Despite building a 2-0 lead early in the first, the Caps found themselves in a tight game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington ultimately held on for the 4-3 lead. Here's how.
A fast start
The Caps lost Thursday’s game against the Kings because of a nine-second span in the second period. They won Saturday’s game because of the first 2:06. That is how long it took for Washington to take a 2-0 lead on Columbus and one of the top netminders in the world in Sergei Bobrovsky. Brett Connolly scored just 1:03 into the game after Lars Eller found him wide-open in the middle. Alex Chiasson responded just 1:03 later when a centering pass from Matt Niskanen deflected off a defender right to a trailing Alex Chiasson to bang home.
Alex Ovechkin's second-period response
After building a 2-0 lead, Columbus battled back to tie the game at 2 in the second period. The game could easily have gone south from there, but a power play goal from Ovechkin proved critical. Just 2:44 after the Jackets tied the game, Boone Jenner took a holding penalty. Coming into the game, Columbus boasted the third-best penalty kill in the NHL with a kill rate of 84.8-percent. But the Caps needed a goal and Ovechkin delivered from the office, per usual.
Saturday's game was billed as a duel between two of the top netminders in the NHL. Holtby certainly looked the part in a spectacular performance. He turned aside 32 shots, many of which were high-quality saves including denying a 2-on-0 in the first period and a clutch glove save on Cam Atkinson late in the third.
MORE CAPITALS: OVECHKIN GIVES THE CAPS BACK THE LEAD WITH POWER PLAY GOAL
A stick lift by Jay Beagle and an early celebration
Despite how good Holtby was, Columbus came within inches of tying the game at 4. A shot from Pierre-Luc Dubois just managed to squirt past Holtby, but incredibly the puck came to a stop just in front of the goal line. Artemi Panarin was behind Holtby and had a chance to tap the puck in for the easy goal, but just as he was skating by, Beagle lifted his stick. From the replay, Panarin can also be seen lifting his stick in celebration. Even if he thought the puck was going in, if his stick had stayed on the ice chances are he would have tapped it in for good measure. Whether he would have raised his stick anyway or just did it because Beagle was already lifting it for him, we'll never know, so you have to give credit to Beagle for the lift and the quick clear of the puck once Panarin skated past the net.