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Capitals have eyes on Blue Jackets streak

Washington trying to stop Columbus from record-tying 17th straight win

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The company line coming from most in the Washington Capitals locker room Wednesday was that the Columbus Blue Jackets' 16-game winning streak isn't something they're thinking about heading into the game between the Metropolitan Division teams at Verizon Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O, NHL.TV).

With another win, Columbus would tie the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins' NHL record of 17 consecutive victories. Though some Capitals said having the opportunity to prevent the Blue Jackets from making history wasn't a source of motivation, defenseman Brooks Orpik said he and his teammates are aware of what's at stake.

Asked if the Capitals want to end the winning streak, Orpik said, "I think everybody does. As soon as our game was over [Tuesday], guys were checking to see if they won or not. We had it on. If anyone says they weren't [paying attention] they're lying because we had it on in the change room."

Some Capitals were keeping an eye on the Verizon Center out-of-town scoreboard during a 6-5 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday to see how the Blue Jackets were doing in their home game against the Edmonton Oilers. Columbus won 3-1.

"As soon as we asked if [the Blue Jackets] won or not, guys were like, 'I don't know. It said 2-1 on the scoreboard during the game,'" Orpik said. "So guys were aware of it. It's something fun to watch."

Video: McMahon discusses Capitals-Blue Jackets matchup

The Capitals know there will be additional focus on their game Thursday because the Blue Jackets can tie the NHL record and potentially break it when they host the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"It will bring some attention," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "Obviously, everybody who is going to look is following the [Blue] Jackets seeing how far they can take this. The guys recognize they're under a bigger spotlight, so this is probably like a rivalry game. It's got a little bit more zip to it, a little more emotion to it than some other games."

But like many of his players, Trotz claimed there was no extra motivation to stop the Blue Jackets from making history.

"Our guys will focus on our game," Trotz said. "Obviously, Columbus is doing something pretty special. We'll just focus on Columbus."

The Blue Jackets are 27-5-4 with an NHL-best 58 points. They haven't lost since a 2-1 shootout defeat against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 26 and have a point in 18 consecutive games (17-0-1).

"They're probably having a lot of fun as a group because winning is a lot more fun than losing and they're winning," Trotz said. "So they're feeling it. They feel invincible, all that. We've gone through parts of that last year and it's great. You love coming to the rink every morning."

The Blue Jackets are 21-1-2 since Nov. 12. That includes two victories against the Capitals: a 2-1 overtime win at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 15 and a 3-2 win at Verizon Center on Nov. 20. Columbus trailed in the third period of each game.

"It's a little extra challenge," Orpik said. "We had two pretty good games against them earlier in the year that I think we felt like we were in good position to win and we kind of let it slip away against them. So hopefully [Thursday] night will be similar to those two."

The Capitals are 10-2-3 in their past 15 games. At 23-9-6, they are fourth in the Metropolitan Division, seven points behind the Blue Jackets.

"I think our guys are up to the challenge," Trotz said. "This is a team that's leading the League. … I think guys look at it as they like the competition and I think it will be something that good pros look and go, 'They're a good team, so are we, and let's see what happens.'"

Trotz said he hadn't decided whether he'll mention the streak to the Capitals before the game.

"I think a lot of teams have wanted to break it along the way," Washington right wing T.J. Oshie said. "We're not going to be focused about that. If the guys need that to motivate them, that's fine. But I think right now we're getting our game going in a pretty positive direction and we're going to focus on that and hopefully that'll be enough to break it."

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