On Thursday morning the Capitals explained to all who would listen that these were desperate times for the hockey club. Their actions on Thursday night backed up all the talking. For the second time in the last three weeks Washington blanked Winnipeg in its own barn, taking the first game in this rare “double-header”, 4-0.
The Caps executed their cycle game and their neutral-zone scheme to near perfection in the first period.
The visitors grabbed a one-goal lead thanks to Troy Brouwer at the 3:06 mark. The winger took a pass from Brooks Laich and swooped from below the goal-line up into the face-off circle to the right of Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec. From a sharp angle, the snap shot of Brouwer handcuffed the netminder and nestled in the twine. Brouwer has scored a goal in each of his three meetings with the Jets this year.
Washington kept the Winnipeg scoring chances to a minimum against Braden Holtby. Whenever they Jets did muster an opportunity, the Caps goalie looked to be locked onto the puck very well.
The Caps made it a two-goal advantage at 16:22 of the opening period. Alex Ovechkin stepped in from the right-wing boards and snapped a very crisp pass to the doorstep of the goal, where Marcus Johansson steered home his fourth tally of the year.
Steve Oleksy dropped the gloves with Winnipeg winger James Wright before the first period was complete and both guys landed strong right hands.
There would be no scoring in the second period and not much more in the way of shots on net. Washington only threw three pucks on goal, while Winnipeg was limited to only four shots.
Holtby made two fantastic stops on Antti Miettinen in the contest; both of them looked to be sure goals off two-on-one breaks.
Getting that kind of top-flight goaltending, the Cap would polish off the scoring with two more goals in the third frame.
Ovechkin hammered home his league-leading 9th power-play marker at 14:06 of the final period to insure a Caps victory. The captain posted three points on the night, the last of which was an assist on a Nicklas Backstrom blast to close the scoring at 4-0.
Ovechkin also threw the two biggest hits of the night, a pair of bone-rattling collisions with Bryan Little and Mark Stuart. Stuart did not return to the game after he was nailed along the boards.
Holtby finished with 20 stops for his fourth shutout of the year and second straight at MTS Center.
With the victory, the Caps now trail the Jets by seven points in the Southeast Division race and face-off with Winnipeg again here Friday. Coverage of the rematch begins at 6:30 p.m. eastern time with Caps Central on Comcast SportsNet.