Takeaways From The Capitals 4-3 Victory Over The Columbus Blue Jackets

Photo: X/@Capitals

The Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 to extend their win streak to four games and 8-1-1 in the last 10 games. It was another one of those games where the Capitals had to anchor down defensively and play desperation hockey in order to get the win, but a win is a win.

Columbus scored two late goals in the third period to make it a one goal game. However, thanks to some critical shot blocks, Washington was able to get another “gritty, not pretty” victory. 

“It was a different game tonight. It felt odd. There’s just not a lot of flow to it. It was broken up a lot, [I] feel like we were just off a hair,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said postgame. “Generally you can feel when your group is locked in and dialed and I still felt like that game was hanging in the balance at two… so credit to our guys. Again, third period [we] buckled down, five-on-six penalty kill does a good job [Charlie Lindgren] was solid again and we find a way to win it.”

It’s clear that the Caps have to find a way to come away with a clean 60 minute game. However, what is important is that they are getting critical points. It is only a matter of whether they can be consistent. The Capitals improve to 9-4-2 and are now 8-1-1 in their last nine games. The Blue Jackets on the other hand extend their losing streak to eight games.

Here are three things that stood out. 

GAME RECAP: Capitals Continue Hot Streak, Down Jackets; 4-3, Hendrix Lapierre Records A Goal And Two Assists

Third Line Supremacy

The third line of Sonny Milano, Hendrix Lapierre and Aliaksei Protas was flying all night long and contributed to three out of Washington’s four goals. 

Milano was flying from the drop of the puck using his speed to create chances. He was eventually rewarded with the Caps’ first goal of the game. 

Lapierre had a three point night and his first goal of the year, and second of his NHL career, was the game-winner. Milano sent the 21-year-old forward in on a breakaway and he roofed a backhand shot over Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.

“When I got the puck, I thought I had a clear-cut b-way. So I was like, ‘Okay well, I got time,’ And then I saw the [Blue Jackets defenseman] so I was like, ‘Oh shit’ I better get a shot off,” Lapierre said with a laugh. “I’ve been working on my backhand a little bit just trying to get comfortable and stuff. So it was kind of like a hope shot more than anything and ended up going through.”

“I’m really proud of Lappy too,” Lindgren said. “He’s a kid that works his butt off every single day and he’s always happy and [I’m] super pumped for him.”

 The Quebec native was in the lineup because Evgeny Kuznetsov was out due to illness. He said that being paired with Protas helped him because they played together down in Hershey.

Protas has been a quiet contributor as of late. With Saturday’s marker against Columbus, he now has goals in two out of his last three games. He has been skating really well, but still needs to use his size to knock people off the puck.

The trio played a total of 8:34 and combined for eight points (three goals, five assists) in the win. Outside of the offensive production, the line had eight shot attempts. 

“That line I thought was the difference in the game for us. We didn’t have a ton going [in the first period],” Carbery said. “I felt like we controlled play, we did some good things but still weren’t breaking through, weren’t generating, and then that line takes over and scores and sort of gets some life in the building life to our group, and then backs it up again, and again. They were fantastic in playing limited minutes.”

It is going to be interesting to see what happens with that line when Kuznetsov returns to the lineup. But Carbery said after the game that producing like he did on Saturday will help him grow individually and build confidence going forward. 

Penalty Kill Perfection

After the Blue Jackets went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage, the Capitals have now killed off 23 straight penalties. The PK unit was outstanding yet again especially late in the third period. The Caps failed to connect on a coaches challenge, which resulted in a delay of game penalty, and allowed three shots on goal.

Then, Trevor van Riemsdyk took a late holding penalty and the Blue Jackets pulled Merzlikins to make it a 6-on-4 man-advantage. But Lindgren and the PK unit would once again put on a shot blocking parade, and it was a huge reason why the Caps were able to squeak out another win. 

No block was bigger than Beck Malenstyn laying his body out at the buzzer. 

“It’s why we’re getting big time wins because we got guys that are making big plays like that,” Lindgren said. “Big plays at big moments and I thought we did that again tonight.”

“Give a lot of credit to the forwards up top there. They’re working their bags off, getting in shot lanes or blocking shots,” defenseman Joel Edmundson said following his Capitals debut. “Us on the back end, we just had to win our battles in front of the net and in the corners, so just a great effort.”

It is once again good to see the PK have a lot of success, but the Caps need to find a way to stay out of the penalty box. 

Ferocious Forecheck

The forecheck was outstanding for the majority of the game. The Blue Jackets’ defense doesn’t have a lot of skilled puck movers, so the Caps were able to take advantage of that. Washington had 15 takeaways as a team with Nicolas Aube-Kubel leading the charge with four.

Alex Ovechkin’s goal was the result of excellent puck pursuit by Dylan Strome and quickly finding a, somehow, wide open Ovechkin in the slot.

The puck pursuit in all three zones is what was lacking at the start of the year. Saturday night was a perfect example of what they need to do against the best teams in the league.

Notable Numbers and Observations 

  • Beck Malenstyn was outstanding defensively, especially late in the game. He led the 
  • Anthony Mantha was solid. He led the team with six shots on goal. As Carbery said postgame “He picked up right where he left off”. 
  • Alex Ovechkin got his 400th career win at Capital One Arena
  • Lindgren was yet again phenomenal. He did not have to make as many acrobatic saves against Vegas, but he was once again a big difference maker
  • The Caps won a season-high 36 faceoffs. 
  • The Caps blocked 19 shots and had 18 hits. 

Up Next

The Capitals will not be back in action until Wednesday, Nov. 22 when they host the Buffalo Sabres. 

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.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Takeaways From The Capitals 4-3 Victory Over The Columbus Blue Jackets

  1. Prevent Defense says:

    Boo-bird Nation still insists that the Caps $ukk and the current winning streak is all illusion and dumb luck. Not only that, but Carbery and Crew and GMBM are clueless losers and have all the wrong guys on the roster. Fans who see “Good” in the current Caps are “on happy pills” or “smoking dope” or somesuch similar.

    Very well, then.
    Caps will achieve the “Thanksgiving Day” milestone looking at least “pretty good.” Let’s see how the franchise looks on Christmas Day. We’ll find out a lot in December where the Caps face Darth Violette and the NY Rags three times, TBL and PHI.

    Tortorella has his Flyers winning with a similar brew as the Caps — lots of blocked shots, hustle and goaltending. And Caps’ remaining games in November: EDM, LAK, BUF and ANA. No easy games anywhere, anytime.

    • Anonymous says:

      the fact they are 9-4-2 (2nd in division with games in hand) while being 31st in goals for per game and 31st on the PP is astonishing. is it smoke and mirrors? can they keep this up? time will tell. I’m excited that with all the injuries and pathetic offensive output , that they are still in 2nd in division. it means they can play better and when they do, they can win even more!

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I think the goals differential has been greatly improving the last bunch of games. They were a -12 not too long ago. I need to check.

      • Dave says:

        Fwiw, their PDO is 99.5, which is supposed to indicate it’s not “puck luck.” That’s for the entire season – I haven’t been able to find a site that lets you break it out by dates so you can see what it’s been during the 8-1-1 run. It was 98.4 when I checked last week so it has been going up.

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

  3. James Lewis says:

    Maybe we can beat the always-underachieving Sabres, but soon we’ll have to be playing teams that are playing well. Just remember – we’re rebuilding, we’re rebuilding, we’re rebuilding.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The PP is really starting to concern me. Is it Kirk Muller not doing a good job? I know Flames fans are glad he’s gone. Do we inject more youth like we did with CMM? Do we stop double shifting Ovi so much? Will Patches get it to improve? Idk, but something has to shake.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see Mantha playing harder on a nightly basis so he can possible be traded. Glad to see Protas playing harder so he doesn’t become the new Mantha.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jensen and Sandin seem to be settling more into the defense. I’ve killed Jensen in the past so I’ll give him credit here. Not great but not a liability anymore. Mantha showed some real juice. I didn’t think he was that fast. I think he should stay on the 2nd line for now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great to see the young guys doing so well… still 2 D and 1 F on IR with cap space.

    • DWGie26 says:

      As sad as it is, when Fever comes back Lapierre will have to go back down since he is waivers exempt. Suspect at that point they will keep 8 Dee and 13 forwards with the extras being a rotation of Phillips, Mantha, And Protas. I suspect mostly Phillips unless injury. Sure should hurt to let Oshie watch a couple from the box.

  8. Diane Doyle says:

    One oddity about the game on player usage. The two forwards with the most ice time were Dowd and Malenstyn who are fourth liners. After that was Tom Wilson. After Willie, was Aube-Kubel, the other fourth liner. The rest had less ice time. The Milano line was relatively low in ice time even though they were the most productive.

    • Anonymous says:

      good point. that said Columbus is terrible so when the Milano line was on, they were fresher and likely had an easy matchup. but its good to see games where #8 is 6th in TOI. that said, in 4 minutes of PP time #8 was on the ice for 3 minutes and 36 seconds.. come on coach!! spread the PP time out better!!

    • DWGie26 says:

      Was that because we had a lot of PK time? All of the people you mentioned are penalty killers. That probably has something to do with it. Actually, only 3 penalties so that’s not it. But yeah, the 4th line is a workhorse. And deployed a lot, particularly at the end of the game.

  9. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks,

    If you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps in the “subscribe” box on the upper right side of the page. You will be sent all of the latest news and analysis, as soon as it is published. Thank you for your continued support.

    Go Caps!

Leave a Reply