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game recap

Capitals win Presidents' Trophy

Washington clinches top spot in NHL after defeating Blue Jackets

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

Caps clinch Presidents' Trophy

CBJ@WSH: Capitals clinch second Presidents' Trophy

3/28/16: The Capitals clinch their second President's Trophy in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at Verizon Center

  • 01:08 •

WASHINGTON -- They have accomplished much of what they set out to do this season, but the Washington Capitals aren't going to celebrate just yet.

"There's not going to be a champagne party or anything like that," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after his team clinched the Presidents' Trophy with a 4-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center on Monday. "There's a sense of fulfillment that we said we were going to do some things and we accomplished them so far and we've still got some things to accomplish. The season's not over because we wrapped this up."

Washington is atop the NHL standings with 113 points and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the entirety of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"I think we all knew it was coming," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We're not spraying champagne or anything, but I think guys are happy. It's a marathon. We won the marathon, and now we get to prepare for the seven-game sprints."

Video: CBJ@WSH: Williams puts the rebound past Bobrovsky

Justin Williams, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington (54-16-5) and Braden Holtby made 21 saves for his 46th win of the season, two shy of the record set by Martin Brodeur in 2006-07. 

"It's just one of those things that it shows we've been doing good things all year and working hard," Holtby said. "Now we're moving on to the next step."

Cam Atkinson scored and Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves for Columbus (30-38-8). 

"I think the biggest thing all year long for us is that we just haven't found a way to do it consistently, where we don't break, where we've been a team that just consistently brings it every single time we're on the ice and plays the same brand of hockey for a full 60 minutes," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said.

Video: CBJ@WSH: Oshie pads the lead on deflection for PPG

Williams opened the scoring at 16:30 of the first period. John Carlson's point shot bounced off Bobrovsky's pad and Williams converted on the rebound for his 22nd goal, his most since 2011-12, and 50th point of the season. It is the fifth time during his career that Williams has reached 50 points in a season.

Williams' goal was Washington's first at even strength in 184:10. 

The Capitals are 33-2-0 when scoring first and 29-7-2 at home. 

Atkinson tied the game at 18:06 of the first with his 27th goal of the season. Columbus forward Rene Bourque forced a turnover by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the corner and Atkinson intercepted the puck in the high slot and scored on a snap shot. 

Video: CBJ@WSH: Wilson nets rebound as he falls to his knees

"Against a team like that, we have to make more out of our opportunities offensively," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We had a lot of almost opportunities. Against that team, because they capitalize on their chances, that was the most disappointing part was I just felt we had some chances to create more offense and it died."

Wilson broke the tie at 3:46 of the third period. On a broken play, Mike Richards attempted a spin-around shot but was denied by Bobrovsky. Wilson pocketed the rebound and scored his seventh goal of the season into an open net. It was Wilson's first goal since March 1, a span of 12 games. 

Oshie tipped in Matt Niskanen's shot on the power play at 14:26 of the third to make it 3-1, his 24th goal of the season.

Backstrom scored an empty-net goal with 2:25 remaining, his 20th of the season.

"I think all the guys in here are proud of what we did," Oshie said. "It's a big accomplishment. I think everyone's more eager to kind of pat each other on the back and move on and keep growing our game for playoffs."

Video: Capitals clinch Presidents' Trophy with 4-1 win

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