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Game #29 Preview: Blue Jackets battle Capitals for division lead

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NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, December 8, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Japers’ Rink

Columbus Blue Jackets (16-10-2, 34 points, 2nd Metro, 5th East)

vs.

Washington Capitals (16-9-3, 35 points, 1st Metro, 4th East)

Tonight is Part 2 of the rematch of last year’s playoff series. The Jackets drew first blood in a game a month ago in Washington. Can they guarantee at least a split of the season series? A win would also leap the Jackets over the Caps for first place in the Metro, where those two teams have separated themselves from the pack (5 points ahead of third place Pittsburgh).

Player to Watch

Zach Werenski

Late in Thursday’s OT win over Philadelphia, Werenski saw himself stapled to the bench, and Seth Jones partnered with Ryan Murray again. So it appears the battle to improve his defensive game continues. Will he remain paired with Jones tonight, or will he spend more time on the third pair?

Jackets Notes

In case you missed it, here is the recap of what went down in Thursday’s win...There are multiple health issues on the coaching staff, with assistant coach Brad Shaw hospitalized for an abdominal issue, and head coach John Tortorella fighting a flu...Cam Atkinson has an active 12 game point streak.

The Other Bench

The Capitals completed a west coast trip with a win at Arizona...Their loss at Vegas featured a late hit by Ryan Reaves on Tom Wilson that left Wilson with a concussion. I don’t wish that injury on anyone, but if Wilson remains out tonight it means one less scoring threat to stop AND less chance of a Jacket getting taken out with a dirty hit, like Wilson’s hit on Alexander Wennberg in the playoffs...Alex Ovechkin continues to be an incredible hockey player. His 21 goals is twice as many as his nearest teammate. He recently became the fastest NHL player to 5000 career shots.

Season Series

11/09/2018 CBJ 2 @ WSH 1
12/08/2018 WSH @ CBJ
01/12/2019 CBJ @ WSH
02/12/2019 WSH @ CBJ

Stats

Washington Columbus
3.61 (4) GPG 3.57 (5)
3.18 (21) GAPG 3.36 (25)
26.1% (7) PP% 16.3% (24)
76.7% (25) PK% 77.6% (20)
47.89% (22) EV Corsi % 49.28% (20)
102.4 (2) EV PDO 100.9 (10)
Alex Ovechkin, 21 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 19
John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom, 24 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 24
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, 34 P Leader Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson, 31
Evgeny Kuznetsov, 26 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 36
8-5-1 Home / Road 7-5-1
8-2-0 Last 10 6-4-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Brandon Dubinsky Alexander Wennberg Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Lukas Sedlak Riley Nash Markus Hannikainen
Zack Werenski Seth Jones
Ryan Murray Markus Nutivaara
Scott Harrington David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
New York Islanders
Alex Ovechkin Nicklas Backstrom Andre Burakovsky
Jakub Vrana Evgeny Kuznetsov Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson Lars Eller Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitrij Jaskin Nic Dowd Travis Boyd
Michael Kempny John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov Matt Niskanen
Jonas Siegenthaler Christian Djoos
Braden Holtby
Pheonix Copley