Pre-game primer: Caps season on the line

Pre-game primer: Caps season on the line
March 21, 2013, 8:45 am
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News and notes as the Capitals [12-16-1, 25 points] prepare for tonight’s showdown in Winnipeg [8 p.m., CSN] against the Southeast Division-leading Jets 16-12-2, 34 points]:

What it means: By the looks of the NHL standings, the Caps will need to finish the regular season with a record three games over .500 to nail down the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. That means they’ll need to play seven games over .500 in their final 19 games of the season to earn a playoff spot. Are they good enough to go 13-6-0 in their final 19 games?

Double dip: The two-game set against the Jets in Winnipeg – tonight at 8, Friday night at 7 – mark the first time in Capitals history that they will face the same opponent on consecutive nights in the same city. The only other time the Caps have played the same opponent in consecutive games on the road came on March 25 and 29, 2006 at Carolina. The Capitals have played consecutive games, both at home, against the same opponent three times, including Feb. 21 and 23 of this season against New Jersey.

Trending: Since going 8-3-0 from Feb. 9 through March 7 the Caps have gone 2-5-0 in their last seven. In all five of those losses they’ve scored two or fewer goals. In four of the losses they’ve managed one goal or less.

Power surge: Center Mike Ribeiro picked up his league-leading 17th power-play point of the season in Pittsburgh Tuesday night. That’s two more power-play points than he scored all of last season in Dallas. Ribeiro ranks 52nd in the NHL in average power-play ice time per game (3:37).

Ovi’s push: Alex Ovechkin is now tied for the league lead in power-play goals with eight and he leads the Capitals in goals with 12.In six games against the Jets last season Ovechkin led the Capitals with six points [four goals, two assists] as the two teams split the season series with 2-2-2 records. Ovechkin has recorded 71 points [34 goals, 37 assists] in 50 career games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, his highest total against any NHL team.

Facing Jets: This is the third of five meetings between these two clubs this season. The Jets won the first matchup 4-2 in D.C. on Jan. 22 and the Caps won 3-0 in Winnipeg on March 2.

Holtby back in: Braden Holtby [10-10-0, 2.92, .911] is expected to get the start tonight for the Caps. He is 1-2-0 with a 3.28 GAA and .911 save percentage in three career games against the Jets. Michal Neuvirth, who could get the call Friday night, is 2-5-1 this season with a 2.99 GAA and .899 save percentage. In his career against the Jets/Thrashers, he is 6-2-1 with a 2.74 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Quote of the day: “Obviously the next two will be pretty big for us,” Ribeiro told “It can keep us in this race or it can push us down and out of it. …You can go up to 29 [points] and be close to them or you can stay at 25 and they go up to 38 or something and that changes a lot.”