EditorsNote: rewords fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 13th grafs
Mark Letestu scored in his return to the Columbus Blue Jackets and helped pave the way for a key 5-1 victory over the visiting Washington Capitals at Nationwide Arena on Monday night.
Letestu, who previously played for Columbus from 2011 to 2015, was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday to provide depth at center.
The Blue Jackets also picked up forward Thomas Vanek from Vancouver and defenseman Ian Cole from Ottawa just hours prior to the trade deadline. Vanek was a scratch but Cole was in the lineup against Washington.
Alex Ovechkin, who appeared in his franchise-record 984th game, had a first-period goal, his NHL-leading 39th on the season. He is now just three goals away from reaching 600 for his career. He could join Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull to reach that milestone before his 1,000th career regular-season game.
The Blue Jackets set the early tone and led 4-1 in the opening period on goals by Artemi Panarin, Sonny Milano, Letestu and Seth Jones. Columbus entered the game ranked 30th on the power play, but both Panarin and Jones scored on man-advantage opportunities.
The teams got into a scuffle at the first-period horn, and Ovechkin was shaken up when he was hit in the face by Matt Calvert, leaving blood on the ice. Following a discussion by the officials, Calvert was called for a match penalty for the infraction.
Ovechkin and Columbus coach John Tortorella exchanged words just before the intermission.
After the first period, Philipp Grubauer replaced Braden Holtby in goal for the Capitals and Ovechkin was back on the ice in a scoreless second period. Holtby saved 12 of the 16 shots he faced. Grubauer didn’t allow a goal on 18 shots.
The Blue Jackets sealed the win with a short-handed, empty-net goal by cam Atkinson with 2:42 left in the game.
Despite the victory, Columbus has won just five of 13 games over the past month. The Blue Jackets hope the recent acquisitions will be a boost to their playoff run.
Meanwhile, the Capitals did not make any moves because they did not want to part with any of their draft picks or young talent.
Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 25 saves for Columbus, which had lost both of the previous meetings with Washington this season.
Jones had two assists and tied a career high with three points. Atkinson also notched three points.
—Field Level Media