It did not take long for things to get started in this one. Alex Ovechkin scored his 42nd goal of the season in the fourth minute of the game when he set up in the slot and deflected a drive from the left point by Brooks Orpik past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Eric Fehr doubled the Caps’ lead late in the first period, taking advantage of a loose puck off a shot from Tim Gleason. Standing to the right of Bobrovsky, Fehr was left unattended, and before Scott Hartnell could close the distance to tie him up, Fehr snapped the puck past Bobrovsky from the edge of the blue paint of the crease.
That would do it for scoring in the first period, but Columbus halved the lead early in the second on a slap shot from the top of the right wing circle. The one-goal margin lasted less than a minute. Columbus was caught with too many men deep in the Caps’ zone, and when the puck squirted out to the top of the zone, Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson were off on a two-on-one break. Chimera’s tried to deke Bobrovsky to the ice and curl the puck around him, but Bobrovsky made the initial save. Trailing the play, Wilson popped the rebound into the back of the net, and the Caps were up 3-1.
Scott Hartnell scored for Columbus at the 15:03 mark on a redirect from the high slot of a Jack Johnson shot from the left point to make it 3-2 heading into the second intermission. Ovechkin got his second of the game in the fourth minute of the third period on a power play when he one-timed a shot from the left circle that seemed to handcuff Bobrovsky.
Hartnell returned the favor on a Blue Jacket power play six minutes later, and that is as close as Columbus would get. Marcus Johansson scored an empty net goal as he emerged from the penalty box after a Blue Jacket power play in the last minute, and the Caps had their 5-3 win.
-- With two points apiece, Alex Ovechkin (two goals) and Nicklas Backstrom (two assists) took over the league lead in scoring with 67 points apiece.
-- Jason Chimera added a pair of assists for the Caps, his second multi-point game in his last four contests.
-- The Caps and Blue Jackets had four fights in this game. That makes seven for the season between the two clubs, one fourth of the Caps’ total for the season (28).
-- Ovechkin’s second goal was the game winner, giving him game-winning goals in consecutive games and three game-winners in the Caps’ last four wins.
-- Tim Gleason and Michael Latta were the only Caps not to record shots on goal, and Latta skated only 3:38, departing early in the second period with an injury.
-- Curtis Glencross had an uneventful debut for the Caps. He had two shots on goal (no points), three hits (led the team), and two blocked shots, but he was on ice for Columbus’ first two goals.
-- Each team had 40 minutes in penalties for the game, but there were only four power plays, two for each team, each team converting once.
-- Tom Wilson’s 17 penalty minutes was a season high, and he is now third in the league in PIMs (145), trailing only Steve Downie (191) and Cody MacLeod (167).
-- Tim Gleason’s assist on Eric Fehr’s goal was his first point as a Capital and broke a personal 15-game streak without a point, including 14 in a row with Carolina.
-- This was Washington’s 17th road win of the season, matching their total for all of last year.
In the end…
It was a rough and tumble game, but it was a good win for the Caps. It enabled the Caps to close to within a point of Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division and to within a point of the Detroit Red Wings for fifth place in the conference. The nine goals scored over the last two games is the most over consecutive games in two months (ten in wins over Florida and Toronto on January 4th and 7th). It sets the Caps up well for the remainder of the week, games against Minnesota and Buffalo that are certainly in the winnable category. On this night, though, the Caps did what they had to do – deal with a struggling opponent effectively and move on to the next opponent.