After winning Game 1 of the series in overtime, the Columbus Blue Jackets knew the Washington Capitals would come out quick in Game 2 at Capital One Arena.
Just after the two minute mark of the first period, Jay Beagle, who didn’t play in Game 1 due to injury, deflected a fluttering Brooks Orpik shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to kick off the scoring in Game 2.
The Capitals controlled most of the first period, outshooting the Blue Jackets 19-8 in the first 20 minutes.
One of those shots came with 6:43 left in the period off the stick of Alexander Ovechkin, who buried a power play goal to give the Caps a 2-0 lead.
The goal touched on a key to the game for each side: for the Blue Jackets, the importance of staying out of the box was emphasized, while for the Capitals, it was getting Ovechkin more involved offensively. Both would continue to be important throughout this game.
Just prior to the end of the first period, the Jackets were able to take back a little momentum as they cut the deficit to one. Nick Foligno sent a pass from his own zone to Cam Atkinson, springing him free on a breakaway. Atkinson was able to get the puck past Philipp Grubauer with 1:34 left in the period to make it 2-1, a score that would stand as the two teams entered the first intermission.
After the game, Cam Atkinson spoke about how his goal allowed the team to start playing their game:
I think we started at the end of the first period when I scored a goal. They were dominating the first period and we found a way to kind of keep the crowd out of it going to the second period and I thought we took over.
As Atkinson mentioned, the CBJ took over in the second, but not before Alex Ovechkin added another one of his patented power goals to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead 4:09 into the second period. From then on, the Jackets were on the attack.
With 11:11 left in the second period, the Jackets scored on a beautful sequence in the Washington zone when Matt Calvert passed the puck to Seth Jones, who dished it on to Zach Werenski, then on to Josh Anderson who beat Grubauer to make it 3-2.
The CBJ power play got an opportunity shortly after the half-way point of the second period when Tom Wilson took down Seth Jones unnecessarily in a post-whistle scrum. Artemi Panarin passed the puck to Cam Atkinson on the man advantage, who scored his second of the night to tie the game up at 3-3.
With 68 seconds left in the second period, the Jackets took the lead with yet another power play goal. Zach Werenski buried the biscuit through traffic from just inside the blue line to give the CBJ a 4-3 lead.
To start the third period, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz put Braden Holtby in the game to change things up. The Jackets weren’t able to test him much in the third as they attempted to lock things down defensively until penalties caught up with them late.
Less than a minute after the Jackets killed off a Pierre-Luc Dubois goaltender interference penalty, Zach Werenski sent a puck over the boards in his own zone to give the Caps another power play.
Washington capitalized. T.J. Oshie beat Bobrovsky to make it 4-4 with 3:35 remaining in the game.
With the crowd back in the game, the Capitals kept firing pucks at the net, outshooting the Jackets in the third period 21-5. A Boone Jenner slashing penalty didn’t help matters with 1:59 left, but the CBJ were able to kill it off to ultimately force overtime for the second time in as many games.
Although the Jackets escaped into OT, John Tortorella talked about giving the Capitals this many opportunities on the power play:
It’s something we have to get straightened out as this series moves forward…it’s just too dangerous.
In overtime, the Jackets had a couple good scoring chances on a power play, but overall it was Washington that was getting the better opportunities…until the 12:22 mark of overtime, that is.
With 7:38 remaining in OT, Werenski got a shot off on Holtby, with Matt Calvert on the doorstep to collect the rebound and send it home with one hand on his stick to secure a 5-4 CBJ victory.
Or was it?
The situation room in Toronto took another look at the play as Calvert was nearly offside entering the zone. After review, the call on the ice stood. CBJ win.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who wasn’t one of the three stars of the game for some reason, made 54 saves on 58 shots, keeping the Jackets in the game when the Capitals were attacking from all angles. After the game, Tortorella had this to say about his netminder:
That is probably one of the best goaltending performances I’ve seen in quite a while with Bob. Certainly gives us an opportunity to stay in the game, and when they surged he made some huge saves at key times.
Seth Jones commented about the state of the series now up 2-0:
We’re in a good spot but by no means is this thing over…we’re looking to do the same thing, we’re not going to change a thing.
Jones quickly followed that up with:
Probably take less penalties is the only thing I’d say.
After scoring the game winning goal, Matt Calvert talked about his excitement level bringing a 2-0 series lead back to Columbus:
We can’t wait to get home. Obviously you look for a split ideally on the road but we got two and now we gotta go back to work for Game 3.
Tortorella elaborated on his team’s mindset in these big games:
It’s a bridge that we have crossed, and I hope that we stay on the right side, I think we go out there knowing ‘we’re gonna win’. We’re there to win, not hope. As we’ve gone through a process as a young team here the past couple years, it was hoping, and hoping and maybe we’ll find a way. Now I think it’s a bit of a swagger that they have and I think they’re on the right side of it.
By no means do we have it figured out. Tonight’s game, we were outplayed for a lot of the minutes but we had a goalie to give us a chance, but then we found a way to get it done.
The Blue Jackets and Capitals will head to Columbus for Game 3 at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night. See you there.