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Struggling Caps head to Winnipeg

by Corey Masisak
CAPITALS (10-5-1) at JETS (6-9-3)


Last 10: Washington 4-5-1, Winnipeg 4-4-2.

Season Series: This is the first meeting of the season. The Thrashers went 4-1-1 against the Capitals in 2010-11. Washington had won eight straight in the series prior to last season.

Big Story: Both teams have lost six of their past nine games and would like to regain their form from earlier in the season.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington started the season 7-0, but the Capitals have struggled a bit since. Not only have they lost six of nine, they were outplayed for long stretches in two of the victories (a dramatic comeback against Anaheim and a slow start against New Jersey).

After scoring five goals in back-to-back wins against Anaheim and Carolina, the Capitals have collected only 11 in the past five contests. Four times in the past five games Washington has reached the second intermission in a tie game – and proceeded to lose each of them.

Jets: Winnipeg had lost five straight games before collecting a 5-2 victory Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ondrej Pavelec made his 10th straight start, and his 30-save effort was backed up by goals from five different skaters.

"It was probably one of our better team games that I've seen us play," Noel said. "We were excellent all the way from the goalie on out. We did a really good job of managing the game and proved to us when we play as a group of 20 we can be a hard team to play against. I was very impressed with our group tonight."

Who's Hot: Jason Chimera has two goals in the past three games for the Capitals and is tied for second on the team with six. He had four in the first games of the campaign. His career high is 17, in 2005-06 with Columbus. … Winnipeg defenseman Mark Flood has scored three goals since making his season debut Nov. 3. That ties him with Dustin Byfuglien for the team lead among the blue-line corps.

Injury Report: Caps defenseman Mike Green did not travel with the team on this road trip, and he is out with a lower-body injury. Jay Beagle (concussion) and Tom Poti (concussion) are also not available. … Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom is out with a broken collarbone. Goaltender Chris Mason hasn't played since Oct. 27 because of a groin injury, but he has been activated off injured reserve and could spell Pavelec at some point. Forward Eric Fehr had offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to make his debut for the Jets. He's been cleared, but won't be ready to face his former club. Defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Jim Slater were injured against the Lightning and could also be unavailable against the Capitals.

Stat Pack: The Capitals have made it a bad habit of losing games in the third period this season, and yet they are still outscoring their opponents 21-19. Washington's work on the penalty kill was a strength last season (finished second), but the Capitals are only 16th at this point this campaign at 83.0 percent. … Winnipeg is tied for 22nd in the NHL with only four wins, but the Jets are 4-2-2 when they score first. That still puts them ahead of Washington – the Capitals are 29th at three wins in seven tries (3-3-1) when taking a 1-0 lead.

Puck Drop: While Fehr, a Manitoba native and Winnipeg resident even before he left Washington for the Jets in a trade this past summer, will not play Thursday, it will be a homecoming Capitals' rookie Cody Eakin. A Winnipeg native, Eakin has a goal and four points in his six NHL games since being recalled from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

"It was crazy," Eakin told Chuck Gormley of when asked about the reaction when the Jets officially returned. "They shut down our downtown for a parade, kids were playing street hockey games. It was great."

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