Jets aim to shake struggles in visit to streaking Capitals

League: NHL

Posted on: 24 Mar, 2024 at 03:39 AM

Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets know they haven't been good enough in their past two games. It's resulted in losses in both outings, the first time they've dropped consecutive games since a five-game skid from Jan. 22-Feb. 8.

The Jets (44-21-5, 93 points) lost 6-3 to the New York Islanders on Saturday, a contest in which they trailed 3-1 and were outshot 15-3 in the first period.

In a tight race for first place in the Central Division, they'll look to get back on track when they close out a five-game road trip with a visit to the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

"Another desperate team, another team that's going to come out flying," Jets captain Adam Lowry said. "We've got to find a way to get our legs, we've got to find a way to have a good start.

"That's one of those things that's kind of put us on our heels, is teams have come out, they've forechecked us hard, and we haven't had the answer, per se."

Winnipeg is third in the division, two points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, who sit first and second, respectively.

"We might be comfortably in a playoff spot, but the seeding's not set in stone," Lowry said. "There's still a lot to play for. That's one of those things. We've got to be ready to go from the start regardless of who we're playing."

Though forward Cole Perfetti is enjoying a career year with 15 goals and 32 points, it hasn't been an easy road. The 22-year-old had gone 23 games without a goal before scoring against the Islanders, and he only had two assists during his drought.

"It was nice to see Cole score," Lowry said. "I know it's been a long time so hopefully that can build his confidence."

The Capitals (34-26-9, 77 points) are trying to keep pace in the race for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. The team is coming off a wild 7-6 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, pulling them to within a point of the Detroit Red Wings, who lost 1-0 Saturday to the Nashville Predators.

It's been an up-and-down season for Washington, but lately the ups have overtaken the downs. The team has won four of its past five and is 11-5-1 in its past 17 games, a stretch that dates to mid-February.

One of those losses was a 3-0 setback against the Jets two weeks ago in Winnipeg.

"Hopefully we're better prepared and better equipped to handle their (pressure) ..." coach Spencer Carbery said. "That will be a real challenge, but hopefully we learn from that (game).

"We'll show a bunch of stuff that (shows) us in that situation in their building, and we're better prepared, and our guys will understand the challenges that will be faced."

Sonny Milano, who is slated to play his 300th NHL game Sunday, has been a solid fit in two seasons with the Capitals. The 27-year-old scored his first NHL hat trick against the Hurricanes, giving him 13 goals on the season.

He's one goal shy of his career high reached twice -- in 2021-22 with the Anaheim Ducks and 2017-18 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

-Field Level Media