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Soaring Jets fly into Washington

by Corey Masisak

JETS (8-9-3) at CAPITALS (11-7-1)


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

Season Series: It's the second of this season's six meetings. The Jets won 4-1 last Thursday at MTS Centre. Washington scored first, but Winnipeg broke open a 1-1 game with three goals in a little more than three minutes in the second period.

Big Story: The Jets are after their first four-game winning streak of the season, while the Capitals will try to build off a win Monday and move past a month-long slump.

Team Scope:

Jets: Not only has Winnipeg reeled off three wins in a row, the victories have been convincing ones against key Eastern Conference rivals. The Jets defeated Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in a six-day span at MTS Centre by a combined score of 15-7.

After scoring only 17 goals in their first eight games of the season, the Jets have 40 in the past 12 and are up to 10th in the League at 2.85 per contest.

"I hope this is who we are," Jets coach Claude Noel said after his team defeated Philadelphia 6-4 on Saturday for their second win against the Flyers this season. "This is where we want to get to. That's kind of the standard we want to play. We're a team that's enjoying winning. We were frustrated at the beginning because we thought we could be a little bit better than we were. It's a confidence thing. It's just a group coming together."

Capitals: Washington had lost eight of 11 before Monday's 4-3 victory against Phoenix. The Capitals trailed 2-0 before Nicklas Backstrom scored the go-ahead goal and setup the game-winner during a rally in the final 30 minutes. Rookie Cody Eakin scored his second goal, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut for the Capitals, who are set to play three games in the next four nights.

Who's Hot: Winnipeg's Evander Kane has five points in three games, but even if things weren't going well for him, they probably would be after facing Washington. He had two goals against the Capitals last week, and he's got seven of his 41 career tallies against them - three more than any other team. … Backstrom has easily been Washington's best offensive player this season. He has 22 points - seven more than linemate Alex Ovechkin for tops on the team - and nine multi-point performances.

Injury Report: The Jets could be without as many as five defensemen, including two key members of the blue-line corps. Tobias Enstrom is out with a broken collarbone. Ron Hainsey hasn't played since mid-October with an upper-body injury, though he could return sometime on this road trip. Derek Meech (knee) is out until January, while Randy Jones (foot) and Brett Festerling (upper body) could also be out against Washington. … The Capitals are still without defenseman Mike Green (groin), and Orlov could remain with the team until he returns. Defenseman John Erskine (shoulder) also missed the win Monday, but could return. Tom Poti (groin) and Jay Beagle (concussion) are on long-term injury reserve.

Stat Pack: Ondrej Pavelec has started 12 straight games for the Jets, and a 13th in a row would break his career-long run from last season. He's on pace for 74 appearances, which would match Carey Price's League-high total from last season. … Both of these teams have played much better at home, but Washington especially - the Capitals are 7-1-1 at Verizon Center and have five of their next six contests there.

Puck Drop: Washington coach Bruce Boudreau has made it clear he will hold players more accountable when things don't go the way he wants this season. He had scratched key role players, and even sat Ovechkin in a key spot late against Anaheim, but putting Alexander Semin in the press box for a game was his boldest move on that front to date.

Semin hadn't missed a game as a healthy scratch since his rookie season, but the talented forward has been a huge disappointment this season. Not only does he have just four goals and nine points in 18 games, but he's also taken at least one minor penalty in seven straight games and he has 14 on the season. Boudreau declined to discuss Semin's status for this game after practice Tuesday.

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