Ovechkin, Capitals try to best Blue Jackets

The Capitals know that if they are going to get back into the playoff picture, they need their top line to produce.

A repeat performance of last night's game would be just fine.

Washington aims to run its winning streak to three in a row for the first time since October as it visits the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

With 40 points, the Capitals are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference but just five back of the first-place Panthers in the Southeast Division. Washington pulled closer with last night's 3-1 victory over Buffalo that saw its top line of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom combine for six points.

Ovechkin scored twice for his first multi-goal game since Oct. 29, while Backstrom ended with a goal and an assist and Semin notched a pair of helpers. Ovechkin took over the team lead with 14 goals and has scored four times with three assists over a five-game point streak.

"Every team plays against our line their best [defense] and their best checking line and play more safely against us," said Ovechkin. "So, we just have to play simple and you can see how we score goals. We make pretty plays, but it was simple plays."

Tomas Vokoun made 25 saves for the Capitals, who are hoping to win three straight for the first time since their season-opening seven-game win streak from Oct. 8-22.

"We've been playing hard and smart lately," said Washington head coach Dale Hunter. "We didn't give up much out there and playing good defense will win you games."

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are seeking consecutive wins for the first time since Nov. 19-21, but must do so without top defenseman James Wisniewski after he suffered a fractured ankle blocking a shot in Thursday's 4-1 win at Dallas.

Wisniewski signed a six-year deal with the Blue Jackets this past offseason and had two goals and 15 assists in 29 games prior to the injury.

Columbus' win on Thursday snapped a six-game slide. Rick Nash scored twice, while Antoine Vermette and Fedor Tyutin added goals.

"It's fun to win in a place like this where it's a long travel, the fans are loud and they're a good team," said Nash. "We need to get things going here and this is a good start."

Steve Mason came up big with 36 saves for Columbus.

The Capitals have won their last two games versus the Blue Jackets, posting a 4-3 overtime win in the lone meeting last year, which took place in Washington.

The Caps have taken eight of their past 12 overall versus the Blue Jackets and have won five of the last six in Columbus.