A win tonight over the Winnipeg Jets
would allow the Washington Capitals
to keep their gaze looking forward and lessen the urge to look over their shoulders.
The Capitals (36-28-6) have used a 7-2-1 run that includes their current four-game win streak to put space between themselves and the Jets, whom they lead by four points. A win tonight would also move the Capitals to within one point of the Florida Panthers
for the Southeast Division lead and mark the first time they have won more than four games in a row since a seven-game win streak opened their season.
"We're getting good goaltending and timely scoring," Capitals coach Dale Hunter
said of his club's recent push. "We're basically playing playoff-style hockey."
Settling down the Jets and their rambunctious crowd will be one key for the Capitals, who have split the teams' first two meetings this season in Winnipeg.
"They play with so much emotion and passion," center Brooks Laich
said of the Jets.
Hunter is also keenly aware of Winnipeg's home power play, which ranks first in the League this season at a 25.0 percent clip.
"They move the puck well," Hunter said. "They have big shots from the point and get traffic in front. Stay out of the penalty box."
Washington will also regain the services of defenseman Mike Green
, who will return after serving a three-game suspension. Tomas Vokoun
will return to the Washington net after Michal Neuvirth
turned in wins over the past two games.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Capitals:
- Brooks Laich
- Alex Ovechkin
- Mathieu Perreault
- Alexander Semin
- Jay Beagle
- Troy Brouwer
- Keith Aucoin
- Joel Ward
- John Carlson
- Dmitry Orlov
- Mike Green