Winnipeg Jets' Playoff Hopes Barely Alive After Loss to Washington Captials

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IApril 24, 2013

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 17: Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel adjusts his glasses while players Kyle Wellwood #13, Andrew Ladd #16, Evander Kane #9 and Eric Fehr #17 wait for their shift in a game against the Anaheim Ducks in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 17, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets’ playoff hopes are on life support following a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

Mathematically, they’re still alive, but it will take a remarkable collapse by either the New York Rangers or Ottawa Senators to put the Jets into the postseason.

Winnipeg had a great opportunity when the puck dropped in Washington. They could keep the Capitals from clinching the Southeast Division title and leapfrog them in the standings. A win could have also put them a point up on the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers, which lost 3-2 to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Instead the Jets came up empty, losing in regulation for the first time since April 4.

A crucial moment in the game came in the first period with the score 1-0 for Washington. Ron Hainsey kept the puck in at the blue line and took a shot which was tipped over Braden Holtby’s shoulder. The puck was trickling onto and seemingly over the goal line, until John Erskine swept it away.

The play was reviewed and the call on the ice stood, no goal.

With the score 2-0, Evander Kane got the Jets on the board 16 seconds into the second period with a power-play goal. Blake Wheeler evened the score later in the period, on a great pass from Nik Antropov.

However, it all fell apart less than a minute later.

Nicklas Backstrom scored to put the Capitals back on top and minutes later Mathieu Perreault restored the two-goal lead.

Antropov cut the lead down to one in the third, but it wasn't enough. Alex Ovechkin notched his league-leading 31st goal into an empty net to seal the win.

The Jets were outplayed, plain and simple.

Washington outshot them 41-27 and had the edge in the faceoff circle as well. It appears as though the Capitals are pulling it together and quickly becoming the strong, often dominant team we've grown accustomed to seeing in recent years. 

Washington is locked in as the third seed, while Winnipeg is on the brink of becoming the last team eliminated from playoff contention in the East.

The Jets will play their 48th and final regular-season game Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. A win would give them 53 points on the season.

However, the Senators and Rangers are tied with 52 points now. The Senators have three games remaining versus the Capitals, Flyers and Bruins. The Rangers have two left, against the Hurricanes and Devils.

The only good news for the Jets now is the fact that they have 22 regulation and overtime wins, whereas the Senators only have 19 and the Rangers 20. Although odds are that won’t come into play. 

For those fans wondering what could have been, look no further than the season series with the Capitals. The Jets won the first game 4-2, but went on to lose the next four by a combined score of 18-4.