dropping the first two playoff

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COLUMBUS Sergei Bobrovsky Jersey , Ohio (AP) After dropping the first two playoff games at home in overtime, the Washington Capitals picked up momentum that only got stronger as they took down the Columbus Blue Jackets in four straight.Now they’ll strive to keep the intensity high as they advance to a second-round rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins.The Capitals, who manhandled the Blue Jackets 6-3 on Monday to cap the opening round series, are looking to avenge second-round playoff losses to Pittsburgh in each of the past two seasons.”I can’t wait to take a step forward,” said Washington star forward Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals on Monday, including his 50th playoff tally. ”They know how to play, they know the pressure. It’s a huge series for us.”Goaltender Braden Holtby relieved a struggling Philipp Grubauer in Game 2 and was great the rest of the way. He had 35 saves Monday in a game in which his team was outshot 38-28. Fifteen of the saves were in the third period when the desperate Blue Jackets turned up the heat.”(He’s) been fantastic,” Ovechkin said. ”He’s stepping up big-time. He’s top goalie in the league, and he showed it today and he showed it in the series.”For his part, Washington coach Barry Trotz wasn’t ready to talk about Pittsburgh yet after a taut opening-round series.”Please let me breathe,” he said. ”We haven’t taken a breath since this started.”Chandler Stephenson had a goal and an assist, and Dimitry Orlov, Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller also scored Monday for Washington, which never trailed in OT in Game 5 on Saturday. The Capitals won each of the three games in Columbus.One of the stories for Washington was its ability to defend Columbus’ power play. After the Blue Jackets went 4 for 8 with a man advantage in the first two games Womens Seth Jones Jersey , the Caps held them to 0 for 16 in the last four. Meanwhile, Washington took good advantage of Columbus penalties, scoring on the power play in each of the six games.”I think going into the year there wasn’t a lot of people who said we would finish first in the Metro, and we did that,” Trotz said. ”And it’s just creating a pretty consistent culture, and it’s having good players too. It was a tremendous test for us. We didn’t get off to a good start and had to dig ourselves out.”Trotz said he leaned on veterans Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and others to keep the Capitals on an even keel through the tumult of the season.”We’ve had lots of different adversity through this year and in the past, and we’ve grown up a little bit in some ways,” he said. ”We understand that our core group is really, really strong, they believe in each other. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the room. We’ve had to rely on our core to push us forward, and we have.”— CALGARY, Alberta — Erik Karlsson made a huge impact upon his return to the lineup for the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.The 28-year-old defenseman from Landsbro, Sweden Sonny Milano Jersey , would like nothing more than to carry his momentum into New Year’s Eve when his Sharks (21-12-7) take on the Calgary Flames (23-12-4) in a battle of the top two teams in the Pacific Division at the Scotiabank Saddledome.“We have a tough stretch coming up here the next few games,” said Karlsson after tallying a goal and three assists to help lead the Sharks to a 7-4 road victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. “We’re going to have to play at the top of our level to be able to compete with the teams that we’re playing.Article continues below ...“Now, we’ve just got to go into Calgary and have the mentality that we’re going to win that game, too, and play to the best of our ability and clean some things up from (Saturday) and take the good things with us.”Karlsson sat out San Jose’s previous two games as a result of being suspended for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles Kings forward Austin Wagner in the second period of a 3-2 overtime loss at home on Dec. 22.“It’s nice to be back,” said Karlsson, who has put up three goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Sharks this season after playing his first nine NHL campaigns with the Ottawa Senators. “It’s never fun to be out of the lineup, especially for the reason that I was out for. Sometimes it’s good to watch the games from afar, too. You figure a few things out. I was excited to get back (in the lineup) and I did everything I can to stay in it.”San Jose coach Peter DeBoer was also happy to have Karlsson back on the blue line for the Sharks.“You can see his impact on the game, on our team, on the players around him,” DeBoer said. “You take him for granted a little bit. When he’s out, you realize the hole there is there. Every week he’s getting more comfortable here.”Meanwhile, the Flames will be looking to bounce back following a 3-2 overtime setback at home to the surging Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, two days following a 4-1 road win over the Winnipeg Jets.“I thought we faded a little bit as the game went along http://www.officialbluejackets.com/authentic-adidas-zach-werenski-jersey , didn’t have the same jump, but we skated much better here tonight than we did in Winnipeg and I expect us to skate a lot better Monday, too,” Calgary coach Bill Peters said following the OT loss to the Canucks.Despite the loss, the Flames still sit tied atop the Western Conference standings at 50 points with the Jets (24-12-2), who have a game in hand.“We’ve played a lot of good hockey this year, but there’s a long way to go and as a group we feel like we’ve let it slip over the last few games,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano told the team website. “We’ve got to get back to details, be a lot sharper on the defensive side of things and we’ll be fine.“We’ve put ourselves in good position. Now, we either let the pack make up ground and catch us over the next 20 or we ramp up, take off and solidify what we’ve worked for to get to this point. We’re looking to solidify — to take off.”