It was a must-win Southeast division tilt tonight between the Jets and Capitals. As expected, the playoff atmosphere came through at the MTS Centre and just as the Jets were hoping for, they came away with a very valuable two points as they defeated the Capitals 3-2.
Andrew Ladd scored the important first goal in the game but the pesky Capitals answered back quickly and we were tied 1-1 after one. Nik Antropov then scored his 12th of the season giving the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
Again the Capitals evened things up early in the third period but it was Dustin Byfuglien's goal midway through the third that proved to be the game winner tonight.
Ondrej Pavelec stopped 20 of 22 shots while Tomas Vokoun saved 25 of 28 for the Capitals.
The Jets will enjoy the win for tonight but will have a quick turnaround as they get ready to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes for another division match-up.
Jason Chimera took the game's first penalty for the Capitals as he was sent to the box for hooking just 1:30 into the opening frame. The Jets power play unit put the pressure on early throwing everything at Tomas Vokoun and creating excellent scoring opportunities but weren't able to convert on the first opportunity.
Ron Hainsey took the first Jets penalty at 8:09 for hooking putting the Capitals on the advantage but they also failed to convert on the power play.
Andrew Ladd got the Jets on the board at 11:08 of the period as he raced across the blueline with Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler. He tried to make a pass but instead the puck bounced off a skate and right back to him in front. He got a handle on it and back-handed it past Vokoun.
The Capitals answered right back 22 seconds later to tie the game as Brooks Laich tipped in a shot from Marcus Johansson on the point.
After 20 minutes of play, the Jets and Caps were tied 1-1 and the shots were 7-5 in favour of the Jets.
The Jets had another strong start to the second period putting pressure on the Capitals and peppering Vokoun with shots. Unfortunately, nothing was getting to the back of the net. One of the best chances was by Kane just over the midway mark of the period as he rang one of the left post and it flew out the other side.
Their hard work finally paid off as Nik Antropov put the Jets up at 16:10 of the period. Antti Miettinen did a great job of getting the puck to Tim Stapleton behind the net where he waited patiently for Antropov to swoop in and park in front of Vokoun. He made a nice pass to Antropov who finished the play. 2-1 Jets.
Quickly after the goal, the Jets found themselves on a two-man advantage for 1:39 seconds. Mike Knuble took a holding penalty and seconds later Brooks Laich tossed the puck over the glass for delay of game. Somehow, some way, the Capitals managed to keep the puck out of their own net and the game remained 2-1. In fact, Tobias Enstrom took a holding minor just as the Caps penalties expired. Time ran out on the period and the Capitals would start the third period on the power play.
Shots after two periods were 21-11 Jets.
It only took their power play unit 27 seconds into the third period and Matthieu Perreault tied the game 2-2. His goal was unassisted.
Dustin Byfuglien regained the Jets lead at 9:29 of the third period. Evander Kane faked to get around his defender at the top of the left circle and threw the puck on net. Bufuglien was parked in the crease to tap home the puck and give the Jets a 3-2 lead.
With 2:22 remaining in regulation, Ron Hainsey took a two minute high sticking penalty. The Capitals pounded away flooding the Jets zone with everything they had. Pavelec and the Jets penalty killers had to be their best to hold onto their lead, and they did. Time ran out for the Capitals and the Jets held the two points at the buzzer.