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Jets try to stay hot at home vs. Caps

by John Kreiser /

CAPITALS (15-13-1) at JETS (14-12-2)


LAST 10: Washington 4-6-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1

Season Series: The Southeast Division rivals face each other for the third time this season. They've split the first two, with the home team winning both -- including Winnipeg's 4-1 win at the MTS Centre on Nov. 17.

Big Story: The Jets were glad to be back home after getting hammered 7-1 Saturday night in Detroit, one of only two road games Winnipeg will play this month -- and they showed it by shutting down League-leading Minnesota 2-1 on Tuesday. The Caps are still having their ups and downs under new coach Dale Hunter -- and Tuesday night's 5-1 home loss to Philadelphia was a major downer.

Team Scope:

Capitals: The performance the Capitals put in getting blown out by the Flyers at home was the same kind that helped get Bruce Boudreau fired a couple of weeks earlier. They mounted little offense and struggled to clear their zone for most of the evening.

"We did a terrible job making an attempt to make plays to get the puck out, whatever it was -- not sprinting back to spots, not getting open for our partners, not getting into position and not making plays when we did," said center Jeff Halpern, whose third-period goal avoided the shutout.

Jets: The Jets are turning the cozy MTS Centre (capacity 15,004, the smallest in the NHL), into one of the toughest places for visiting teams. The building is packed every night, and the Jets have responded with a string of solid performances, including Tuesday's victory against the Wild.

"What I like the most is the emotional level we're getting to," Jets' coach Claude Noel said. "There's no easy games, we're proving that at least at home and we're having some success but when we eventually get back to the road games, we've got to find a way to get our road record back to .500 (they are 4-8-4 outside Manitoba) and that should give us a little bit of a chance."

Who's Hot: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington's leading scorer, has four points in the Caps' last three games. … Winnipeg's Evander Kane has 10 goals and 15 points in the Jets' last 13 games. Bryan Little extended his goal-scoring streak to four games by getting the game-winner on Tuesday.

Injury Report: The Caps are still without defensemen Mike Green and Tom Poti, both of whom are dealing with groin issues, as well as forwards Jay Beagle (concussion) and Matt Hendricks (knee). … Winnipeg was without forward Alexander Burmistrov (undisclosed) and Nik Antropov (foot) and defenseman Randy Jones (undisclosed) on Tuesday. Defensemen Derek Meech (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (collarbone) and Ron Hainsey (lower body) are on IR.

Stat Pack: Washington is 1-4-0 in Canada this season after going 6-1-0 in 2010-11. ... The Caps come to Winnipeg having taken and allowed exactly 878 shots on goal, an average of 30.3 per game. … Discipline has been a problem for the Jets, who have allowed 136 opposition power plays in 30 games, tying them with Ottawa for the most in the League. ... The Jets' power play has been much better at home (21.0 percent) than on the road (12.2 percent).

Puck Drop: One problem for the Caps has been the continuing absence of Green, whose absence due to a groin problem is in its second month. Green is slated to join the Caps later this week in Colorado, but he's still not ready to play. He saw a specialist earlier in the week

"It's not worse than we already knew, and he has been making progress. We're just trying to expedite things," GM George McPhee told beat reporters on Wednesday. "We'll know more based on the treatments he's getting."

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