Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will look to even their first-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets at one game apiece tonight when the teams meet in Game 2 at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital (7:00 PM ET).
Despite dropping Game 1 on home ice (4-3 OT), the Caps opened as -150 favorites for Game 2, while the over/under is at 5.5.
|BLUE JACKETS (+136)||BLUE JACKETS +1.5 (-225)||OVER 5.5 (+110)|
|CAPITALS (-150)||CAPITALS -1.5 (+195)||UNDER 5.5 (-121)|
The Caps looked to have Game 1 in hand early, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first during a five-minute man-advantage. But Columbus got the all-important third goal, Sergei Bobrovsky started to stand on his head, and Artemi Panarin provided exactly what the Jackets were hoping for when they traded Brandon Saad for him: an injection of pure, sublime, at times unstoppable skill, something Columbus has been lacking since the Rick Nash days.
The 26-year-old Russian set up the game-tying goal late in the third and then won it early in OT after walking Dmitry Orlov at the blue line.
Goaltending wound up being the difference in the game. Some questioned Barry Trotz’s decision to start Phillippe Grubauer over Braden Holtby. Even though the former was better during the regular season, the latter has more playoff experience and, despite his team’s lack of playoff success, excellent postseason numbers.
Key Injuries & Absences
|Jay Beagle: Uncertain (UBI)||Lukas Sedlak: Out (head)|
|Travis Boyd: Uncertain||Alexander Wennberg: Uncertain (UBI)|
|Michael Kempny: Uncertain (UBI)|
|49-26-7 (28-11-2 Home)||REGULAR-SEASON RECORD||45-30-7 (19-18-4 Away)|
|+20 (T 11th)||GOAL DIFFERENCE (LEAGUE RANK)||+12 (14th)|
|3.15 GPG (T 9th)||GF/GAME||2.95 GPG (16th)|
|2.91 GAA (15th)||GA/GAME||2.81 GAA (10th)|
|47.35% (28th)||FENWICK %||52.21% (7th)|
|22.5% (5th)||POWER PLAY %||17.2% (25th)|
|80.3% (15th)||PENALTY KILL %||76.2% (26th)|
|.909% (T 13th)||TEAM SV%||.912% (T 9th)|
Betting Results & Trends*
|Lost 1||WIN/LOSS STREAK||Won 1|
|Over 4||OVER/UNDER STREAK||Over 7|
*All statistics date back to regular season.
If Washington was turning to Holtby, they would be the pick here. But Trotz is sticking with Grubauer, who was shaky in Game 1 and has faced a grand total of 57 playoff shots in his six-year career. Bobrovsky is a bit of a question mark, himself, but he was phenomenal in Game 1, all things considered, and Columbus should have the edge in net.
That’s enough to roll with the underdog in what’s likely to be another one-goal game between evenly matched teams.