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Blue Jackets may be minus Tyutin against Capitals

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The anticipated reunion of five members of the Russian team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics could be minus one if Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin is not sufficiently recovered from the flu Friday to play against the Washington Capitals.

"We haven't ruled him out," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "He was feeling better last night. He woke up this morning and wasn't feeling better. We'll take a look at him later. We'll make the call then. It's not looking good that he'll play."

Defenseman Dalton Prout, recalled Thursday from a conditioning reassignment to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, would replace Tyutin, who has four goals and 15 assists and is minus-1 in 43 games.

"If (Tyutin) isn't playing we're all going to be chipping in and contributing playing against their top guys," Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson said.

Tyutin is one of the four Russian Olympians on the Blue Jackets, the largest contingent from an NHL club to the team. He, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, defenseman Nikita Nikitin and center Artem Anisimov will join Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin for the tournament in their homeland next month.

Bobrovsky has won his past five decisions (1.45 goals-against average), three coming after missing a month with a groin strain, but he will be challenged by a Capitals team whose 140 goals are second in the Eastern Conference to the Pittsburgh Penguins' 156.

Washington is tied with Pittsburgh for the best power play in the NHL (24.7 percent).

"The most important thing is we have to eliminate bad penalties," Richards said. "We've taken some offensive zone penalties. We can't be doing that 200 feet from our net. We've got to be responsible with our sticks."

Columbus (22-20-4) has won four straight and is four points back of fourth-place Washington (22-17-8) in the Metropolitan Division.

The Capitals are coming off a 4-3 loss Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins and coach Adam Oates will turn to rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer after Michal Neuvirth stopped 33 of 37 shots against the Penguins.

Grubauer (6-2-5, 2.06 GAA, .936 save percentage) made 28 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss Tuesday to the San Jose Sharks.

"He's been steady," Oates said. "We still have confidence in all our goalies, but he's obviously been the hot guy, so we're going with him."

Another change will see Martin Erat in for left wing Aaron Volpatti. Erat, who earlier this season requested a trade, has 15 assists in 39 games but was a healthy scratch the past five games. However, he has four assists in two games vs. the Blue Jackets this season.

"He had a time to sit," Oates said. "I'm looking for him to inject a spark. He's got good offensive skills."

The projected lineups Friday:


Brooks Laich - Mikhail Grabovski - Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Joel Ward

Martin Erat - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Mike Green

John Erskine - Connor Carrick

Philipp Grubauer

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Braden Holtby, Aaron Volpatti, Steve Oleksy

Injured: Jack Hillen (knee)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Nathan Horton

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Corey Tropp

Dalton Prout - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Fedor Tyutin

Injured: Cody Bass (thumb), Jared Boll (foot), Blake Comeau (knee), Marian Gaborik (collarbone), Jack Skille (upper body)

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