BLUE JACKETS (2-4-0) at CAPITALS (2-5-0)
TV: FS-O, CSN-DC
Big story: The new Metropolitan Division rivals are off to a slow start again. The Capitals overcame a 1-5-1 beginning to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference in 2012-13, but the Blue Jackets fell one point short in the Western Conference after opening 2-5-1.
Washington closes a five-game homestand prior to a five-game road trip that starts in western Canada. Columbus will play eight of its next nine at home.
"Every game for us is huge right now," Capitals forward Martin Erat told Monumental Network on the team website. "It doesn't matter if we play home ... the points in October count the same in March. You have to get those points."
Blue Jackets: Columbus has lost three in a row, the latest 5-3 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday; it trailed 3-0 before tying it.
"We got better [during the game], but it's a loss," forward Brandon Dubinsky said, according to The Columbus Dispatch. "It's zero points. It's not [expletive] good enough. We have to find a way to turn some of these efforts, as some people call them, into points. Until we do that, it's just not good enough."
Capitals: Washington shuffled its lines at practice Friday, which could give Erat the chance he hasn't really had since arriving last season in a trade from the Nashville Predators.
The left wing has no points in seven games, playing less than 10 minutes in all but one, after getting three points in nine games at the end of last season. He led the Predators in scoring in 2011-12 (58 points), and his 21 points in 36 games last season ranked third.
"It's been kind of different here for me," Erat said. "But it doesn't matter where I play, [the thing] is to win, and we need a win right now. Against Columbus, we have to be ready and we have to be 100 percent engaged and everybody has to be on the same page and get the two points."
Who's hot: Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist against the Canadiens. … Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin ranked second in the NHL in goals (six) heading into play Friday, though he had not scored in two of his past three.
Injury report: Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik (flu) practiced Friday after not playing Thursday. Forward Nick Foligno (personal reasons) is not with the team. Forward Matt Calvert (abdomen) is on injured reserve. … Capitals defenseman John Erskine (upper body) is questionable.
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