With a pair of Vezina Trophy candidates in goal on Thursday night at Verizon Center, goals didn't figure to be plentiful as the Capitals hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets. For 40 minutes, neither the Caps Braden Holtby nor the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky showed any sign of being penetrable, and the contest continued into the third, a scoreless tie.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Holtby makes a spectacular sprawling save
Washington dominated those first 40 minutes, particularly in the second period. According to hockeystats.ca, the Caps owned a whopping 58-24 advantage in shot attempts over the first two periods, and 48-20 at even strength. They were outskating the weary Jackets, who played a rugged home game against Toronto a night earlier.
But Columbus scored the game's first goal in the first minute of the third period, and for several minutes, it seemed possible that Bobrovsky, who entered the game with a 7-0-0 record, a 1.14 GAA and a .963 save pct. in his previous seven starts, might make Washington his fourth whitewashing victim of the month.
A hard-working offensive-zone shift and a Dmitry Orlov point blast tied the game for the Caps, and after surviving the overtime session, the Caps eked out a 2-1 shootout win over Columbus.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Orlov nets scorching slapper through traffic
On a night in which the Capitals fell down a goal late to one of the league's hottest goalies and could have fallen into third place in the Metropolitan Division standings, they ultimately increased their lead to three points over Columbus and two over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"What I liked about our response was that we didn't panic," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "We just elevated our game, and [Dmitry Orlov] got the goal back, and we just stayed with it."
Washington played one of its best games of the last few weeks on Thursday, but needed T. J. Oshie's shootout goal and three shootout stops from Braden Holtby to come out on top in the end.
"I thought our turnovers in the game there in the neutral zone and against a team like that, it changes momentum quickly," says Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. "Our guys are much better at the momentum swings in the game; I think we went through a lot of that tonight. But the past couple of games we've just been sloppy as far as where to put the puck, trying to do a little bit too much in the neutral zone, and when you're playing against a team like that, it puts you up against the wall."
Video: Trotz talks after a 2-1 SO/win over Columbus
Tiebreaker Tracking - With nine games remaining for all three teams, the Caps are now one regulation/overtime win ahead of Columbus (46-45) and three ahead of Pittsburgh (46-43). That's the next tie-breaker after total points. Should teams be tied in that category as well, the next tiebreaker is points earned in head-to-head games.
But because the Caps and Jackets play an odd number (five) of games against one another this season, the first game in the city (Washington) with the odd number of games is tossed out. With that in mind, the Caps have earned five points to three for Columbus in the three meetings that matter in that regard. The Caps visit Columbus on April 2, so the Caps have guaranteed no worse than a tie in that tiebreaker.
Video: Oshie, Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in shootout
Should yet another tiebreaker be required beyond all of those, the Caps should be in decent shape. The last tiebreaker noted is total goal differential for the season. As of Friday morning, Washington is at plus-75 while Columbus is at plus-60. It would take a seismic shift over just nine games for the Jackets to overtake the Caps in goal differential.
There's No Place Like Home - The Capitals earned their 30th win on home ice in Thursday's game, moving to 30-6-2 on the season at Verizon Center with three home games remaining. Washington is 22-2-2 in its last 26 home games.
In doing so, the Caps have matched a club record for most home wins in a season. Washington went 30-8-2 at Capital Centre in 1985-86 and went 30-5-6 at Verizon Center in 2009-10. The Caps will have their first chance to establish a new mark for home victories on Saturday when they conclude their current three-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes.
Blueline Bonanza - Both goals in Thursday's game came off the sticks of defensemen. Columbus blueliner. Seth Jones staked the Jackets to a 1-0 lead at the 41-second mark of the third period when he netted his 11th goal of the season.
Some six minutes later, Orlov scored for the Capitals, netting his sixth of the campaign against his good friend Bobrovsky.
Video: Caps talk after shootout victory over Columbus
Helping Hands - Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson earned the assists on Orlov's goal, and the point was significant for both pairs of helping hands.
Williams reached the 40-point plateau (20 goals, 20 assists) with his helper on the Orlov goal, marking the fourth straight season and the 10th time in his career that he has reached that level. Williams has also reached the 20-assist mark for the seventh consecutive season.
Johansson's assist on the Orlov goal gives him 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) on the season, matching his single-season career best. Johansson also totaled 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 2014-15.
By The Numbers - Matt Niskanen led Washington with 22:51 in ice time … Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with eight shots on net and 17 shot attempts. He has 19 shots on goal and 30 shot attempts in his last two games … Tom Wilson led the Caps with three hits … Washington was credited with 89 shot attempts on the official game sheet, getting 45 shots on net, having 21 tries blocked and missing the mark 23 times … Washington is now 33-4-3 when playing on one day's rest this season … the Capitals are 20-1-2 when deploying the same dozen forwards who dressed for Thursday's game against Columbus.