|Date of game: 1/27/2015
Washington Capitals (24-13-9) at Columbus Blue Jackets (20-22-3), 7 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Following a successful turn as host of NHL All-Star weekend, the Columbus Blue Jackets hope to build some momentum on Tuesday when they return to regular season action at Nationwide Arena against the Washington Capitals.
The Blue Jackets saw one of their own -- Ryan Johansen -- take home the All- Star Game MVP despite the fact that Johansen was on the losing team. Team Foligno, captained by Columbus forward Nick Foligno, fell 17-12 to Team Toews, but Johansen was voted MVP by the hometown fans after posting two goals and two assists in the loss.
Johansen also stole the show in the Breakaway Challenge at Saturday's Skills competition, but now that the mid-season showcase is over he and the Blue Jackets will get back to the task at hand.
Columbus is attempting to get back to the postseason, but will have to begin their post-All-Star push without the services of franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who is expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks due to an injured groin suffered in his team's last game before the break..
After suffering through a 6-15-2 record to begin the season, the Blue Jackets gave their fading postseason chances a boost with a 12-2-1 run from Dec. 1- Jan. 6. Columbus, however, fell back to Earth over the last few weeks before the All-Star break, going 2-5-0 in its final seven games before the hiatus.
As it currently stands, the Jackets are 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That means Todd Richards' club will need to be at its best over the next few months if it plans on making the playoffs for a second straight spring and for only the third time in club history.
The Blue Jackets ended their pre-All-Star slate on a three-game road trip. They began the swing with consecutive wins in Boston and Minnesota before falling 4-0 to Winnipeg on Wednesday.
In addition to dropping the game to the Jets, Columbus also saw Bobrovsky leave the game with a groin injury. The ailment caused the former Vezina Trophy winner to miss All-Star weekend after being picked to represent the hometown Blue Jackets, but it wasn't known how long Bobrovsky would be out until Monday.
Curtis McElhinney stopped 17-of-18 shots after coming on for Bobrovsky during the second period. Bobrovsky suffered the injury after stretching out to make a save period and had to be helped off the ice.
"This is kind of how the season has been going," Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said. "We're close to getting guys back, then lose two guys in the game."
With Bobrovsky sidelined, McElhinney will start in net tonight. Anton Forsberg has been recalled from the American Hockey League to serve as the backup.
The Capitals entered the break on a three-game slide, the club's worst stretch since a season-high five-game losing streak from Oct. 26-Nov. 4.
Washington is 0-2-1 over its current skid and hasn't played since dropping a 5-4 shootout decision last Tuesday against Edmonton. The Capitals led the visiting Oilers 3-1 after the first period and was still in front 4-2 in the third period before allowing Edmonton to send the game to overtime.
Teddy Purcell, who wound up scoring the game-winner in the fourth round of the shootout, made it a 4-3 game for Edmonton with 4:11 left in regulation and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched the equalizer with 67 seconds remaining.
All-Star forward Alex Ovechkin scored twice for the Capitals. Nicklas Backstrom and Jay Beagle also lit the lamp, while Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 31 shots.
"We had this game in pretty good control and then we played that way," said Holtby. "It's frustrating and not how we want to play, myself included."
Holtby is second among NHL goaltenders with 40 appearances this season, but with his team scheduled to host Pittsburgh tomorrow the workhorse could get a rare breather tonight from Justin Peters.
Washington has claimed two of three and seven of the past 10 meetings with the Blue Jackets. Columbus had claimed two straight on home ice before the Caps recorded a 5-4 overtime win at Nationwide on Dec. 18.