November 23 vs. Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 1500AM, XM and Caps Radio Network Pre-Game: Morning Skate Report at 1 p.m., Pre-Cap Podcast at 2 p.m., John Walton’s one-on-one audio with Bruce Boudreau at 5 p.m., Two-Man Advantage at 5 p.m., all on washingtoncaps.com
Winnipeg Jets (8-9-3)
Washington Capitals (11-7-1)
Washington hosts Winnipeg on Wednesday in the middle match of a three-game homestand. Coming off a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Monday’s homestand opener, the Caps are seeking to start a winning run after ending a four-game skid (0-3-1).
“It’s one game,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of Monday’s win. “We’ve got a lot of games left. If we get too excited about one win, then we’re in trouble. I think we’ve got to be consistently good all the time if we want to be a good team. Anybody can do anything once. We’ll see how we come out and play [Wednesday].”
The Caps will be seeking to avenge last Thursday’s 4-1 loss at the hands of the Jets in Winnipeg. Only four points separate Washington and Winnipeg in the Southeast Division standings.
After digging a 2-0 hole for themselves against a solid Phoenix team, the Caps rebounded with four unanswered goals – more than they’d scored in their three previous games combined – and held off the Coyotes to earn the two points.
“It was a big win, we had to get off the schneid,” said Caps winger Matt Hendricks after Monday’s win over the Coyotes. “That’s for sure. But at the same time, we knew if we stuck with our game plan for a full 60 minutes, stuck with the things we know, that we were eventually going to get out of that and become successful. It was a great game tonight. [Goaltender Tomas Vokoun] played well for us, and credit to the big guys.”
One of the big guys who came up big against the Coyotes was Nicklas Backstrom. The Caps center ended a four-game scoring drought with a goal and an assist in Monday’s game. Backstrom’s 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) on the season are seven more than anyone else on the club.
Last week, Washington lost all three contests on a three-game road trip. Monday’s game started a stretch in which the Caps play six of seven at home. Monday’s win leaves them with a 7-1-1 mark on home ice this season. The Caps have struggled on the road this season (4-6) and they’ve lost six of their last eight games away from Verizon Center.
“It’s big,” says Hendricks of the home cooking ahead on Washington’s schedule. “It’s important. We’ve got some home games. Obviously we go to Buffalo on Saturday, but we’ve got some home games now and we like to play in front of our crowd and this is the time of year when you need to pack up some wins.”
Monday’s win halted the Caps’ skid, but now Washington hopes to start bankrolling points and getting back into the win column with much more regularity.
“We want to get on a streak,” says Caps defenseman Karl Alzner. “We want to start winning five in a row and maybe losing one, and winning six. That’s the way you want to go through the season. But it is tough. Every team looks like they’re playing pretty good. It’s crazy to see, but we lose three games in a row and we’re already down in ninth place. It’s kind of scary. It gives you extra incentive to start winning these games. We don’t want to fall out of a playoff spot.”
Although they are just 1-for-27 (3.7%) on the power play in their last half dozen games, the Capitals did score Monday’s game-winner on a 5-on-3 manpower advantage. For the season, they rank 13th with a 17.3% power play success rate. Washington is 24th in the league in penalty killing with a kill rate of 78.9%.
The Jets come to town on a roll having swept their three-game homestand last week. The Jets took down Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia, respectively, on home ice last week. Winnipeg won those three games by a combined score of 15-7.
Winnipeg’s modest winning streak followed a five-game losing streak (0-3-2). Six of Winnipeg’s eight wins have come against clubs with winning records, including two triumphs over Philadelphia and one each over Pittsburgh and Washington.
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelev has made a dozen consecutive starts between the pipes. He was in goal for last Thursday’s 4-1 win over Washington, a game in which he made 31 saves.
Lifetime against Washington, Pavelec is 5-8 with two shutouts, a 2.84 GAA and a .915 save pct. Recently, he has been much better against the Capitals. In his last six appearances (five starts) against Washington, Pavelec is 4-1 with two shutouts, a 0.65 GAA and a .981 save pct.
Wednesday’s stop in Washington is the first on a three-game road trip for Winnipeg. The Jets will play those three games in a span of just four nights, so back-up goaltender Chris Mason is expected to get the starting assignment in one of the contests. Winnipeg visits Carolina on Friday and Boston on Sunday.
This is the first visit by a Winnipeg-based team to the District since
The old Jets (now the Phoenix Coyotes) and the Caps skated to a 1-1 tie at USAir Arena on January 16, 1996. Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves for Winnipeg and Jim Carey made 24 stops for Washington in that game. Peter Bondra provided the Caps’ goal in that game while Teppo Numminen tallied for the Jets.
Heading into Tuesday night’s slate of NHL activity, the Jets’ power play ranks eighth in the NHL with a success rate of 19.7%. Winnipeg struck twice in five tries with the extra man last Thursday against the Capitals. The Jets are 20th in the NHL in penalty killing prowess with a kill rate of exactly 80%.