There is a battle for the top spots of the Metropolitan Division at the midway point of the NHL season, and two of the contenders will meet Saturday night in Washington.
The Capitals, on a three-game winning streak, lead the division with 58 points. That's four points ahead of Pittsburgh and five in front of Columbus, which comes to D.C. on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off big victories.
The Blue Jackets won 4-3 in overtime against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Artemi Panarin got the game-winning goal at 1:22 of overtime.
The bigger news might have been off the ice when, according to media reports, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was informed he needed to keep away from the team before the Nashville game. The Athletic reported there had been an "incident" that "failed to meet expectations and values" of the Blue Jackets.
The issue seemed resolved Friday after he met with the team and team officials. Bobrovsky practiced and met with reporters afterward.
"I let my emotions get to me when I shouldn't," Bobrovsky said. "I pride myself to being a good teammate all the time. ... We cleaned the air and we're ready to move on. It's going to stay in the room between us."
Bobrovsky will travel with the team to Washington, although it wasn't immediately clear if he or Joonas Korpisalo -- who stepped in for him Thursday -- would start.
Thursday's victory was the 600th of coach John Tortorella's NHL career. The Blue Jackets gave him the game puck afterward, but in his typical style, the coach played it down later.
"I don't think of it as something special," Tortorella said on NHL.com. "It's a number. But I'm honored and privileged to have the opportunity to be in the game as long as I have. That's what the number is."
Washington, meanwhile, scored its 14th consecutive win over the Bruins in a 4-2 victory in Boston on Thursday night, despite being outshot 41-22.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice, and goalie Braden Holtby improved to 16-2-0 versus the Bruins with a marvelous 39-save performance. Holtby told The Washington Post he's not exactly sure why the Capitals have dominated Boston so much recently, but that he likes going against them.
"We play pretty good hockey against them," Holtby said.
"We've had success against them, but they've always been good games. It's just one of those things that seems to just happen, but they're a fun team to play against. They work hard, and they battle, especially in tough areas.
"So I think that might be why we're so engaged in the game when we play them, because they play a hard style of hockey every game."
Nicklas Backstrom got the tiebreaking goal in the third period to give Washington a 3-2 lead just over a minute after Boston knotted the game at 2. Ovechkin added a late, long empty-net goal. He leads the NHL with 32 goals and moved into 50th place on the NHL's all-time points list with 1,171 (639 goals, 532 assists).
Also for Columbus, Nick Foligno came back after missing the previous four games due to medical issues with his daughter.
In other off-ice news, longtime Blue Jacket winger Rick Nash announced his retirement Friday due to medical reasons stemming from concussion problems. Columbus drafted Nash first overall in 2002, and he spent nine seasons with the team.
He leads the Columbus record books in games played (674), goals (289), assists (258) and points (547). Nash later played with the New York Rangers and then, briefly, with Boston last season. He had not played this season.
--Field Level Media