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Capitals aim for Presidents' Trophy vs. Blue Jackets

Washington needs one point for home-ice advantage throughout playoffs

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (30-37-8) at CAPITALS (53-16-5)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; FS-O, CSN-DC, NHL.TV

ARLINGTON, Va. --The Washington Capitals can clinch the Presidents' Trophy with at least a point against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.

The Capitals lead the NHL with 111 points and are tied for the sixth-most wins (53) through a team's first 74 games of a season in League history.

"It's a long season and to be the best team through that full 82 games, I think is a big accomplishment," Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. "We're mature enough to realize that's not the Stanley Cup and that's not our end goal. That's something we wanted to do along the way and right now we want to get back to playing our best hockey."

Forward Nicklas Backstrom is one of the few players remaining from the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals team in 2009-2010 that was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens. 

"I remember what a good feeling [it was] in the group," Backstrom said. "We're all positive and we knew we could come back from [deficits.] If we were down 2-0, 3-0 in the game, we could come back. That's something we had on the team and it's something I feel like we have this year, too."

Winning the Presidents' Trophy guarantees the Capitals home-ice advantage through the duration of the playoffs, but Backstrom recognizes the nature of the postseason and knows anything could happen. 

"Honestly? It doesn't mean anything," Backstrom said. "It's good to have home ice through the playoffs but at the same time it doesn't even mean anything because we lost last time in the first round when we won the Presidents' Trophy. For me, it's just a matter of get to the playoffs. Teams one through eight could beat anyone."

Columbus is out of playoff contention but is using Washington's potential clinching scenario as motivation to rebound from a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday. 

"It's going to be a great scenario for us to go into," captain Nick Foligno said. "It's another team that's playing for something. We're playing for our pride and for an understanding of the way we want to be remembered this season as a hard-working team to the end. They're playing for something that unfortunately we're not, so it's going to be a good matchup for us to kind of just get motivated for this game."

Washington will be searching for its own motivation to bounce back from a 4-0 loss Saturday to the St. Louis Blues and keep its record of not losing back-to-back games in regulation intact. The Capitals are 14-0-1 following a regulation loss and are the only team in the League without consecutive regulation losses this season.
Here are the projected lineups:


Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Brandon Saad - Boone Jenner - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno

William Karlsson - Rene Bourque - Gregory Campbell
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones

David Savard - Dalton Prout

Dean Kukan - Cody Goloubef

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo
Scratched: Jared Boll, John Ramage

Injured: Fedor Tyutin (undisclosed), David Clarkson (lower body), Jack Johnson (shoulder), Curtis McElhinney (knee)


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Jay Beagle

Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson  
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson
Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer
Injured: None

Scratched: Michael Latta, Mike Weber, Taylor Chorney, Stanislav Galiev

Status report: Oshie will play against the Blue Jackets after missing two games with the flu. … Bobrovsky will start for Columbus; Holtby will start for Washington. … Columbus reassigned Michael Chaput to the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL on Saturday. 

Who's hot: Atkinson has nine points in 12 games, Wennberg has 13 points in his past 19 games … Backstrom has 33 points in his past 39 games. Ovechkin has 21 points in 24 games.

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