Coming off of a 1-0 victory on the road against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Caps will be looking for their fourth win in five games. The Avalanche, 14-17-1 to this point in the season, have dropped four of their last five, including a 5-4 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Colorado is at the bottom of the Northwest Division with just 29 points so far this season. Washington, in the mean time, will be looking to stay within five points of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division.
The last time the Washington Capitals entered the third period in a scoreless tie, the bottom dropped out as they allowed three unanswered goals after scoring first within the last five minutes in a losing effort. Against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday, the Caps scored first and the Jets had no response.
Alex Ovechkin's goal with 1:14 left broke the scoreless tie and gave Washington a much-needed 1-0 win over Winnipeg.
With time running out and both Michal Neuvirth and Ondrej Pavelec putting on a clinic, Marcus Johansson's drop pass in the offensive zone found Ovechkin with enough space to put a wrist shot past Pavelec (27 saves) for his 10th goal of the season. The Jets pulled Pavelec in favor of an extra attacker, but could not convert.
Neuvirth, in just his ninth start of the season, made 26 saves to earn his first win since December 3. His shutout was the fifth of his career.
With the win, Washington vaults over Winnipeg in the standings and will get a chance to add to it Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.
After seven shots on goal in the first period, the Caps earned 12 in the second, making life more difficult for Ondrej Pavelec by getting chances in tight. Both teams had several odd-man rushes in a furious spurt midway through the second period. Washington had three, but could not convert on any of them, whether it be because the Jets' defenders got in the way or the shot went wide.
The Jets had some breaks of their own, but Michal Neuvirth continued his solid night in goal with eight saves in the period. The Caps, after having three straight penalties called against them, finally earned a power play late in the period. Despite some good chances, the Caps did not convert.
This is just the second time this season that the Caps enter the third period in a scoreless tie.
Neuvirth's 14 saves have kept the Caps in their game with the Winnipeg Jets, which is scoreless after 20 minutes.
The Jets controlled play for most of the period, getting several scoring chances in tight on Neuvirth, but he stopped them all. Neuvirth's teammates, however, have not given him much support as they only have seven shots on goal, none of which have particularly challenged Ondrej Pavelec.
Winnipeg is 0-for-1 on the power play, while Washington has yet to have one.
Seven different Caps have one shot. Ron Hainsey leads the Jets with three shots. Evander Kane, who has victimized the Caps throughout his young career, has no shots on goal, but did hit the post on a chance in close.
Via Mike Vogel, Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for the Washington Capitals Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. Neuvirth, who made an appearance in relief of Tomas Vokoun in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, has not started since December 5. Yet, Neuvirth has more starts against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise (eight) and more wins (five) than any other team in his career.
Matt Hendricks took in extra work after morning skate and will miss his fourth consecutive game with a knee injury. Jeff Schultz will be the defensive healthy scratch for the third straight game.
Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the Jets; he has won four of his last five starts.
The Washington Capitals haven't won three games in a row since their season-opening seven game win streak, but they have lost four in a row twice since then. After a lopsided loss Tuesday, the Caps look to start another win streak Thursday in a pivotal Southeast Division game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Tuesday, the Philadelphia Flyers scored five unanswered goals in a 5-1 rout, dropping Washington to 3-4-0 under Dale Hunter. That stretch, juxtaposed by the Jets' streak of five wins in six games this month, has the Caps looking up at the Jets and Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division.
Winnipeg only plays two road games this month and has turned MTS Centre, the NHL's smallest arena, into one of toughest places to play. The Jets are 10-4-0 at home, which includes a 4-1 win over the Caps November 17 during the tailspin that ultimately cost Bruce Boudreau his job. So far this month, the Jets have defeated the two of the NHL's best teams, the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild.
Washington exacted revenge November 23 in a 4-3 overtime win at Verizon Center, but a win Thursday would vault it over Winnipeg in the standings.
Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle will travel with the Caps on its two-game road trip. Hendricks has missed three games with a knee injury and is listed as "day-to-day," while Beagle has not traveled with the team since suffering a concussion October 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Beagle won't play Thursday, but Hendricks' status is uncertain.