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At the Rink: Capitals at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz / NHL.com

COLUMBUS -- Recent history suggests the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets will play more than 60 minutes at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Columbus (13-15-2) has won seven straight games and the Blue Jackets are the fifth team in NHL history to have four straight wins in a season that all were decided after the 60th minute.

Columbus last week won in overtime vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and the Capitals and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout on Saturday before a 1-0 shootout win against Detroit on Tuesday.

"There's a better commitment, skating and defending, and when you do that you're setting yourself up to have success," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.

The Capitals (14-10-6) have been no slouch lately either. They have a 4-0-2 mark in the past six games, including losing an NHL-record 20-round shootout to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

"We've been going to a lot of overtime games lately and it seems they have been too, so it's a battle of attrition right now," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said.

There's no secret why the Blue Jackets are winning so many close games, Richards said.

"You've got to find ways to win hockey games and get confident about it," he said.

Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert said the win against the Red Wings was an example of that. Stymied by Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has not allowed a goal to Columbus in 125 minutes of regulation and overtime play this season, there was no panic.

"It wasn't frustrating at all," Calvert said. "It was a tight game both ways. We were staying positive and kept fighting for that goal and it finally came in the shootout."

Calvert would not be surprised if the game against the Capitals was decided in overtime or a shootout.

"It's kind of funny, the past few years when we've been on winning streaks we've had a lot of overtime games," he said. "That shows we're fighting and committed for 60 minutes and beyond."

Capitals left wing Joel Ward expects nothing less from the Blue Jackets at home.

"We're just trying to get points and trying to get wins," he said. "If it's going to take going the extra couple of miles, so be it. The goal tonight is to get two points, it would be better for us in regulation."

Columbus center Nick Foligno said it's not too early to be thinking about the regulation or overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker that could come into play later in the season. Columbus has 10 ROWs and trails the third-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division by four in that category. The Blue Jackets have three fewer than the fourth-place Capitals.

"We want to win in regulation," he said. "It's good for the tiebreakers down the road, but any way you can win and move up the standings is important too."

Here are the probable lines:

CAPITALS

Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromTom Wilson

Joel WardEric Fehr - Brooks Laich

Marcus JohanssonMichael LattaTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEvgeny Kuznetsov - Jay Beagle

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Matt Niskanen- Karl Alzner

Mike Green - Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Andre Burakovsky, Jack Hillen

Injured: Aaron Volpatti (upper body), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

BLUE JACKETS

Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Jeremy Morin - Nick Foligno - Brian Gibbons

Corey Tropp - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Mark Letestu (groin), Artem Anisimov (torn triceps), Scott Hartnell (broken finger), Cody Goloubef (knee)

Status report: Burakovsky, a 19-year-old rookie, will be a healthy scratch for the fifth time in six games. "If he's not playing in the next couple of games here on a fairly regular basis then I'm going to have him go to Hershey (American Hockey League) and play lots of minutes," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. … The Blue Jackets will have the same lineup as Tuesday vs. Detroit, meaning forward Jeremy Morin will make his home debut. He was traded by the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday for defenseman Tom Erixon. "I'm excited to play at home and get another opportunity to play with these guys," Morin said. "I'm trying to settle in here."

Who's hot: Bobrovsky is 7-0-0 with a 1.63 goals against average and a .950 save percentage in December. … Holtby is 9-3-3 in his past 15 starts with a 1.97 GAA and .937 save percentage.

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