Oilers-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

Alex Ovechkin and Nail Yakupov are the last two Russian players to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft and both are currently playing for struggling teams.

One big difference between them this season, however, is that Ovechkin is producing for the Washington Capitals while Yakupov is not for the Edmonton Oilers.

Yakupov was benched in the Oilers' last game and it's unclear if will be back on the ice for what would be his first meeting with Ovechkin on Monday night in Washington.

These right wings have drawn comparisons ever since Yakupov was selected by Edmonton (1-3-1) in the 2012 draft - eight years after Washington (1-4-0) chose Ovechkin.

The Capitals star has five goals among his seven points this season, but his club has lost three straight after a 5-1 home defeat to Colorado on Saturday.

"Of course we are all disappointed that we have had that kind of start but it's going to break out, it's going to go in another way and we're going to be fine," Ovechkin said. "We have a great group of guys here and it's something we go through."

The superstar at least knows that he will be on the ice Monday.

That isn't the case for Yakupov, who has no points in his first four games and was scratched for the first time in his career from Saturday's 6-5 overtime loss in Toronto.

"We just thought that he had gotten to a spot of frustration where the kid's passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself," first-year coach Dallas Eakins said. "And you can't do that, I don't care how good you are, you can't produce by yourself. You have to use your linemates."

Ovechkin led all players with 14 goals last April with Yakupov second with 11. The second-year winger, however, hasn't been close to as effective at the start of this season.

"I think nobody is happy when you're not playing so that was frustrating," Yakupov said. "But that's not my choice, that's coach('s) choice so every question is for coach but I am just getting ready for (the next) game, you just work. So all good."

Edmonton does have a red-hot forward in Mark Arcobello, who had three assists Saturday to give him a team-leading five on the season.

The Oilers' problem has been a defense that is yielding 5.0 goals per game to tie for the NHL's worst mark. Devan Dubnyk, who has a 5.43 goals-against average, has made four starts.

The Capitals also have struggled defensively, allowing an average of 4.0 goals. Michal Neuvirth started Saturday after Braden Holtby posted a 4.04 GAA while starting Washington's first four games.

Coach Adam Oates canceled practice Sunday, opting for a team meeting and video session instead.

"Let's take one," said Oates, who ended his playing career with Edmonton in 2004. "We need one win right now. I want the guys to feel good. We need to win tomorrow."

Both teams are solid on the power play, with Washington at 31.6 percent and Edmonton at 25.0.

The Capitals are 7-1-0 in their last eight home meetings with the Oilers.

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