This game was supposed to be different. Just one week after the Columbus Blue Jackets handed the Capitals their worst loss of the season, the Caps looked to return the favor in Columbus. Instead, the Blue Jackets thumped Washington again, shutting out the Caps on Monday to the tune of 3-0.
Washington has now lost two games in its last 10. Both losses have come against Columbus.
Here is how the Caps lost.
A horrible start
One week ago, you knew it was going to be a long night for the Caps based on how they performed in the first period. Once again on Monday, Columbus took control in the opening frame.
Washington was on its heels from the drop of the puck. Columbus was able to control the boards in the offensive zone to cycle the puck and keep it away from the defense. The Caps struggled to get the puck away from the Blue Jackets and, when they did, they really struggled to move the puck up the ice. Both blue lines and the centerline might as well have been walls on the ice because Washington just couldn't get past them.
If not for Braden Holtby, the first period could have been a lot worse, but Columbus finally cashed-in midway through the period. MIchal Kempny stepped up in the neutral zone looking to cut off a pass along the boards and missed. Radko Gudas tried to pin Alexandre Texier on the boards when he carried the puck into Washington's defensive zone, but, Texier battled through it. That means the puck was in behind both defensemen at that point. The two Caps back defending were Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom. Wilson mistimed a slide allowing Texier to handle around him and set up Eric Robinson who was alone in front of the net.
The first period was a garbage period for Washington, but the second was much better. The ice began to tilt in their favor a bit and the Caps were able to maintain some puck possession to outshoot Columbus 8-2. When the clock hit zero, however, Washington had nothing to show for it thanks to goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
Korpisalo turned in a fantastic game to earn the shutout, turning aside all 30 shots he faced, nine of which came off the stick of Alex Ovechkin.
Bjorkstrand's two third period goals
Whatever momentum the Caps built in the second period was instantly erased in the third period by Oliver Bjorkstrand who scored twice to put this game away.
Bjorkstrand scored 32 seconds into the third as he crashed the net immediately off of an offensive zone faceoff. Kempny did well to stay with him and seemed to be in good position, but he could not control Bjorkstrand's stick and he reached through Kempny for a deflection past Braden Holtby.
Later in the third, Bjorkstrand hopped on a neutral zone turnover and took off, catching Gudas flatfooted as he was heading up the ice thinking the Caps were pushing up to the offensive zone. Bjorkstrand was able to turn the corner on Gudas and curled the puck around the outstretched pad of Holtby to make it 3-0.
The power play
You can't say the Caps didn't have their opportunities. They entered Monday's game with the fifth-ranked power play in the NHL and had four opportunities against the Blue Jackets' 20th ranked penalty kill. Despite that, however, the Caps could not find the back of the net once on the man advantage. They managed six shots on goal, but could not beat Korpisalo.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: