The Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals have given hockey fans around the country and beyond plenty to watch, with overtime hockey in all three games so far. Tonight, the Caps look to even the series at 2-2 while the Jackets look to take a 3-1 lead. The puck drop at Nationwide Arena is scheduled for shortly after 7:30 PM ET.
Games 1 through 3 have consisted of 180 minutes of regulation hockey, along with 47+ minutes of overtime hockey.
The CBJ appeared to play their best game of the series on Tuesday night, but fell 3-2 in double overtime thanks in large part to hitting a post on four separate occasions.
Game 4 will either give the Caps a boatload of momentum, heading home after winning consecutive road games, or, give the Jackets, who’ve never gotten past the first round of the playoffs, a demanding 3-1 lead. This game’s HUGE.
While the loss of Center Alexander Wennberg for Columbus clearly hasn’t helped their cause, the undeniable difference in the series from games 2 and 3 has been Washington’s goaltender change. Braden Holtby got his first start of the postseason on Tuesday night and saved 33 of 35 shots on goal. While the goalposts may have been his BFFs for a night, his play was still noticeably better than Grubauer’s performances in games 1 and 2.
Every game in this series honestly feels like a toss-up. Games 1 and 2 appeared to be headed for Washington victories and Columbus won. The Jackets stepped up in Game 3 and the Caps got their first victory. So who knows what to expect from here?
One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the performance of Artemi Panarin through three games. “The Breadman” has been marvelous, with a combined two goals and five assists so far. Every time he has the puck, you hold your breath wondering if he’s about to do something special.
CBJ Head Coach John Tortorella described this matchup as “A hell of a series” after Tuesday night’s loss for for his club.
So what should we expect tonight?
A competitive hockey game.
Beyond that, we’ll just have to wait to find out.