In a battle for first place of the Metropolitan Division on Saturday, the Capitals earned a statement win with a dominating 4-0 effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Caps took a 3-0 lead in the first period to chase Sergey Bobrovsky making the last 40 minutes of the game largely academic.
Here are five reasons the Caps won.
Brett Connolly’s Evgeny Kuznetsov impression
Connolly and Jakub Vrana broke out of the defensive zone on a two-on-one rush. Connolly entered the offensive zone with the puck, showed great patience and made Sergei Bobrovsky commit so he would stickhandle around him and then tuck the puck into the net behind the helpless netminder. It’s a move we have seen from Kuznetsov before.
Connolly was also helped by the fact that defenseman Scott Harrington played the two-on-one about as poorly as a defenseman can. In that situation, a defenseman’s job is to get into the passing lane leaving the goalie responsible for defending the shot. Harrington decided to go down way too early and he did it in front of the play, not cutting off the pass at all. Connolly still had the option of either passing or shooting so Bobrovsky still had to account for both. To top it off, Harrington then slid into Bobrovsky and the puck Connolly banked it off him into the net.
Dmitrij Jaskin’s first goal as a Cap
Jaskin has come very close to scoring in recent weeks with his solid play. It felt like only a matter of time before he scored. That goal finally came on Saturday.
One thing that Jaskin has always done well is he always goes to the net. Travis Boyd had the puck high in the offensive zone and drew both Columbus Blue Jackets to him. Jaskin was headed in on net and found himself behind the defense. Boyd looked for him on the pass, but it hit off of Jaskin skate and directly into the top shelf behind a shocked Bobrovsky.
Considering how hard it was for him to score through the first few months of the season, it seemed very fitting that Jaskin’s first goal for Washington was an unintentional one.
A first period exclamation point
Washington completely dominated the first period of the game Saturday and had they gone to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, they could have felt pretty darn good about the way they had played in a big game against a division rival. The Caps, however, were not satisfied.
After some slick passing, Michal Kempny was charging the net and passed it right to the tape of Alex Ovechkin who was right on the doorstep for the easy tip-in. He now leads the NHL with 22 goals.
That made the score 3-0 with 19 seconds left in the first period.
A suffocating defense
Columbus averaged 32.4 shots per game heading into Saturday’s game, but they were completely suffocated by the Caps’ defense. The Blue Jackets managed only 28 shots on goal for the game and 11 of them came in the third period when the game was already well in hand.
Washington's penalty kill was also dominant as the Caps were able to kill off all four of Columbus' opportunities on the night.
The defense was so dominant that I haven't even mentioned Braden Holtby yet who earned his 34th career shutout.
A first for Travis Boyd
Boyd got NHL goal No. 1 and it came off the stick of Ovechkin who set him up with a beautiful pass.
Ovechkin and Boyd entered the offensive zone on a two-on-one and Ovechkin looked like he was ready to wrist it, but instead passed it to Boyd. Jonas Korpisalo, who came on in relief of Bobrovsky after the first period, of course expected Ovechkin to shoot giving Boyd plenty of open net to shoot on.
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