The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.
The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2, with the action returning to Washington, D.C. on Saturday for Game 5.
Here's how the Caps got the big win.
4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4
1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense
Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.
He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky, and with the Blue Jackets goalie scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the former Vezina Trophy winner.
In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.
2. A great keep-in by John Carlson
We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.
In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.
The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.
3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period
After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.
In the final 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.
His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.
4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three
Washington entered the third period of Game 4 up 2-0. The Capitals blew two-goal leads in both Game 1 and Game 2, and blew two leads in Game 3. No lead in a playoff game is safe for the Capitals.
If Columbus pulled within one goal and reignited the Nationwide Arena crowd, the momemtum would have been too much for the Capitals to handle.
Or so we thought.
This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.
The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.