Washington, it is. With the loss in Nashville, the Blue Jackets will face the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs in Washington, D.C. With a skeleton crew, the Jackets took on the NHL-best Nashville Predators, but fell by a score of 4-2, ensuring they'll take on the Caps.
Here are five thoughts from the loss:
Bring on Washington:
Columbus didn't dress a team that expected to win, and it worked out that they'll miss Pittsburgh in the first round. Despite Washington's failings, we're still talking about a team that has won two Presidents' Trophies and has elite talent. The Jackets may have missed Crosby, but they drew Ovechkin.
The Blue Jackets didn't play many of their top players, including Seth Jones, Artemi Panarin, and Sergei Bobrovsky. Still, they fought back from a two-goal deficit to bring it to 3-2. A Filip Forsberg hat-trick made it 4-2, but give credit to a young squad for playing a full 60 minutes.
Stay out of the box
Taking penalties is frowned upon, but it's about time the Jackets figured that out. They gave up another two power play goals to the Predators, just one game after giving up two more to the Penguins.
It won't get easier. The Capitals' power play is legendary, with Alexander Ovechkin manning a one-timer spot, and the Jackets will need to minimize the opportunities they give to the Capitals if they hope to have a chance.
The Blue Jackets have never faced the Washington Capitals in the playoffs, but it will be nice for Sergei Bobrovsky to face players not named Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel.
The Capitals are infamous for not getting to the promised land, and the Blue Jackets have a real opportunity to continue that legacy.
I'm going to be honest for a moment. This game meant little to me, aside from getting out unscathed (from an injury standpoint). The Jackets losing a key cog in a somewhat meaningless game could have been detrimental. They dodged that bullet, which is nice. They'll need all hands on deck facing a division-winning team.