Capitals

Capitals

The Capitals hoped to get revenge for a loss in Columbus five days ago, but fell to the Blue Jackets at home 3-2. 

How it happened: The Capitals played without T.J. Oshie, arguably their MVP through the first 17 games of the season, and his absense hurt.

Things started well. Nicklas Backstrom put the Capitals up with an unassisted goal three minutes into the first period. Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno pulled his team even on the power play six minutes into the second period, but the Capitals quickly retook the lead with a man-advantage score of their own. Backstrom and Matt Niskanen set up Ovechkin in the waning moments of a power play halfway through the second.

That lead only lasted 14 seconds into the third, however, when Brandon Dubinsky put a move on Holtby to knot the score at two apiece. A late high-stick penalty on Backstrom gave the Jackets a man-advantage over the final 1:34 of regulation and Alexander Wennberg capitalized with the game winner. 

What it means: The Capitals will fall to 11-4-2 after the loss today. It's a bitter defeat when leading after two periods. 

Starting fast: Last season, Caps coach Barry Trotz was consistently disappointed by his teams' slow starts. That script has flipped this year. Washington struck first against Columbus, putting them on the board first in 15 of their 18 games this year. Conversely, they haven't allowed a first period goal in four games. The Capitals have led opposing teams 20-8 in first period scoring this season. They just couldn't hold on this time. 

 

Backstrom not letting up: Backstrom has caught fire for the Capitals in the last four games. For those keeping track, the Swedish centerman has eight points in that span, including four goals.

On Sunday he snuck the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky unassisted to give Washington an early advantage. Then minutes after the Jackets evened things in the second period, Backstrom set up Ovechkin for a one-timer to retake the lead. According to Capitals PR, Sunday marks Backstrom's fourth multi-point game of the season and the 180th of his career.

But it was Backstrom's high-sticking penalty proved disastrous at the end of regulation. 

Power play perks up: The Capitals had not scored a 5-on-4 goal since October 29th when Marcus Johansson struck on the man advantage in Vancouver. The team converted their lone power play opportunity Sunday. 

Oshie leaves hole on PK unit: Oshie (upper body) was not available Sunday, and his absence was most obvious on the penalty kill.

He and Jay Beagle made a productive tandem of forwards on the PK. The pair had scored two shorthanded goals in the last four games.

Without Oshie today, the Capitals surrended a goal to Foglino just seconds into Columbus's second-period man advantage. On the power play again with 1:34 left on the clock, the bad guys scored the winning goal. 

Look ahead: The Capitals host the Blues next Wedesday for their first meeting of the season. At 10-6-3, the Blues currently sit in second place in the Central Division. 

MORE CAPITALS: Red hot Backstrom puts Caps on the board early in 1st