The Washington Capitals face the Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season on Wednesday night at Bell MTS Centre. The Jets and Capitals each won in overtime at home last season with the Jets winning 4-3 on February 13 and the Capitals prevailing 3-2 on March 12. Puck drop from Bell MTS Centre will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Washington starting at 8 PM.
The Capitals play the second game of a four-game road trip in Winnipeg on Wednesday night after beating the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-2 the night prior. The Capitals are 3-3-1 on the road this season and have allowed at least four goals five times on the road this season and at least six three times on the road. Washington has been outscored 29-24 in seven road games this season with 20 of those goals coming in only four of those games.
Washington comes into tonight looking to build off of from a strong night on the penalty kill in Minnesota, where they went 1-for-6 down a man. The Capitals enter Wednesday with a 72.7% penalty-killing rate, which is 28th in the NHL, only leading the Ottawa Senators (67.2%), the Philadelphia Flyers (70.3%), and the Carolina Hurricanes (71.9%). The Capitals come into Wednesday’s game against the Jets giving up at least one power play goal in each of their past five games, killing off 15 of their past 22 penalties in that span (68.2% efficiency).
Capitals defenseman Madison Bowey returns to his hometown of Winnipeg, where he brought the Stanley Cup to this past offseason for his day with Lord Stanley. He played for the Winnipeg Wild in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League, posting 38 points (16 goals) in 41 games before he was selected by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL. This season, Bowey has appeared in 10 games for the Capitals and has recorded one assist.
Center Nicklas Backstrom enters Wednesday’s game at the Jets on a six-game point streak (two goals, seven points), tied with center Evgeny Kuznetsov for the Capitals’ longest streak this season (six games, one goal, seven points). His 20 points are tied with captain Alex Ovechkin for second on the team leaderboard behind Kuznetsov, who leads the team with 21 points. Backstrom, 30, also leads the team with 16 assists.
Braden Holtby will likely start for the Capitals. This season, he is 5-5-2 with a save percentage of .900 and a goals-against average of 3.24. Lifetime against Winnipeg, Holtby has a record of 10-3-2 with a save percentage of .926, a goals-against average of 2.36, and two shutouts.
Winnipeg plays the third game of a four-game homestand after beating the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-2 each time. They will wrap up their homestand on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres before heading out for a four-game road trip.
Last season, the Jets surprised everybody finishing second in the NHL with 114 points, only three points behind the Nashville Predators for the Presidents’ Trophy and beat them in the second round of the playoffs in seven games. Winnipeg fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Western Conference Final after winning Game 1. The Jets enter Wednesday’s game with a 7-3-0 record in their past 10 games with two of those losses coming against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are second in the Atlantic Division with 24 points. The Jets are currently third in the Central Division, three points behind the Wild for second with two games in hand.
The Jets lead the NHL with an efficiency of 34% on the power play. The Capitals are right behind them with an efficiency of 30.3% on the power play. Winnipeg is also fifth in the NHL with a 52.2% faceoff winning percentage and fifth with a goals-against per game average of 2.63.
Captain Blake Wheeler comes into the game with 23 points, tying Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak and Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly for fifth on the league leaderboard. Wheeler also shares the NHL lead with 20 assists with Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, who has played one more game than Wheeler has this season. The 32-year old, who signed a five-year contract extension worth $41.25 million ($8.25 million AAV) with the Jets on September 4, tied Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux for the league-lead with 68 assists and finished ninth in the NHL with 91 points last season.
Goaltender Connor Hellebyuck will likely start for the Jets. After finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting last season, the 25-year old is 7-5-1 with a save percentage of .912 and a goals-against average of 2.85 this season. Lifetime against Washington, Hellebyuck is 2-1-1 with a save percentage of .926 and a goals-against average of 2.40.
-Ovechkin’s 47 goals and 91 points in 63 career games against the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise are the most any player has tallied against the franchise in NHL history
-The Capitals have a 49-26-5-9 record all-time vs. the Jets
-Over the last two seasons, the Capitals are 7-8-1 in the second half of back-to-backs overall
A Look Back in Time
Center Brooks Laich snapped his first goal of the season from the left dot for a 1-0 Capitals lead with 7:50 left in the first. Forward Troy Brouwer added to that lead with a sniper while on the rush with center Mike Ribeiro less than four minutes later. Center Jay Beagle put it past goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in front of the net after forward Joel Ward fed him from behind the net to make it 3-0 less than six minutes into the middle frame. Ovechkin wired it from behind the right circle after forward Marcus Johansson fed him from the slot to make it 4-0 two minutes later. Defenseman Mike Green scored from the point to begin the third period. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien cut the Capitals’ lead to four with 10 minutes to go from a weird angle. Ovechkin scored from his spot with four minutes to go for a 6-1 victory to conclude back-to-back wins in consecutive days at MTS Centre on March 22, 2013. Holtby made 30 saves in the win.
By Harrison Brown