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5 Keys: Capitals at Blue Jackets, Game 3

Holtby starts for Washington; Columbus must control emotions

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

CAPITALS at BLUE JACKETS

7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVAS, FS-O, NBCSWA 

Columbus leads best-of-7 series 2-0

 

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to extend their lead in the East Conference First Round when the series shifts to Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

Columbus rallied from down two goals in each of the first two games at Capital One Arena, winning 4-3 in overtime Thursday and 5-4 in OT on Sunday.

Teams that take a 3-0 lead in a best of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series are 184-4 (97.9 percent), according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Here are 5 keys to Game 3:

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

1. 'Holt' the line

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will make his first start of the series. Holtby replaced Philipp Grubauer to begin the third period of Game 2 and made seven saves, but allowed the winning goal by Matt Calvert at 12:22 of overtime.

Grubauer gave up eight goals on 49 shots in five periods and was unable to make saves at key times to preserve leads. Holtby ranks first among active NHL goaltenders in career playoff save percentage (.932) and goals-against average (2.00).

"It's a fun challenge," Holtby said. "They're a good team. One of the best parts of hockey is testing yourself against good ones."

Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Holtby turns away Dubois in overtime

 

2. Replacing Burakovsky

Jakub Vrana, a healthy scratch in Game 2, will get another chance when he goes in for left wing Andre Burakovsky, who is out at least the next two games with an upper-body injury sustained when he was checked into the boards by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner at 14:47 of the first period Sunday.

Burakovsky had 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 56 regular-season games. Vrana played 6:58 in Game 1, his NHL playoff debut.

"I feel confident and feel ready to go," Vrana said. "I saw the game from upstairs last game. It kind of helps me going into this game."

 

3. Stay out of the box

Smart and disciplined would apply neither to Columbus nor Washington the first two games. The Blue Jackets are 4-for-8 (50.0 percent) on the power play. Washington is 5-for-13 (38.5 percent).

It benefits Columbus to play 5-on-5 because Washington has two even-strength goals, none from its top two lines, and the Blue Jackets have scored five goals. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has saved 56 of 58 even-strength shots.

"We're a good team 5-on-5," Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said. "If we can stay that way, it works in our favor."

Video: Discussing Crosby's play and the Capitals struggles

 

4. Putting the 'O' in defense

The Capitals need to keep feeding the puck to defenseman John Carlson, who has five of his six assists in the series on the power play.

"He's an awesome player," Werenski said. "He's had a great year. We've got to find a way to keep him off the score sheet."

The Blue Jackets will continue to activate Werenski and defenseman Seth Jones into the attack. Each has three points (one goal, two assists). Werenski's move around Capitals forward Jay Beagle and subsequent shot led to Calvert's rebound goal in overtime Sunday.

 

5. Emotions

The Blue Jackets can't act like they've been here before because they and their fans haven't. Columbus never led a series before winning Game 1, so Nationwide Arena will be rocking. How the Blue Jackets handle it will set the tone for the two home games.

"I'm not trying to tamper down here," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I want them to play with emotion."

The Capitals have been here. They lost the first two games at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round last season before losing the series in seven.

"Like I said after Game 2, we're going to go back home and Game 5 is going to be tied up (2-2 in the series), and we start over again," left wing Alex Ovechkin said.

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Alex Chiasson -- Jay Beagle -- Chandler Stephenson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Jakub Vrana, Travis Boyd, Madison Bowey, Shane Gersich, Pheonix Copley, Jakub Jerabek

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body)

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner -- Nick Foligno -- Thomas Vanek

Matt Calvert -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Josh Anderson

Sonny Milano -- Mark Letestu -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Ian Cole -- David Savard

Ryan Murray -- Markus Nutivaara

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Jack Johnson, Scott Harrington, Taylor Chorney, Dean Kukan, Alex Broadhurst, Markus Hannikainen, Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Lukas Sedlak (upper body), Alexander Wennberg (upper body)

 

Status report

Djoos is expected to make his postseason debut for Jerabek. … Tortorella had no update on Wennberg.

***

 

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