Washington Capitals 6, Winnipeg Jets 1 – With the Jets leading the Southeast Division the Capitals came into the two-game set in Winnipeg knowing two losses and their playoff hopes were probably done. Two wins on the other hand, and first place in the division was within their reach. Back-to-back wins and the Caps are five points back of the Jets.
The effort by the Jets was far better than what it was Thursday, but the result was the same. For the second straight game the Jets power play had chances to make a difference, but could not find a goal that could turn the game. Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer put the Caps in front 2-0 after one, with Jay Beagle scoring at 5:50 of the second, chasing Ondrej Pavelec. Al Montoya didn't have any more success than Pavelec, as Alex Ovechkin ripped one by him at 7:35 and the game was pretty much done.
The only question left to be answered was whether Braden Holtby would record back-to-back shutouts, after shutting the Jets out at the MTS Centre earlier this month. Mike Green in the third made it a 5-0 game before Dustin Byfuglien got one through Holtby from a sharp angle, with traffic in front. Grant Clitsome and Andrew Ladd picked up assists. More on that later.
With under five minutes to go Blake Wheeler went off for tripping. The Caps put their number one power play unit right back on the ice, looking for more, and more they got with Ovechkin getting his league-leading 10th power play goal of the year. Whether this was running up the score or not is a debate without an answer that everyone would agree on.
Byfuglien now is 2-7-9 in his last nine games, Ladd 4-10-14 in his last 13 games and remains one of five players in the NHL to not go back-to-back games without a point. Jets were minus Mark Stuart and James Wright, both of whom were banged up in Thursday's game. Paul Postma and Patrice Cormier came into the lineup.
Jets are home to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290, puck drop at 7pm ct) as they continue a four-game homestand, now 1-2, and also continue in a stretch of five of six division games. Jets home record is now 7-8.
"They scored, we didn't," stated Coach Claude Noel on the game. "We came out better than we did Thursday night, our power play didn't help us, at one time the shots were 30-17 and we were down 5-1." On changing goalies, "Just trying to get a spark, but sparks were few and far between. But from game one to game two the grades were better, we did some things better, but we didn't win. I still like our team, we're still on top of the division and a team I still think will make the playoffs. It's not an easy league to win in. We need to keep a balanced approach and focus on Sunday. For the players, clear your head, go watch a movie. We have a game on Sunday."
After Sunday it's five of six on the road before coming home to close the season with seven of nine at the MTS Centre. One would hope that is a positive way to finish the regular schedule. Time will tell. Simply put, the Jets must be better on home ice. There is no reason to not be.