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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Blue Jackets

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Blue Jackets

If you want a formula for how to not play in the playoffs, this was it for Washington. Against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, the Caps gave up a goal less than two minutes into the game, they took their foot off the gas after taking a second period lead which allowed Columbus to take control and tie it in the third and Washington took two third period penalties, including one with less than four minutes remaining with the score tied.

And yet, Washington walked away as the 3-2 winners as they put the Jackets away in regulation, denying them even a point. Here's why the Caps won.

Markus Nutivaara’s first period penalty

Columbus took the lead less than two minutes into the game, but Blue Jackets defenseman Nutivaara gave the Caps new life when he took a penalty less than two minutes later. Coming into the game, Columbus was ranked 27th in the NHL with a kill rate of 75.7-percent. Nutivaara was caught holding Nicklas Backstrom in the defensive zone and Washington took advantage as John Carlson scored to tie the game at one. It was a horrible start for the Caps, but the Blue Jackets could not hold onto the momentum because of an unnecessary penalty that put their subpar penalty kill on the ice.

RELATED: Caps strike late to steal win in Columbus

Tom Wilson's first goal in 13 games

Top-line Tom played like he deserved to be on the top line. In the second period, he showed great hands to force Sergei Bobrovsky to stretch out the pads for the save, then neatly tucked the puck through the five-hole of the helpless Columbus netminder. Wilson also fought Josh Anderson in the first period. Anderson is Columbus' leading scorer and he was sitting in the box for five minutes for dropping the gloves with Wilson. That's a trade the Caps will take any day of the week.

Braden Holtby

When the Caps took a 2-1 lead, they again took their foot off the gas. The only reason they held on to the 2-1 lead for as long as they did was because of the heroics of Braden Holtby. Columbus outplayed Washington for two periods, but Holtby made sure the Caps did not get buried because of saves like this:

A beautiful pass from Oshie to Backstrom

With less than a minute left, Alex Ovechkin fired the puck on net. Sergei Bobrovsky made the save, but the rebound came to T.J. Oshie who was on the doorstep. Rather than try to chip a shot against Bobrovsky who was towering over the puck, Oshie had the presence of mind to swing the pass behind him cross-ice to Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom had an empty net to shoot at and buried the 200th goal of his career to put the Caps up 3-2 with just 42.9 seconds remaining. It would stand as the game-winner.

More Capitals: NHL Power Rankings: An early taste of playoff hockey

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to www.capfriendly.com.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Checking in on Hershey

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Checking in on Hershey

In the present, the Capitals are the Stanley Cup champions. But what does the future hold?

The voice of the Hershey Bears, Zack Fisch, joins JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir to talk all things prospects!

Who stood out at development camp? How will Pheonix Copley look as backup? Which Hershey prospects could push for a spot in the NHL? All that and more on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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