The Capitals came into Columbus looking to close out the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and make a liar of John Tortorella. And that’s exactly what they did, riding a two goal game from Alex Ovechkin and stellar goaltending from Braden Holtby to a 6 to 3 series clinching victory.
Here’s Monday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Dmitry Orlov scored the game’s first goal on Washington’s sixth shot of the first period. Orlov was huge for the Capitals in the first period (1G, 2S, 7:29TOI).
Minus: Stares daggers at Jean Hebert and Dan O’Rourke.
Eleven more notes on the game.
- Midway through the first Orlov danced around Artemi Panarin above the slot and unleashed a cannon of a shot that beat Sergei Bobrovsky’s by his left shoulder. The Blue Jackets would trail by one through twenty minutes of play.
- Early in the second period the Capitals went shorthanded for the first time. With Columbus confidently controlling the puck in the offensive zone Holtby had to be at his best to bail out his teammates.
- Immediately after Washington would end up with a two man advantage opportunity for 32 seconds. Unfortunately the Blue Jackets did an excellent job of disrupting the Capitals’ puck movement and advantage.
- And halfway through the game Nick Foligno fired a snap shot that deflected off traffic and beat Holtby to knot the score at one. Nationwide Arena came to life with their Captain’s first of the series.
- Four minutes later Ovechkin positioned himself above Bobrovsky’s crease and backhanded (yes, backhanded) a Brooks Orpik (yes, Brooks Orpik) rebound to put Washington ahead again.
- Before the second frame came to its close Ovechkin whipped a power play goal home off the post and in to put Washington ahead 3 to 1. That marker was Washington’s ninth power play goal of the series, tying a franchise record set in 1989 (s/t @MWilliamsPR).
- With Chandler Stephenson in the penalty box to begin the third period the Capitals’ penalty killing team turned in a fine performance of shutting down Columbus and Nationwide Arena.
- Immediately afterward, however, Matt Calvert tripped Christian Djoos behind Holtby, allowing himself to put the puck on Pierre-Luc Dubois stick in the slot unimpeded. The young Blue Jackets’ center did not miss his chance, drawing Columbus within one.
- But Devante Smith-Pelly said Hell No and absolutely wired a wrist shot over Bobrovsky’s glove only 91 seconds later. 94 seconds after that Stephenson broke in alone and deftly touched a backhand shot through Bobrovsky’s pads for the three goal lead.
- Foligno would touch home a Boone Jenner pass from the goal line to bring Columbus back within two with twelve minutes to play. Unfortunately for Ohio that was as far as the Blue Jackets’ comeback would go (s/t Holtby).
- An empty net goal from Lars Eller provided the margin of victory.
In a season where Washington was expected to accomplish little they dispatched Columbus in six games and have put themselves in a position to achieve a new modern franchise high. Who wouldn’t have signed up for this ride last October?