Braden Holtby, Martin Erat lead Capitals to needed win over Columbus

With Washington off to a 2-5 start, coach Adam Oates made some changes before the Capitals’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Martin Erat wasted little time in making the adjustments pay off.

The right wing, moved from the fourth line to the second, assisted on three Washington goals and Braden Holtby made 37 saves in the Capitals’ 4-1 win.

Erat helped out on goals by new linemates Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich, as well as on a power-play tally by Alex Ovechkin.

“He was flying tonight,” Ovechkin said of Erat. “He was the best player on the ice for us tonight. He shows who he is.”

Joel Ward opened the scoring with a power-play goal for the Capitals, who snapped a two-game skid and finished their five-game homestand 2-3.

Coming off a 2-0 shutout Thursday against the Rangers, Oates dropped Mikhail Grabovski from the second line to the third and Eric Fehr from the third line to a part-time role on the fourth. Laich centered the second line, with Erat moving onto that group.

“You know what, Marty’s a good hockey player, has been in this league,” Oates said of Erat, a veteran who was acquired last year from Nashville but began the season on the fourth line and was scoreless coming in.

“We lost a couple in a row, we had to make some changes, and he stepped in there and played great for us.”

Erat began play with 53 points in 57 regular-season games against Columbus, his highest point total against any team, and continued to punish the Blue Jackets.

Afterward, he preferred to discuss the win rather than his increased ice time and performance.

“It’s nice to have a good game, but in the end it’s all about the wins, and we got the win and that is the bottom line,” he said.

Artem Anisimov spoiled Holtby’s shutout at 15:05 of the third.

“You can see how we play when he is on fire,” Ovechkin said of Holtby. “We have a lot of confidence, especially when he makes a big save and we can see he feels the puck.”

Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight.

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