Capitals Collide With Columbus in Pivotal Saturday Night Metropolitan Division Clash

The Washington Capitals will spend Saturday night taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets in a big tilt at Capital One Arena. The Capitals and Blue Jackets meet for the first time this season. Washington won last year’s season set with Columbus, going 3-1-1 in five games. After dropping the first two, they won the last three meetings. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets will be playing the backend of a back-to-back set after taking on the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets defeated the Ducks by a 4-2 final.

On Friday, the Blue Jackets recalled Gabriel Carlsson and Markus Hannikainen from the Cleveland Monsters, their American Hockey League affiliate. Carlsson, 20, has an assist in 10 games with the Blue Jackets and no points in five games playing on the farm. Hannikainen has two goals and four points in 12 games with the Blue Jackets this season. In four games with Cleveland, he has an assist.

The Blue Jackets headed into Saturday night’s tilt leading the Metropolitan Division with 35 points, posting a 17-8-1 record through the club’s first 26 games. They are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and have won 8 of their past 9 contests coming into Washington.

Over the summer, the Blue Jackets were involved in one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the offseason. The Blue Jackets acquired wingers Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for winger Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg. Panarin’s production has taken a hit since being split from Patrick Kane, who had great chemistry with Artemi Panarin, but still leads the Blue Jackets with five goals and 19 points. He got a goal and two assists in last night’s win over the Ducks.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start on Saturday against Washington. Lifetime against the Capitals, he is 6-7-4 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average. After winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender last year, he is 14-5-1 with a .935 save percentage, good for second in the league, and a 1.92 goals against average.

Washington Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals lost forward Nathan Walker on waivers to the Edmonton Oilers. The 2014 3rd round pick scored a goal in seven games with the Capitals but struggled to stay in the lineup due to tough competition with Alex Chiasson, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Tyler Graovac working ahead of him on the depth chart.

Washington will continue their season-long five-game homestand against the Blue Jackets. They opened their homestand with a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday after leading the Kings 2-1 halfway through the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored both of the Capitals goals on Thursday night, picking up his seventh and eighth goals of the year. Kuznetsov leads the Capitals with 28 points through 26 games.

The Capitals are six points behind the Blue Jackets for top spot in the Metropolitan Division but fell out of a wild card spot behind the New York Rangers. The Rangers won 5-1 over the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden last night and are a point ahead of the Capitals.

The Capitals won three straight games before Thursday’s loss to the Kings and will look to get back on track against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

The Capitals have gotten points in 9 out of the last 10 dates with the Blue Jackets, going 7-1-2 in that span and 14-4-2 in their past 18 games against Columbus.

Braden Holtby will likely get the start on Saturday night. He is 13-6-0 with a 2.61 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Lifetime against the Blue Jackets, he is 11-3-2 with a 2.49 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in 17 games.

Skate Shavings

-Nicklas Backstrom has 6 goals and 21 points in 25 career games against the Blue Jackets

-the Capitals went 7-2-0 in 9 games at Capital One Arena in November, one win shy of posting the second-most home wins in a calendar month in team history. The Capitals led the NHL with seven home wins in November and was a win shy of the second most wins in a calendar month in team history.

-Capitals defensemen have combined for 30 points over the past 16 games and have combined for 45 points this season

A Look Back in Time

After winning 16 consecutive games, the Blue Jackets rolled into Washington needing a win to tie the NHL record 17-game winning streak. Washington got goals from five different goal scorers; Daniel Winnik, John Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Andre Burakovsky, and Justin Williams en route to a 5-0 victory. The win was a turning point of the Capitals’ season as they won the next five in a row and went 15-2-2 over their next 19 games to propel them to the top of the NHL standings.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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