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 defenceman Ryan Murray said the defence 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 totalled 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 defenceman 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 defenceman 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.
Joel Ward had a short-handed goal and Eric Fehr also scored for the Capitals, who had won two in a row after dropping seven straight.
"We were terrible," Washington coach Adam Oates said after his team fell behind 2-0 after a period. "It was probably the worst period I've seen the boys play in over a year. Why, I don't know. It was collectively all of us."
The Capitals were playing their fourth of a season-long five-game road trip that ends in Detroit on Friday night.
Moments after Bobrovsky gloved a power-play shot by Ovechkin, the Blue Jackets scored a short-handed goal.
MacKenzie pounced on a loose puck at centre ice and skated in from the left wing unimpeded, deking to get Braden Holtby down on the ice and then sliding the puck inside the near post.
Johansen then carried the puck up the ice on a break, pulled up to look for a teammate, and passed to Jack Johnson, who fired a slap shot from the right point. The puck caromed off Jenner and Johansen had a vacant net to tap in the rebound.
On goals by Dubinsky and Johansen's second, the Capitals were basically spectators, watching while they made moves and put the puck in the net.
The final 28 minutes was a succession of penalties. The damage had already been done.
"We lost some of our discipline and took too many penalties in the third period, got away from our game," Johansen said. "But we did a great job in the first and second periods."
Notes: Columbus LW Blake Comeau, still hurting from a sprained ligament in his left knee, was scratched. ... The game was eerily similar to a lopsided 5-1 Blue Jackets victory over the Caps on Jan. 18, also in Nationwide Arena.