Capitals face Blue Jackets team tough to beat at home

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Washington Capitals play the first of back-to-back games Tuesday as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Capitals (9-4-1, 19 points) have lost two of their last three games and face a Columbus team that is 5-0-0 at home since Oct. 15.

The Blue Jackets (7-4-2, 16 points) scored 10 goals against Montreal earlier this month and eight goals against St. Louis in their last game, with both of those games at home.

Washington's offense is ranked 16th in the NHL with 2.64 goals per game. The Blue Jackets are ranked 2nd in the league with 3.46 goals per game.

In an effort to spark some offense from his team, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz made some line changes ahead of Tuesday's game with Columbus.

“One thing that resonates with me a lot is that you have to have a balance of will and skill,” he told The Washington Post. “Sometimes we forget that we need the will and the skill to work together. I made a lot of changes, even for my standards in some way, but at the same time, the players that have played well are going to move up and get an opportunity. You never know.”

The Capitals points leader is left winger Marcus Johansson, with seven goals and five assists for 12 points. He is followed by left winger Alex Ovechkin, with seven goals and four assists for 11 points.

They are backstopped by goaltender Braden Holtby, with a record of 7-3-1 in 11 games. He has a 2.16 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage and sits 10th in the league in save percentage (minimum 10 games played).

Although the Blue Jackets' penalty-killing unit allowed four goals on five power-play opportunities in their last game, their power play still sits atop the NHL with a 33.3 power-play percentage. The Capitals convert 12.5 percent of their man-advantage opportunities and sit 24th in the league.

Neither the players nor head coach John Tortorella left the arena happy after Saturday's 8-4 win over St. Louis, much of the discomfort due to their sloppy play.

The team held an intense practice Monday, in order to keep them from becoming complacent despite a decent start to their season.

“It's been a struggle with our coverages because we don't initiate the contact and win the one-on-one battle and it allows (an opponent) to play (in our end) and brings in different kind of coverages, sometimes we have to switch,” Tortorella said to the Columbus Dispatch.

“It causes too many problems when that initial battle isn't won and we haven't won enough of those.”

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to make his 13th start in 14 games against the Capitals. He has a record of 7-4-1, with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage and sits 6th in save percentage in the NHL (minimum 10 games played).

No lineup changes appear to be imminent for the Blue Jackets for Tuesday's game against the Capitals.