July 18, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 15 Recap: Ovechkin and Johansson lead Caps over Columbus

After righting the ship against Chicago and Carolina over the weekend, the Washington Capitals, led by Alexander Ovechkin, extended their winning streak to three games on Tuesday evening with a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center.

Marcus Johansson set the tone early, putting one past Curtis McElhinney on the doorstep just 96 seconds into the game. The puck deflected off a couple of players, including Troy Brouwer, and ended up on Johansson’s stick, and the Swede deked around McElhinney for his seventh goal of the year. Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play 7:49 into the first from the left circle on a one-timer, a move that has become so regular that that area of the ice has come to be known as “his office.”

Cam Atkinson got the Jackets back within one a couple of minutes later, with a shot from the right slot that dribbled past a screened Braden Holtby. Ovechkin pushed Washington’s lead back to two with 3:56 left in the first. As he started his shift, Jay Beagle carried the puck down the right wing and left a drop pass for Ovechkin, who fired a wrister that beat McElhinney glove-side.

Columbus got back within one with just under a minute to go in the second, as David Savard shot from the point and Holtby fell back into the cage, knocking the puck back in after making the initial save.

“We just said, ‘have to make simple plays and don’t give them many opportunities,'” Ovechkin said on the squad’s mindset after Savard’s goal.

Johansson put the Caps’ win on ice with a wraparound goal with 5:21 left, and Washington hung on the rest of the way.

There was a general consensus in the locker room afterward that Johansson’s early goal, and now three straight wins on top of it, provide positive psychological momentum for the team ahead of their home date against New Jersey on Friday before a three-game road trip against St. Louis, Arizona and Colorado next week.

Johansson said, “It’s always a good feeling to get out there and especially get the lead right away … I felt like we’ve been working hard for it.”

“[The morale] is a lot better, for sure. It’s such a good feeling to win, especially after you’re been going through a tough road,” Mike Green said.

“It’s good for our group right now … [that first goal] gets us going, really sets the bar for the game and we can kind of keep pounding and keep going. That’s what we want to keep doing every night.”

Coach Barry Trotz had similar feelings, saying, “The game is all about momentum … You had to have a little bit of a stiff upper lip because you look at the shot clock and at one point and it was like 27-13 and [you look at the score] and it’s 3-2. It’s one of those “Uh-oh here we go again [situations],” but the guys responded. I give them credit for responding [to Columbus getting within one goal], especially the penalty kill and especially Braden [Holtby] in the third [period].”

Notes

  • Johansson now has seven even-strength goals on the year, two more than his combined total in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
  • Johansson and Ovechkin are tied for the team lead in goals (8).
  • Washington was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

%d bloggers like this: