Capitals Club Columbus, 3-1; Ovechkin Scores 750th Career NHL Goal

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals dominated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 3-1 at Capital One Arena on Saturday night to end their two-game slide (0-1-1).

The Capitals now lead the Metropolitan Division over the New York Rangers (who have three games in hand) and Carolina Hurricanes (two) by three points in the standings and trail the Florida Panthers (one) by one point for first in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 17 saves in the win, his fifth start in the team’s past six outings.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Blue Jackets

Graphic: @Capitals

Defenseman Matt Irwin drew into the lineup and made his Capitals debut in place of Trevor Van Riemsdyk. Right-wing T.J. Oshie returned after missing six straight games of 16 of the last 17 with two different lower-body injuries as did left-wing Conor Sheary after sitting six in a row with a lower-body injury. The two played on Connor McMichael’s wings. Center Lars Eller skated in Nic Dowd’s usual spot while center Aliaksei Protas moved down to the all-rookie line with Oshie and Sheary back.

Scratched: LHD Dennis Cholowski, C Michael Sgarbossa, RW Daniel Sprong

Injured: C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, missed 25th straight game, week-to-week), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 15th, indefinite)

COVID-19 protocol: Van Riemsdyk, Dowd (both missed first game)

First Period

After Protas tipped defenseman Justin Schultz‘s wrister from the point but was stopped by Blue Jackets goaltender Daniil Tarasov with the pad, he followed up his own rebound down low to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead 4:33 in.

The Capitals led 11-9 in shots, 6-3 in blocked shots, 9-8 in hits, had two giveaways while the Blue Jackets had three, and did not score on one power play in the first period.

The Blue Jackets led 4-1 in takeaways and won 61% of the draws through 20 minutes.

Each team tallied two giveaways in the opening stanza.

Second Period

Captain Alex Ovechkin wristed one past the blocker of Tarasov from the right dot after getting an indirect pass from the defensive zone by defenseman John Carlson off of the boards for his 20th goal of the season at 3:12. Tarasov became the 152nd different goaltender Ovechkin, who became the seventh player in NHL history to hit the 20-goal mark in 17 seasons, has scored on in his NHL career. Ovechkin also became the second-fastest player to score 750 career goals, which he did in his 1222nd career NHL game, and the fastest to go from 700 to 750 (79 games).

61 seconds later, the Blue Jackets scored but the goal was called back due to offsides after the Capitals challenged the play.

The Capitals led 25-12 in shots (including 14-3 in the second period), 17-13 in hits, and did not convert on their lone power play through two.

The Blue Jackets led 5-2 in takeaways, 13-6 in blocked shots, had five giveaways while the Capitals had six, and won 67% of the draws in the first 40 minutes.

Third Period

Left-wing Eric Robinson tapped in a cross-crease feed by right-wing Justin Danforth after the 28-year-old got an ally-oop pass from the defensive zone by defenseman Zach Werenski to cut the Capitals’ lead in half 6:28 into the third.

Right-wing Garnet Hathaway finished the Blue Jackets off with a wrister from the slot after center Evgeny Kuznetsov could not get the puck past a wall of Blue Jackets defenders and they failed an attempt to clear with 1:27 left.

The Capitals led 32-18 in shots (including 8-7 in the third period), 30-18 in hits, 6-5 in takeaways, had seven giveaways while the Blue Jackets had eight, and did not convert on their lone power play.

The Blue Jackets led 19-14 in blocked shots and won 66% of the draws.

Next game: vs. Anaheim Ducks on Monday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington locally, NHL Network nationally)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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