Three Things: All-Star Johnny Hockey Lights The Lamp, Merzlikins Back In The Net, Second Period Pitfall

By Will Chase on January 5, 2023 at 10:10 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Mathieu Olivier scrums with members of the Washington Capitals in the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The streak continues.

T.J. Oshie scored twice, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Martin Fehervary, Garnet Hathaway, and Alex Ovechkin each scored for the Washington Capitals who beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-2, on Thursday from Nationwide Arena.

Ovechkin's goal is his 29th of the season and the 809th of his career as he trails Wayne Gretzky by 85 for first on the all-time goals list. He's on a four-game point streak (seven goals).

Dylan Strome had three assists and Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists. Nick Jensen, Dmitry Orlov, Alexander Alexeyev, Anthony Mantha, and Aliaksei Protas each had assists. Kuznetsov is on a seven-game point streak (two goals, nine assists). Mantha is on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists).

Johnny Gaudreau and Gavin Bayreuther scored for the Blue Jackets. Emil Bemstrom had two assists. Adam Boqvist also picked up an assist.

Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 31 shots.

Columbus is 4-13-1 since Thanksgiving and 1-9-0 in their last 10 games as they drop their second in a row.

All-Star Johnny Hockey Lights The Lamp

The Blue Jackets' leading scorer is Gaudreau and he's now the team's co-leader with Boone Jenner for goals with 11.

Scoring his first goal in 10 games—the first since Dec. 11 against the Los Angeles Kings—Gaudreau gave Columbus the early 1-0 lead at 5:19. Bemstrom stayed hot with the assist. He added a second assist on Bayreuther's second-period goal—the first goal of the year—at 12:59 to tie the game at two. Bemstrom has four points in his last four games (two goals, two assists).

A second goal by Bayreuther in the third period was taken off the board due to a successful off-sides challenge by Peter Laviolette in the third period.

Aside from that goal by Gaudreau in the first, the Blue Jackets went without a shot attempt from the 11:05 mark until just over 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

During the first-period intermission on the ESPN broadcast, it was announced Gaudreau will be an All-Star for the seventh time in his career, representing the Metropolitan Division. Ovechkin was also officially named an All-Star for the 13th time.

For the game, Gaudreau had one goal, three shots, and one blocked shot in 15:02. Bayreuther had one goal, one shot, two blocked shots, one hit, and one takeaway in 17:20. Bemstrom was +1 with two assists in 13:03.  

Merzlikins Back In The Net

Merzlikins made his first start since Dec. 13. It went just like most of his other starts this season.

The Capitals scored four times in the second period, Oshie added his second goal of the game in the third period, and Ovechkin scored to secure the 6-2 win.

Per MoneyPuck, Merzlikins' goals saved above expected was -2.27. He's yielded at least three goals in every start this season, not including the Nov. 15 win over the Philadelphia Flyers when he let in two and did not finish the game due to injury.

Merzlikins is 4-8-0, 4.68 GAA, 864 SV%.

Second Period Pitfall

After a decent first period that saw the Blue Jackets skate off with a 1-0 lead, the Capitals dominated in the second period, which they typically do.

Scoring four times in the middle frame to lead 4-2 after two, the Capitals came into the game with 53 goals second-period goals, tied for the most with the Seattle Kraken. Their second-period goal differential of +19 heading into the day was second-best in the league behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With Thursday's win, the Capitals improve to 8-0-1 when leading after two periods on the road and 16-2-3 overall.

Hurricane Warning

The Blue Jackets face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 4:00 pm ET at Nationwide Arena. The Hurricanes fell to the Nashville Predators, 5-3, on Thursday in Raleigh.