Alex Ovechkin was a constant presence in the game and recorded a goal and two assists while Braden Holtby finished with a 20-save shutout, blanking the Jets for a second consecutive game. The Capitals have outscored the Jets 7-0 in the past two meetings, both times in Winnipeg.
“It was very important game, it show the character of our team and I think we play great on [all] sides — defensively, neutral zone and offensively,” Ovechkin said. “Right now for us it’s a desperate time. Every point is very important and everybody understands.”
The Capitals (13-16-1) also received help from the rest of the Eastern Conference in the form of losses by Carolina and the New York Rangers. With 27 points, Washington sits five points back of the eighth-place Rangers and seven behind Winnipeg.
Fully aware of the stakes in this 48-hour span, Washington had a businesslike attitude heading into Thursday’s contest with the Jets. The contest featured the Capitals’ most complete lineup of the season, with forward Brooks Laich and defenseman Mike Green in the mix together for the first time.
It was Green’s first appearance since Feb. 27 when he aggravated a groin injury that caused him to miss 10 straight games, and his presence gave the Capitals a more balanced blue line. Able to roll defensive pairings and four lines, each shift managed to pick up where the previous one left off for the duration of the contest, limiting Winnipeg to low-percentage shots offensively or hemming it deep in its own zone for extended periods of time.
“It was one of the best [games] for us,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who scored his fourth goal in the third period. “60 minutes we stayed together, worked together and that’s what you’ve got to do if you’re going to win.”
The Capitals took an initial 1-0 lead 3 minutes 6 seconds into the contest on Troy Brouwer’s 11th goal. Defenseman Grant Clitsome turned the puck over behind the Jets’ net to Brouwer, who left it for Laich but quickly received the puck back from his linemate.
Brouwer carried it out from behind the net to the left circle where he fired an unassuming wrister that found its way through while Laich was out front causing chaos.
Establishing that early edge allowed Washington to double down its focus on the details of its game plan. The Capitals continued to generate consistent offense in the first, creating rushes off of the Jets’ turnovers all the while minimizing Holtby’s workload. On the rare occasion Winnipeg did get a quality scoring chance — the best in the first 40 minutes was by Antti Miettinen on a two-on-one — Holtby turned it aside with ease.