Blue Jackets Rally To Down Capitals, 4-2 In Pre-Season Finale; John Carlson And Alex Ovechkin Score

Photo: x/@Capitals

The Washington Capitals fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-2 Saturday night at Capital One Arena in their final tuneup of the 2023 preseason. The Capitals conclude the preseason with a record of 3-2-1.

Darcy Kuemper got the start in goal for the Capitals while Elvis Merzlikins got the start between the pipes for the visiting Blue Jackets. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Capitals:

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Connor McMichael – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano – Dylan Strome – Matthew Phillips
Beck Malenstyn – Nic Dowd – Aliaksei Protas

Rasmus Sandin – John Carlson
Lucas Johansen – Alex Alexeyev
Hardy Haman Aktell – Nick Jensen

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren


The first frame went scoreless with the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 10-5. The Capitals led in 5v5 shot attempts, 19-11, scoring chances, 10-6 and xGF .77 to .31.


The Blue Jackets opened the scoring with a tally from Boone Jenner at 4:57 of the middle frame.

But the Capitals answered just 81 seconds later. John Carlson tied the game at 6:18 of the second period. Nick Jensen and Rasmus Sandin had the helpers.

The Capitals took their first lead of the game 4:16 later with a goal from Alex Ovechkin at 10:34. Lucas Johansen and T.J. Oshie had the assists.

The second period concluded with the Capitals holding on to the 2-1 lead. They led in 5v5 shot attempts 17-16 in the 2nd period and 35-27 after 40 minutes of play. The Capitals led in xGF 1.35 to .72 at 5v5 after two periods.


The Blue Jackets tied the game early in the final frame with a goal from Cole Sillinger with 13:31 remaining in regulation.

The Blue Jackets regained the lead with a goal from Adam Fantilli at  16:17 to make it 3-2.

The Blue Jackets added an empty net goal for the 4-2 final.

The Capitals open the regular season Friday night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7PM.

By Jon Sorensen

Capitals Postgame Audio

Forward Connor McMichael

Forward Beck Malenstyn

Defenseman John Carlson

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper

Head coach Spencer Carbery

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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7 Responses to Blue Jackets Rally To Down Capitals, 4-2 In Pre-Season Finale; John Carlson And Alex Ovechkin Score

  1. Anonymous says:

    Same old Kuznetsov with his lazy, lackadaisical play.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Late game collapses is so 22-23

  3. andrew777dc says:

    3 Qs:
    1. Why keep Carly and Sandy together when they obviously stink at D? Are we expecting to outscore opponents every time?
    2. Kuzy still terribly lackadaisical and a pushover when he’s mid-ice or skating back, own zone. Poor back end coverage, overall. What’s gonna be done about that?
    3. A still hae ma doots about Backy as 1C. Is that gonna be a permanent fixture? Or is he just gonna be too bad at 3C, so we see him as 1C?

    • andrew777dc says:

      To add to Q #2. Look at Willy and Ovi skating back after losing the puck. Willy was sorta trying to take away the puck. But the BJ “of the world” probably didn’t even feel it. Ovi wasn’t even trying to contribute when play shifted into our zone. This is so much like their old selves. Is there any fixing that?

  4. Lance says:

    I thought the Caps played pretty well for most of this game. My concerns: 1) the inability to score goals 2) the inability to play defensive hockey all over the ice.

    What are your projections for goal scoring this year? Ovie 40, Backstrom 15, Strome 20, Wilson 18, Milano 13, McMichael 20, Phillips 20, Oshie 20, Kuzy 20. Most of these are optimistic projections. Scoring goals could be an issue.

    We don’t have great defensive centers. Backstrom was decent defensively before his injuries. I don’t expect much D from him now. Strome competes defensively. He’s ok at it. Kuzy is weak on D. He tries sometimes but isn’t very good at it even when he does. Forwards who are good defensively: Wilson, Malenstyn, Dowd. Protas, Strome and Oshie are ok. Our D corps skates and moves the puck pretty well. Aktell looks great. He was solid all around again tonight. Carlson and Sandin bring a lot of skill and just barely enough defense.

    The NHL is chasing the “all teams should be about equal” fantasy. Most teams are equal—equally mediocre.

    My prediction: Caps don’t have enough to young, dynamic stars to make the playoffs but the young players we do have will compete and be more fun to watch than Lavi’s gang from the last few years.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Buckle up, we are out of kool-aid

  6. Anonymous says:

    I must have watched a different game. Kuzy was the most noceable high end player out there. He set up a couple of grade A chances. 1st goal- Willy lost the puck in the most dangerous area, he was the 3/4th guy high. 2nd goal, Dowd, face-off, something that rarely happens. Still tied with 4 min to go. 5-3 PP is got to score. 4th line was great until that goal. They played against their 1st lime most of the game. Then, got less ice time for some reason. 3rd line was non-factor. I would have made some changes there on the fly, but coach didn’t. Like Oshie on the 1st line but still think it should be Srome and Willy. I think it was coaching tonight.

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