Washington Capitals (39-23-10) at Winnipeg Jets (36-23-12)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 21, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Winnipeg Jets -115 / Washington Capitals +104 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Washington Capitals have won three straight games and are trying to take advantage of the freefalling Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington has looked fairly entrenched in the first wild card spot for a large portion of this season, but now it’s entirely possible that they can hop into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division standings. Currently, that would mean a first round match up with the struggling New York Islanders, a club that the Capitals have some success against this year. Finishing in a wild card spot would mean matching up with the Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers, two clubs that wouldn’t be as favorable for Washington. It looks as if their victory over the Boston Bruins last week has propelled the Capitals forward. While they struggled in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, they came away with one of their biggest wins of the season in Minnesota on Thursday night. Alex Ovechkin continued his quest toward 50 goals and another league scoring title, scoring twice on the night to lift the Capitals to a 3-2 victory. Ovechkin now has 47 goals on the season. As always, Braden Holtby made the start for the Caps and he registered 28 saves to record the win. Holtby hasn’t really shown much fatigue despite playing virtually every game for Washington, but that’s something that Barry Trotz really needs to look at as this team heads toward the playoffs. It’s extremely difficult for any club to be successful in the playoffs when their goaltender has played 70+ games during the regular season. The fatigue always seems to show up at that time of year and it will be interesting to see what happens with Holtby next month. For now it looks like the Caps will continue to ride him down the stretch.
For the Winnipeg Jets it’s must win hockey every time out for the rest of the season. The Jets currently hold a two point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, but the Kings still have one game in hand. After losing three of four the Jets have rebounded to win three straight, including a huge win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. Winnipeg trailed 1-0 late in the third period before Drew Stafford scored his 15th goal of the season to send the game to overtime. After a scoreless overtime session it was Stafford and Andrew Ladd scoring before Ondrej Pavelec stopped Alexander Steen to seal the 2-1 win. It’s extra points like that one that can make all the difference for Winnipeg the rest of the way and with a difficult schedule the rest of the way they need every one they can get. The Jets still have games with Vancouver, Montreal, Chicago, the New York Rangers, Minnesota, and Calgary after they play Washington on Saturday. That is about as brutal as it gets but this team has overcome the odds all season long up to this point.
This should be a fun one on Saturday night between two clubs that are both playing playoff type hockey right now. Both teams need the win but the Jets should have the edge here on home ice.