Goal scorers score in bunches and that's what Atkinson is doing right now. He's up to 15 goals on the season - second only to Johansen's 18 - and has been on fire since reuniting with Dubinsky and Calvert.
2. RYAN JOHANSEN (CBJ)
Big game from that line tonight and Johansen in particular. His 18th goal of the season was the end of the road for Grubauer, and at 10-7 (59 percent) on the dot, it was another positive night in the face-off circle.
3. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
He didn't have to be great, but Bobrovsky was solid between the pipes for Columbus. His finest work was a point-blank glove stop on Alex Ovechkin in the second period that, if he doesn't reject, makes it a one-goal game.
AT BUFFALO SABRES
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.
FIRST NIAGARA CENTER