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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 17th (All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (22-17-8) at Columbus Blue Jackets (22-20-4), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging Columbus Blue Jackets will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to five games when they host the struggling Washington Capitals in Friday's battle at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus has won four straight games and is one victory away from matching the club's longest winning streak from last season. The Blue Jackets also are only two consecutive victories shy of tying the franchise record of six straight wins, which was set from March 24-April 3, 2006.
The Blue Jackets should be well rested heading into Friday's game, as they've been idle since picking up their fifth win in six games on Monday when they defeated the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 3-2 regulation win over the Lightning was Columbus' eighth victory in 11 tries. The recent surge has moved the Blue Jackets within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington is currently occupying the eighth seed with 52 points.
Columbus trailed 2-1 heading into the third period on Monday, but Nathan Horton and Mark Letestu each notched power-play goals over the final 20 minutes to help lift the Jackets to victory. Horton tied the contest 3:09 into the third period and Letestu recorded the game-winner with just 2:38 left.
Letestu's big tally came after Tampa's Tyler Johnson went off for hooking with just under four minutes remaining and after a few opportunities on the man advantage, the hosts converted. Jack Johnson launched a shot from the point and Letestu redirected the shot to beat Anders Lindback.
"It seemed like we were fighting the whole first period on our power plays. We got it when it mattered and counts. We needed the power plays at the end there and those were big goals," said Horton.
Ryan Johansen supplied the other goal, while Johnson had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have won three of their last four at home and are 11-9-2 in Columbus this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots to win his fifth straight start. Bobrovsky is 3-0 since returning from a month-long absence due to a groin strain on Jan. 6. With Columbus playing tonight and on Saturday in Buffalo, the club's No. 1 goaltender could get a rest in one of those two games.
Bobrovsky is 1-1-2 with a 2.63 goals against average in five career games against Washington. Backup Curtis McElhinney is 4-3-1 with a 2.42 GAA in eight lifetime starts versus the Caps.
Columbus has yet to defeat the Capitals this season, going 0-1-1 in the first two of four scheduled meetings this season between the Metropolitan Division foes. However, both of those previous encounters in 2013-14 were staged in D.C.
Washington has won five straight overall against the Blue Jackets, but the Caps enter Friday's tilt having lost three straight and seven of their last nine games.
After losing two straight games in shootouts, the Capitals were left without a point following Wednesday's entertaining 4-3 loss in Pittsburgh. Washington held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in the game, but couldn't prevent the Penguins from setting a franchise record with their 13th straight home win.
The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the final 20 minutes before Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals a one-goal lead with his NHL-leading 34th goal of the season at the 8:35 mark. However, Jussi Jokinen tallied three minutes later for the Pens and Olli Maatta scored the eventual game-winning goal with 1:54 remaining in the third.
The regulation setback dropped Washington to 2-3-4 over their last nine games. The Caps also fell to 8-9-4 on the road, a mark that pales in comparison to the club's 14-8-4 mark on home ice.
Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera supplied the other goals for Washington, which got 33 saves from Michal Neuvirth.
"We figured out a way to get a lead in the third against a fresher team and we didn't sustain it and you have to be able to," said Washington head coach Adam Oates.
The Caps are playing the second of three straight on the road. The three-game swing is part of a stretch that has Washington playing eight of nine games away from the nation's capital.
01/17 10:37:13 ET
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