April 20, 2018 / 2:34 AM / a year ago

Kuznetsov, Caps pull even with Blue Jackets

EditorsNote: adds Holtby, Tortorella quotes

Evgeny Kuznetsov finished with a goal and two assists while Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson each had a goal and one assist as the visiting Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 Thursday night in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The Capitals evened the series at 2-2 after losing the first two games in overtime at Washington. The series shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.

The visiting team has won all four games.

The Capitals got goals from Wilson in the first period, T.J. Oshie in the second and Ovechkin and Kuznetsov in the third.

Goalie Braden Holtby made his second consecutive start after Philipp Grubauer started the first two games. Holtby again gave Washington a solid performance, making 23 saves.

Holtby said, according to the Washington Post, “There was no other option (than winning both games in Columbus). Our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, and that’s what we viewed as our best chance after losing the first two. We’ve been a confident group all year — I think that’s been our strongest asset — so I don’t think we’ve ever doubted ourselves.”

The Capitals helped Holtby by playing consistent defense throughout, much better than in the first three games and especially in five-on-five situations. Washington blocked 20 shots, and Columbus was not able to find as many scoring chances as it did in Games 1, 2 and 3.

That is a big reason why Washington held a 33-24 edge in shots and controlled the pace of play.

“We weren’t good. There’s no sense asking me things about the game,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “I’m telling you, we laid an egg, so I’m not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked. So let’s move by it and see if we play better Saturday afternoon.”

The Capitals scored the first goal for the fourth consecutive game. Wilson got it at 6:16 of the first period by ripping a shot past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky from near the blue line after Washington nearly scored moments before.

Oshie made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:19 of the second period after shots from John Carlson and Ovechkin. Oshie grabbed the rebound of the Ovechkin shot and put it away from in front.

Carlson, a defenseman, has seven assists in the first four games of the series.

Ovechkin scored at 2:49 of the third period from the right side to extend Washington’s lead to 3-0.

Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets 6:22 into the third, cutting the deficit to 3-1, before Kuznetsov struck for an empty-net goal with 2:19 left.

—Field Level Media

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