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Jets' new line keeps Capitals winless

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- After seeing his team score just two goals in its first two games, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel decided to put three of his best players on the same line.

It worked wonders Tuesday night when the line of Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen combined to score two goals to help send the Jets to their first win of the season, a 4-2 victory over the winless Washington Capitals in front of an announced sellout crowd of 18,506 at Verizon Center.

"We juggled the lines a little bit," Noel said, "because we just felt we wanted to get back on track and get some of our guys going and on the board."

Kane and Wheeler each finished with a goal and an assist and defenseman Tobias Enstrom set up three straight goals as the Jets improved to 1-1-1.

The Capitals (0-2-0) have now allowed 10 goals in their first two games under first-year coach Adam Oates.

"The grace period is gone now," said Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer, who scored one of Washington's two goals. "We need to win hockey games. It's not frightful yet but it's getting up there because we can't keep dropping games like this, especially against division opponents."

The Caps struck first on a goal by Matt Hendricks, but the Jets rolled off consecutive goals by Kane, Andrew Ladd, Wheeler and Jim Slater to grab a 4-1 lead after two periods.

Two of those four goals came on the first-period power-play goals by Kane and Ladd.

"Special teams are such a key," Ladd said, "especially against a team like (Washington). Their power play is one of the best in the league. You have to be able to counter that with a good one yourself."

The Jets finished 2-for-5 on the man-advantage, while the Capitals went 1-for-4. The Capitals have now allowed 10 goals in their first two games, five of them on the power play.

The loss also spoiled the Capitals' streak of 10 straight home openers without a loss, a stretch dating back to Oct. 6, 2000.

"It is a new system and it's going to be hard and we've gotta fight through that," said Oates, the Caps' third coach in two seasons. "But we have to have better execution."

Meanwhile, the Jets are trying to build off the modest success of Noel, who is beginning his second season.

"The thing I'm most happy about is the fact that our players are recognizing the way we need to win and the work we did last year to build a foundation," Noel said. "I think they can recognize we can get it done. It says a lot about your leadership group."

The Jets blew the game open in the second period when Wheeler finished off a perfectly timed pass from Kane, who blew past Capitals defenseman John Carlson down the left wing.

Slater gave the Jets a 4-1 lead when he deftly deflected a shot by Dustin Byfuglien past goaltender Braden Holtby for his first of the season. Positioned in the slot, Slater reached behind Nicklas Backstrom with his stick to get a piece of Byfuglien's shot.

Washington's Troy Brouwer scored with 76 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.

NOTES: Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin, who was moved from left win to right wing, is still looking for his first point of the season. ... Capitals defenseman Mike Green played in his 400th NHL game. In his previous 399 he recorded 82 goals and 169 assists for 251 points. ... The Jets are 5-1-1 against the Capitals dating back to last season. Ondrej Pavelec made his third straight start for the Jets and stopped 32 of 34 shots. Kane has torched the Capitals so far in his career with eight goals in 16 games. ... The Capitals return to action Thursday night at home against the Montreal Canadiens. The Jets return home to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
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