Washington Capitals (38-19-5) vs Winnipeg Jets (32-27-5)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||22-13-5||3.13 / .897 / 0|
|Winnipeg Jets||Laurent Brossoit||6-7-0||3.32 / .893 / 0|
The Washington Capitals ended a four-game losing streak with a gritty, hard-earned win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday to take back the top spot in the Metro. Next up, the Capitals will take on the Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season. They will then travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba to play the Jets on their home-turf for a classic home-and-home sequence. Currently, Winnipeg is sitting 4th in the Central, and in the 2nd wild card spot. Washington defeated the Jets 3-1 back on March 10th of 2019.
As previously mentioned, the Washington Capitals grounded the flightless Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday to hand them their third straight loss. Heading into the mid-day match up, Washington held a 2-6-1 record in the month of February, the worst in all the NHL. A once comfortable lead in the Metropolitan division had dissipated in the wake of six losses in seven games, but this massive win over Pittsburgh gave them the two points they needed to retake the division. Jakub Vrana got Washington on the board first, six minutes and 12 seconds into the first period. Tensions flared at the end of the first, as Evgeni Malkin and Brenden Dillon became involved behind the goal. Both would receive matching four-minute double minors. Washington seemingly fell asleep in the second after a wild and energy-filled first, and just short of the 15-minute mark, Patric Hornqvist tied the game 1-1 with his 15th of the season. 26 seconds later, Sidney Crosby established the Pens first lead of the game with his 13th goal of the season. Heading into the third, the Penguins had a 2-1 lead that Tom Wilson would snap 106 seconds into the final frame. Tom Wilson tied it all up with his 20th of the season, which would set another career-high for the winger of 41 points, breaking last seasons’ high of 40. Former Penguin Carl Hagelin gave Washington back their lead at the 4:41 mark of the final frame, but Evgeni Malkin washed out that lead just over four minutes later. With the secondary assist on Hagelin’s goal, John Carlson set a franchise record for most points by a defenseman, a record previously held by Calle Johansson. Malkin’s 21st goal would be the last Pittsburgh goal scored for that afternoon. TJ Oshie potted the eventual game-winning goal with his 25th of the season at the 10:40 mark, and Capital One Arena erupted in a collective sing-along of ‘Country Roads’. The Capitals successfully killed off three Pittsburgh power plays but found themselves unable to convert on their singular man-advantage. Carl Hagelin did, however, pot an empty-net goal to seal the win for Washington, marking his 2nd of the game, and 100th career goal. Washington tallied six and five shots in the first two periods, respectively, but peppered Matt Murray with 12 in the third. The Capitals were held to just 23 shots through three periods, but Braden Holtby was able to stop 33 of 36 Pittsburgh shots, earning him his 22nd win of the season, and first in four starts. Holtby will start for the Capitals against the Jets.
The Winnipeg Jets were last in action on Sunday as well, where they lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1. Winnipeg has been quite inconsistent this season, and their performance this season has really fallen on their starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Like Holtby, when he’s good, Hellebuyck is really good, but when he’s struggling, he’s bad. He has four shutouts, but has allowed four or more goals 17 times this season (HockeyReference). The Sabres Kyle Okposo put his team on the board first, just short of the 10-minute mark of the first period. Blake Wheeler would tie the game as the Winnipeg center-man scored his 21st of the season with just under four minutes remaining in the first period. Wheeler ranks fifth among all players in goals (20) and fourth in points (56). The Jets have five players with 20 or more goals, and 11 with assists in the double-digits. The second period was uneventful, aside from a singular Sabres power play as the goal-scorer Blake Wheeler was called for high-sticking. Winnipeg has one of the worst penalty-killing units in the league, ranking 25th of 31, though they were able to kill off all three Buffalo power plays (76.7%). The Jets however are much better on the road than they are at home, as they have allowed just 17 power play goals in 82 times short-handed. At the 7:47 mark of the third period, Okposo scored his 2nd of the game, and the eventual game-winning goal for Buffalo. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck ended the evening with 23 saves on 25 shots to drop his fourth game in six starts. Laurent Brossoit, who is just 6-7-0 this season, is expected to start for the Jets tonight.
The Winnipeg Jets too have been plagued with injuries this season. The Jets are without the following players:
- C Bryan Little (DL, ear)
- C Mark Letestu (DL, illness)
- C Adam Lowry (DL, upper body)
- LW Mathieu Perreault (DL, upper body)
- D Josh Morrissey (OUT, upper body)
- D Carl Dahlstrom (DL, hand)
- D Luca Sbisa (DL, upper body)
Early Monday, it was determined by the Jets organization that Dustin Byfuglien would not participate in the 2019-20 season to any extent.
The Washington Capitals acquired left-winger Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday evening, in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2020 Entry Draft. The Canadiens will retain 50% of his salary. Kovalchuk will play on the third line with Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller, as Brendan Leipsic falls out of the lineup. Jonas Siegenthaler is also out of the lineup for Washington. On Monday, Washington also traded Christian Djoos of the Hershey Bears for Daniel Sprong of the Anaheim Ducks.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
ESPN.com. (2020). NHL Team Special Teams Statistics – 2019-20. Retrieved from http://proxy.espn.com/nhl/statistics/team?stat=special-teams&sort=powerPlayGoalsAgainst&split=34&order=false.
HockeyReference. (2020). Connor Hellebuyck Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/h/helleco01.html.
TheScore. (2020). Winnipeg Jets News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/11.