The Blue Jackets capped off a long five-game road trip with a thrilling comeback victory over the Capitals in Washington last night. It’s a moral victory for the Jackets, and a frustrating loss for the Caps.
They can’t lose them all, folks. So if nothing else, why not win the games that matter to a division rival? The Caps are a longshot to make the playoffs this year, but they are still very much alive in the hunt. Heading into last night’s game, they were 6 points back of the Florida Panthers for the last wild card spot, with 11 games remaining on their schedule.
The lowly Blue Jackets rolled into Washington on a three-game losing skid, with a combined 18 goals against in those three games. The Caps, as expected, came out roaring and built an early 3-0 lead. With the Panthers losing to the Philadelphia Flyers, Caps fans probably thought they would inch closer to a playoff berth. But it wasn’t happening on this night. Eric Robinson kicked off the comeback for the Blue Jackets late in the first period:
The teams traded goals in the second period, each scoring twice; with Adam Boqvist and Jack Roslovic scoring for the Jackets. But the game seemed to be put out of reach when Nick Jensen scored with under 8 seconds left in the period to make it a 5-3 Caps lead after 2.
But the Jackets came out and played possibly their most determined period of hockey all season. Boqvist narrowed the lead to one with his second of the night 6:37 in; then Emil Bemstrom blasted a Patrik Laine feed home with a one-timer to tie the game at 5 apiece:
Jensen scored his second of the night with under 5 minutes to play, restoring the Caps lead at 6-5. This seemed like the backbreaking goal we all expected, as he cut in uncontested off the wing and fired a shot high, short side to beat Daniil Tarasov. But on this night, the Jackets weren’t having it. They kept their foot on the gas and continued to put pressure on the Washington goal.
Boone Jenner found the equalizer with 47 seconds remaining, sending the teams to overtime with a wild 6-6 score. Momentum seemed to flip in OT, with the Capitals maintaining possession for the bulk of the period until Johnny Gaudreau intercepted a pass, creating a 2-on-1 with Jack Roslovic. The result was a pretty game winning goal:
Gaudreau never left the ice in overtime, but still has the ability to make that play to Roslovic for the winner. It was an exciting win for a team that honestly needed to come away with a victory. You could tell they wanted this one by the way they kept battling, even when the score became lopsided early on.
Seven Blue Jackets had multi-point games, including Gaudreau (2a); Patrik Laine (2a), Eric Robinson (1g, 1a), Emil Bemstrom (1g, 1a), Kent Johnson (2a), Jack Roslovic (2g) and Adam Boqvist (2g). Tarasov made 30 saves on 36 shots in the victory, while Pascal Vincent won his first NHL game filling in for Brad Larsen (personal) as head coach.
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While this does move them closer to the San Jose Sharks in the standings, every once in awhile you need to win a game to show the young players on the roster how it’s done. The bonus here is what this does to an aging Capitals team, who fails to gain two crucial points in the standings on a night when Florida got beat by a bottom-feeding team as well.