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Caps vs. Jackets Recap: Kuzy, the Kill, and that Feller Eller Drop Jackets 4-2

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The Washington Capitals dropped the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second time this week, riding strong performances from the penalty kill and their centers to a 4-2 victory.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but if you make 100% of the shots you do, you don’t need to take that many.

Right?

The Capitals put that theory to the test Friday night, scoring 4 goals on just 17 shots to take both meetings with their division rival the Columbus Blue Jackets this week.

Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: A good night for Capitals centers, as Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller both notched a goal and an assist apiece.

Minus: Neither Alexander Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom had a point tonight. But I guess you gotta shake it....to break it....to make it....and it is secondary scoring.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. “What, you again?” After a late goal from Nicklas Backstrom buried the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, would the Capitals come into this delayed home-and-home swaggering onto the ice, sticks a-twirling with all the unearned braggadoccio of a fraternity vice-president?

2. Absent from the line-up Friday night was winger Andre Burakovsky, the 22-year-old fr-.....what’s that? I’m being told Burakovsky is now 23 years-old because IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY. BARRY TROTZ SCRATCHED HIM ON HIS BIRTHDAY! That’s cold-blooded. Trotz told the Post’s Jesse Dougherty of Burakovsky, “He just hasn’t found his game right now.” Would Bura find it on the bench? Would the Caps’ offense suffer with Alex Chiasson in his place? LET’S GET INTO IT!

3. Just five minutes into this one, the Capitals continued their recent newfound habit of scoring first(!), as Evgeny Kuznetsov curled around and made himself a sniper’s nest near the corner boards, then fed a delicious ham sandwich to John Carlson on the doorstep. Captain America tapped it home true, and the Caps jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

4. But just a single, razor-thin minute later, the end boards answered back for the Blue Jackets. A run-of-the-mill dump-in took a phantom carom off the zamboni entrance door, farted its way into the slot, and found itself on the stick of an equally-surprised Pierre-Luc Dubois. The center avec le nom francais fired it into the back of the net to knot it at 1-1.

5. With time winding down in the first period, Matt Niskanen managed to keep a Columbus clearance in the offensive zone. The Caps frantically tried to get a good shot off, and eventually slung it net-ward. A final, fortuitous bounce off of Sergei Bobrovsky’s pads was all Evgeny Kuznetsov needed to go to work, and with just ONE SECOND REMAINING ON THE CLOCK, he smashed home the loose puck one-timer with authority to give Washington the 2-1 lead at the intermission!

Said Kuznetsov of his last-second goal, “Look, I’m just trying to be open. Nisky just tried to send the puck to the net and we got a lucky bounce.” He chuckled, then added, “a really lucky bounce.”

6. The middle frame, like a painting of the 4th of July, included some fireworks. Just 27 seconds into the period, Columbus defenseman Seth Jones (who should be playing for Team USA at the Oly-....I digress) threw a shot on net that Artemi Panarin redirected in to knot the game at 2-2. The goal was The Breadman’s 14th of the year, putting him one behind fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov (15).

7. But just four minutes later, Washington’s Chandler Stephenson rifled a shot on net that Sergei Bobrovsky couldn’t quite handle. Jay Beagle, crashing the net like a loyal labrador, gave the loose puck a few good chops before finally chipping it over Bobrovsky’s pads and into the net. Beagle’s 6th goal of the season put the Caps up 3-2.

8. The Capitals weren’t done dropping down and getting their eagle on in the second period. 90 seconds later, Lars Eller, “The Lartian,” roared down the right wing and fired a proton death ray past Sergei Bobrovsky to dent the twine and put the Caps up 4-2 at the second intermission.

I asked Lars Eller what he and the rest of the team learned from playing the Jackets just three nights prior. He told me, “Not a lot. We’re very familiar with the Jackets. They always put up a good fight. They’re one of the hardest competing teams, but we were effective today when we got the chances.”

9. That was all the corpulent lady performed, and after a stalemated twenty minutes of hockey in the third period, Washington emerged from this one victorious and glorious, 4-2.

I asked Eller about how much it means that bottom-sixers on this offense are still able to drop a four-spot on a good opponent without any top line scoring. He said, “It’s big. Beags gets a goal, too. Just again, it tells about the depth we have on the team. When guys like Backy and Ovi are not scoring, we can still win games, and we can still score four goals. That just speaks to how deep the team is.”

10. The Capitals recently-stinky-poo penalty kill got back on track tonight, going 3-for-3 and keeping a dangerous Columbus power play from striking pay dirt. On the other end and deserving of major kudos was Braden Holtby, who stopped 35-of-37 for a .946 SV%.

The Capitals take both contests from the rival Blue Jackets and swing the standings eight potential points to the good! Way to be, Caps. Next up is the Detroit Red Wings (and you-know-who) at home on Sunday afternoon.

Game highlights: