Jets welcome Caps in battle of surging clubs

( - The Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets both aim to bolster their playoff chances with a fourth straight victory on Saturday night in a meeting at MTS Centre.

The Capitals and Jets are both in the thick of the playoff hunt in their respective conferences, using current three-game winning streaks to make up ground.

Washington's surge has given it a solid lead for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and the club has matched the Pittsburgh Penguins' 88 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Pens own the current tiebreaker with one fewer game played. Pittsburgh also is in action on Saturday night when they visit the Arizona Coyotes.

Winnipeg's path to the playoffs also appears as if it will run through a wild card spot as it trails the Chicago Blackhawks by eight points for third place in the Central Division. The Jets are one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card position and are two points up on the Los Angeles Kings, who host Vancouver on Saturday, for the second extra playoff berth.

The Capitals edged out the red-hot Wild 3-2 on Thursday as Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of goals to up his league-leading totals of 47 goals and 73 points.

Ovechkin notched his 13th multi-goal game of the season and is on the verge of his sixth career 50-goal campaign. The sniping forward also is just three goals shy of matching Peter Bondra (472 goals) for the most in team history.

Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for Washington and Braden Holtby made 28 saves.

"When we have the structure and when we know exactly what we have to do, it's working," said Ovechkin.

Washington concludes a three-game road trip tonight and then is off until Thursday's home matchup with the New Jersey Devils.

The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a big 2-1 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. Winnipeg won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods as Drew Stafford notched a third-period tally to tie the game and scored in the shootout along with Andrew Ladd.

Ondrej Pavelec made 32 saves through overtime and two key stops in the tiebreaker to give the Jets their longest winning streak since taking five in a row from Jan. 13-21.

Winnipeg moved to 1-19-4 this season when down after two periods.

"We played as hard as we could," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "We didn't change when we got down. We got better. We got more pucks to the net. We played hard and solid. We have for a while, our last three (games) especially have been great efforts. That game demanded it."

Stafford continues to be a key contributor to Winnipeg's playoff push. He has three goals and two assists over his last four games and has notched six goals with 11 points in 15 contests since being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

Forward Bryan Little (lower body) and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (upper body) both missed Thursday's win and are questionable to return to tonight's lineup.

Winnipeg could use the added firepower as it has lost seven in a row to Washington. That includes a 5-1 road loss on Feb. 19, when Nicklas Backstrom scored twice in addition to an assist and Ovechkin scored while setting up another goal.

Ovechkin has 42 goals and 42 assists in 56 career games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta Thrasher franchise.

Holtby made 19 saves in that win and Pavelec allowed four goals on 32 shots for the Jets, who have lost four straight at home in this matchup.