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At the Rink: Capitals at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes his first start for the Columbus Blue Jackets since being injured Dec. 8, but co-leading scorer Scott Hartnell has been benched for the game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O).

Hartnell ran afoul of coach John Tortorella in the third period of a 1-1 tie against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday when he stopped during a line change to bark at the Avalanche bench and the Blue Jackets were whistled for too many men on the ice.

Columbus (17-25-4) killed the penalty and won 2-1.

It was the latest of several unforced infractions by Hartnell. On Jan. 2, the Blue Jackets trailed Washington 4-3 near the midpoint of the third period when, after an offside call, he slid the puck into the Capitals net behind goaltender Braden Holtby, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Again, no score resulted from Hartnell's actions and the Blue Jackets won in a shootout.

Hartnell after practice Monday apologized to the team for his most recent indiscretion. Tortorella appreciated the gesture and said the decision to bench him was not take lightly.

"It's been a lack of discipline and a number of different things," Tortorella said. "I'm not going to go public with everything, but a number of things that in the past weeks, couple of weeks, we've got to get him back. He's a good player. I like him, but we have to play under a team concept if we're going to continue to grow as a team and everybody needs to be there with that."

Hartnell has 31 points (15 goals) to tie Brandon Saad for the Blue Jackets lead.

Columbus will try to match its season-high with a third straight win. The first two were with rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Bobrovsky has not played in 17 games since sustaining a groin injury six weeks ago.

For Washington (34-8-3), defenseman Karl Alzner, being out of the lineup hasn't been a problem since Oct. 8, 2010.

Tuesday will mark his 422nd consecutive game to tie center Bob Carpenter for the longest streak in Capitals history.

Alzner could set the record against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

"It's cool that I have chance to tie and probably beat the only franchise record I have a shot of getting," Alzner said. "That's kind of neat for me. If I never really accomplish anything in my career at least I have this to fall back on."

It is the sixth-longest consecutive games streak for a defenseman since 1943-44. It's more impressive considering that during the streak he is seventh in the NHL in blocked shots.

"It's a great accomplishment to play in this League and not have some type of injury that takes you out one game, it's a rare thing," Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson said.

Alzner said the streak is also testimony to the way he plays.

"That's one of the things you can rely on with me, I try to be consistent," he said. "I don't have good games all the time but I try not to have really, really bad games. I try to play good enough that they can rely on me to come back in the lineup. I'm happy I do good enough that they feel the need to keep me in."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromT.J. Oshie

Andre BurakovskyEvgeny KuznetsovJustin Williams

Jason ChimeraMarcus JohanssonTom Wilson

Brooks LaichMike RichardsMichael Latta

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Dmitry OrlovNate Schmidt

Ryan StantonTaylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

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

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev


Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Brandon Saad - Alexander Wennberg - Josh Anderson

Rene Bourque - William KarlssonKerby Rychel

Markus Hannikainen - Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - Cody Goloubef

Dalton Prout - Justin Falk

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Injured: Matt Calvert (knee), David Clarkson (upper body), Curtis McElhinney (ankle), Nick Foligno (upper body), David Savard (oblique)

Scratched: Fedor Tyutin, Scott Hartnell

Status report: Holtby will start after leaving the game Sunday vs. the New York Rangers in the second period with what he termed Tuesday as a visual impairing migraine. … Carlson, who has missed 11 games, is skating and close to a return. "Soon as he says he's ready to go, he's going in," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "He'll get a couple of skates in here and he should be fine." … Tyutin will be a healthy scratch for the third game in a row. … Stanton makes his Washington debut after being recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League. He has 119 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks.

Who's hot: Williams had his second NHL hat trick Sunday. Ovechkin has six goals in six games. … Dubinsky has goals in two straight. Jones has an assist in two straight. … The Capitals are 14-for-42 (33.percent) with the extra man in the past 15 games.

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