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At the Rink: Capitals at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS – Goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O).

Sergei Bobrovsky, who was activated off injured reserve Wednesday, and coach John Tortorella were optimistic Friday that the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner would make his first appearance since sustaining a groin injury against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 8.

The Blue Jackets on Saturday, though, placed Bobrovsky back on the IR retroactive to Dec. 31, saying he re-aggravated the injury. Anton Forsberg was added on an emergency recall from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.

McElhinney and rookie Joonas Korpisalo have been used in Bobrovsky's absence. Columbus is 3-6-1 during that span.

McElhinney is 2-6-2 with a 3.27 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage in 14 appearances this season. He had 40 saves in a 6-3 win against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 29.

"[McElhinney] has really stood in there," Tortorella said. "I thought the kid (Korpisalo) played well early. Then the kid kind of settled a bit and Mac's come in and played a couple of really good games."

The Blue Jackets (14-22-3) made another move Saturday, activating defenseman David Savard (ankle sprain) from injured reserve. He missed the past six games but is likely to play against the Capitals.

"The last few days I've skated, felt pretty good," Savard said. "I'm going to talk to them and see if they're going to let me play or not."

For the Capitals (28-7-2), it's a chance to rebound following a 4-2 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday that ended a nine-game winning streak.

Coach Barry Trotz continues to shuffle the lines with right wing Jay Beagle (upper body) out a second straight game. He had hand surgery Saturday and will be out approximately six weeks, the team announced.

Andre Burakovsky will move to the second line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and right wing Justin Williams after spending much of the season on the third or fourth lines.

Burakovsky has three goals and nine points in 34 games after nine goals and 13 assists in 53 games last season as a rookie.

"Andre is starting to feel it again," Trotz said. "To me it made a little sense while he's starting to feel it and playing the way he can play to see what he can do moving him up and give him a reward for that."

Burakovsky broke a 25-game goal drought against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

"The last 10, 12 games my game is coming back a little bit," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable with the puck. Before, I really didn't want to handle it. Now, I want it in all situations."

Marcus Johansson goes from the left wing on the second line to the third in between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Zach Sill - Michael Latta

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt

Aaron Ness - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Jay Beagle (upper body)

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Ryan Stanton


Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad

Gregory Campbell - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Rene Bourque - William Karlsson - David Clarkson

Ryan Murray - Jack Johnson

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Justin FalkDavid Savard

Curtis McElhinney

Anton Forsberg

Injured: Cody Goloubef (broken jaw), Markus Hannikainen (shoulder), Matt Calvert (knee), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin)

Scratched: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jared Boll, Kevin Connauton

Status report: Ness replaces Connor Carrick, who was sent to Hershey of the American Hockey League on Friday when Stanton was called up.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has four goals in three games and is four shy of 500 NHL goals. … Saad has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past six games. Foligno and Dubinsky each had three assists against the Stars on Tuesday.

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