The Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets meet for the second and final time this season when they clash at Capital One Arena on Monday night. The Jets took the first meeting between the two teams, 4-3 in overtime on February 13 at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets begin a set of back-to-back road games against the Capitals on Monday. They travel right to Nashville after the game to visit the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday to conclude the set. The Jets will be playing the fifth game of a season-long six game road trip. They are 3-1-0 on the trip so far, but lost their last game on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center to the Flyers by a 2-1 count.
Saturday’s loss ended the Jets’ four-game winning streak, but they have won seven of their past 10 games entering Monday’s tilt in the District.
After missing the postseason for two consecutive seasons and five of the past six since relocating from Atlanta, the Jets are poised to make the postseason this year. The Jets are second in the Central Division, seven points behind the Predators for first and six ahead of the Wild, who are right behind them in the standings.
The Jets are fourth in the league with 227 goals and 3.31 goals per game. They also have the league’s second-ranked power play unit, which clicks at a 24.4% rate. The Jets are also strong on the defensive side of the puck, giving up 177 goals against and an average of 2.6 goals against per game, which is good for fifth in the league. Their penalty kill also sits at the top of the pack, with an 82.9% efficiency, good for sixth in the league.
Leading the charge for the Jets lately is winger Patrik Laine. In his sophomore season, Laine is tied for the NHL league lead with Alex Ovechkin at 40 goals. Laine, 19, has been on a tear lately with a five-game goal scoring streak (nine goals) and has 15 goals and 21 points in 11 games since the Capitals have seen him last. Laine has scored a goal on 15 of his last 30 shots.
Captain Blake Wheeler leads Winnipeg with 58 assists, which is tied for first in the NHL with Flyers’ forward Jakub Voracek, and 76 points, which is ninth in the league, through 68 games this season. Wheeler, 31, is 10 points shy of his 600th career point.
24-year old netminder Connor Hellybuck will get the crease for Winnipeg in Washington on Monday night. Hellybuck has been one of the best goaltenders this season and has put himself in the Vezina Trophy conversation. He has a 35-11-8 record with a .923 save percentage and a 2.38 goals against average. His 35 wins are third in the NHL this season. Lifetime against the Capitals, Hellybuck is 2-1-0 with a save percentage of .924 and a goals-against average of 2.26. He made 24 saves on 27 shots against the Capitals in the first meeting of the season between the two teams.
The Capitals return home from their three-game California road trip, where they went 1-2-0. The Capitals avoided a pointless journey with a 2-0 shutout at SAP Center against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the Capitals’ first shutout victory of the season at a place they haven’t won in regulation since 1993.
Alex Ovechkin still sits at 598 career goals and didn’t tally a point in California. Ovechkin could reach the 600-goal milestone on Monday against the Jets, who he has scored a career-best 45 goals and 89 points in 62 career games against. His 89 points against Winnipeg mark is the first in NHL history in points against a single franchise. He tallied one assist when the Capitals and Jets met in Winnipeg last month. Ovechkin has points in 15 out of 20 games the Capitals have played the Jets since they relocated from Atlanta in the 2011-12 campaign (15 goals, 26 points).
The Capitals have won three straight home games and have not lost at home in five games against the Jets, who last won at Capital One Arena back in the 2012-13 home opener back on January 22 by a 4-2 count. The Capitals have also recorded a point in 12 of their last 13 games against the Jets, going 10-1-2 in that span.
The Capitals hold first place in the Metropolitan entering Sunday’s slate of NHL activity but the Penguins could leapfrog one point ahead of the Capitals, who will enter Monday’s game with two games in hand on Pittsburgh, with a victory against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. The Capitals are three points ahead of Philadelphia Flyers with a game in hand. The Flyers host the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night while the Capitals will be dealing with the Jets.
Philipp Grubauer will likely start for the Capitals after starting the past two games. Grubauer is 9-8-3 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average. He has won five of his past six starts, recording a .954 save percentage in that span. Grubauer will make his first career appearance against Winnipeg on Monday. He stopped all 24 shots he faced in the Capitals’ 2-0 shutout win in San Jose on Saturday.
-The Capitals have outshot opponents 308-280 in their last 10 games. Washington has recorded 280 shots five-on-five, good for seventh best in the league during that span and has allowed 254 five-on-five, the 11th fewest in that span. The Capitals have also generated 279 scoring chances at five-on-five since Feb. 19, the third-most in the NHL.
–Lars Eller is one goal shy of his career-high 16 goals he reached in 79 games with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2011-12 season. His 33 points in 67 games is three points above of his career-high 30 he accomplished in 46 games with Montreal in 2012-13.
-Since January 25, the Capitals have the most successful power play in the NHL (29.2%). During that time frame, nine different Capitals have recorded a power-play point. John Carlson’s eight points (1g, 7a) on the power play leads the Capitals during the stretch. Overall, the Capitals power play is tied for sixth in the NHL this season (43 goals on 197 opportunities, 21.8%).
A Look Back in Time
Nicklas Backstrom recorded a goal and two assists back on February 19, 2015 against Winnipeg to power the Capitals to a 5-1 win. Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer each recorded two points and Alex Ovechkin notched his 38th goal of the season and an assist. Three of the Capitals’ five goals on the night came on the power play and another shorthanded. Braden Holtby made 19 saves on 20 shots to guide the Capitals to victory.
By Harrison Brown