June 24, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 46 Recap: Caps shrug off slow start, pound Blue Jackets

KUZNTESOV WITH 4 ASSISTS, ALZNER TIES TEAM GAMES STREAK

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there are any concerns about how the Washington Capitals go about their business, it might be how they seem to have developed a knack for starting games slowly. It happened again Tuesday in Columbus, where the Caps were thoroughly outplayed through the first eight or so minutes of the game.

But as they have so many times in the past, they got going. And once they got going, man, they were tough to stop.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice, Evgeny Kuznetsov had four assists, and the Caps pasted the Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena.

Braden Holtby became the first goalie to 30 wins, with 32 saves.

Columbus had an 8-1 shot advantage early, speaking to the Caps struggles to motivate. The Jackets took a 1-0 lead on Kerby Rychel’s first career goal at 9:30 of the first, taking advantage of a bad pinch, then a two-on-one with William Karlsson.

The Caps (35-8-3, 73) evened it on a pretty play. Alex Ovechkin carried into the offensive zone and found T.J. Oshie, who’d lagged into the high slot. That drew the defense, allowing Oshie to feed Backstrom alone at point blank, and his wrister was past Sergei Bobrovsky before the goalie could flinch.

Just 3 1/2 minutes later, Columbus turned it over on a potential breakout, and Marcus Johansson fed Jason Chimera for a rip past Bobrovsky to make it 2-1 after one period.

The Caps essentially put this one away early in the second. With Justin Falk off for four minutes for high-sticking, it was the Caps that drew blood.

A mere 12 seconds after the first power play started, it ended. Kuznetsov saucered a pass right through the slot to Ovechkin, waiting at his familiar spot. Moments later, Kuznetsov did it again, hitting Backstrom camped in the crease for the easy layup. Like that, it was 4-1.

Oh, the Jackets got a goal a few minutes later, when Boone Jenner was allowed to get a second whack at a bouncing puck in the crease.

But it mattered little, as the Caps answered while the Nationwide Arena announcer was reading the goal announcement.

Kuznetsov carried into the offensive zone and left it for Andre Burakovsky in the high slot, who whizzed it past Bobrovsky from long distance to make it 5-2.

Both teams scored in the third: Ryan Murray gave Columbus a sliver of hope with his wrist shot at 5:07, but the Caps smothered the Jackets the rest of the way, and Johansson added an empty-netter with 32 seconds to go to clinch it.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Karl Alzner tied Bobby Carpenter for most consecutive games played for the franchise at 422 games. Alzner’s streak is the sixth-longest consecutive games played streak by an NHL defenseman since 1943-44, trailing Jay Bouwmeester (737), Keith Yandle (514), Karlis Skrastins (495), Tim Horton (486) and Cory Sarich (453). In addition, Alzner is one of two defensemen to have played in every game since 2010-11 (Yandle) and boasts the fifth-longest active consecutive games played streak in the NHL, trailing Andrew Cogliano (666), Yandle (514), Patrick Marleau (504) and Phil Kessel (491).

NEXT GAME: The Caps are off until Friday, when they host the Anaheim Ducks at 7 p.m.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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