The wild-card race in the Western Conference is heating up but the Winnipeg Jets aren’t buckling under the immense pressure.
The red-hot Jets will search for a fourth-consecutive victory when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Jets (36-23-12) hold the second wild-card spot with 84 points — two ahead of the Los Angeles Kings.
“We expect it to be tight all the way to the end,” Jets defenceman Tyler Myers told the Winnipeg Free Press. “We’re a team that believes we can do some damage in the playoffs.”
The Capitals (39-23-10), also winners of their last three games, sit in the second wild-card spot with 88 points.
Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com
Despite playing without leading goal scorer Bryan Little, the Jets keep finding ways to produce offensively. Blake Wheeler has nine points in the last five games and will once again be relied on to keep the Jets’ playoff hopes alive.
Andrew Ladd, who has played all 71 games this season, leads the Jets in scoring with 57 points.
As for Little — the centre is still listed as day-to-day after missing the last six games with a lingering upper-body injury.
The Jets’ blue-line will essentially stay intact heading into action on Saturday.
Dustin Byfuglien (upper-body injury) will once again be a game-time decision. Byfuglien, who has missed the last six games, leads all Jets defencemen in scoring with 15 goals and 42 points.
Ondrej Pavelec has been a key reason the Jets have won three in a row and will get the next start. Pavelec has stopped 86 of 90 shots with a .955 save percentage in his last three starts.
The Capitals are putting the heat on the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Alex Ovechkin is closing in on his sixth 50-goal season. Ovechkin leads the NHL with 47 goals and 73 points. Nicklas Backstrom leads the league in assists with 54.
John Carlson leads a potent Captials defence with 11 goals and 47 points. Veteran blue-liner Tim Gleason practised Friday after missing the team’s 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild with an upper-body injury. He’ll be a game-time decision.
Braden Holtby has been the busiest goalie in the league this season, having played 63 games.
Holtby has started 14 straight games and earned his career-best 35th victory on Thursday.
Game Day Predictions: Both teams have won three straight. The Jets will win their fourth tonight. Jets 4 Capitals 3.
Obvious Predictions: Keep the Caps off the power play or they’ll hurt you. They’ll hurt you bad.
Not So Obvious Predictions: No. 8 will be held off the shoresheet. We all know this is unlikely.
The Jets have a 64.2% chance of making the playoffs, according to clubsportsstats.com.