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Johansen helps Blue Jackets end losing streak

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- At 21 years old, center Ryan Johansen is in his third season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. As such, he considers himself one of the young players whose time has come to take more of a leadership role.

He talked after the morning skate Thursday of being more responsible at both ends of the ice in light of the Blue Jackets' three-game losing streak.

Johansen then backed up his words with two goals to help Columbus defeat the Washington Capitals 5-2.

"When you skate and work, you usually have the puck, [are] around the puck," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "[Ryan is] a talented guy. He's got reach, vision. It's all there."

Derek MacKenzie (shorthanded), Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson scored for the Blue Jackets (27-23-4), who moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division after the Philadelphia Flyers lost 5-3 to the Anaheim Ducks. The teams are even with 58 points, but Columbus has a game in hand.

Defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson each had two assists in helping the Blue Jackets outscore the Capitals 10-3 in two games in Nationwide Arena this season.

Washington (24-22-8) had a two-game winning streak stopped and is 2-6-2 in the past 10, including a 5-1 loss here Jan. 17.

"The last two games we were going in the right direction, but we didn't have our best effort in the first two periods," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said. "It's been a long time since you could say we didn't work hard."

It was an all-around bad game for some of Washington's top players. Defenseman Mike Green left in the first period and did not return after being checked into the glass by Columbus forward Boone Jenner, and forward Alex Ovechkin had a career-worst minus-5 rating.

"I was today the worst player out there," Ovechkin said. "The blame is on me. I can't play like that and I have to bounce back. I was out there all five goals. I feel bad for my team. I have to lead by example, but today I was bad."

Coach Adam Oates said Green will be evaluated Friday for an undisclosed injury, and that he did not think Jenner's hit was dirty. There was no penalty called.

"I think it was just a hit," Oates said.

Ovechkin had two shots on goal, and one in the first period could have put the Capitals ahead 1-0 during a power play. But goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a fabulous glove save off a one-timer by his Russian Olympic teammate.

Bobrovsky is 10-2-0 in his past 12 games with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

The Blue Jackets struck when MacKenzie scored his sixth of the season, and his second shorthanded goal, with two seconds left on an instigator penalty to Nick Foligno. RJ Umberger dug the puck out of a scrum in front of the Columbus bench, and MacKenzie collected it and skated toward the goal unimpeded. He used a backhand-forehand move that left goalie Braden Holtby helpless.

MacKenzie has four goals and two assists in the past seven games.

"When you're searching for wins, getting ahead instead of being behind and chasing … it gave us confidence, especially on their power play," Richards said.

Then Johansen took over.

He leads Columbus with 40 points (21 goals, 19 assists) in 54 games. The fourth pick in the 2010 NHL Draft had 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 107 games during his first two seasons.

He showed maturity and patience on each goal Thursday, the first which made the score 2-0 in the first period and the other that made it 4-0 in the second.

Johansen, centering a new line with Jenner and Nathan Horton, started and ended the sequence that led to a two-goal lead at 16:56 of the first. He swiped the puck in the neutral zone and dangled into the offensive zone before circling to his left and sending a cross-ice pass to Ryan Murray. The rookie defenseman's shot was tipped by Jenner on the way through, and the rebound off Holtby came to Johansen.

"I kind of got a fortunate bounce right on my tape. I just had to hit the net," Johansen said. "I felt like I had the puck on my stick all night. There was great vision out there, and those guys made some great plays. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys."

Oates said the first period was a nightmare.

"We were terrible," Oates said. "It was probably the worst period that I've seen the boys play in over a year."

Dubinsky scored 4-on-4 24 seconds into the second period with a shot two strides inside the blue line that may have hit a Washington stick and handcuffed Holtby, who had 24 saves.

Johansen made it 4-0 off a wide wraparound that gave him plenty of time and space to shovel in a backhand. Columbus did not score on five power plays in the second period; Washington did on the second-to-last with a Joel Ward breakaway for his 14th goal.

Bobrovsky faced 12 shots in the first two periods but was peppered with 20 in the third when he was beaten only by an Eric Fehr backhand at 3:18 that made the score 4-2. Fehr has nine goals.

Atkinson took a pass through the crease from Matt Calvert and slammed home his 17th goal 64 seconds later.

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