Sun, 29 Mar 2020

With Kovalchuk on board, Caps set for Jets' visit

Field Level Media
25 Feb 2020, 10:40 GMT+10

Now that Alex Ovechkin has finally reached the 700-goal mark, the Washington Capitals can start re-focusing on winning. They snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday and will host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

Ovechkin got to 700 goals during Saturday's loss to New Jersey, but the Caps' offense showed up again in the 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday. That win gave Washington a two-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division.

Carl Hagelin scored twice against his former team, with T.J. Oshie giving the Caps the lead for good at 4-3 in the third period. Washington scored four times in that final period.

"[We had] a few breakdowns that they were able to capitalize on," Washington coach Todd Reirden said on the team's website. "But for the most part, I would say that was the most connected five-man game that we have played -- probably in all three zones -- in quite some time."

John Carlson made his own piece of Caps' history in the win over Pittsburgh. The defenseman, who leads all NHL blueliners with 72 points (after Sunday's game), got a point in the Penguins' win. That moved him into first place in franchise history (475) among defensemen, passing Calle Johansson.

The Caps made another late-season move Sunday, trading for forward Ilya Kovalchuk from Montreal in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick. Also, the Canadiens will retain 50 percent of the player's salary and cap hit.

Kovalchuk told reporters he had angled to join the Capitals, knowing the team is capable of a long postseason run.

"I feel like I can help," he said. "They already good everywhere, but it's a good opportunity. I know a lot of guys there. I play against, I play with -- nationals teams or on other teams -- so it's exciting for me. Obviously, they are looking to go all the way, so hopefully, we'll do some damage in the playoffs."

Kovalchuk is on his third team this season, 36 years old and has played in 919 NHL games. He could give the Washington offense some help.

Winnipeg is coming to town off of a tough 2-1 loss in Buffalo on Sunday. The Jets are fighting for one of the final Western Conference playoff spots.

"It doesn't matter who you play now," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said on his team's site after the loss. "The opponent isn't nearly as critical as the desperation we'll need from 18 skaters."

Blake Wheeler scored his 21st goal of the season for the Jets, but they could not get any more on offense. But recently-acquired Cody Eakin did play in his first game with Winnipeg.

The Jets' website said Eakin, who came to the team from Vegas late last week, played 14:23, had four hits and won 55 percent of his face-offs.

Eakin told the Winnipeg Sun that the trade was a tough situation as he'd had a strong 2 1/2 years with the Golden Knights, including their expansion-year run to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Capitals beat the Knights in five games. This year, though, Eakin's numbers dropped. He has four goals and six assists in 42 games after scoring 22 goals in 78 games last season.

The status of Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is unclear, after he sustained an upper-body injury during warmups Sunday and did not play. Maurice told the team site that there'd be news on Morrissey in a few days.

--Field Level Media

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