Just a month-and-a-half after battling a seven-game winless streak, the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals put the finishing touches on a seven-game winning streak, showing the visiting Jets why it has been since 2013 that Winnipeg has collected a victory in Washington.
The Sunday evening inter-conference battle began with quick strike from long-time Capitals’ forward Nicklas Backstrom. The Swedish centreman picked up his 18th goal of the season just over four minutes into the contest, handing the home team an early 1-0 lead.
In finding himself in the right spot at the right time, former Capital Mathieu Perreault brought the Jets right back into the picture with his 12 goal of the campaign, just two minutes after the game’s opening goal. Jack Roslovic and Andrew Copp each collected assists on the first period marker.
Following a fourth unsuccessful Winnipeg man advantage late in the second period, Washington’s recent trade acquisition, speedster Carl Hagelin was sprung on a breakaway from the penalty box with a perfect aerial feed from Nic Dowd. Hagelin made no mistake beating netminder Connor Hellebuyck for just his fourth goal of the season, restoring the Capitals’ one-goal lead in the process.
Despite another late-game power play opportunity with Hellebuyck pulled for the extra attacker, Winnipeg continued to prove its recent incompetence on the man advantage – this time, giving up an empty net marker to Lars Eller with just 22 seconds left to play.
Although controlling most of the game, the Jets were unable to find a way to beat Washington backstop Pheonix Copley after the early first period strike from Perreault. Copley turned aside 33 of 34 shots, while Hellebuyck didn’t face much rubber, stopping 16 of just 18 shots fired his way.
After a huge 5-3 home ice victory over Central Division rival Nashville last Friday, the Jets have alternated wins and losses on their four-game road trip. A 5-2 win over Columbus was followed by a 5-2 loss in Tampa, before Winnipeg laid a beating on Carolina, whooping the Hurricanes 8-1 on Friday.
The Jets now return home to host San Jose Tuesday, before the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames roll into town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Tuesday’s contest from Bell MTS Place features a 7:00 PM central start time, and is available to be viewed on TSN3.