The Blue Jackets appeared to have secured at least one point Tuesday night, but it slipped away in the final minute.
Left all alone, Nicklas Backstrom scored down low with 42.9 seconds left to deal the Blue Jackets a 3-2 loss at Nationwide Arena. T.J. Oshie slid Backstrom a backhand pass across the goal mouth, and Backstrom fired a shot under goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove.
The Jackets had tied the score on Brandon Dubinsky’s goal with 6:05 left on assists from Markus Nutivaara and Matt Calvert.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made the initial save as Dubinsky tried to shovel in the puck from the doorstep, but Dubinsky popped in his own rebound just inside the right post.
Dubinsky’s fourth goal of the season — and first in his past nine games — came after a Jackets power play ended without them recording one scoring chance or shot on goal.
The Jackets had fired away unsuccessfully to that point, scoring their lone goal less than two minutes into the game. Despite numerous opportunities, they fell behind 2-1 five minutes into the second period when Tom Wilson buried a backhand after Alexander Ovechkin fed him the puck in the slot with a dandy pass. Bobrovsky managed to keep his teammates close by making stellar saves on several other shots, including one by Andre Burakovsky from point-blank range.
The Jackets fired 17 shots on goal in the period, including one from Dean Kukan that rang off the post. But they couldn’t come up with their second goal against Holtby, who started the night 12-3-2 with a .914 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against average all-time against Columbus. The Jackets went into the dressing room for the second intermission with a 28-19 advantage in shots, but trailing.
For the second time in four games, David Savard gave the Jackets an early lead. Savard received a pass from Alexander Wennberg and ripped a straightaway shot from high above the circles that whizzed over Holtby’s head at 1:58.
Savard, whose fourth goal of the season was his second in four games, scored 1:16 into the game Jan. 30 against the Wild.
The Jackets’ lead lasted less than three minutes, though. After Nutivaara was sent to the penalty box for holding, Capitals defenseman John Carlson blasted a long shot past Bobrovsky, who appeared to be screened by his own defenseman, Seth Jones.
Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov assisted on the power-play goal at 4:54, which was the eighth surrendered by the Jackets’ penalty kill in the past 12 chances for opponents. The Jackets have given up a power-play goal in six consecutive games and seven of the past eight.
Both goalies made several key saves to keep the score tied at 1 heading into the first intermission. The high-intensity period featured a fight at center ice between Josh Anderson and the Capitals’ Tom Wilson, who bested Anderson in the bout. Both players received a five-minute major.
The Jackets started the second period with a man-advantage after Backstrom was penalized for holding the stick with three seconds left in the first.
The Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals came into the game with 65 points, seven more than the fourth-place Jackets, who had lost three consecutive games and four of their past five.
Steve Gorten is a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch.