Caps aim to get win streak started against Blue Jackets

( - After halting a three-game slide the last time out, the Washington Capitals hope to stay on the right track Tuesday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Washington lost three straight in regulation before snapping out of the funk with Sunday's 4-0 win over visiting Toronto. The Capitals will try to make it two straight victories tonight when they complete the season series against Columbus.

The Capitals are occupying the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, seven more than the Boston Bruins. Washington also is fourth in the Metropolitan Division and three points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby recorded his seventh shutout of the season in Sunday's win over the Maple Leafs. He is one behind Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead in shutouts.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist for the Capitals, pushing his league-leading goal total to 41. Ovechkin also is tied for the NHL lead in points with 65.

Marcus Johansson and Joel Ward added markers in the third period for Washington.

Columbus, meanwhile, has been relegated to a spoiler role at this point of the season. The Blue Jackets could do well in that role tonight, having won two of the first four meetings with Washington this season and posting a 4-1-1 mark over the last six tilts in this series.

The Caps, who are 16-12-5 on the road this season, have lost three of their last four in Ohio. After tonight's away tilt, Washington will return home for a five-game stay in D.C.

The Blue Jackets have seen their already slim playoff chances evaporate during their current six-game slide. Columbus has dropped the last four in regulation and has surrendered four goals or more four times in the 0-5-1 drought.

In light of being 15 points out of a playoff spot in the East, Columbus became sellers at Monday's trade deadline. The club traded away defensemen James Wisniewski and Jordan Leopold in separate deals with Anaheim and Minnesota, respectively.

The Jackets received forwards Rene Bourque and William Karlsson and a second- round pick from the Ducks for Wisniewski and a third-round selection. Columbus acquired defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick for Leopold.

Columbus did lock up one of its players for the future, signing forward Cam Atkinson to a three-year contract extension on Monday. The 25-year-old Atkinson has 13 goals and 12 assists in 58 games this season, his fourth in the NHL.

The Blue Jackets last played on Sunday, when it dropped a 5-3 decision in Pittsburgh. Wisniewski, Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets.

Curtis McElhinney played well in defeat, making 36 stops.

"We have to find something we can hang our hat on, as far as pride and how we play," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said.

Although it may not make a difference in the postseason race, the Blue Jackets could have No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky back in net tonight for the first time since Jan. 21. Bobrovsky, who served as the backup to McElhinney on Sunday, missed 15 games before getting activated for the game against Pittsburgh.

Bobrovsky is 4-1-3 with a 3.06 goals against average in nine career games versus the Capitals. Holtby is expected to start for Washington and owns a lifetime 4-2-1 mark and 3.11 GAA in this matchup.