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After seeing their nine-game winning streak snapped by the Hurricanes, the Caps headed to Columbus looking to kick 2016 off with a new streak. Their opponent: a Jackets team that somewhat surprisingly just downed the top team in the West. The resulting game was a dogfight, with plenty of special teams work and offense at both ends of the ice.
Check back for our full recap later, but first, here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: The power play. The Caps were able to cash in twice with the man advantage on a couple of super-slick plays, and six different players picked up power-play points.
- Minus: An unprotected Braden Holtby. Too many times in this one, especially early on, the Blue Jackets were able to set up camp right in front of Holtby, and it cost the Caps a couple of times.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- It didn't take long for this game to get interesting - albeit not in a good way - as the Blue Jackets drew a slashing call by Dmitry Orlov and cashed in with the game's first goal just seven seconds into the ensuing power play.
- The Jackets set the bar pretty high when it comes to quick-strike goals on the power play, but the Caps were almost as good on their first extra-man session, taking just one second longer to tie the game up. Gorgeous passing by the Swedes, Nicklas Backstrom to Marcus Johansson, to get the puck to a waiting T.J. Oshie in front of the net.
- The post-goal euphoria was short-lived, however, because 34 seconds later it was Brandon Saad putting the Jackets on top again as the Caps let him walk right in front of the net unopposed. Probably not the greatest idea to let anyone do that, let alone someone like Saad.
- It’s not often that the Caps win a video review, but when Alex Ovechkin’s shot was blocked on the power play and Columbus got a two-on-one rush and a goal the other way, Barry Trotz took a chance and called for a review due to the play being offside. And lo and behold, miracle of miracles… it worked.
- If you ever forgot who was coaching the Blue Jackets right now, you only had to look at the shot-block total for this evening's game - because, as always, John Tortorella likes to send his team out to be human sacrifices to the altar of the blocked shot. By the end of the night, the Caps had 24 of their shots blocked - including a whopping eight off of the stick of Alex Ovechkin (almost a third of his 22 shot attempts total).
- Tom Wilson hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention paid to his actual hockey skills, but he had two beautiful passes that led to goals tonight, first with an assist on Marcus Johansson’s (temporary) go-ahead goal and then later to put the Caps up 4-3 thanks to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Nice night all around for Wilson, who spent most of the early part of the game getting beat up by the Jackets.
- Speaking of getting beat up, Nick Foligno’s high stick to Holtby’s neck was perhaps accidental (uh huh) but it was a brutal high stick that stunningly (read: not stunningly) resulted in no call.
- Special teams in general tonight were very active, from the four power-play goals combined for the two teams, to the six-on-five goal that tied it up late, to the penalty killing on both sides in overtime.
- Have to think fatigue is starting to set in for both Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner, as each one looked worn out by the end of the game - something that directly led to the late game-tying goal by Saad in the final two minutes of regulation
- Nothing was determined in overtime, despite penalties to each team and a goalie change due to injury for the Blue Jackets… so it was on to the shootout. An area in which the Caps have excelled so far this season (albeit in limited chances) ended up not going their way for once, and another game goes in the loss column.
Lots of things the Caps have been so good at in the past fell by the wayside tonight. The penalty kill, the ability to finish out games when having a lead after two, the streak of not losing twice in a row...and it’s the last one that hurts the most, even with a point.