Washington Capitals vs Winnipeg Jets
|(28-21-4) 60 points||(25-24-6) 56 points|
3rd in East, 1st in Southeast
10th in East, 3rd in Southeast
Washington is fresh off a big 4-0 win over division rival Florida Panthers and took over first in the Southeast for the second time this season. They sit only four points up on the Jets and one point ahead of the Panthers. While the postseason picture is still a little cloudy, they are most likely battling with the Panthers, Jets and possibly the Lightning for the third seed.
This is the fourth meeting of the clubs with the Caps taking two of three. They will play the Jets another two times and the Panthers once more. It’s very likely that these games will determine who gets into the playoffs.
Alexander Ovechkin has been playing better since his suspension with two goals in the win on Tuesday. While Tomas Vokoun picked up the shutout and will likely get the start tonight.
After a tough road trip, the Jets returned home and played a gritty complete team effort against the Leafs to end their three game winning streak. They held Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupel to a shot a piece with Kessel finding the back of the net. It might have been a completely different game had he not been shut down and it was the first time all year that every player was on the ice for more than ten minutes.
In crucial games this year the Jets have come up short often. The lone exception was the New Years Eve game against the Leafs that at the time, moved them into the playoff picture. Tonight will be a big test mentally for a team that has struggled on the road and in important games.
If they can pull off a victory in Washington and Florida loses against Los Angeles, it will pull them to within one point of the Panthers and two points of the Capitals. The window of opportunity for the Jets to make the playoffs grows smaller with every loss, making tonight’s game crucial.
The good news is the Jets are getting healthy at the right time. Evander Kane returned to the line up Tuesday and they may get Tim Stapleton back tonight.
Keys to Victory
Keep rolling four lines. The Jets need to take some of the pressure off the top two lines to win consistently.
Put the puck in the net. When one of your top goal scorers the past five games is Chris Thorburn you’re going to have problems winning games.
Win the goalie battle. Pavelec has to be better than countryman Vokoun for Winnipeg to have a chance.
Hit Ovechkin. Ovie has proven to be a player that can be rattled when he’s hit. They need to do that at every turn and get him off his game.
Tim Stapleton (lower body) questionable
Zach Bogosisn (wrist) questionable
Jets – Ondrej Pavelec (19-18-6, 2.70, .912) [Confirmed]
Capitals – Tomas Vokoun (22-13-1, 2.47, .920) [Confirmed]
This is a must win game for both teams and I believe it will go down to the wire. It may possibly go into extra time which is something neither team wants to do and Florida is hoping not to see. In the end I think we’ll see the true potential our Jets have and they will pick up a gutsy and important two points.
Winnipeg Jets 3 – Washington Capitals 2