For the first time this season, the shorthanded Washington Capitals are on a three-game winning streak, but they are in for a true test as they head north for a Sunday night showdown with the red-hot Winnipeg Jets.
Here is everything to know ahead of puck drop:
Capitals vs. Jets: Tale Of The Tape
Washington (13-12-4) has been finding its footing over this last stretch with wins in three straight. The Capitals feel they’ve been more consistent and playing better all-around hockey thanks to 60-minute efforts and guys stepping up in wake of injuries. The power play has also been hot with PPGs in five straight games. They will expect the same after the craziest morning skate of the year unfolded in Manitoba and saw another name go down with an ailment and several injury updates across the board.
Erik Gustafsson left the morning skate early and is questionable for Sunday’s game. It’s unclear what happened, but it marks another possible injury and key absence on the blue line. Meanwhile, Dmitry Orlov appears set to miss his 17th straight game with a lingering lower-body injury, and Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev did not skate as they deal with respective upper-body injuries. Alexeyev went on the IR on Sunday. On the positive side of the coin, Darcy Kuemper took the ice but will not play on Sunday, and Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom are travelling with the team but still working back and are in non-contact jerseys.
As for the Jets (18-7-1), this season has been going great for them as they lead the Central Division and they are on a four-game winning streak. Former Capitals winger Axel Jonsson-Fjallby will also get to lace ’em up against his former team after Winnipeg picked him up off waivers before the regular season. The Jets also come into Sunday’s game with the fourth-best penalty kill in the league (84.5 percent).
Capitals vs. Jets: Projected Lines
With Gustafsson’s status remains up in the air for Washington, the Capitals blue line could see changes. Lucas Johansen and Dylan McIlrath are up from the AHL’s Hershey Bears to help address some of the voids, and potentially one more if No. 56 can’t play. Besides that, the lines stayed the same as they were the last few games, with Johansen subbing in for the injured Alexeyev, per the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. McIlrath would draw in and play if Gustafsson can’t go.
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Lars Eller-Anthony Mantha
Aliaksei Protas-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson*-John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Nick Jensen
Lucas Johansen-Matt Irwin
Lindgren will make his fourth straight start for Washington, and Shepard will back up for the Capitals as Kuemper will not dress and goes on the IR retroactive to Dec. 3. He can come off as soon as Tuesday if he’s ready.
Capitals vs. Jets: Players To Watch
When it comes to D.C., look out for Alex Ovechkin, who has three goals in his last two games (all empty-netters) and sits four goals away from 800. He loves playing against the Jets, though, and in 69 career games against Winnipeg, he has 50 goals and 44 assists for 94 points. Also watch for Evgeny Kuznetsov, who’s on a four-game point streak and leads the team with 18 assists, and Dylan Strome, who has points in three of his last four. Lars Eller also has points in three of his last four games and is playing in career game No. 900 on Sunday. T.J. Oshie also has goals in two of his last three games, and Anthony Mantha had a multi-point outing on Friday.
On the Jets side, keep an eye on Josh Morrissey, who is on a four-game point streak and leads the team in scoring with 30 points in 26 games. Also, Pierre Luc-Dubois has 15 points in his last 10 outings and has put up points in eight of his last 10 overall. Kyle Connor also has points in four straight, Blake Wheeler has points in seven of his last eight and Mark Schiefele has points in three of his last four. Then, of course, watch for former Capitals Nate Schmidt, Brenden Dillon and AJF to try and make noise.
How To Tune In
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Canadian Life Centre. It marks Washington’s seventh game on the road over the last eight outings.