Takeaways From Capitals 4-2 Loss To Columbus Blue Jackets

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals dropped their preseason finale, 4-2, in the dying minutes of the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night. Adam Fantilli scored the game-winning goal with about three minutes to play in the third.

Here are three things that stood out:

Strong o-zone puck cycles

The Capitals did a good job of getting into the offensive zone cleanly and cycling the puck. Furthermore, the Caps did a really good job of firing pucks on net, instead of waiting for the perfect shot. They weren’t the most high-quality, but they were good shots. There were a few rebounds that Elvis Merzlikins coughed up, but no one was able to capitalize.

Passes were very crisp both north-south and east-west, and players were not standing still. The Caps also did a good job of keeping plays alive at the blue line, one of which led to John Carlson’s goal. Nic Dowd was able to stay with the puck after losing possession, and then fed it over to the far side to Carlson and he whistled it home past Merzlikins. 

“I think what you’re going to come to find out and I’m starting to find out as the new head coach of this team is the offensive concepts that we’re bringing in and that we’re talking about, we’re dialed,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said. “We’ve got a good grasp on them very early in training camp here, all through.”

Washington’s best shift was with about six minutes left in the middle frame. Carlson was able to hold the line and the Caps had a few quality scoring chances, but couldn’t convert.

Hits, hits and more hits

This game had a regular season feel to it. It was very very physical. The best hit of the game came from T.J. Oshie, where he rocked 2023 third-overall pick Adam Fantilli. Erik Gudbrandson took exception to that hit and it led to 4-on-4 play.

Meanwhile, Tom Wilson wanted to drop the gloves with Boone Jenner after he made contact with Darcy Kuemper, but the officials separated them quickly.

Oshie and Beck Malenstyn each had three hits which led the team.

The hit counter was 15-14 in favor of Columbus. 

More odd-man rushes given up

You can tell that Carbery is getting frustrated with the amount of odd-man rushes given up, and we aren’t even in the regular season yet. 

The Blue Jackets first goal of the game was because of a 2-on-1. The Caps’ coaching staff has already had numerous conversations with the players about making smarter reads, but the message still has not been delivered. 

“​​We have to get that cleaned up. It is not a recipe for success in the National Hockey League if you continue to give up odd-man rushes,” Carbery said. “We have to get that cleaned up from a read and puck play standpoint and a structure standpoint.”

Notable numbers and observations

  • Alex Alexeyev had a few nice defensive plays breaking up scoring chances with his stick positioning. 
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov was flying on Saturday. He was making terrific plays and created two high quality chances. One was a behind the net pass to Connor McMichael, who unfortunately missed the net. Then early in the third, he had a long stretch pass to send Rasmus Sandin on a breakaway. 
  • Sonny Milano, Matthew Phillips and Dylan Strome continue to be a very dynamic line. Milano had a few good chances. 
  • The Capitals were 0-for-3 on the power play, but it had its looks. 
  • The Caps outshot the Jackets 27-25.

The Capitals begin the regular season on Friday, Oct. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  

By Jacob Cheris

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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9 Responses to Takeaways From Capitals 4-2 Loss To Columbus Blue Jackets

  1. Anonymous says:

    All those positives and everyone played good it makes you wonder how they lost?

    • Jacob Cheris says:

      They got soft in the third but there were a lot of good things in this game. You can play well and still lose.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are an older team with a few younger inexperienced players sprinkled in and that will always show up in the 3rd period. You can have positive even when you lose a game. Have to remember that although the owner and GM will never admit it this is not a playoff team or a Cup contender this year nor will it be for the next 5-7 years. Enjoy watching the “Old Guard” as they take their last laps and the young guard as they learn. After so many winning years and low draft picks and some very bad draft picks and trading away some good to great young players for older washed up players this team is now paying the price for those good years and bad choices. However after several hopefully good drafts and restocking the team and the “Old Guard” retiring things will get better!

      • Anonymous says:

        5 to 7 years? Bunk! The Caps have lots of talented youngsters who will make the team next year or the year after that. They have a very talented #1 pick in Ryan Leonard. And Ivan Miroshnichenko could be another Ovi. Stop being a Negative Nellie.

      • Anonymous says:

        5-7 years, lol

  2. Anonymous says:

    As the coach said, the odd man rushes need to stop or this team is going to really struggle.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    I didn’t fully watch the game. Thank god i didn’t watch the third. But overall, I have liked our style of play in the Pre Season. Still haven’t gotta a good look at our dee lines though with so many playing. No waivers for Caps today so gotta assume Aktell and Miro will be assigned to Hershey (waiver exempt) tomorrow after practice and before 5pm.



    Sadly, I think they have to play Mantha if they want to find some way they can trade him. I wonder if a mutual termination of contract would be a play. Mantha agrees to give up money and he would come off Cap. Make him an UFA and sign a contract in range of 1.5M to 3M. Or even a 1.1M contract just so he can play in NHL.

    I would prefer Fever with Carlson and Sandin with Jensen. I would like to see 1C Kuzy and 2C Backstrom. I like Strome as 3C as that line has been working well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or Edmundon on LTIR to buy time

      • DWGie26 says:

        Fair, they could do that as well, but I think they want flexibility to have him play sooner than missing 10 games. So I suspect they put him on IR (which means we absorb cap hit but get a roster exemption. The way i see it right now, we will start season with 22 (instead of 23) with Patches on LTIR and Edmundson on IR. Phillips/Mantha as 13F. Alexyev is 6 and Johansen is 7D.

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