It's a critical double-dip for both teams. The streaking Jets (16-12-1) will be trying to increase their lead in the Southeast division, while the Capitals (12-16-1) are desperate to keep their playoffs hopes alive. A sweep of both games by the Jets would all but kill off the Caps, who currently have the second-fewest points in the National Hockey League.
On Tuesday, Winnipeg scored three unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Boston Bruins, 3-1, at a charged up MTS Centre. With the victory, the Jets moved into first place in the Southeast. Meanwhile, the Capitals, who lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, have dropped five of their last seven games to sink towards the bottom of the division.
Although the Jets and Caps are going in different directions, Winnipeg coach Claude Noel isn't taking the next game(s) for granted.
“There are no easy games,” Noel warned after Tuesday's win. “Just because we beat Boston doesn't mean we're going to walk in to play Washington back-to-back and that will be a lesser game."
The Jets and Capitals have split a pair of games this season with each team winning on enemy ice. Braden Holtby stopped 35 shots last time out against Winnipeg. However, since losing to the Capitals 3-0 at the MTS Centre on March 2, the Jets have won three in a row at home by a combined score of 11-4. Overall, the Jets are 6-1-1 in their last eight games.
Ondrej Pavelec probably will start both games between the pipes for the Jets with regular backup Al Montoya on the injured reserve (lower-body injury). Offensively, Blake Wheeler has scored half of his team-leading 14 goals in the last seven games and Andrew Ladd has a team-best 30 points.
For Washington, Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin lead the team in points and goals with 32 and 12, respectively. Ovechkin has three goals in his last four games and Ribeiro has three goals and eight assists in his last seven games. Washington is 4-9-1 on the road this season.
Last season, the Jets were 4-1-1 against the Capitals. Evander Kane scored three goals and Dustin Byfuglien and Ladd each had two goals and three assists in the series.