The Eastern Conference’s No. 1 second-period scoring offense struck again Thursday as the Capitals put together a four-goal frame on their way to a 6-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Washington entered play Thursday with 53 goals scored in second periods, tied with the Seattle Kraken for the most in the NHL. After falling behind 1-0 at the first intermission, the Capitals outshot Columbus 16-8 in the second and scored four times to take the lead for good and extend their active point streak to nine straight games.
Down fourth-line center Nic Dowd due to the birth of his second child, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette shook up his lines. Anthony Mantha moved to fourth line wing while Sonny Milano took his spot on the second line with Dylan Strome and T.J. Oshie. Those decisions appeared to pay off as three different lines accounted for goals.
Starting in net for the Capitals was Darcy Kuemper, who was looking to put a pair of rough outings behind him after allowing nine goals over his previous two starts. He allowed one goal in each of the first two periods but prevented Columbus from mounting any kind of comeback with a strong finish over the final 25 minutes.
Oshie, who scored twice on the night, got the offense going for Washington just 1:51 into the second period. Skating downhill, he found a loose puck in the slot and fired it past the glove of Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.
From there, the Capitals and Blue Jackets traded goals scored by players logging their first tally of the 2022-23 season. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who joined the Capitals as a waiver claim in early November, notched his first Washington goal in his 13th game with the team. Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther then scored his first goal in two seasons less than two minutes later.
Washington completed its four-goal period with two scores in the final three minutes. The first was the result of a fortunate couple of bounces for the Capitals. Dylan Strome fired a wrister that ping-ponged off a Columbus player and the helmet of Martin Fehervary before making its way into the goal.
The new-look fourth line then got involved in the scoring, recording a strong shift against the Blue Jackets’ top line. Aliaksei Protas won a battle for the puck by the post in the offensive end and found Mantha behind the net. He then carried the puck across to the other side to set up Garnet Hathaway for his fifth goal of the season.
Though they gained some separation in the second, they didn't stop there with two more goals in the third both off power plays. Alex Ovechkin, after being named an NHL All-Star during the first intermission, provided the final blow with his 29th goal of the season. In his typical fashion, it was a one-timer from the left circle.
With the win, the Capitals improved their record to 22-13-6 with 50 points toward the standings as they passed the midpoint of their regular-season schedule. They have a quick turnaround facing the Nashville Predators back in D.C. on Friday.