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Jackets, Capitals meet in Columbus for second time

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

In their first eight games of the 2016 calendar year, the Washington Capitals have only lost two games: once against the Blue Jackets in Columbus (more on that later) and once against the Sabres in Buffalo.

Even scarier: the Capitals have lost only eight games total this entire season.

The Sabres halted Washington’s five-game winning streak in a 4-1 victory over the Capitals.
Most recently, the Capitals defeated Metropolitan Division rivals the New York Rangers, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the Capitals tied it later in the frame and took a 2-1 lead in the second period never to trail again.

Justin Williams’ hat trick led the Capitals, and Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson also scored for Washington.

With 71 points, the Capitals currently sit atop the Metro Division as well as NHL standings.
On the opposite end of the standings, the Blue Jackets are currently on a two-game winning streak, most recently defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1, and the Colorado Avalanche, 2-1.

A few updates on the Jackets: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky participated in his second straight full practice with the team on Monday morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Bobrovsky served as the backup to rookie Joonas Korpisalo during Saturday night’s game.

When asked, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said if Bobrovsky is 100 percent and ready to go, he will start on Tuesday.

The Blue Jackets opened the 2016 portion of their campaign against the Capitals on Jan. 2 at Nationwide Arena. It was a crazy game, to say the least, with a lot of adversity for Columbus, but the Jackets found a way to win in a shootout.

Jack Johnson and Brandon Saad each scored twice during regulation to match Washington’s four goals from T.J. Oshie, Jason Chimera, Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Both of Johnson’s goals were scored on the power play, and Saad’s second goal of the night came at 18:52 of the third period to tie the game and push it to overtime.

Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney had to leave the game with 4:05 left in overtime when he fell and was unable to return to the game. McElhinney suffered a sprained ankle on the play, was placed on injured reserve on Jan. 4 (out indefinitely).

Backup goaltender Anton Forsberg, on emergency recall, took over netminding duties in a tough spot and stopped six shots in overtime and two of three in the shootout to help the Jackets defeat the Capitals, earning his first NHL win.

The Blue Jackets are 9-10-4 in the all-time series against the Capitals and 4-1-1 in their last six at home, including the aforementioned shootout win on Jan. 2.

When it comes to one player to watch on the Capitals roster, Alex Ovechkin is the guy.

With a whopping 27 goals, he not only leads his team in that category, but is closing in on the NHL's goal scoring lead. The only player with more goals this season is Chicago’s Patrick Kane (29).

The 30-year-old is currently in the midst of his 11th NHL season - all spent with the Capitals. Ovechkin reached one of the game's great offensive milestones on Jan. 10 against the Ottawa Senators, when he scored his 500th career goal. The Moscow, Russia, native scored two goals in that game, (including his 500th) becoming the fifth-fastest player in NHL history to reach 500 goals (801 points).

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