Columbus Blue Jackets’ Boone Jenner, center, interferes with Washington Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby, bottom, as Capitals’ Karl Azner waits for the rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. Jenner was penalized for the interference. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Cam Atkinson scored two goals and Sergei Bobrovsky continued his hot streak to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.
The Capitals, who got a goal from John Carlson, have lost four in a row and 11 of 15.
Ryan Johansen added a goal and assist, James Wisniewski had a goal, Mark Letestu scored for the fifth time in six games and Jack Johnson had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who had lost their past five meetings with Washington.
The victory moved the Blue Jackets to two points out of playoff position with at least one game in hand on every team ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division and wild-card playoff races.
Bobrovsky, who came in 5-0-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage in his past five starts, had 26 saves. He stood tall to frustrate the Capitals when the game was still up for grabs.
The Capitals came in tied with Pittsburgh for the best power-play unit in the league. But it was the Blue Jackets who scored twice with a man advantage.
At 12:08 of the first, Wisniewski one-timed a hard drive from the point that climbed over Philipp Grubauer’s glove. It was Wisniewski’s first power-play goal and fourth tally of the season.
In the final minute of the opening period, the Blue Jackets crowded the nets and benefited.
Matt Calvert got two whacks at the puck from the crease, Grubauer deflecting each. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov then whiffed on an attempt to clear the puck, with Atkinson hopping on it to lift the puck into the net over a diving Grubauer for his 14th of the season.
The Blue Jackets stretched it to 3-0 at 1:44 of the second. R.J. Umberger carried the puck through the neutral zone and then pulled up in the right corner, sending a pass to the high slot for Johansen. He slid laterally, waiting for an opening, before wristing a shot for his team-high 18th of the season.
Grubauer was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots, replaced by Braden Holtby.
The Capitals got on the board at 8:53 on what appeared to be an innocent shot.
Carlson’s shot from near the blue line that took a while to get to the net, but it still beat Bobrovsky. It was the defenseman’s eighth goal of the season.
The Blue Jackets killed off two Washington power plays late in the second period, including 18 seconds when the Capitals had a 5 on 3 advantage.
Bobrovsky was at his best during this stretch. He twice stymied Russian Olympic teammate Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading scorer with 34 goals, on power-play shots — once on a one-timer from the left dot and a second time when the Columbus defense broke down and the three-time goal-scoring champ was all alone on a shot that Bobrovsky deflected wide off his catcher.
Columbus then added two goals in the third. Letestu wired a wrister inside the near post past Holtby on the power play. Then Atkinson used his skate to settle a hard pass from close range, spun and whipped a quick shot into the net from the high slot — 3 seconds after the end of an Ovechkin penalty.
Notes: Washington C Brooks Laich played in his 600th NHL game. … It was Columbus’ Todd Richards 300th game as an NHL head coach. … The Blue Jackets have been off since Monday, while the Capitals were playing their third game in four days. … Columbus had a pair of five-game win streaks in last year’s shortened season.