The Caps finished the two-game sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 4-2 win at home on Friday. Here's why Washington was able to finish off their divisional foe.
Kuznetsov’s first period buzzer-beater
Late goals are always tough to swallow. The Blue Jackets thought they were going into the locker room in a 1-1 game as the seconds ticked away in the first period, but instead, a late goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov suddenly put the Caps ahead. Kuznetsov came out of the penalty box as a late interference penalty expired and made a beeline for the net. As a centering pass trickled through the crowd, Kuznetsov was there on the far side and he did not hesitate with the blistering one-timer on the open net. How late was the goal? There were just 1.4 seconds left on the clock.
A 1:28 stretch in the second period
When John Carlson put the Caps up 1-1, Columbus responded 1:19 later to tie it up. When Kuznetsov scored with 1.4 seconds left in the first, Columbus responded 27 seconds into the second period. Washington did not take control of this game until a two-goal stretch in the second period when Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored just 1:28 seconds apart. This time, instead of facing another small deficit that they had already overcome twice, the Blue Jackets suddenly found themselves down by two in less than 90 seconds. It was the turning point of the game and one Columbus was never able to recover from.
A late second period penalty kill
With the Caps still up 4-2, Tom Wilson was whistled for a tripping penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the second period. That allowed the Blue Jackets an opportunity to score a late-period goal of their own. This could have been a very different game had Columbus taken a one-goal deficit into the locker room with all the momentum on their side. Instead, however, Washington was able to kill off the penalty thanks in large part to a mad scramble in front of the net. Braden Holtby was brilliant, but he also got an assist from Matt Niskanen who slid in to make a kick-out save on Nick Foligno behind a sprawled out Holtby.
Instead of a goal and a momentum swing for the Blue Jackets, the kill boosted Washington as they took a two-goal lead into the intermission.