The Washington Capitals conclude their season series with the Winnipeg Jets when the two teams face off on Sunday night. The Jets took the first meeting with the Capitals this season by a score of 3-1 at Bell MTS Center in Winnipeg on November 14. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 7 PM ET.
The Jets finish up a four-game Eastern road-swing on Sunday night. They are 2-1-0 in the first three games of their road trip, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 5-2, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3-2, and blowing out the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 8-1 on Friday night. They are 18-15-0 on the road this season.
After falling to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Western Conference Final last season, the Jets enter Sunday night’s tilt a point up on the Nashville Predators with two games in hand despite going 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. Their 84 points this season are third in the Western Conference only behind the San Jose Sharks’ 90 and the Calgary Flames’ 89. They will likely make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive year for the first time since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011.
Captain Blake Wheeler’s 64 assists this season are second in the NHL behind Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov’s 77. The 32-year-old leads the Jets with 83 points in 67 games a season after posting a career-high 68 assists and 91 points in 81 games last year. He is currently on a four-game goal-scoring streak (seven goals), which included a four-goal outing against the Blue Jackets last Sunday, and an eight-game point-streak (seven goals, 15 points). Center Mark Schiefele leads the Jets with 32 goals and is second on the team with 75 points this season.
The Jets were busy at the trade deadline, acquiring center Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers, who has two goals and five points in his first five games with the Jets and 16 goals, 42 points, and a +4 rating in 56 games this season, and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu from the Buffalo Sabres, who has three assists in his first five games with the Jets and three goals, 10 points, and a +4 rating in 35 games this season.
The Jets’ average of 3.43 goals-per-game ranks sixth in the NHL this season while their power-play efficiency of 25.7% is fourth, though their 78.6% penalty-killing efficiency is the seventh-worst in the NHL. Their 33.8 shots-against per game average is the third-most in the NHL only less than the Ottawa Senators (36.1) and Chicago Blackhawks (35.1).
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who is 28-18-2 with a save percentage of .910 and a goals-against average of 2.99 this season, will likely start for the Jets on Sunday. In his career against the Capitals, the 25-year old is 3-1-1 with a save percentage of .933 and a goals-against average of 2.13. He made 27 saves against the Capitals in the Jets’ 3-1 win on November 14.
The Capitals conclude a short two-game homestand before heading out on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip on Sunday night against the Jets. They have won four games in a row and have points in seven straight games (6-0-1) on home ice. In addition, they are 7-1-2 in their last 10 at Capital One Arena. The Capitals are 20-9-5 at home this season.
The Capitals can tie their season-high winning streak of seven games, which was set in November, with a win against the Jets. They shutout the New Jersey Devils in their last game by a score of 3-0 on Friday. Over their winning streak, the Capitals have outscored opponents by a combined score of 26-13. They have also won eight of their last 10 games (8-2-0). They entered Saturday two points up on the New York Islanders for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals and Islanders will each enter Sunday with 14 games left to play.
Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 46 goals and the Capitals with 77 points this season. In three games since he saw an eight-game point-streak end, the 33-year old captain has not recorded a point in two of those games, though he had two points in the lone game he got on the scoresheet, a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. He enters Sunday needing one more point for the 1200th of his career. Defenseman John Carlson leads the Capitals with 49 assists this season.
The Capitals’ average of 3.38 goals-per-game is the seventh-highest in the NHL this season. They have scored at least three goals in five of the six games on their winning streak and in 16 of their last 21 games since getting limited to a grand total of four goals in four games in mid-January. In addition, they have scored at least three goals in nine of their last 10 home games since February 1, outscoring opponents 37-25 in that stretch.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 26-16-4 with a save percentage of .910, a goals-against average of 2.88, and three shutouts this season, will likely start against the Jets on Sunday. In 15 career games against the Jets, the 29-year old netminder is 10-3-2 with a save percentage of .926, a goals-against average of 2.36, and two shutouts.
- Forward Andre Burakovsky is currently on a three-game goal streak, his first three-game goal streak since Jan. 16 through Jan. 21, 2017 (three goals) and now has seven points (four goals) in his last nine games; during this stretch, which began in a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on February 18, Burakovsky’s eight on-ice goals for at five-on-five are the most among forwards on the team
- Through 68 games this season, the Capitals are 40-21-7, two wins and four points ahead of last season’s total
- Ovechkin has registered 91 points (47 goals) in 64 career games against the Jets, ranking first in NHL history in points against the franchise
A Look Back In Time
With the Capitals returning home from a 1-2-0 performance on the three-game California road trip in March, the Capitals needed to come home and have a strong performance against the Jets, one of the league’s top teams. The storyline heading into the game was the matchup featuring Ovechkin and Jets forward Patrik Laine, the first and second-place goal leaders in the league at the time. They were tied for the league-lead at 40 and Ovechkin entered the game two goals shy of his 600th career goal entering the game. Ovechkin scored goal No. 599 4:35 into the game off of a cross-ice pass from Carlson after he got the puck on a faceoff win by center Nicklas Backstrom. Nikolaj Ehlers tied it right back up 58 seconds later on a breakaway. 3:53 into the second period, Ovechkin scored his 600th career goal on a goal-mouth scramble after Hellebyuck stopped his first two attempts and a shot from forward Tom Wilson. A wide-open Laine drew one goal within Ovechkin for the league lead after receiving a cross-ice feed from center Paul Stastny and scored from the right dot. The puck went through the five-hole of goaltender Phillip Grubauer and into the net. The game went into overtime. With under a minute to go, forward Chandler Stephenson broke up a two-on-one rush between forward Bryan Little and Wheeler and sprung the puck to center Evgeny Kuznetsov on a breakaway. Kuznetsov went high glove on Hellebyuck for a 3-2 overtime win against one of the league’s powerhouse teams in a memorable night.
By Harrison Brown
“returning home from a 1-2-0 performance on the three-game California” – Caps were 2-1-0. Wins against the Sharks and Kings. Loss to the Ducks.