COLUMBUS -- Blue Jackets All-Star defenseman Seth Jones said Sunday the team did not reward their home fans in this playoff series. They get one more chance Monday night in a do or die Game 6.
The Blue Jackets are trying to stave off elimination their Game 6 Monday (7:30 p.m., CNBC) after losing to the Capitals in overtime Saturday in Game 5. Four of the five games between Columbus and Washington have gone to OT compared to one total in the other seven first-round series.
â€œItâ€™s been a crazy series,â€ Capitals forward Brett Connolly said. â€œSo much is happening. Calls and OT â€” itâ€™s been fun. I think guys are enjoying it. Itâ€™s pretty nerve-wracking, but weâ€™re going to keep pushing forward here. We know we have a good team. They have a good team, as well. Itâ€™s not going to be easy.â€
Itâ€™s rarely easy for the Capitals, who are 2-5 in their past five chances to eliminate an opponent and 6-11 overall in those situations in the Alex Ovechkin era. Theyâ€™re also 2-5 over that time in Game 7 at home, which theyâ€™d like to avoid another incarnation of Wednesday.
This is the same situation Barry Trotzâ€™s team was in last year â€” an overtime-filled first-round series against Toronto â€” and it wrapped things up in six.
â€œIf you have a chance to eliminate a team, you have to have that killer instinct,â€ Trotz said. â€œYou have to have that ability to close out a team. And itâ€™s the toughest game to win because the other team is desperate. Their backs are against the wall. Theyâ€™re there. Theyâ€™re going to give their absolute max effort.â€
No one doubts max effort from the Blue Jackets or the Maple Leafs staring down elimination. Columbus outshot Washington 16-1 in the third period of Game 5, and while that kind of ice-tilting onslaught is unlikely, the Blue Jackets are going to try to push the pace and ratchet up the pressure on the Metropolitan Division champions after blowing a 2-0 series lead.
â€œThe belief in this room is incredible,â€ captain Nick Foligno said. â€œThereâ€™s no better motivation than what weâ€™re facing.â€
Tactically, the Blue Jackets need to cash in on the power play after going 0 for their past 13. Goaltender Braden Holtby and Washingtonâ€™s penalty kill have been the difference in the series.
â€œThe penalty kill has been a major factor for us in the last few games,â€ Trotz said. â€œI think as a group, theyâ€™ve all stepped up. I donâ€™t think I can single out anybody. Theyâ€™ve all stepped up. The penalty kill is as good as the five guys that you have, your four and your goaltender. Theyâ€™ve been very committed there.â€