The Columbus Blue Jackets capitalized on their chances and stole Games 1 and 2 in Washington, D.C., but can the Capitals get back in this series on the road, or does the road end here?
The Capitals are back in the postseason, baby. They blew two straight two-goal leads in Games 1 and 2 en route to two consecutive overtime losses, forcing their tortured fans to a new level of agony they never thought possible. Right on schedule.
In Game 1, the Capitals lead 2-0 after the first period and blew that lead before getting on top once again. They proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties before the Blue Jackets tied it, and overtime was a forgone conclusion at that point. Artemi Panarin won it with a gorgeous shot that gave the Blue Jackets their first-ever lead in a playoff series.
In Game 2, the Capitals went up 3-1 in the second period on the back of two goals from Alex Ovechkin, and everything seemed to be going just fine, until it wasn’t. The Blue Jackets would take a 4-3 lead before the period was even over, and goalie Philipp Grubauer’s brutal night was done after that. T.J. Oshie would force hope back into the hearts of the Capitals faithful with a tying goal late in the third period, but you know how it ends in D.C. The Blue Jackets stood their ground, and Matt Calvert snuck a rebound past Braden Holtby to give the Blue Jackets a 2-0 series lead going back home.
The Capitals need to figure this out, but they’re getting no favors. Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky left Game 2 after a hit from Boone Jenner and did not return, the Capitals later announced that he would not be making the trip to Columbus for games 3 and 4, marking a huge blow to their scoring ability. Barry Trotz also inexplicably scratched Jakub Vrana after a superb game one, and you could see how much the Capitals missed his speed. With the injury to Burakovsky, the much needed Vrana will return to the lineup for Game 3.
Columbus is eating up everything the Capitals are giving it and taking full advantage. They’ve put four power play goals up on the board in the first two games on just eight chances, and have spread production up and down the lineup with goals from eight different players. Sergei Bobrovsky also had a game of a lifetime and made 54 saves in game two, crushing any narrative that he doesn’t show up in the postseason. Columbus hasn’t even shown the full extent of what they’re capable of yet, and the Eastern Conference better watch out if they keep on going.
The Capitals need to win Game 3 in Columbus, everything they have built this season depends on it. They let the first two games get away from them, but now with a motivated Braden Holtby taking back the reigns in net, they are going to get the saves they need when they need them. They have shot themselves in the foot all series long but have still outplayed the Blue Jackets in both games, and if they can get their heads on straight this game should be theirs. Of course in classic Capitals fashion, it’ll be a pulse pounding one-goal game.
Game 3 Prediction: Capitals defeat Blue Jackets 3-2