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Capitals go for two-game sweep in Winnipeg

by Mike Battaglino

CAPITALS (13-16-1) at JETS (16-13-2)


Last 10: Washington 5-5-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1

Season series: In three games, including Thursday, each team has won in the other's arena. The Capitals got their second shutout in Winnipeg, winning 4-0 at MTS Centre. This is the first time in Capitals history they will face the same regular-season opponent on consecutive nights on the road.

Big story: The Capitals can continue to tighten the Southeast Division race with another regulation win Friday. Winnipeg leads the Carolina Hurricanes by two points, with Washington and the Tampa Bay Lightning both seven points out of first.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington will turn to goalie Braden Holtby again in this back-to-back situation: He hasn't allowed a goal at MTS Centre in two games this month. Holtby has made 55 saves in the two games, which included a 3-0 win on March 2.

"Last time they just threw everything at the net and they were hoping for a bounce or a rebound or what-not," Holtby said. "Today it seemed like they were more patient with it. That is a credit to us being in the right position, too, not giving them those lanes no matter where they are on the ice to shoot the puck."

Alex Ovechkin had a three-point game Thursday, including his League-leading ninth power-play goal. He has 74 points (35 goals, 39 assists) in 51 career games against the Winnipeg franchise.

"The intensity of the game right now for us is very important," Ovechkin said. "I have to be better out there -- all the guys have to be better to take a step forward.

"Tomorrow is going to be a much harder game, 100 percent. They're going to come out harder and the crowd is going to be into it."

Defenseman Mike Green returned from injury and played 22:44. Brooks Laich played his second game of the season and had an assist.

"When these guys are back out there, we have more confidence," Ovechkin said.

Jets: Thursday was a stunning end to a 6-1-1 streak by Winnipeg that was capped by a 3-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

"It's nice that there's a short turnaround and we have a chance to redeem ourselves right away," captain Andrew Ladd said. "We're not happy with the result tonight and you should be upset about that and that should motivate you to be a whole lot better tomorrow."

Goalie Al Montoya was activated off injured reserve but won't be giving Ondrej Pavelec a break -- Pavelec will make his ninth straight start and play in 20 of the past 21 games.

"You have to change something, you can't go and do the same things, you just got beat twice," coach Claude Noel said Thursday. "Of course you've got to change something, you've got to look at a lot of things. I don't know what it's going to be, but tomorrow will be a new day. We get to play the same opponent, so that's a good thing."

Who's hot: Ovechkin has four goals and three assists in the past five games after going three games without a point. Forward Nicklas Backstrom has two two-point games in his past three. … Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has seven points in his past six games. Ladd has at least one point in eight of 11 March games.

Injury report: Capitals defensemen John Erskine (upper body), Tomas Kundratek (right leg) and Tom Poti (back) did not play Thursday. … Jets defensemen Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and Zach Redmond (leg), and forwards Jim Slater (upper body) and Anthony Peluso (hand) were out.

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