March 20, 2015

Amid their longest winning stretch in three seasons, the Washington Capitals are still looking to play better.

They'll get another chance while trying for a seventh consecutive victory Saturday on the road against the Winnipeg Jets.

T.J. Oshie scored twice and Braden Holtby stayed hot with 33 saves to help Washington win 3-2 at Eastern Conference-leading Montreal on Thursday. The Capitals' six-game winning streak is their longest since an eight-game run during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

"The team's been riding high," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "A lot of guys with confidence ... It's a good time for the Caps right now but it's a long season."

And the Capitals know they can improve.

Washington (18-5-1) generated a season-low 19 shots Thursday, failed on all three power-play chances after going 6 for 9 in the previous three games and allowed Montreal to record 27 shots in the first two periods. The Capitals have allowed an average of 34.3 shots in the last three games and recorded 42 in the last two.

"(Thursday) was probably the most solemn win that we've had this year," coach Barry Trotz told the NHL's official website. "The last couple of games, I don't think we've played our best."

Holtby might be the exception, posting a 1.72 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in his last 11 starts. He's riding a career-high eight-game winning streak, the longest by a Washington netminder since Jose Theodore won 10 in a row in 2009-10 to tie Pat Riggin's club record.

''He can really sway the game in our favor when he makes those big saves time after time,'' said Oshie, who has scored three of his eight goals in the last three games. "There are a lot of things we have to clean up so he doesn't have to bail us out so much."

Holtby settled down after allowing two first-period goals on six shots against Winnipeg (12-12-2) on Nov. 25 and finished with 23 saves in a 5-3 victory.

He's been in goal for every game as Washington has won eight of nine against the Jets, outscoring them 36-17. Alex Ovechkin also has keyed that recent dominance, totaling 11 goals and seven assists in the clubs' last 11 meetings. Nicklas Backstrom has 17 points in his last 12 against Winnipeg.

Ovechkin and Backstrom both scored last week against the Jets' Michael Hutchinson, who has a 4.10 GAA during his three-game losing streak. It's possible Connor Hellebuyck could make his second straight start after recording 32 saves in Wednesday's 6-1 rout of Toronto.

Called up Nov. 22 after Ondrej Pavelec suffered a sprained knee that's likely to keep him out until January, the 22-year-old Hellebuyck has stopped 46 of 48 shots to win his first two NHL games.

''He's calm in the net," teammate Mark Scheifele said. "He doesn't get scrambly, he doesn't get rattled very easily. I think that's a big thing in a young goaltender, that he's able to not crack under that pressure.

"He's been awesome for us and you know he's going to be a pretty special goalie.''

Drew Stafford scored twice and Scheifele had a goal with two assists Wednesday as the Jets improved to 4-3-0 since losing six straight.

Andrew Ladd has a goal in three of the last four games, beginning with the loss to Washington. He also has six assists in his last five against the Capitals.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)