Capitals earn rare win in Edmonton

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The statistics made it perfectly clear that neither team was supposed to win Thursday's game at Rexall Place.
The Oilers, back home after a six-game Eastern swing, were 1-13 over the past two years in their first game back in Edmonton after a road trip. The Washington Capitals were 1-8 in their previous nine visits to Edmonton.
Something had to give. That something was Edmonton.
The Oilers trailed 1-0 after the first period, 2-0 after two, and they watched the Capitals pull away for a 4-1 victory.
"I thought we were playing with some pace and with some heaviness in our game," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "In the second period, I could feel the air coming out of the balloon. They started short-shifting me a little bit. I thought the travel and the time change was maybe catching up with us. I felt like there was a leak in the balloon and we were starting to come off our game."
Washington coach Adam Oates thought the change in momentum was simply his side bearing down and playing Capitals hockey.
"We were a little bit shaky in the first," he said, "but as the game went along, we did a better job playing the way we're supposed to play."
Edmonton (3-7-1) started effectively and a few times came close to scoring first, especially on power play midway through the first period. However, the Capitals (5-5-0) jumped on top after a botched faceoff in Edmonton's end.
Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won the draw, but Edmonton's Nail Yakupov and Jeff Petry let Washington's Marcus Johansson get to the puck first. A split second later, it was on Alex Ovechkin's stick, and a split second after that, it was behind Devan Dubnyk for the only goal of the first frame at 18:13.
"He's a goal-scorer," Oates said. "They're kind of broken plays, and before you know it, with his release, they're tough on goalies."
The goal changed the mood of the game.
"That was a big goal," Ovechkin said. "We scored that goal, and then they stopped playing, then they gave us a lot of opportunities three-on-two and three-on-three."
The Capitals extended the lead to 2-0 in the second on what looked like a harmless shot from the point. Jason Chimera and Joel Ward were both crashing the net at the time, turning the harmless shot into Ward's third goal of the season.
"The goal I really liked was our second one," Oates said. "We got the D involved. We need to incorporate our D into the offense."
Washington's Nicklas Backstrom scored at 1:24 of the third period, fighting off Nugent-Hopkins in the crease for the tap-in to put the contest out of reach at 3-0. Jason Chimera rounded out the Capitals' scoring midway through the third.
Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz broke Washington goalie Braden Holtby's shutout at 17:56 of the third.
Ovechkin, Backstrom and Johansson combined to put up six points, while Edmonton linemates Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Yakupov each finished minus-4.
"Those are the kind of guys that if you turn the puck over and give them opportunities and time, they're going to make something happen," Nugent-Hopkins said about the Capitals' top players. "And that's what happened tonight. We gave them a little bit too much of that tonight. If we're playing in the offensive zone, they can't do anything. The first couple of periods, that's exactly what we were doing. Even though they were up 2-0, I thought we had a good first two periods."
Holtby finished with 30 saves. Dubnyk stopped 22 shots.
NOTES: Ovechkin's 10th of the season extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. ... Capitals RW Martin Erat has played Edmonton 38 times in his career, more than any other Washington player. ... The Oilers go back out on the road for six of their next eight, starting with a Saturday visit to play the Phoenix Coyotes. ... Oilers C Mark Arcobello became one of only three rookies in the last 20 years to get 10 points his first 10 games. The other two are Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Chicago's Patrick Kane. ... Oilers RW Ben Eager is trying to regain his place in the NHL after being recalled from AHL Oklahoma City on Tuesday. ... The Capitals beat the Oilers 4-2 in Washington on Oct. 14. ... Oilers LW Taylor Hall will be out a month with his knee injury, but said he doesn't blame Ottawa D Eric Gryba for the hit that sidelined him.

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