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Jets' season is on the line as they visit Caps

by John Kreiser
JETS (34-31-8) at CAPITALS (37-30-7)


Last 10:
Winnipeg 4-5-1; Washington 5-3-2

Season Series:
It's the last of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. Winnipeg has won three of the first five, including a 3-2 victory at home last Friday. The teams have split the two games in Washington, both of which went past regulation.

Big Story: The Jets' season is on the line as they come to the Verizon Center. A regulation loss would drop them seven points behind the eighth-place Caps in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Capitals also need every point they can get -- they lead ninth-place Buffalo by just one point.

Team Scope:

Jets: The road hasn't been kind to the Jets all season, and Tuesday's visit to Pittsburgh was no exception. The red-hot Penguins shot down the Jets 8-4 in the opener of a three-game trip, handing the Jets their second straight loss.

The Penguins scored eight goals against Winnipeg in both of the Jets' visits to Pittsburgh, making Friday's game even more important.

"I don't know at this time of the year that you need a lot of motivation," coach Claude Noel said. "Your guys, I think all your players, they sense what's happening. You don't have to draw pictures for them."

Capitals: The Caps got off to a fast start in Philadelphia on Thursday when Alex Ovechkin scored 26 seconds into the game. That turned out to be Washington's only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss -- a game that the Capitals were eager to put in the past with the Jets coming to town.

"We've got a big game tomorrow against Winnipeg, who we feel is going to be maybe a make or break game in our season," said forward Troy Brouwer, who was stopped by Ilya Bryzgalov to end the shootout. "We're excited about tomorrow night's game already."

Who's Hot: Both captains have been producing points recently. Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd has five in his last five games. Ovechkin has six goals in his last five games; with 33, he has already exceeded last season's total.

Injury Report: Winnipeg is missing forwards Eric Fehr (upper body), Nik Antropov (lower body) and Chris Thorburn (lower body). … Washington's Alexander Semin sat out Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, and veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun hasn't dressed for the last three games due to groin problems.

Stat Pack: Ondrej Pavelec has gone 3-1-1 against the Caps this season with a 1.97 goals-against average. … Ovechkin has scored just 12 of his 33 goals at home. With 57 points, he is assured of a career-low -- before getting just 85 last season, he had never had fewer than 92.

Puck Drop: Washington is playing the second half of a back-to-back; the Jets are on the front end -- they fly to Nashville on Saturday.

Noel hopes the Caps' battle with the Flyers will leave them a little drained.

"They're in a back-to-back situation when we play this game tomorrow," he said, "and we've got to take advantage of that and hopefully jump on them and go from there."

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