The Capitals continue a four-game road trip with their second game in as many nights when they play the Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) on Wednesday night. The two teams came close to meeting in the Stanley Cup Final last season. The Jets lost in the Western Conference Final to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games while the Caps went on to win the title.
Here are four things to watch:
The NHL’s two best power plays go at it on Wednesday. The Jets lead the league at 34 percent with second-year pro Patrik Laine playing their version of Alex Ovechkin. Laine has seven power-play goals. The Capitals have cooled some lately and were 0-for-2 against Minnesota on Tuesday night, but remain second in the league at 30.3 percent. Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each have six power-play goals. Washington’s top unit, which also includes John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, has a combined 45 power-play points in 17 games.
The Caps rolled the dice and started backup goalie Pheonix Copley in Minnesota to begin the roads trip and he played well with 26 saves in a 5-2 victory against the Wild. That worked out. Now they have saved starter Braden Holtby for Winnipeg, a team many see as the favorite to win the Western Conference.
Holtby (.900 save percentage, 3.24 goals-against average) is starting to round into form. He stopped 93 of 99 shots in the final three games of last week’s homestand – though Washington lost two of those three in regulation.
The Capitals killed five of six penalties against Minnesota on Tuesday, but they still rank 28th in the NHL (72.7 percent). Adding Tom Wilson to that unit after his 20-game suspension was reduced certainly helped. Wilson played 5:23 short handed against the Wild. But Washington is still without PK mainstay Brooks Orpik (lower body injury), who remains on long-term injured reserve.
Good thing the Jets have been so good on the power play because they haven’t done well at even strength. With 26 five-on-five goals, Winnipeg is 29th overall. Look out for center Mark Scheifele, though. He has 12 points (six goals, six assists) at even strength. Scheifele scored twice against the Capitals last Feb. 13 in Winnipeg and assisted on the game-winning goal in overtime of a 4-3 victory. Washington led that game 3-1 with 8:30 to go. Scheifele scored a short-handed goal with 15 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
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