Nationwide Is On Washington’s Side: Capitals Blow Blue Jackets Out, 7-2; Mantha Scores Fourth In Five Games

Photo: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals hammered the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 7-2 at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night to lift them one point behind the Boston Bruins (who have a game in hand) for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, three behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (who will have played the same number of games as the Capitals entering Friday) for third in the Metropolitan Division, and three behind the New York Rangers (one) for second.

The Capitals are 6-0-1 during a seven-game point-streak, which is tied with the Florida Panthers for the NHL’s top record this month. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 39 saves in the victory.

Capitals’ Lines at Blue Jackets

Graphic: @Capitals

The Capitals made no lineup changes from their 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Scratched: C Michael Vecchione, LHD Michal Kempny, LHD Matt Irwin

Injured: LW Carl Hagelin (eye, missed seventh game, out indefinitely); LW Joe Snively (upper-body, seventh, week-to-week)

COVID-19 Protocol: C Lars Eller (second)

First Period

Left-wing Anthony Mantha opened up the five-hole of goaltender Joonas Korpisalo after right-wing T.J. Oshie broke up an attempted pass by the Blue Jackets at the defensive blueline and chipped the puck ahead to send the 27-year-old on a breakaway and open the scoring 4:29 in. That’s his second straight game with a goal, and each marked the game’s first goal. That’s also Mantha’s fifth goal of the season and third since returning from injury.

Mantha picked up a loose puck at the right dot off of a turnover from defenseman Zach Werenski and missed the mark but the shot caramed off of the end board, the pad of Korpisalo, and in to make it 2-0 at 12:20. It marks Mantha’s 14th career multi-goal game and his first as a Capital. Mantha has now recorded five points (four goals) in his last five games.

The Capitals led 4-3 in takeaways, 12-7 in hits, and won 61% of the faceoffs through 20 minutes.

The Blue Jackets led 13-8 in shots in the first.

Each team tallied six blocked shots, two giveaways, and did not score on one power-play in the period.

Second Period

Defenseman Martin Fehervary picked up a loose puck in front of the net on a two-on-0 off of a Columbus line change and put it through the five-hole of Korpisalo (allowed three goals on nine shots) to end his night 80 seconds into the period. The 22-year-old became the 10th rookie defenseman to record five goals in a season in franchise history and the first since John Carlson recorded seven goals in the 2010-11 season. Carlson earned his 40th helper of the season, the fifth time in his career he’s reached the mark. He’s the first defenseman in franchise history to accomplish this feat. Carlson also passed Larry Murphy, Kevin Hatcher and Sergei Gonchar to tie Scott Stevens for the most career 50+ point seasons by a Capitals defenceman (five). He tied Mike Gartner, Adam Oates, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov for fourth in 40-assist seasons with the franchise (five).

Right-wing Oliver Bjorkstrand roofed one to the corner against Vanecek in front to finish off a tic-tac-toe passing play with right-wing Jakub Voracek, who was at the half-wall, and center Max Domi (the top) to get on the board on the man advantage at 6:57.

Captain Alex Ovechkin caught a pass from left-wing Conor Sheary, who was by the goal-line, with the right skate and wristed one from his office on the power-play for his 38th of the season 10:44 into the second. With the secondary assist, right-wing Tom Wilson tied a single season career-high in assists (2019:20: 23). Elvis Merzlikins became the 155th different goaltender Ovechkin has scored on in his NHL career.

The Capitals led 5-4 in takeaways, 14-11 in hits, won 53% of the draws, and converted once on three power plays through 40 minutes.

The Blue Jackets led 30-23 in shots (including 17-15 in the second), had three giveaways while the Capitals tallied six, and struck once on four man advantage opportunities in the first two periods.

Each team earned nine blocked shots through two.

Third Period

After defenseman Andrew Peeke fed defenseman Zach Werenski cross-ice at the top, Werenski let one go and right-wing Patrik Laine tipped it over the blocker of Vanecek to cut the Capitals’ lead in half at 1:47.

2:28 later, Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan put one into his own net after Capitals center Connor McMichael powered his way to the cage and backhanded a shot to the goal after right-wing Daniel Sprong pressured Kukan on his stick to restore the Capitals’ three-goal lead. This marks third time in the last six games the Capitals have scored five goals in a game.

Sheary scored on a breakaway with the Blue Jackets net empty with 12:39 left.

Kuznetsov ripped one under the bar from the side of the net after executing a give-and-go with center Nicklas Backstrom on the power-play to extend the lead to 7-2 at 9:03. He hit the 20-goal mark for the fourth time in his career. The goal was Washington’s second power play goal of the game. The Capitals have scored multiple power play goals in four of their last seven games dating back to March 3.

Oshie sustained a lower-body injury and did not return.

The Capitals won 53% of the draws and converted twice on five power plays.

The Blue Jackets led 41-33 in shots (including 11-10 in the third), 16-15 in hits, 13-12 in blocked shots, 6-5 in takeaways, had three giveaways while the Capitals tallied seven, and struck once on five man advantage opportunities.

Washington’s seven goals against Columbus tie a season high (Oct. 25 at Ottawa Senators, 7-5 win). The Capitals improved to 12-5-1 (.694 point percentage) against Metropolitan Division opponents this season, the second-highest point percentage in the division (Pittsburgh Penguins: .706).

Next game: Friday at Carolina Hurricanes (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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6 Responses to Nationwide Is On Washington’s Side: Capitals Blow Blue Jackets Out, 7-2; Mantha Scores Fourth In Five Games

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    Ovi has now caught up to Luc Robitaille in NHL career points with 1394. Tied for 22nd. Next is Jari Kurri with 1398. And then the 1400 points threshold.

  2. novafyre says:

    Like that Vitek stopped all but 2 shots but don’t like CJ having 41. Al Cokin mentioned how many on powerplays — don’t remember the number but it was too big.

    We did well on faceoffs winning 53%. This is unusual for us this year.

    Don’t like Osh’s lower body injury. Will we see Vecchione tomorrow?

    So, who in goal against the Canes? If Vee feels ok, I’d put him in.

  3. Leslie+Galen says:

    Why did we put V in tonite and save Sami for the Canes 😲🤔😏

    • novafyre says:

      NBCSW (don’t remember which announcer) said that Lavi looks at one game at a time. Goal was to win this one.

      Canes are #1 in the East. Going to be hard to win that one no matter who is in goal. So why take a chance with Columbus? Go all out and grab the two points. And since they are chasing us, it demoralizes them. And I think tonight’s performance will really demoralize them.

      Only regret after watching the game is that we didn’t have Torts around for a press conference.

      • Lesliej427 says:

        Got it…but I guess I didn’t think a coach would ever think :Ok, that game will be impossible to win so might as well put anyone in net…??
        Not being a coach, I thought: harder game requires best goalie, less hard game requires lesser goalie. I mean if Vanny can’t beat Canes I’m thinking Sami can’t right?
        But great that we creamed them tonight, cause hopefully that brought us enough mojo to have the confidence to go out and steamroll tomorrow, which is what will be more than necessary for sure. Will be interesting to see if Sami is up to the job or if they’ll have to ultimately bring in V anyway 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

        • novafyre says:

          I too was surprised. My take is Sammy is going to lose us one and Canes are tough, so if we play him tonight and Vitek in Raleigh, we lose two. If we play Sammy in Raleigh we only lose one. Would a coach ever think that? Probably not in a 12 or 16 game season, but when you have 60 to 80 games, I imagine coaches do.

          I too am wondering who will start in net for the Caps and who will finish.

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