WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals open a three-game homestand Thursday night the same way they ended their four-game Western Canada road swing – by facing the Winnipeg Jets.
Forward Jay Beagle salvaged the road finale Tuesday night, scoring the winning goal with 30 seconds left in the third period to give the Capitals a 3-2 win at MTS Centre.
Washington (6-2-1) had allowed only three third-period goals all season before the Jets (4-6) tallied twice in the third to tie it, setting up Beagle's heroics.
“They came at us with a real intense effort. We're going to have to match their intensity,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said of Thursday's rematch.
“We'll have to manage the game a little better. If we play on our toes a little bit better and play with the same urgency that they had, then we should be fine.”
After losing the first game of the road trip, Trotz shuffled his lines and the Capitals have won three straight. Forward Marcus Johansson, playing on the second line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and forward Tom Wilson, scored Washington's second goal in Tuesday's win and has five tallies in the past three games.
“He's playing with a lot of confidence,” Trotz said. “and that line seems to have a little bit of chemistry. They've scored probably – it seems like – 90 percent of our goals in our last two games.”
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby faced 45 shots, something Beagle said Washington needs to fix Thursday night.
“Holts had to stand on his head to give us that 2-0 lead.” Beagle said. “It's something that we're going to obviously address and look at tape. I think they've got a lot of speed. They like to come at you in waves and they definitely feed off turnovers, so we've got to get it behind them and make sure we're playing in their end.”
The Jets look to bounce back after tying Tuesday's game with 2:25 remaining, only to lose a potential point or more in the final minute.
“(What) you take from it and all is not fair in this league and just try to replicate that game on Thursday night,” Blake Wheeler said. “We've played pretty well here recently and we're pretty happy with how our game's going. It's a pretty good hockey club over there – they're expected to have a lot of success this year – and we belonged out there.”
Despite the two-goal third period, the Jets have scored just four goals in their last three games.
“It's been really frustrating. We've had some looks,” Wheeler said. “We've had some offensive zone time. It just hasn't resulted in goals.”
Winnipeg hopes the late rally, and not the result, carries over into Thursday night.
“We know we have a solid team in here and we played real good against a real good team,” Adam Lowry said. “Coming back from two goals against a team like that just shows we can compete with anyone, I think. … We'll look back and just try to get back on the right track in Washington.”