NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 21st
(All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (12-16-1) at Winnipeg Jets (16-12-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Winnipeg Jets showed they are deserving of the top spot
in the Southeast Division after beating one of the Eastern Conference's best
Claude Noel's club will have to be careful on Thursday of not looking past the
Washington Capitals, who the Jets will host on back-to-back nights.
Winnipeg has gone 6-1-1 in its last eight games and Tuesday's 3-1 victory over
the Boston Bruins, who have seven more points than the Jets, put the club two
points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Southeast
Trailing by a goal heading into the third period, Blake Wheeler and Evander
Kane scored 57 seconds apart late in the frame and Wheeler capped the scoring
with an empty-net goal. He has three two-goal games over his last five.
Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves for the Jets franchise, which has not made the
postseason since 2007 and moved a game above .500 at home this season (7-6-0).
"It's nice to get the two points. We're just trying to push up the standings
as far as we can go," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said.
The Jets took the opener of a four-game homestand and will also host the
Capitals again on Friday before wrapping up the residency on Sunday against
the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Winnipeg will try not to stumble against Washington, which is 14th out of 15
teams in the East and seven points back of a playoff spot.
"Just because we beat Boston doesn't mean we're going to walk in and play
Washington back-to-back and that will be a lesser game," said Noel. "It will
be just as difficult as this one. There's such a fine line in the National
Hockey League between winning and losing."
The Jets had won four straight over the Capitals before dropping a 3-0
decision at home to the club on March 2. It marks the only time this season
that Winnipeg has been shut out.
Braden Holtby stopped all 35 shots faced for Washington, which got a goal and
an assist from Mike Ribeiro.
Pavelec made 18 saves for the Jets.
The Capitals, though, have lost five of their past seven and were bested 2-1
on Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won their 10th straight.
Holtby made 34 saves and Alex Ovechkin notched his third goal in four games
and 12th of the season.
"This one's really disappointing," said Washington forward Eric Fehr. "I
thought we had this game. We worked really hard and we did a lot of the things
we need to do to win games. When you run into a hot team like this, they seem
to find a way to win and I thought we deserved that one."
The Caps dropped the opener of a four-game road trip and will close the swing
on Sunday versus the New York Rangers. They are just 4-9-1 on the road this
03/21 10:55:38 ET