Capitals drop series opener to Blue Jackets

Washington took three of four from Columbus this season, but the Blue Jackets won the last meeting 5-1 on February 26. They won it in overtime off of a lovely top corner delivery from Artemi Panarin. If that was indeed the Blue Jackets' plan, they might want to be careful of what they wish.

"It's a privilege to start, for sure", Grubauer told the Washington Post.

How They Win: The Capitals have an intimidating offense - and an accurate one. Since the start of March, they have the fourth-best record in the National Hockey League. When you have a sniper like Alex Ovechkin, that can happen. In October, Wilson and Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan met with Department of Player Safety head George Parros in Calgary to help Wilson understand how to avoid supplemental discipline in the future.

Killorn's shot over the glove of goalie Kevin Kincaid's glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov, who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback. T.J. Oshie has had a rough season but has 12 points in 16 games since March 1. It's not a big deal to them when they lose players. GM Brian MacLellan admitted in the summer that past year was a kitchen-sink attempt at one last run but, even in failing there, the Caps have remained near the top of the standings. Braden Holtby, the long-time starter and playoff veteran for Washington, has had pedestrian numbers all season, and has played rather poorly over the past two months.

Like Wennberg, Kempny did not return to the game.

To capitalize the Caps' power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the first goal to draw blood.

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The Blue Jackets came away with a 4-3 overtime road win in game one on Thursday night.

He scored Tampa Bay's first goal and then recorded the primary assist on tallies by Tyler Johnson and rookie Yanni Gourde. Kuznetsov's goals 29 seconds apart are the fourth-fastest on the power play by the same player in Stanley Cup playoff history.

Sergei Bobrovsky was sharp in game one, turning aside 27 of 30 shots. While players such as Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand have upped the skill quotient amongst the forwards, it has also made the team less burly, and the Jackets have been pushed around on occasion.

Panarin finished with one goal and two assists, and Thomas Vanek added one goal and one assist. It's only fair to ask whether his workload down the stretch could have a burnout effect in the playoffs. Trotz gave Grubauer the nod over 2016 Vezina Trophy victor Braden Holtby to start Game 1 but said afterward he'd consider his goaltending options ahead of Game 2 Sunday in Washington. Grubauer has played like a No. 1 goalie this season, but he's basically a playoff novice. This group is not the high-risk, high-reward group that has failed in previous playoffs.

The Capitals, meanwhile, couldn't kill the penalties when they counted. Health, hot goaltending and the flukes of a low-scoring sport often mean more than who's wearing the dark sweaters. Doesn't sound like a recipe for success, but they haven't been able to get it done with offensive juggernauts in the past. Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in Tampa Bay.

Overcoming both an early 2-0 deficit and late 3-2 deficit, Artemi Panarin scored 6:02 into overtime to give the Blue Jackets a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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