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Jets ready for showdown with Capitals

by Dan Rosen

WASHINGTON -- For a dozen players expected to be in the Winnipeg Jets lineup Tuesday night at Verizon Center, the game against the Washington Capitals will feel like nothing they have experienced before because they've never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the other eight, including captain Andrew Ladd, a member of two Cup-winning teams, it will be reminiscent of playoff hockey even though the Jets can't clinch anything with a win or be eliminated with a loss.

There are two certainties going into the game Tuesday:

* The Jets will leap the Capitals in the Southeast Division standings and move up to third in the Eastern Conference with a regulation win.

* The Capitals will win the Southeast Division with a win in regulation or overtime.

There are other scenarios for playoff position if the Jets win in overtime or a shootout, or if the Capitals win in a shootout, but those involve the outcome of other games around the NHL involving the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

"Some players haven't experienced the playoffs at this level and this would have that feel because both teams will be ramped up and there will be a lot of emotion in the game," Jets coach Claude Noel said shortly before 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. "The biggest thing about this game is you've gotta make sure you control your emotions. Both teams have to go through that and that's the experience you get when you win and when you've been in the playoffs. You get to know how to control those things because they get pretty ramped up."

The one thing Noel is not concerned with is fatigue even though the Jets played another emotional, near must-win type of game Monday night at the Buffalo Sabres. They pulled out a 2-1 win thanks to a late goal from Antti Miettinen to move within a point of the Capitals, Rangers and Ottawa Senators in the standings.

"I think it would be hard for players not to find energy," Noel said. "The only energy you lose is if you are nervous and that drains you. That's a little bit difficult."

Noel confirmed that Nik Antropov will return to the lineup for the first time since April 2. He will replace Kyle Wellwood, who broke his hand Monday night blocking a shot by Thomas Vanek and is considered done for the season.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to make his 12th straight start in net. He is 2-4 with a 3.52 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in the second half of back-to-backs this season.

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Nik Antropov - James Wright

Chris Thorburn - Aaron Gagnon - Antti Miettinen

Eric Tangradi - Mike Santorelli - Alexander Burmistrov

Derek Meech - Dustin Byfuglien

Grant Clitsome - Ron Hainsey

Mark Stuart - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya


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