Story highlights: Alex Ovechkin’s prediction that his team would go to Columbus and win two straight games was realized as the Capitals destroyed the Blue Jackets 4-1 to tie the Stanley Cup playoff series at 2-2. The teams now head back to Washington.
By Bill Sands
The Stanley Cup playoffs are synonymous with stress and anxiety, and the Round 1 series between the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets has been no exception. Two overtime games saw Washington fall into an 0-2 hole. After Game 2, Alex Ovechkin was defiant and said “it’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.” The Caps squeaked a win in Game 3 to make the series 2-1 Columbus, and on Thursday night, Ovechkin’s prophecy came true as the Caps completely dominated Columbus en route to a 4-1 win in Game 4.
Capitals Outplay Blue Jackets
A quick look at the stats shows just how lopsided this game was. Washington led in shots 33-24, had the advantage in face-offs 36-20, and lead for 53:44 out of 60 minutes. On the verge of escaping a bad situation, Washington needed a good game and they got perhaps their best of the year. The Capitals played an intelligent game – their first 60-minute effort so far in the postseason – and blocked pucks, created scoring chances, closed down the Blue Jacket’s skating lanes – and those are just a few of the superlatives from this game.
Washington’s top line was unstoppable and set the tone early. After taking several bad penalties in Washington, Tom Wilson had another strong game. After John Carlson just missed on a 2-on-1 rush, Wilson collected a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and ripped a one-time over Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove to open the scoring and register his second goal in two games.
Caps Keep Foot on the Gas
Unlike past games in this series where the Caps have taken their foot off the gas, Washington continued their thrust in the second period with a T.J. Oshie goal on the power-play. The Caps continued carrying the play and heavily outshot Columbus, adding to their lead with an Ovechkin strike early in the third.
Boone Jenner cut the lead to 3-1, but it was too little too late by that point. Kuznetsov sealed the win with an empty-netter to send the series back to Washington tied 2-2. Few mistakes were made on the night, with the only real negative aspect being that sometimes the Caps’ players were too unselfish – going for one more pass when a shot on goal was the better play.
Before the series, we covered how thoroughly the Caps have owned Columbus during regular-season play, but this dominance has yet to be seen so far during the playoffs. With Game 5 on Saturday, all the momentum is back with the Caps, but any loyal Caps fan knows that this doesn’t mean much with this team. If the Caps can play like they did last night, however, things can only continue to go well.