Jets inch one point closer to Caps

Jets inch one point closer to Caps
April 20, 2013, 6:00 pm
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MONTREAL -- News and notes as the Capitals [24-18-2, 50 points] visit the Montreal Canadiens [27-12-5, 59 points] tonight at Bell Centre [6:30 p.m., Capitals Central, CSN]:

What it means: With the Jets’ shootout loss to the Islanders Saturday afternoon the Caps’ magic number for clinching the Southeast Division dropped from seven to six points. The Jets have three games remaining, including Tuesday night’s showdown in D.C. They can finish the regular season with no more than 55 points. A win by the Caps tonight would reduce the Capitals’ magic number to four points with three games to play.

Special teams war: The Canadiens and Capitals own two of the NHL’s top power plays. Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban leads all NHL players with 25 power-play points, followed by the Caps’ Mike Ribeiro [24], Alex Ovechkin [23] and Habs defenseman Andrei Markov [22]. “They’ve got some guys at the blue line who can really shoot the puck,” Caps coach Adam Oates said. “We want to try to not let them set up.”

The Caps have killed off eight straight penalties over the last three games and have five power-play goals in their last four games. The Canadiens have scored five power-play goals in their last five games but have surrendered six in their last four games.

Price is right: Tonight’s game will feature two of the best puckhandling goaltenders in the league with Braden Holtby and Carey Price. “He’s really good at starting their breakouts,” Caps defenseman John Erskine said of Price. “We have to be careful of where we put the puck on our dump-ins.” Capitals coach Michel Therrien was forced to pull his goalie in three straight losses before Price stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 3-2 win over Tampa Thursday night. Holtby has won both of his career starts against Montreal, allowing just two goals in those two games.

Balanced attack: The Canadiens have six players with 11 or more goals – Michael Ryder [16], Brian Gionta [14], Tomas Plekanec [13], Brendan Gallagher [13], Max Pacioretty [12] and Subban [11]. The Caps have four players in double-digit scoring – Alex Ovechkin [28], Troy Brouwer [17], Mike Ribeiro [13] and Mike Green [10].

By the numbers: The Habs are 15-3-1 when leading after one period and 0-5-1 when trailing. They are 16-2-2 when leading after two periods and 8-0-2 when the score is tied after two. Montreal has outscored its opponents 45-32 in third periods this season.

Old teammates: The Caps will get a look at former captain Jeff Halpern, who was traded from the Rangers to the Canadiens just before the trade deadline. The Habs will get a look at former Canadien Mike Ribeiro, who played in Montreal from 2000-06.