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Rolling Jets seek to extend Capitals' struggles
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets will try to continue their success under new head coach Paul Maurice when they visit the struggling Washington Capitals for Thursday's meeting at Verizon Center.
The Jets boast a 9-2-0 record since Maurice took over behind the bench for the fired Claude Noel in mid-January. The club has won its last three games and Winnipeg can post its second four-game winning streak of the Maurice era with another victory tonight.
The surge has helped move Winnipeg within two points of a playoff spot in the West.
Washington, meanwhile, has damaged its playoff chances in recent weeks, although it does enter Thursday's tilt only three points out of a postseason spot in the East. The Capitals have lost three of their last four games and are just 3-7-3 over their past 13 outings.
The Caps, who until this season were in the same division as the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, have won five straight in this series against their former Southeast Division rivals. That run includes a 5-4 shootout win in Winnipeg on Oct. 22 when Alex Ovechkin recorded two goals and an assist for Washington.
The Jets had a three-game winning streak in D.C. snapped when the Capitals posted a 5-3 home win on April 23 of last season. Ovechkin had one goal and an assist in that victory and the Russian sniper has amassed 81 points (40 goals, 41 assists) in 54 career games against the Thrashers/Jets.
Winnipeg has won all three of its games during its current winning streak by one-goal margins and each of the victories came in regulation. The Jets picked up their second straight win by a 2-1 score Tuesday in Carolina, as Chris Thorburn scored the winner with 1:03 to play to down the Hurricanes.
The winning goal came as Jacob Trouba skated behind the net and came around the left side in an attempt on a wraparound. It missed the goaltender, but came to the right side and Thorburn slammed it in with 63 seconds left.
Andrew Ladd had the other goal and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 28 shots for the win.
"It wasn't our best game because I don't think we played to our strengths," said Maurice. "But the structure was deep and our defense was good so that's what pulled us through."
The Jets have won the first two games of a four-game swing to improve their road record to 14-14-1. Winnipeg will close the trip this Saturday in St. Louis on the final day of NHL action before the league goes on hiatus for the Winter Olympics.
The Capitals were shut out 1-0 in their last outing, as they dropped a home decision to the New York Islanders. Andrew MacDonald scored the only goal of the game early in the third period to account for the decisive goal.
Michal Neuvirth made 27 saves for the Capitals, who went 0-for-6 on the power play in the loss.
"Every point right now is big," said Washington forward Martin Erat. "It doesn't matter if you are playing the Islanders or if you are playing Boston. You have to play the same way all the time, and we have to get the points from every single game."
Washington is 1-1-0 on a four-game homestand that will carry the club into the Olympic break. The residency ends with Saturday's tilt against the New Jersey Devils, who are currently tied with the Caps in the East standings.
The Capitals. who are 15-10-4 as the host this season, will play Thursday without defenseman Mike Green (concussion) and forwards Mikhail Grabovski (sprained ankle) and Aaron Volpatti (upper body).
02/06 11:15:34 ET