First-place Jets open home set against Caps

The Winnipeg Jets showed they are deserving of the top spot in the Southeast Division after beating one of the Eastern Conference's best on Tuesday.

Claude Noel's club will have to be careful on Thursday of not looking past the Washington Capitals, who the Jets will host on back-to-back nights.

Winnipeg has gone 6-1-1 in its last eight games and Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, who have seven more points than the Jets, put the club two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Southeast standings.

Trailing by a goal heading into the third period, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane scored 57 seconds apart late in the frame and Wheeler capped the scoring with an empty-net goal. He has three two-goal games over his last five.

Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves for the Jets franchise, which has not made the postseason since 2007 and moved a game above .500 at home this season (7-6-0).

"It's nice to get the two points. We're just trying to push up the standings as far as we can go," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said.

The Jets took the opener of a four-game homestand and will also host the Capitals again on Friday before wrapping up the residency on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Winnipeg will try not to stumble against Washington, which is 14th out of 15 teams in the East and seven points back of a playoff spot.

"Just because we beat Boston doesn't mean we're going to walk in and play Washington back-to-back and that will be a lesser game," said Noel. "It will be just as difficult as this one. There's such a fine line in the National Hockey League between winning and losing."

The Jets had won four straight over the Capitals before dropping a 3-0 decision at home to the club on March 2. It marks the only time this season that Winnipeg has been shut out.

Braden Holtby stopped all 35 shots faced for Washington, which got a goal and an assist from Mike Ribeiro.

Pavelec made 18 saves for the Jets.

The Capitals, though, have lost five of their past seven and were bested 2-1 on Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won their 10th straight.

Holtby made 34 saves and Alex Ovechkin notched his third goal in four games and 12th of the season.

"This one's really disappointing," said Washington forward Eric Fehr. "I thought we had this game. We worked really hard and we did a lot of the things we need to do to win games. When you run into a hot team like this, they seem to find a way to win and I thought we deserved that one."

The Caps dropped the opener of a four-game road trip and will close the swing on Sunday versus the New York Rangers. They are just 4-9-1 on the road this season.