Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 54 saves in the victory of Game 2. (AP Photo / Nick Wass)
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals
Series: Columbus leads 2-0
7:30 p.m. ET, Capital One Arena
• Matt Calvert scored in overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets their second overtime win in the series and push the Washington Capitals to desperation mode, a familiar feeling for a franchise known for spectacular regular seasons and shortcomings in the playoffs. ( Read more)
• Main conclusions: for loose capitals, the pressure is activated. (Read more)
• Alex Ovechkin was not happy with his game in Game 1. (Read more)
• Washington knows that it has to be better, but the team was not overreacting to its first loss in games. playoffs . (Read more)
By Isabelle Khurshudyan
The fans stopped, waited and looked at the scoreboard to learn the fate of their team. The Washington Capitals sat on the bench while officials gathered around an iPad with headphones. Then the referee skidded to center field and delivered the unfortunate news from Washington. Matt Calvert's goal was at stake, and that meant the Capitals had lost, 5-4, in Game 2 of their first round of the Stanley Cup series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Now Washington is in a 0-2 series hole, having lost both home games with the next two at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus. For the second consecutive game, the capitals squandered a two-goal lead. For the second consecutive game, Washington fell in overtime. For the fourth season in a row, the team is now on the verge of another post-season disappointment that ends before the conference finals.
The Capitals have played eight first-round games in the past two seasons, and seven of them have gone to overtime, the version of a hockey coin change that causes ulcers. For the second time in two games this series, Capital One Arena announced that Metro would close soon as the two teams returned to the locker room for an extra period. When Calvert scored on a 12:22 rebound in the overtime period, the fans went home unhappy again.
The sand was a cacophony of cowbells, chants, horns and moans Sunday night, but the Capitals could remember more. Three days after the team wasted a two-goal lead because it took too many penalties, it blew a two-goal lead because it took too many penalties. But after Columbus went ahead in the second period, the Blue Jackets did Washington a favor and were called for three minor penalties in the third.
In the third power-game attempt of the period, the Capitals finally broke through tying the game. T.J. Oshie beat goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot with 3:35 in regulation. Bobrovsky had saved a whopping 20 shots in the period, but Oshie's finally made the difference. The goal marked the third count of Washington's game advantage and fifth in the series. Unfortunately for the capitals, they had renounced almost as many as to be in a second extension in the same amount of games.
Apparently they did not learn the lesson in the 4-3 defeat in overtime on Thursday against the Blue Jackets, the capitals were again stung by their own lack of discipline. After Josh Anderson reduced Washington's second period advantage to a five-on-two goal against Philipp Grubauer, captain Tom Wilson was summoned for a chase after a skirmish after the whistle against the net from Washington. The call was necessary, and although the home fans booed, it did not stop being so. In Game 1 of the series, the Blue Jackets had tied the game with Wilson in the box. They did the same on Sunday night, with Cam Atkinson scoring his second goal of the game in the power play to put the 3-3.
Then, with 2:20 remaining in the second period, Devante Smith-Pelly went to the box to hold the club, and Zach Werenski's point in the power game beat Grubauer to lift the Blue Jackets to an advantage of 4-3 before the second intermission. For the second consecutive game, Washington had squandered two different chances of two goals. Grubauer had allowed four goals in 22 shots, and when the team left the tunnel for the third period, it was goalkeeper Braden Holtby who led the way.
Grubauer had overtaken Holtby in the final stretch of the season, so despite the German having only one start in the playoffs, coach Barry Trotz chose him as a starter before the series. But after the Blue Jackets had scored four goals on Thursday and then another four to 40 minutes on Sunday, it was hard to ignore that a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist and prize winner in 2016 was sitting on the bench with 59 games of experience of postseason. While The Capitals killed Matt Niskanen tripping a minor under four minutes in overtime, the fans sang "Holt-by, Holt-by."
The Capitals preached calm after their overtime loss in Game 1. They were frustrated with the way they had allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the game with less than five minutes remaining in regulation due to their costly mistakes , but they were not scared by the first game of the series either. Washington had lost to center-line Jay Beagle in the first game, especially since the Capitals lost 10 of 11 draws in defensive play in the third period. Beagle, who missed Game 1 for an "upper body injury," is the capitals' only right center, and his 58.5 percentage in the regular season was the fourth best in the NHL.
"Jay is one of those guys who probably will not value it as much until they do not have it," Trotz said on Saturday. "As a coach, I have a lot of value for him, but only the usual fan or the common people, Jay Beagle does not increase the numbers, but he gives you everything he has."
Beagle also gave The Capitals an unexpected offensive lift on Sunday. Deflected the shot of defender Brooks Orpik to the net at 2:12 of the game. That marked Beagle's seventh goal in 63 goals in the playoffs. Washington then extended its league with a family source of offense. After Atkinson was called for goalie interference, the capitals power game was taken advantage of with a single shot from Alex Ovechkin from his optimum point in the left circle.
Ovechkin was disappointed with his game in Thursday's game, too quiet for the NHL's top scorer during the regular season. His first goal in the power play on Sunday gave Washington a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute of the game, which is the same cushion that the Capitals had in Game 1 before it evaporated in the third period.
The Blue Jackets do not even need that long Sunday. Atkinson placed himself behind defender Dmitry Orlov on a break, patiently waiting for Gruabuer to put the puck into the small gap between Grubauer's skate and the goal. That was 2-1 after the first period, but Ovechkin came back with another vintage shot from the left circle in the power play.
Ultimately, it was another advantage of two goals that the team squandered.
The pressure is on
The feeling was that the Capitals felt lazy at the start of these playoffs, unperturbed by the mistakes of the playoffs of the past and ready for a new beginning. Now, through two games, the ghosts that have chased the capitals for the past 10 years have emerged from the ice, they have hit all the players and admirers within Capital One Arena by the head and shoulders and they laughed much earlier to board a charter flight to Columbus, Ohio.
The Washington Capitals, the best team in the Metropolitan Division for the third regular season in a row, drag the Columbus Blue Jackets jokers in two games to none, as the series switches to Buckeye's country for Game 2.
The Caps have often been seen as the top team in most of the first two games, and yet, they have come out in the short twice after untimely mental lapses, a lack of mind-boggling discipline on the penal front and studly performances of goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets (54 saves on Sunday).
If Washington is finally the author of a new ending to his brand-new playoff starts, he has a daunting task in the immediate future against a talented and opportunistic Columbus team. Fans in Ohio seem to be in a good mood since the Blue Jackets now have a great chance of winning their first playoff series in franchise history, and a hit in a four-game series as well.
Extending misery  One of the most irritating parts of the capital's recent struggles in the postseason is not only the last disappointing result, it's that Washington has been this close to come out in front of so many of these closed games.