Game Preview: Jets vs Capitals
The Jets face the Capitals back-to-back at home starting on Thursday night.
CAPITALS (12-16-1) at JETS (16-12-2)
TV: CSN-DC, TSN-JETS
Last 10: Washington 5-5-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1
Season series: The teams have split two meetings to this point, which both club winning in the other's arena. Washington won at MTS Centre 3-0 on March 2.
Big story: These teams play twice in as many nights in Winnipeg -- the Capitals probably need a sweep to foster any fleeting hope about making the playoffs while the Jets can cement their hold on the Southeast Division lead.
Capitals: For about four weeks, the Washington Capitals looked like the team many pundits expected them to be. After an abject start, the Capitals went 8-3-0 from Feb. 9 to Mar. 7 and appeared on the verge of being back in the playoff race.
Then came a lost weekend in New York, a three-game losing streak and four games of running in place. The result has left the Capitals in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and nine points back of the Jets in the Southeast. Even a well-played defeat like the one Tuesday in Pittsburgh does nothing for Washington at this point. It is "start a long winning streak time" or else for the Capitals.
Jets: When Winnipeg lost to Washington at MTS earlier this month, it was the sixth defeat in 10 games in a building where the Jets were fantastic last season. After a third-period rally Tuesday against Boston, the Jets have now won three straight at home and have stormed to the top of the division.
Winnipeg still has 11 of its final 18 games at home, and the Jets just went 4-1-1 in a relatively difficult segment of the schedule. They also have 11 of their final 18 against teams currently outside the top eight in the East.
Who's hot: Alex Ovechkin has three goals and an assist in the past four games for Washington after going the three previous contests without a point. Blake Wheeler has three multi-goal games in his past five for Winnipeg.
Injury report: Defensemen John Erskine (upper body), Tomas Kundratek (right leg), Tom Poti (back) are likely out for Washington. Mike Green (groin) told reporters Wednesday he expects to play, but coach Adam Oates would not confirm that. Winnipeg will be without defensemen Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and Zach Redmond (leg), forwards Jim Slater (upper body) and Anthony Peluso (hand) and backup goaltender Al Montoya (lower body).