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

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.