The Washington Capitals cut the series lead to win with a thrilling double overtime win over the Blue Jackets, but who will take control of the series in Game 4?
The series between the Metropolitan Division champion Washington Capitals and wild-card Columbus Blue Jackets has already been a wild and memorable one, but the fun hasn’t even begun just yet with Game 4 around the corner.
Game 3 was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, and it marked the third straight overtime between the two teams. Those 80 minutes weren’t even enough to decide a winner, so the game ended up going to a second overtime. Eventually, Brett Connolly took a shot that bounced through Sergei Bobrovsky, off the ankle of Lars Eller and into the back of the net to cut the Blue Jackets’ series lead in half.
Braden Holtby returned to full form in Game 3 and bailed the Capitals out for a majority of the game, and that is spectacular news for Washington. They took a justified risk in playing Philipp Grubauer is Games 1 and 2, but it didn’t pay off and they found themselves down 2-0 in the series as a result of missing those big saves when they needed them. With Holtby in net, every time the Capitals shot themselves in the foot the puck didn’t end up in the back of the net.
The Capitals’ performance was far from perfect, but they got the job done. Now they need everybody to step up to steal another game in Columbus to take control of the series before going back home for Game 5.
The Blue Jackets cannot allow themselves to be discouraged by that loss, no matter how frustrating. Much like Games 1 and 2, the better team in the game was beaten in overtime on home ice off the back of spectacular goaltending, and Columbus still has a chance to all but bury Washington with a win in Game 4. Artemi Panarin has been nothing short of sensational this series, and Columbus needs a bit more help from the rest of the lineup to regain momentum and earn a chance to close out this series in Game 5.
Whoever wins this game takes full control of the series, so expect a bloody back-and-forth game with so much on the line. In the battle of attrition that this series has been, the team that is able to recover more efficiently from the grueling Game 3 will immediately put themselves at a significant advantage to take Game 4.
The Capitals have a newfound confidence after stealing Game 3 with Braden Holtby back in net, and sometimes that’s all this team needs. When they’re on their game, it will take near flawless performance to beat them. The Blue Jackets will either crumble or come out extra motivated after the loss in Game 3, but head coach John Tortarella already talking about exhaustion with them is not a comforting sign.
The Capitals have gotten production from their bottom six players so far, and it’s time for the stars to step up their game. Nicklas Backstrom is due for a big night, and and Holtby will carry the Capitals to evening this series up at two games a piece.
Game 4 Prediction: Capitals defeat Blue Jackets 4-2