Capitals tie series with Game 4 win, fulfilling Ovechkin’s prediction
COLUMBUS, Ohio Alex “Nostradamus” Ovechkin nailed his prediction. The Washington Capitals will bring their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series back to Capital One Arena tied 2-2.
His statement earlier this week “We’re going to come home for Game 5, and for Game 5 it’s going to be tied” doesn’t have the same ring to it as Joe Namath’s historic “We’re going to win Sunday, I guarantee it.” But right is right.
Ovechkin’s even-strength goal early in the third period put the game out of reach for Columbus, and the Capitals won the first game of this series to conclude in regulation, 4-1, Thursday night at Nationwide Arena.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had an empty-net goal and two assists, Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie also scored and Braden Holtby made 23 saves.
Both sides missed on some chances early in the first period, but Washington opened scoring (as they’ve done every game this series) on a bizarre play.
John Carlson and Chandler Stephenson had a 2-on-1 rush, and after Carlson’s initial shot was stoned, Stephenson nearly curled the puck in behind Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Thomas Vanek was there to fall on it and swatted it out wide, but Kuznetsov was there to pass it to Wilson for a one-timer near the blue line.
Panarin was called for his second penalty of the night 8:49 into the second for slashing Kuznetsov, and when Bobrovsky stopped a close shot from Ovechkin on the power play, Oshie scored easily on the putback.
Though fans might have panicked that the Capitals would blow another lead, as they did in the first three contests of the series, Ovechkin put them up three goals three minutes into the third. Kuznetsov dug out a pass from behind the net to Ovechkin, in the right circle, for a short wrister.
Boone Jenner got his stick on a Josh Anderson shot a few minutes later to ruin Holtby’s chance at a shutout. On the other end, Bobrovsky’s 29 saves kept the game from becoming a blowout.