COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom’s 200th NHL goal was a game-winner.
Backstrom got a desperation, cross-ice pass from T.J. Oshie and beat Sergei Bobrovsky with 43 seconds left to lift the Washington Capitals over the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Brandon Dubinsky tied the score for Columbus late in the third period and the game appeared headed to overtime before a wide-open Backstrom snapped in a shot from the bottom of the right circle.
“Oshie picked it up and fed me back door,” said Backstrom, who got his 12th goal and 40th point of the season.
The goal capped a game in which Columbus was the dominant team on offense, outshooting the Capitals 39-25. But the Blue Jackets squandered four power plays, two of them late in the final period.
Braden Holtby made 37 saves, and John Carlson and Tom Wilson added goals as Washington rallied to break a two-game skid and hang onto first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Backstrom gave the credit to Holtby.
“In the third there where we needed him the most, he really stepped up and showed why he’s the best goalie in the league,” Backstrom said. “That’s just the way he is. When you need him the most, that’s when he steps up.”
Bobrovsky had 22 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four in a row and nine of 11. They’re still in playoff contention, but so are all the teams in the division.
“A kick in the stomach,” coach John Tortorella said. “That one hurts.”
Washington (31-17-5) won the first leg of a home-and-home this week with Columbus (27-22-4).
David Savard got his fourth goal of the season 1:58 into the game with a rocket from the high slot that beat Holtby.
It took the Caps only about three minutes to even the score, taking advantage of one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the NHL. Carlson got his eighth of the season on a power play with a hard one-timer from beyond the right circle.
Wilson gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second. Skating fast into the slot, he got a crisp pass from Alex Ovechkin and tapped a backhand between Bobrovsky’s pads before the goalie could get all the way down to the ice.
On the other end, Holtby was solid. The Blue Jackets outshot Washington 17-7 in the second period. They went hard to the net repeatedly but were unable to get the puck to bounce their way.
Holtby kept them in it, and Backstrom won it.
“That was more of the playoff, determined feel that we want from our hockey club, and the way we want to play the game,” Oshie said. “They tied it up late and no one (hung) their head. We lined up for the next faceoff and away we went. It’s a good feeling to have.”
Tortorella said he liked the way his team played and sees signs that it is coming around.
“We just have to keep our composure and keep on finding our game, because our game is coming,” he said. “I think we’re close.”
NOTES: Josh Anderson and Wilson threw off their gloves and slugged each other briefly until Anderson went to the ice in the first period. Both got five minutes in the box. … Backstrom is the fifth player in Washington history to reach 200 goals … Evgeny Kuznetsov, with a secondary assist on Wilson’s goal, has seven points in the last five games. … D Taylor Chorney and forward Chandler Stephenson were scratches for the Capitals. … The Blue Jackets scratched D Scott Harrington and forward Markus Hannikainen.
Capitals: Hosts Columbus on Friday.
Blue Jackets: At Washington on Friday.