Blue Jackets-Capitals Preview
Now that the Washington Capitals have Alex Ovechkin back in the
lineup, they are looking to finish strong and set themselves up for
The Capitals can take another step toward winning the Southeast
Division on Thursday night when they host the Columbus Blue
Ovechkin returned for Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina
after missing three games due to an undisclosed injury. He had 14
points in his 10 previous games before failing to register any
against the Hurricanes.
“It was pretty hard when you come back after three games sitting
out,” Ovechkin said. “But every shift, every period I felt better
Washington (44-22-11) holds a six-point lead over Tampa Bay as
it tries for its fourth straight division title. The Capitals are
one point shy of reaching 100 for the third straight campaign after
amassing 121 to win the Presidents’ Trophy last season.
“As a group, I think we’ve come along, we’ve grown up,” coach
Bruce Boudreau said. “We won’t have 121 points this year but I
think we’re smarter as a group and maybe a little bit better as a
Perhaps more importantly, the Capitals are three points ahead of
Northeast Division leader Boston in the race for the Eastern
Conference’s No. 2 seed. Washington trails East-leading
Philadelphia by three points.
“All these games are important to us,” Boudreau said. “And we
wanna go in (to the playoffs) playing the best we can.”
Defenseman Dennis Wideman is listed as day to day after he
suffered a lower-body injury against Carolina. Wideman has 14
points in seven games with the Capitals, who acquired him Feb. 28
Ovechkin has gone four straight games versus the Blue Jackets
(34-31-11) without scoring after totaling four goals in his first
two against them.
Columbus forward R.J. Umberger will likely get a rude reception
from Capitals fans Thursday. Umberger was critical of Washington’s
playing style before last season’s playoffs, when the Capitals were
upset by Montreal in the first round.
It should be a better reception for veteran forward Chris Clark,
a former Washington captain who will return to the Verizon Center
for the first time since being traded to Columbus on Dec. 8,
The Blue Jackets have won their last two visits to Washington,
and they improved to 4-0-1 against Southeast opponents with
Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout win over Florida. Columbus ended a four-game
“These guys needed a win to lose that crappy feeling we’ve had
for an extended period of time, especially at home,” coach Scott
Arniel said. “We were real good for most of the game. Guys aren’t
quitting, they’re still playing hard and going after teams.”
Rick Nash has nine points during a four-game run against
Washington, with two assists in last season’s 3-2 home loss.
Steve Mason is 3-0-0 with two shutouts and a 1.34 goals-against
average in three career starts against Washington. Mathieu Garon is
2-1-1 with a 2.85 GAA in four starts versus the Capitals.
None of Washington’s goalies have faced Columbus.