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NHL PLAYOFFS

CAPITALS 4, BLUE JACKETS 1

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Game 4 lacked the intensity of the three before it, and no overtime heroics were necessary. Instead, the workmanlike Washington Capitals turned in their most complete game of the playoffs, putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets to tie their series at two games apiece.

Not that the Blue Jackets did themselves any favors in the 4-1 loss Thursday night. They came out flat, squandered an early power play, surrendered pucks in the neutral zone and couldn't seem to get any traction until late in the game.

Columbus had overcome deficits to win the first two games in Washington. When the series shifted to Columbus on Tuesday, the Capitals prevailed on a lucky bounce in double-overtime.

Now the best-of-7 series moves back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.

"All we've done is gotten on even terms," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "We got ourselves in a hole, and we have to continue to push forward. The next game is a real pivotal game. Someone is going to take the lead in this series, and then your back is against the wall. We have to make sure we're ready to go."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who made sure the game was never in doubt. Tom Wilson and Alexander Ovechkin each had a goal and an assist, and T.J. Oshie also tallied.

"We've been a confident group all year," said Washington goalie Braden Holtby, who finished with 23 saves. "I don't think we've ever doubted ourselves. We came into this building with the right mindset."

There was no comeback magic this time for the Blue Jackets, who couldn't seem to shift out of neutral until Coach John Tortorella started switching up the lines in the second period.

Boone Jenner scored for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves.

Columbus captain Nick Foligno also couldn't explain what happened to the Blue Jackets after they had showed so much juice in the first three games.

"We know we have to be way better," he said. "Maybe it gives us a little kick in the rear to know we have a real good opportunity in front of us to go back there. Home ice hasn't been too nice to each team. We feel good about ourselves and the fact that we haven't played our best hockey yet. We've got to find it."

BRUINS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 1

TORONTO -- Brad Marchand scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Tuukka Rask made 31 saves as the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk also had goals for the Bruins, who can win the Eastern Conference quarterfinal when they host Game 5 on Saturday at Boston's TD Garden. David Pastrnak added two assists.

Tomas Plekanec scored the lone goal for the Leafs, who got 18 saves from Frederik Andersen.

Patrice Bergeron, part of a top line that combined for 20 points in the Bruins' two home victories to open the series, was a surprise late scratch with an upper-body injury. Riley Nash took his spot between Marchand and Pastrnak.

Sports on 04/20/2018

Print Headline: Columbus loses traction, Washington ties up series

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