“Our focus has got to be on Game 3 and Game 3 only. We’ve got a good chance. Two overtime wins, that can really hurt a team, but we’ve got to be ready for their best effort when we go home.”
Columbus put itself in great position coming back home and is one of two teams — San Jose is the other — to open with two road wins this playoff season.
The Jackets could not have done better, as far as results go, yet know this series is a long way from being complete.
“We’re in a good spot, but by no means is this thing over,” defenseman Seth Jones said. “We’ve got to get to four games.”
Ian Cole won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins the past two seasons, so he knows a thing or two about how a playoff series works.
“The job isn’t over,” Cole said, “and there’s a lot left to accomplish. If we rest on our laurels, they’re good enough to get right back in this thing.”
For a young Columbus team — one holding a series lead for the first time in franchise history — keeping an eye on the next game is key. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said his players have gained confidence in their two victories against the Capitals, “but by no means do we have it all figured out.”
When the Jackets were in the midst of their impressive run to the playoffs by winning 16 of 21 games to earn a spot, they didn’t appear to look too far ahead.
Continuing that focus in the postseason would serve them well.
“I think there’s a mindset — and it’s a bridge I think we crossed, and hope we stay on the right side of — that we are there to win, not hope to win,” coach John Tortorella
said. “As we went through the process as a young team over the past couple of years, it was hoping, ‘maybe we’ll find a way.’ Now it’s a bit of a swagger they have. They’re on the right side of it, but by no means do we have it all figured out.”
As for the Capitals, going down 0-2 with two overtime losses is definitely not an optimal start. Yet it’s not the end of the world for Washington, either.
The Capitals, one of the most talented offensive teams in the league, threw up 58 shots at goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on Sunday.
“Obviously, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, “but I have a lot of belief in this group.”
Last year, the Capitals advanced out of the first round, only to lose the first two at home to the Penguins in the conference semifinals. Washington did not fold, winning three of the next four games to force a Game 7 it would lose.
“Our group has a lot of fight in it,” Trotz said. “We’re not going away. We’re going to be around, and you’re going to see us dig in. And you’re going to see us fight. And you’re going to see us make something happen here.”
The Blue Jackets just want to continue what they started in Washington.
“It’s great to get these wins against a terrific team,” Cole said. “It’s fun to be a part of this, the battle and the compete level this team has. … But this is a long way from being done.”