The Washington Capitals entered Saturday night’s matchup with Columbus with a chance to close out a five-game homestand — one that was disappointing on many levels — on a positive note and head out on a swing of Western Canada (followed by the armpit of America) with an upbeat attitude. The Blue Jackets served the perfect foil in order to for the Caps to regain confidence, as the home team shook up some lines and pairing and came away with a convincing 4-1 win.
1) Martin Erat: 3 assists, +2 in 17:49 on 22 shifts. Enough said.
2) Wait, not enough said. Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich, playing aside the aforementioned Erat, both had goals as well.
3) Marcus Johansson, who has taken a lot of grief in this space, probably played his best game of the season, recording four shots on goal and generally looking involved whenever he was on the ice, and he assisted on Joel Ward’s power play goal in the spot normally occupied by Mikhail Grabovski (and Mike Ribeiro before him).
4) Braden Holtby continues to work in a groove, knocking away 37 or the 38 shots he faced from Columbus. He had a tough time of it in his first few games, but Holtby’s starting to show the form that could very well earn him a spot on Team Canada come February.
5) Washington has scored a power-play goal in five of their eight games this season and scored multiple power-play goals in four of its eight games this season. Alex Ovechkin has scored a power-play goal in four of Washington’s eight games this season. Seven of Ovechkin’s 10 points this season have been earned on the power-play. Both of Joel Ward’s goals this season have come on the power play. Each of Mike Green’s five points this season have come on the power play. Six of Nick Backstrom’s nine point and three of Marcus Johansson’s six point have come on the power play. All of these stat nuggets came directly from the Caps “Player Notes” bullet points from their post-game Notes and Quotes sheet, but that makes them no less poignant.
3-5-0 isn’t the greatest start to the season, but it sure beats 2-6-0, which would have been fairly miserable considering the Caps now head out for their geographically longest roadie of the season: Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Philadelphia. On these types of trips, usually you hope to break even and make hay once you get back home. Washington doesn’t really have that luxury anymore and they really need to come out of this trip with at least six points against some of the softer teams in the Western Conference and the woeful Flyers, who with two measly points are currently looking up at the entire league.