CAPITALS (21-8-6) at OILERS (15-15-4)
Last 10: Washington 7-3-0; Edmonton 5-4-1
Season series: This is the only meeting of the season between these teams. The Oilers won 5-2 at the Verizon Center in Washington last season behind an Erik Cole hat trick. Gilbert Brule netted the game-winner early in the second period.
Big story: The Capitals had an opportunity to become the first NHL team to 50 points, but they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Canucks in Vancouver on Friday. Now they head to Alberta to finish up a four-game road trip that began with a 6-3 loss at Toronto and a 6-1 win in Colorado.
Capitals: Tied in the third period in Vancouver, the tide would turn on a pair of plays for Washington. First, defenseman Tom Poti took a cross-checking minor with 7:36 left and was assessed an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct after slamming the door to the penalty box. Mason Raymond scored his second goal of the game on the ensuing power play. It held up as the game-winner, but the Capitals would get a golden opportunity to tie just 19 seconds later when Alexander Semin was awarded a penalty shot. Roberto Luongo shut the door, however.
''Our power play was horrible,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said after the Capitals' top-ranked unit was held without a shot on three of its four advantages by the Canucks' 20th-ranked penalty kill. ''We didn't generate anything.''
Oilers: This has been a frustrating season at times for Edmonton and its coach, Pat Quinn. The team struggled to score goals early in the season, then started off the month of December with five consecutive road victories. However, since returning to Rexall Place the Oilers have dropped games against Los Angeles and Nashville. They got off to a 2-0 lead just over five minutes in against the Predators, only to give up six of the final seven goals.
"Losing gracefully has been the standard here for a while," defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "When we go on the road and put hard work and have a team first attitude, it raises our standards. Good teams have that level consistently.
"We're a team that takes two steps forward and two steps back, and that gets you nothing. We don't want that to be acceptable."
Who's hot: Semin has three goals and an assist in Washington's last four games. Nicklas Backstrom had a streak of three straight multi-point games snapped when Vancouver held him scoreless.
Robert Nilsson scored twice against Nashville and has eight points in as many games for Edmonton. Lubomir Visnovsky, who also scored in that game, has seven points in as many games.
Injury report: Defenseman Brian Pothier (ribs) is out indefinitely for the Capitals, while goalie Semyon Varlamov (groin) and forwards Quintin Laing (broken jaw) and Boyd Gordon (back) are on injured reserve.
The Oilers have half a dozen players on injured reserve: goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back) and forwards Marc Pouliot (sports hernia), Taylor Chorney (ankle), Fernando Pisani (ulcerative colitis), Mike Comrie (mononucleosis) and Ales Hemsky (shoulder). Hemsky, who recently had surgery, will miss the rest of the season.
Stat pack: Since Khabibulin last played Nov. 16 against Columbus, Jeff Deslauriers has started every game and played all but 52 minutes in net for Edmonton. Devan Dubnyk relieved him early in a 7-3 loss at Vancouver on Nov. 28. Deslauriers leads the team in wins (8-6-2) and goals-against average (2.85), and has also registered a pair of assists.
Puck drop: Fans in Western Canada rarely get to see Alex Ovechkin in person, so this will be a treat for those in attendance at Rexall Place. Ovi has 21 goals in 27 games this season, but just one in his last five.