The Blue Jackets had been down this road many times before: they played a fantastic second period, were the more competitive team and lead the Washington Capitals 2-0 after 40 minutes. They got the bounces, finished their checks and left the ice to a standing ovation after the second period.
Fueled by one of the great players in the NHL, the Capitals mounted a furious third-period comeback and upended the Blue Jackets by 4-2 final in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,199 at Nationwide Arena. It was an entertaining and spirited hockey game, as both teams showed their ill will for one another throughout the proceedings.
Columbus’ 2-0 lead after two periods was a product of forechecking and relentless pursuit of the puck – and the Blue Jackets were rewarded with goals from John Moore and Sammy Pahlsson. They did well to keep the Capitals’ red-hot top line off the board, but when given opportunities, it was only a matter of time for Alex Ovechkin and crew.
Ovechkin scored his fourth goal in four games to cut the Blue Jackets’ lead to 2-1 at 4:23 of the third period, burying a slap-pass from defenseman Dennis Wideman. The tying goal game less than two minutes later from Alex Semin, who fired a wrister through a screen into the top corner at 6:48. After Wideman fired a slap shot past Mason at 7:16, Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel called timeout to settle down his crew.
The Blue Jackets responded with a good shift after the timeout, but a Marc Methot holding penalty put the Capitals power play on the job midway through the third period – and Ovechkin made Columbus pay on their only man advantage of the game. His 16th goal of the season and second of the game pushed Washington’s lead to 4-2 with 8:57 to play, and that’s all the Capitals needed.
After putting a strong third period together two nights ago in Dallas, the Blue Jackets wanted to carry that over holding a two-goal lead tonight. Ovechkin did what he’s done so often to other teams tonight early in the third – score a big goal, and change the game.
His first goal came on the third chance of his shift, and he made no mistake on the pass from Wideman. The 2-1 marker lifted the Capitals bench and began to turn the tide in Washington’s favor.
The Blue Jackets scored the first goal of the game for the 20th time this season. The club is now 9-8-3 in those games, while going 4-11-3 when tied after the first period and 8-6-2 when leading after two periods.
The Blue Jackets are now 6-4-1 all-time in games played on New Year’s Eve, including 4-1-1 the last six, and have a 5-3-1 mark at Nationwide Arena.
Moore has points in back-to-back games after scoring his second goal of the season tonight. The goal was his first in 24 games, as he last scored Oct. 25 vs. Detroit. He has 1-2-3 the last two games after snapping a 23-game pointless skid with two assists this past Thursday at Dallas. He has played 16-plus minutes in four of the last six games, including 19:36 tonight.
Rick Nash has points in back-to-back games after registering an assist on Moore’s goal. He has collected 5-6-11 the last 14 games and 8-7-15 the last 19 games after being held to 1-3-4 the previous 10 games.
Pahlsson scored his first goal in 12 games with his second of the season tonight. He had last scored Nov. 29 at Vancouver. He has picked up 2-4-6 the last 15 games after being held pointless the previous 10 games.
R.J. Umberger has points in back-to-back games after recording an assist on Pahlsson’s goal. He has 3-7-10 the last 12 games after being held to 2-0-2 the previous 14 games.
vs. San Jose Sharks
HP Pavilion | San Jose, Calif.
Thursday, 10:30 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com