Capitals outlast Blue Jackets 4-3, earn fourth straight win

Aliaksei Protas and Hendrix Lapierre each collected a goal and two assists to fuel the host Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Washington’s Sonny Milano scored and set up a goal against his former team. Superstar captain Alex Ovechkin also tallied and Charlie Lindgren made 33 saves for the Capitals, who have won a season-high four in a row and improved to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau celebrated playing in his 700th career game by scoring a goal early in the second period. Defenseman Ivan Provorov and Justin Danforth also scored, and Elvis Merzlikins turned aside 22 shots for the Blue Jackets, who have lost eight straight games (0-6-2) and 12 of their last 13 games (1-8-4).

Columbus captain Boone Jenner notched an assist in a contest that saw him become the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (675), surpassing Rick Nash.

Protas converted a rush to give Washington a 2-1 lead with 6:44 remaining in the second period. Protas’ goal was his second of the season.

Ovechkin doubled the advantage just over 2 1/2 minutes later by converting Dylan Strome’s nifty backhanded feed for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Provorov’s first goal of the season halved the deficit at 7:01 of the third period. Lapierre, however, regained the two-goal advantage with a backhand shot on a partial breakaway for his first goal 6 1/2 minutes later.

Danforth scored to trim Washington’s lead to 4-3 with 4:12 remaining. Columbus, however, was unable to net the equalizer.

Gaudreau unleashed a blast from the high slot that sailed past Lindgren to open the scoring at 3:27 of the second period. Gaudreau’s goal was the second of the season and first with a goaltender in net.

The slim advantage didn’t last long as Milano beat Merzlikins with a sharp-angle shot from along the goal line at 5:05 of the second period. The goal was the third for Milano, who began his career after being selected by the Blue Jackets with the 16th overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.