Road-strong Capitals head to Columbus

Field Level Media

The Washington Capitals have qualified for road warrior status.

The Capitals have won five straight, including a 5-2 victory at Tampa Bay on Saturday, to tie the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres for the NHL record for the fewest games in a season -- 18 -- to reach 15 road wins (15-2-1).

Washington will look to continue that run Monday night at Columbus.

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The Capitals got even-strength goals from all four of its forward lines Saturday.

"It means a lot, obviously key to be successful down the road," Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom told The Washington Post. "That is something that we've been trying to do the whole year and trying to work on every day."

Saturday's victory was even more special as it came on the team's annual Mentors' Trip, with fathers and mentors of Capitals players in attendance.

That included Russian rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov's father, Aleksei, who was watching his son play in the NHL for the first time.

"I'm happy because I win this game for him," said Samsonov, who made 26 saves. "His first time watching me play my game. It's really important. I'm so happy."

Samsonov helped keep the Capitals in the game in the second period, when they took four minor penalties. That gave Tampa Bay's second-ranked power play plenty of ice time.

"Second period, Sammy was unreal," Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic said. "... Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and Sammy was tonight."

Lars Eller and Garnet Hathaway scored 45 seconds apart early in the third period as the Capitals broke a 1-1 tie.

"We regrouped, we talked about it between the second and the third," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "It was up to us to get back to our game for the third period."

The Blue Jackets are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at Ottawa on Saturday afternoon, despite rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period as rookie Alexandre Texier tallied twice.

"They clogged things up pretty good in the neutral zone, so if we can get it in behind them and get in on our forecheck, I think that's when we're at our best," Blue Jackets forward Eric Robinson said. "I think the third period was a product of that."

The Blue Jackets' Sonny Milano, Josh Anderson and Ryan Murray all left the game because of injuries.

"I think when things like that happen, you can rally around it for sure," Robinson said. "Obviously it's tough when you lose important guys to the team. We did a good job rallying in the third, we just came up short."

Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins was pulled after the first period after allowing two goals on eight shots, with Joonas Korpisalo coming in.

"He didn't (have it)," Columbus coach John Tortorella said of Merzlikins. "It's something we can't have right now."

This will be the second meeting between the teams in eight days. The Blue Jackets won 5-2 last Monday in Washington as Cam Atkinson scored twice and Korpisalo made 37 saves.

Columbus has won five of its past six games against the Capitals.

--Field Level Media

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