COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ryan Johansen has become the young Columbus Blue Jackets’ most promising player.
Johansen scored twice and Derek MacKenzie, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson also had goals to lead the Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, ending a three-game losing skid.
“I felt like I had the puck on my stick the whole night,” said the 21-year-old, whose goal total now matches his age.
The Capitals looked sluggish and slow the whole night.
Alex Ovechkin — leading the NHL with 38 goals — had a career low minus-5 rating, according to STATS.
“I was today the worst player out there,” he said after registering as many shots (2) as penalty minutes. “I can’t play like that. I have to bounce back. … I feel bad for my team because I have to lead. But today I was bad.”
Columbus rookie defenseman Ryan Murray said the defense keyed on Ovechkin.
“We were really isolating him on that side of the power play and just kind of blocking all the seams so they couldn’t get pucks to him,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets were very good.
Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin each had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who had totaled six goals in the losing streak. MacKenzie opened the scoring with a short-handed goal and seemed to light a fire under the Blue Jackets. Dubinsky had an assist to go with his goal. And Sergei Bobrovsky had 30 saves, 19 of them coming in the ragged, penalty-filled final period.
“It was a huge win for the guys,” coach Todd Richards said. “We challenged them this afternoon, (saying we were) needing more from individuals. We got that tonight.”
Each team was 0 for 7 on the power play in a chippy, physical game that saw Washington defenseman Mike Green pounded into the boards on a check by Boone Jenner in the first period. He did not return. The Capitals‘ Tom Wilson also laid out Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin, which seemed to add some edge to his teammates.
The Blue Jackets tied a franchise mark by scoring at least three goals in each game of a team-record eight-game winning streak but had mustered just two per game in the three losses since. Meanwhile, the Capitals had scored 10 goals in winning their last two games.
“We scored in different ways,” Richards said. “We had a short-handed goal that gave our team some life. Then Joey (Johansen) stepped up. He had a big game.”
Yet Columbus roared to a 4-0 lead and never looked back.