The former Southeast Division rivals have been entirely different teams of late, with Winnipeg 9-2 since hiring Paul Maurice as head coach, and Washington on a four-game losing streak, dropping seven of their last 10. The Capitals won the first game of the two-game season series in mid-October, when they defeated the Jets at home 5-4. Historically, it has been a tight series, with the Jets 2.0 holding a 5-6-1 record against the Caps.
The Jets will go back to Al Montoya in the goal, as him and Ondrej Pavelec have split the last two games. Montoya, who had a spectacular 30-save performance against Montreal on Sunday, has a .928% save percentage and 2.14 GAA in 17 games this season. The Capitals will counter with Michael Neuvirth starting his fourth consecutive game. Neuvirth has a .914% save percentage and 2.82 GAA in 13 appearances this year.
The Jets will not have Evander Kane in the lineup, as he is out until after the Olympics with a hand infection. Also on the shelf for Winnipeg is Grant Clitsome, (season-ending back surgery), Jim Slater (hernia), and Matt Halischuk (broken arm). Defenseman Paul Postma is in St. John’s of the AHL on a rehab stint. The Caps will miss Aaron Volpatti, (shoulder, day-to-day), Mike Green (concussion, day-to-day), Mikhail Grabovski (ankle, out until Olympics). Jack Hillen (leg) has resumed skating with the team, but is still on the IR, and will not play before the Olympics.
The Capitals posess the NHL’s leading scorer, but Alexander Ovechkin should only be a threat if a Jet lands in the penalty box. Ovechkin’s 15 power-play goals are tops in the League, and he has 18 goals/23 points at five-on-five this season. The Jets have five forwards with equal or better point totals at even strength: Bryan Little (8G, 27P), Blake Wheeler (13G, 27P), Andrew Ladd (9G, 26P), Michael Frolik (11G, 25P), and Mark Scheifele (9G, 23P).
The Jets look to get above .500% on the road for the first time since Game #1 of the regular season, when they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-4. They are currently 14-14-1 in that respect. The Capitals are 15-10-4 at home this season, and hold a 4-5-0 record against Central Division teams. The Jets are 14-9-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference, and 7-3-1 when facing Metropolitan Division teams, a division that the Capitals are currently 7th place in.
If the Jets win in regulation or overtime, they could hold the final Wild Card playoff spot in the west, with a regulation loss from the Vancouver Canucks (at Montreal). The Phoenix Coyotes will be one point behind the Jets, however, with three games in hand.
You can catch the game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 Radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on CSN-DC. The game starts at 6:00 PM CT.