Oh, how things can change in a few days.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who used back-to-back overtime wins to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series with the Washington Capitals, now head back to Washington with the series tied. That’s after Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists, and Braden Holtby stopped 23 shots as the Caps beat Columbus 4-1 Thursday night to even the series at two games apiece.
Tom Wilson and Alexander Ovechkin each had a goal and an assist, and T.J. Oshie also scored for the workmanlike Capitals, who won this time in regulation after the first three games of the best-of-7 series were decided in overtime. Game 5 is Saturday afternoon in Washington.
Columbus had overcome multi-goal deficits to win the first two games in Washington. When the series shifted to Columbus on Tuesday, the Capitals prevailed in double-overtime.
Whatever momentum Columbus still had went out the window Thursday night.
“That’s called a good old fashioned laying an egg,” head coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game.
“It was unexpected, (but) it happens. We just got to move by it and get ready for our next game,” Tortorella said.
This one lacked the intensity of the first three, and there was no comeback magic for the Blue Jackets. In fact, they were just flat through a good chunk of the first two periods, chasing pucks and flubbing passes. They finally seem to get out of the quicksand near the end of the second period after coach John Tortorella started switching up the lines.
Boone Jenner scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves for Columbus.
Washington led 1-0 after the opening period. Just after Columbus' Thomas Vanek knocked the puck out of the blue paint with his glove, Kuznetsov shoveled the carom from the right boards out to Wilson, who connected from above the circle at 6:16.
The Capitals got their second halfway through the second period on a power play when Oshie flicked in a rebound. Ovechkin's third-period goal made it 3-0.
Jenner redirected Josh Anderson's slap shot 6:22 into the third to make it a 3-1 game and finally give the record Nationwide Arena crowd of 19,395 something to cheer about. Kuznetsov added an empty-net goal with 2:19 left in the game.