Washington Capitals (39-19-5) vs Winnipeg Jets (32-28-5)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||16-5-1||2.41 / .916 / 1|
|Winnipeg Jets||Connor Hellebuyck||26-20-5||2.72 / .918 / 4|
The Washington Capitals are off to Manitoba to now take on the Jets on their home ice after defeating Winnipeg in a five-round shootout on Tuesday night. Tom Wilson and Jakub Vrana both set career-highs the other night, as Vrana tallied his 25th goal of the season, and Wilson his 51st point of the year.
The Washington Capitals nearly lost to the Winnipeg Jets after blowing a 3-0 lead in the third period, on home ice on Tuesday night. It was Alex Ovechkin who would put Washington ahead in the shootout, and extraordinary goaltending from Braden Holtby that earned the Capitals a second straight win. Prior to puck drop, a special commemorative ceremony was held to honor Alex Ovechkin’s 700 career goals, featuring clips from teammates and other NHL greats celebrating the greatest goal-scorer of all time. It took all of 115 seconds for Ovechkin to score goal number 701, and his 43rd of the season. A strong win versus the Penguins had carried over into Tuesday’s matchup, and it was very evident that some resolve had been found in the locker room. The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk up front and Brenden Dillon on the blue-line ahead of the trade deadline has bolstered the Caps’ roster, and fans are enthusiastic to see how deep of a run Washington can make this year.
Just beyond the 10-minute mark of the period, Jakub Vrana tallied his 25th goal of the season, giving Washington a two-goal lead heading into the second, something the team hasn’t held since the start of January. Neal Pionk and Nikolaj Ehlers each registered two shots on goal in the first period, but Braden Holtby was set and ready for whatever the Jets had to offer. Heading into the night, Washington was 17-0-2 after leading into the first period, and the Caps were looking to extend that to eighteen games. The Jets received the first power play of the game, as Radko Gudas was called for high-sticking. Washington’s 4th ranked penalty kill successfully kept Winnipeg off the board, thus maintaining a 2-0 lead. After Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit robbed both Ilya Kovalchuk and Carl Hagelin of point-blank goals, Garnet Hathaway, who hasn’t scored since December 23rd versus the Bruins, gave Washington a 3-0 lead with his 7th of the season. Hathaway and Anthony Bitetto became involved after the goal, and both received matching five-minute majors for fighting. A shot from Cody Eakin slipped away from Braden Holtby and Nikolaj Ehlers potted the puck right past the veteran goaltender to spoil his shutout hopes with just over one minute remaining in the middle frame. Ehler’s goal was his 23rd of the season, and the left-winger has points in 12 of his last 14 games. Dmitry Orlov was called for interference early in the third, but the Capitals killed off that Jets power play as well. Washingtons’ penalty kill at home is the best in the league and has killed off 90% of penalties taken in their last 11 home games. The Capitals received their first power play of the evening, and unfortunately, they didn’t convert. In fact, Kyle Connor, on a breakaway, pulled Winnipeg within one with over 11 minutes remaining. Mark Scheifele then tied the game, 3-3, with his 27th of the season, with just over three minutes left in the game. Scheifele has nine points in five consecutive games.
A once-comfortable three goal lead dissipated in the blink of an eye, in a period that had typically been very kind to the Capitals. Washington would then receive a delay-of-game penalty at the 16:59 mark, that would expire with just over 60 seconds remaining, though they would kill it off. This game would require overtime, and then a shootout to determine a winner in the first game of this home-and-home series. TJ Oshie, shootout hero, successfully made his shot attempt, and Kyle Connor for the Jets was stopped by Holtby. New guy Ilya Kovalchuk took the second attempt for the Capitals, and he was stopped by Brossoit. Patrick Laine was denied by Braden Holtby, and Washington only needed to make one more shot, or stop one more Jets’ attempt. Evgeny Kuznetsov would miss, and Mark Scheifele tied it up with one successful attempt for each team. Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington, keeping them in it, but Blake Wheeler too scored for Winnipeg. Alex Ovechkin took Washingtons’ fifth attempt, and was thankfully successful. Nikolaj Ehlers was stopped by Braden Holtby, and the Washington Capitals snagged a very important two points to re-establish a win streak. Braden Holtby made 30 saves on 33 shots, ending his night with a .909 save percentage. Laurent Brossoit allowed three goals on 37 shots, excluding the shootout, to tally his first overtime/SO loss of the season.
Ilya Samsonov is expected to start for the Capitals on Thursday night, and Connor Hellebuyck will get the nod for the Jets.
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)
Coverage of the game begins at 7:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 7:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 8:00pm.
TheScore. (2020). Winnipeg Jets News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/11.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.