The last time the Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets met, Columbus earned a big overtime win on Washington’s home ice on Jan. 12. That loss would be the first of what would turn into a seven-game losing streak for the Caps.
But the defeat did not turn out to be the most newsworthy event of the night. Instead, it was what happened immediately afterward that stole all the headlines.
Artemi Panarin scored the overtime winner and was immediately mobbed by teammates who began mocking the Caps by doing Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bird celebration.
“I'm assuming that's a little bit bitter,” Tom Wilson said after the game. “I'll leave it at that.”
Kuznetsov tied the game late in the third period and busted out his signature celebration. Perhaps the Blue Jackets were upset by that.
It seems more likely, however, that Columbus may not have gotten over the fact that they had the Stanley Cup champions down 2-0 in their first round series last season and ended up losing four straight.
Games can always get contentious, but in the notoriously buttoned-up world of professional hockey teams will rarely openly taunt another after a game.
That was not just a team being supper happy about a mid-January win, that was a team that wanted to stick it to a budding rival.
"That's fine,” Kuznetsov said. “It's nice to get some people that think about me, same as in April last year.”
Washington will look to return the favor on Tuesday as they travel to Columbus (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington), the first game of a six-game road trip for the Caps.
Tuesday game will be exactly one month after Columbus’ win. You should not expect Washington to have forgotten about the Blue Jackets’ postgame celebration.
“I think they can remember what happened, we can remember what happened and it's a rivalry now,” Wilson said. “A team knocks you out, you're not going to be happy about it so we're going to keep going and I'm sure there will be a few more down the road where you'll see a little animosity.”
Speaking of Kuznetsov, he is red hot with five goals and five assists in his last four games. Both of his goals Monday even came at 5-on-5, an area in which he has struggled to score this season.
Braden Holtby starts
Pheonix Copley got the nod for Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings meaning Braden Holtby will be available to play Columbus. Since returning from the All-Star break, Holtby is 2-1-1 with a .917 save percentage and 2.75 GAA.
One last time?
Tuesday’s game will be the last of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Caps are 1-1-1 in the season series. The home team has yet to win between these two teams.
As this is their last meeting, it could also be the last time Washington plays against Panarin and/or Sergey Bobrovsky as Blue Jackets. Both players are on the final year of their contracts and both could possibly be on the move at the trade deadline.
The four-point game
No, it’s not too early to be watching the standings. Washington currently holds second place in the Metropolitan Division with 69 points and Columbus sits in third with 65. A regulation win for the Caps would give Washington a six-point lead over the Blue Jackets while a regulation loss would pull Columbus to within two points.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- On the Road Again: What Caps must do on longest road trip in eight years
- Trade Deadline: For / Against Wayne Simmonds
- NHL Power Rankings: Caps losing points because of penalties