WASHINGTON -- The Columbus Blue Jackets lost their season-high fifth consecutive game, 4-2 to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Friday.
Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored 1:28 apart in the second period for Washington (32-17-5), which won its second straight game and is in first place in the Metropolitan Division with a five-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus (27-23-4), which fell two points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Sergei Bobrovsky made 13 saves.
[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Capitals highlights]
"We know we have it in here to be a playoff team and a lot more," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "It's just finding our game again. It's weird. We're a little fragile right now, but we've got to find that edge that when things happen we can bounce right back."
Evegeny Kuznetsov scored his 15th goal of the season, and John Carlson scored his ninth for Washington. Braden Holtby made 35 saves.
Beagle jammed a rebound past Bobrovsky to make it 3-2 at 4:38 of the second period for his 50th NHL goal. Eller scored a power-play goal at 6:06 to push the lead to 4-2. The Blue Jackets have allowed a power-play goal in seven straight games.
"Obviously, they're desperate," Beagle said. "They wanted to win that game, they needed to win that game. We're starting to get into playoff mode, and that's what you see when teams get into playoff mode."
Kuznetsov extended his point streak to six games with an assist on Carlson's goal at 5:09 of the first period that made it 1-0. Dubois scored 1:19 later, an unassisted goal that tied the game 1-1.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Dubois buries wrister after fortunate bounce
Kuznetsov scored with two seconds left in the first period, six seconds after his interference penalty ended, for a 2-1 lead. Matt Niskanen kept the puck in the offensive zone after a turnover by Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara. Niskanen's centering pass clipped Nutivaara, skipped off Eller in front of the net and landed on Kuznetsov's stick at the left post.
"A lucky bounce," Kuznetsov said. "A really lucky bounce."
Panarin tied the game 2-2 27 seconds into the second period.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Panarin redirects Jones' shot past Holtby
"Those are the things that happen to you when you're going through a stretch like this," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "But we bounced right back, so to me it's 2-2 after a period once we score right away. We did a lot of good things tonight."
Holtby kept it 4-2 when he stopped Seth Jones' slap shot at 19:07 of the second period during a Blue Jackets power play. Holtby, with help from Niskanen, stopped a follow-up chance by Panarin at the right post and another from Dean Kukan at the left post.
Holtby made 72 saves on 76 shots in two wins against Columbus this week. The Capitals have a point in 12 of their past 13 games against the Blue Jackets (10-1-2).
"[Holtby] has been dialed in pretty good," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Columbus is active around the net so he doesn't get a real break. … They kept him busy, but he's a better busy goalie."
Goal of the game
Eller's goal at 6:06 of the second period.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Eller capitalizes on the rush for PPG
Save of the game
Holtby's save on Jones at 19:07 of the second period.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Holtby makes flurry of stops on doorstep
Highlight of the game
Kuznetsov's goal at 19:58 of the first period.
Video: CBJ@WSH: Kuznetsov beats 1st-period buzzer
They said it
"You can't put it all to bad luck. You can whine about luck and puck luck. We've got to force it to go our way. I think we're on the right road. We've just got to keep our wits about ourselves and keep banging away here." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
"When guys like [Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin] are not scoring, we can still win games and we can still score four goals. That speaks to how deep this team is." -- Capitals forward Lars Eller
Need to know
Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski took a skate to the groin from Washington forward T.J. Oshie at 14:49 of the second period. Werenski had to be helped to the locker room but returned for the third period. … The Capitals have nine power-play goals in their past 10 games. Seven players have scored. … Kuznetsov has nine points (two goals, seven assists) during his streak.
Blue Jackets: Host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Capitals: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, SNW, TVAS, NBCSWA, FS-D NHL.TV)
Video: Kuznetsov, Eller lead Capitals past Blue Jackets, 4-2