National Hockey League
Preview
Columbus at Washington
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 23, 2017
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, District Of Columbia

The Washington Capitals seem to have their mojo back and look to solidify their spot atop the Metropolitan Division when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Capitals are riding a four-game point streak (3-0-1) that has followed four straight losses and lead second-place Pittsburgh by one point while Columbus is two back after suffering a 5-2 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday.

“We (have) 10 games left,” Washington captain Alex Ovechkin told reporters. “You have to be ready, you have to be focused and you have to try to do your best to be in playoff mode.” The Blue Jackets captured the first two meetings this season before losing 5-0 on Jan. 5 in the nation’s capital – a setback that ended their franchise-record 16-game winning streak. Columbus had won seven of eight to clinch a playoff spot before Wednesday’s defeat and should have a well-rested Sergei Bobrovsky in net after the Vezina Trophy candidate sat out the contest against Toronto. Bobrovsky has gone 7-0-0 with three shutouts and a .963 save percentage this month to help him grab the league lead in wins (39), goals-against average (2.04) and save percentage (.931).

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington)

ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (47-19-6): Brandon Saad and defenseman David Savard scored on Wednesday for Columbus, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit to forge a tie before allowing the final three tallies. Cam Atkinson leads the team with 60 points but has notched just one over his last four games while rookie defenseman Zach Werenski recorded an assist against Toronto to give him eight points in his last seven contests. Oliver Bjorkstrand suffered an undisclosed injury after being boarded by Toronto blue-liner Roman Polak on Wednesday and did not return to the game.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (47-17-8): The top line of Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie has led the way of late, totaling 23 points over the last five games. “All three of them are working together,” coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “They’re making plays. They don’t spend a lot of time in their own zone. They’re responsible defensively. They’ve got a real good hound mentality around the puck. … and when they keep pucks alive, they create offense.” Oshie has scored four goals in his last two contests, Backstrom has registered 11 points (10 assists) over a five-game span and Ovechkin has landed on the scoresheet in four of his last five matches (two goals, four assists).

OVERTIME

1. Washington D Kevin Shattenkirk had his first goal with the team taken away on a late scoring change Tuesday but has recorded six assists in his first nine games since being acquired from St. Louis.

2. Columbus C Alexander Wennberg (neck), who is second on the team with 54 points, returned from a one-game absence Wednesday but failed to notch a point for the ninth time in 11 contests.

3. Ovechkin scored his 29th goal on Tuesday and needs one to reach 30 for the 12th straight season to start his career.

PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Columbus 47-19-5-1 L1 26-10-1-0 21-9-4-1 11-0-0-0 36-19-5-1 17-6-1-0
Washington 47-17-3-5 W2 29-6-1-1 18-11-2-4 6-3-0-1 41-14-3-4 15-7-2-3
Last Meeting
Columbus Washington
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
1/5/17 CLB 0 WAS 5 29 22 0-5 27 29 0-4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Columbus V. Abramov 0
Washington J. Carlson 2
Goals Player  
Columbus V. Abramov 0
Washington A. Burakovsky 1
Assists Player  
Columbus V. Abramov 0
Washington E. Kuznetsov 2
Saves Player  
Columbus S. Bobrovsky 18
Washington B. Holtby 29
Season
Total Points Player  
Columbus C. Atkinson 64
Washington N. Backstrom 78
Goals Player  
Columbus C. Atkinson 33
Washington T. Oshie 33
Assists Player  
Columbus A. Wennberg 45
Washington N. Backstrom 56
Saves Player  
Columbus S. Bobrovsky 1578
Washington B. Holtby 1470
Quickchart Matchup
Columbus Off vs  Washington Def
3.17 GF
2.17 GA
31 Shots
27.8 Shots
41 PP
40 PK
Washington Off vs  Columbus Def
3.21 GF
2.33 GA
29.9 Shots
30.1 Shots
48 PP
34 PK