Jets-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets are excited about their upcoming matchup with the Washington Capitals. It's clear the feeling is mutual.

These Southeast Division rivals played an intense game last Friday night and meet exactly one week later at the Verizon Center to complete their season series.

Washington (37-30-7) sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with 81 points, with Winnipeg (34-31-8) in 10th with 76 and a game in hand. The Capitals trail division leader Florida by four points.

The Jets took advantage of a raucous home crowd in last week's 3-2 win over Washington. Winnipeg pulled within two points of the Capitals with that victory before losing its next two.

"Washington - it's a team we've had some good battles against and it's going to be another tough one," Jets defenseman Mark Stuart said.

Stuart was fined $2,500 for a hit on Marcus Johansson in that contest, and the play had the Capitals pointing to this rematch.

"We've got them again in a week," center Brooks Laich told the Capitals' official website. "Hockey players have long memories. We'll see them soon. They're right behind us. We'll see them in a week."

The Capitals fell 2-1 in a shootout at Philadelphia on Thursday, but at least one player was quickly looking ahead to the next game.

"We've got a big game tomorrow against Winnipeg, who we feel is going to be maybe a make or break game in our season," right wing Troy Brouwer said. "We're excited about tomorrow night's game already."

The Jets have yielded 12 goals in consecutive losses, opening this three-game trip with Tuesday's 8-4 defeat to Pittsburgh.

"I don't know at this time of the year that you need a lot of motivation," coach Claude Noel said. "Your guys, I think all your players, they sense what's happening. You don't have to draw pictures for them."

Washington star Alex Ovechkin has just 12 of his team-high 32 goals at home. He had five as the Caps split four games on their road trip, failing to score only at Winnipeg.

Ovechkin and Alexander Semin are tied with a team-high four points against the Jets. Semin sat out Thursday with an undisclosed injury, and coach Dale Hunter said he is "day to day."

Winnipeg has four players with at least four points against Washington, with Andrew Ladd leading the way with five.

Ondrej Pavelec, pulled in the second period after allowing five goals against Pittsburgh, has started every 2011-12 meeting with Washington, going 3-1-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average.

Tomas Vokoun has started three times against Winnipeg, but he's been out the last three games with a strained groin. Hunter gave Michal Neuvirth one start before Braden Holtby got the next two.

While Washington is finishing up a back-to-back set of games, Winnipeg is starting one that ends Saturday in Nashville.

"They're in a back-to-back situation when we play this game tomorrow and we've got to take advantage of that and hopefully jump on them and go from there," Noel said.

What to Read Next