|4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, April 12, 2018
Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia Attendance: 18,506
Caps, Jackets roll into playoffs on hot streaks
Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals
- Columbus finished up the campaign with a mark of 13-2-2 (.824) in its last 17 contests -- the best record of any team in hockey from March 4 to the end of the regular season. The Blue Jackets are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.
- Washington went 12-3-0 in its last 15 games of the regular season, securing its fourth straight, and seventh 100+ point campaign since 2008-09 -- tied for most in the league. The Caps have won each of their last three first-round series (beat Islanders in 2015, Flyers in 2016 and Maple Leafs in 2017).
- The Capitals took three of four meetings with the Blue Jackets during the regular season, including winning both tilts at Capital One Arena. Dating to January 5 last season, Washington has won four straight home games vs. Columbus, outscoring the Jackets by a combined 14-6 in those victories.
- Artemi Panarin finished up the regular season with five straight multi-point performances, totaling 13 points (2G, 11A) in those contests. Panarin, who has two goals and six helpers in 11 career postseason skates, recorded 29 points (9G, 20A) in his last 16 games of 2017-18 -- tied with Connor McDavid for most points of any NHL player from March 4 to the end of the campaign.
- Alex Ovechkin had four markers during his three-game goal-scoring streak to end the regular season, finishing the year with 49 goals, and winning his seventh career Rocket Richard Trophy. Ovechkin has a franchise-record 46 career postseason markers.
- The Blue Jackets have lost each of their three postseason series all-time, posting an overall record of 3-12-0 in those games. Columbus is one of just three NHL clubs that has not won a playoff series since 2000-01 (Panthers and Thrashers/Jets are the others).
- Caps top Jackets again, even series at 2
- Bruins beat Maple Leafs to take 3-1 lead
- Doughty, Hedman, Subban up for Norris
- Pens hope to close out desperate Flyers
- Jets try to eliminate Wild in Game 5
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets are rolling into Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with goaltenders who are question marks for different reasons.
For Columbus (45-30-7, first Eastern Conference wild card), Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of the league's top goaltenders but has not carried that success into the postseason.
Washington's Philipp Grubauer, who got the nod from coach Barry Trotz for Game 1 over Braden Holtby, has just 79 minutes of playoff experience on his resume.
"I just think (Grubauer) deserves the opportunity," Trotz told thesportscapital.com of going with Grubauer in Game 1. "Trust me, it wasn't an easy decision."
Grubauer, who stepped in when Holtby was given a "reset" after slumping in February and March, finished with a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average. Trotz rotated the pair down the stretch, but Grubauer started 10 of the final 17 games.
"It's a privilege to start, for sure," Grubauer told the Washington Post. "You treat it as Game 1 (of the regular season) or Game 82. It's not going to change any of my approach."
Trotz said he will go game-by-game in his goaltending decisions.
"It's a coach's decision who plays or not," Holtby told the Post. "It doesn't have anything to do with me. So, I just focus on one practice at a time and try to be a positive influence on the team and go from there."
Grubauer is 0-1-1 in three games with a 2.48 GAA and .915 save percentage against the Blue Jackets. Holtby is 14-4-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Bobrovsky was 37-22-6 in the regular season with 2.42 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
In the playoffs, he is 3-10 with a 3.63 GAA and .887 save percentage.
This is the first playoff meeting between the teams, but in his career versus Washington, Bobrovsky is 7-10-4 with a 3.02 GAA and .900 save percentage.
"We have full confidence in his abilities," Columbus captain Nick Foligno to the team's website regarding Bobrovsky. "If I had to pick anybody in the league to go to the playoffs with, it would be him. And I think he's pretty confident about the team in front of him as well."
Washington took three of four from Columbus this season, but the Blue Jackets won the last meeting 5-1 on Feb. 26. Holtby was in goal for all four games.
The Capitals didn't win their third straight Presidents' Trophy but they beat expectations. Despite losing a chunk of its offense, Washington again won the Metropolitan Division and closed the season 8-2-0.
Alex Ovechkin rebounded from last season's 33-goal effort to lead the NHL with 49. Evgeny Kuznetsov totaled 11 goals and 17 assists in the final 18 games, and defenseman John Carlson led all blue-liners with 68 points.
Columbus led the NHL in scoring over its final 28 games with 101 goals and finished on a 10-2-2 streak.
Artemi Panarin led the Blue Jackets with 27 goals and 82 points. Cam Atkinson has 24 goals, including 11 in the final 11 games.
Top defensive pair Seth Jones and Zach Werenski each scored 16 goals, tying the franchise record for most goals by a defenseman in one season.
Washington has the edge in special teams, with the league's seventh-ranked power play (22.5 percent success rate) and 15th-rated penalty kill (80.3 percent).
Columbus is 25th on the power pay (17.2 percent) and 26th on the penalty kill (76.2 percent).
"It's been inconsistent this year," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told the team's website regarding the penalty kill. "I'm not going to hide from that. You get into playoffs, just try to wipe the slate clean and get about your business here. We can focus in on their tendencies. That's a big part of the series.
"Hopefully, we're smart enough that we keep control of ourselves, our emotions, we're a disciplined team and not sitting in that box a whole bunch in this series."
Updated April 11, 2018