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Blue Jackets at Capitals preview

Columbus looks to end four-game losing streak; Backstrom returns to Washington lineup

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (11-14-4) at CAPITALS (22-4-5)



The Game

Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup when the Washington Capitals play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena on Monday.

The center, who has 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 23 games, missed eight games because of an upper-body injury.

The Capitals have won six straight games and are 8-1-1 in their past 10. It is their second six-game winning streak this season (also Oct. 25-Nov. 9).

Columbus is on a season-long four-game losing streak. The Blue Jackets are 2-6-0 in their past eight games after going 4-1-1 in the previous six.

The Blue Jackets are 4-1-0 in their past five games against the Capitals, including two straight wins at Capital One Arena.


Players to watch 

Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past six games.

Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past seven games.


They said it

"We play well here in this building. We seem to find our way. It's a great challenge. It's a team that is coming in here, meaning us, which is very inconsistent, having problems scoring goals against a team that's dead on their game, best in the National Hockey League. Perfect matchup. Perfect." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

"They use their defense a lot to be able to put pucks at the net and then they recover. They hang their hat on how hard they forecheck and how hard they work and make it difficult on the opposition that way." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden on the Blue Jackets


Blue Jackets projected lineup  

Sonny Milano -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Foligno -- Boone Jenner -- Josh Anderson

Gustav Nyquist -- Alexandre Texier -- Cam Atkinson

Alexander Wennberg -- Riley Nash -- Eric Robinson

Dean Kukan -- Seth Jones

Ryan Murray -- David Savard

Vladislav Gavrikov -- Andrew Peeke

Joonas Korpisalo

Elvis Merzlikins

Scratched: Scott Harrington

Injured: Emil Bemstrom (upper body), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Markus Nutivaara (upper body), Kole Sherwood (oblique), Zach Werenski (shoulder)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby 

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Travis Boyd

Injured: None


Status report

Tortorella said Bemstrom returned to Columbus to be examined by doctors. … The Capitals will play their projected regular lineup for the first time this season.


Stat pack

Tortorella needs one win to tie Darryl Sutter (634) for 15th place on the NHL all-time coaching list. … Holtby is tied for the NHL lead with 15 wins and is 14-1-2 in his past 17 games. Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to pass Teemu Selanne (255) for sole possession of third place on the NHL all-time list.

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