WASHINGTON – The Winnipeg Jets had two things working in their favor during a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals last Friday night -- a boisterous home crowd at MTS Centre and an ability to contain Alex Ovechkin and the Caps’ No.1 line.
The Jets and Capitals meet again Friday at Verizon Center, and while the Jets won’t have the same crowd support, their game plan against the Caps remains unchanged.
“I think we played great against Ovechkin,” said Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who is expected to make his 10th straight start for the Jets. “It wasn’t easy for him, we made him work for everything and if you can eliminate the best player on the team, you have a good chance to win.”
The Jets were the only team the Capitals faced on their just completed five-game road trip that kept Ovechkin from scoring.
The two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner has recently shown flashes of his old self with a three-game goal scoring streak and six goals in his last five games overall.
“He’s hitting on all cylinders right now,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “Before, he was getting his chances but he was hitting posts and missing the net. But right now, he’s in a zone and when you’re in a zone good things happen.”
Ovechkin’s hot streak comes at an opportune time for the Capitals, who could be missing their second-leading scorer Alexander Semin for a second straight game.
Semin did not play in the Caps’ 2-1 shootout loss last night against the Philadelphia Flyers and is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
This game marks the start to a three-game homestand for the Capitals with contests against Winnipeg, Minnesota and Buffalo in the next five days.
The eighth-place Caps are one point clear of Buffalo and five points ahead of Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference standings. While the Capitals were in Philadelphia last night, the Jets have had two days of practice in Washington following an 8-4 loss Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
“I think we know the task,” Jets coach Claude Noel said. “I think we know everything that’s at stake. We’ve been sitting here for a couple of days waiting and the wait is long and tedious. So let’s get going and play the game. We have to be anxious and I sense that our players are ready to go. It’s a road game that we have to win.”