WASHINGTON — The short-handed Washington Capitals look for revenge Sunday afternoon against a Columbus Blue Jackets squad in uncharted territory.
The Blue Jackets beat Washington 2-1 in overtime at Columbus on Tuesday, part of a club-record seven-game home winning streak that has propelled the team to its best start in franchise history. Columbus' 9-4-2 record is the high-water mark for the franchise through 15 games.
“If we want an opportunity to compete in this league in February and March and April, your home record needs to stand in there,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said after his team's home win Friday over the Rangers. “It has to continue.”
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The Blue Jackets hit the road to face another solid home team in Washington, who is 6-2-0 at the Verizon Center this season and in the middle of a season-long, five-game homestand.
But the Capitals will be missing several key pieces. Center Lars Eller (upper body injury) and winger T.J. Oshie (upper body injury), will be out against the Blue Jackets, with Oshie classified as week-to-week by the team. Both players were injured in the Capitals' 1-0 triumph over Detroit on Friday.
“There's a lot of holes that he creates with him not in the lineup,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said of Oshie after the team's Saturday skate. “But it's a next man up mentality. Someone gets an opportunity and you go from there.”
The Capitals recalled forward Paul Carey from AHL Hershey on Saturday. Winger Andre Burakovsky, who also left Friday's game with an upper body injury, practiced Saturday and will be a game-time decision.
“It's important that the team doesn't look at it and say, 'We are missing two guys.' We're just going to keep going and do our job,” said Burakovsky, who added he was hoping to play Sunday.
Braden Holtby is the likely candidate between the pipes for the Capitals after sitting out against the Blue Jackets earlier in the week, and the netminder is coming off arguably his best performance of the season, picking up his first shutout of the year and 24th of his career Friday.
Thanks to a schedule quirk, Columbus is playing only its third Metropolitan Division game of the season. They are 5-0-0 against division leaders this season, having beaten Anaheim twice, Montreal, Chicago and the New York Rangers. Sunday's game, against another contender, kicks off a stretch of five games in seven days.
“It's always good to be beat good teams,” center William Karlsson said after beating the Rangers. “It's a confidence booster.”
Defenseman Seth Jones returned to practice for the Blue Jackets on Saturday. He was placed on injured reserve Nov. 7 with a hairline fracture in his foot. Left winger Matt Calvert, who scored the game-winning goal Friday despite taking a puck to the face that resulted in 36 stitches, travelled to Washington, but is dealing with swelling around his eye, Tortorella said.