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Evgeny Kuznetsov's hat trick lifts Capitals to 7-4 win over Oilers

NHL.com @NHL

EDMONTON - Evgeny Kuznetsov and the Washington Capitals certainly didn't look like a team playing their third game in four nights.

Kuznetsov scored his first career hat trick and added two assists as the Capitals extended their winning streak to five games with a 7-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

"It feels unbelievable," said Kuznetsov, who came into the game with six assists. "It's thanks to my linemates. But the team game is more important to me. I'm just happy with how we are doing right now."

Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom said he was thrilled to see Kuznetsov, a 23-year-old Russian, have such a breakout game.

"It's awesome. He's playing with a lot of confidence," said Backstrom. "He's grown so much from last year. Every one is happy to see that."

Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams also scored for the Capitals, who improved to 6-1-0.

"We knew it was a big road trip for us, it was our first road trip," said Washington captain Alex Ovechkin of the team's three wins in Western Canada. "We're obviously happy to take these points."

Connor McDavid, Benoit Pouliot, Rob Klinkhammer and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins supplied the offence for the Oilers (3-5-0), who saw a three-game winning streak come to an end.

"They're a very talented team and they took advantage of a team that was sloppy in a lot of areas," said Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan. "Tonight I'm much more disappointed in individuals. Certain players who didn't bring it, who were not alert, weren't sharp, weren't performing well.

"We can't afford to have four or five guys just not with us."

Washington opened the scoring just three minutes into the first period, as Kuznetsov took a feed from T.J. Oshie and waited for Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson to go down before lifting the puck into an open net.

Edmonton responded with nine minutes to play in the first as Nail Yakupov displayed some grit behind the net to chip the puck in front to Pouliot, who beat Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer. Grubauer was making his first start of the season and finished with 19 saves.

The Capitals regained the lead just over a minute later thanks to a breakdown on the penalty kill by Edmonton, allowing Backstrom a breakaway that he buried for this fourth goal of the season.

The Oilers made it 2-2 with five minutes remaining in the first as Klinkhammer tipped a Taylor Hall shot into the Caps net.

The back-and-forth action continued as Washington scored with 20 seconds left in the opening period with Johansson winning a scrum in front to deflect a Williams shot into the net.

Edmonton tied the game back up again just 36 seconds into the second period on the power play as McDavid banked the puck off a couple of defenders and in for his fifth of the season.

Six minutes into the second and Washington once again regained the lead as Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz missed on a leap for the puck and Kuznetsov scored on a breakaway backhand.

Washington made it 5-3 midway through the third as Kuznetsov made a perfect back door pass to Burakovsky for the goal.

The Capitals scored again on a Williams redirection two minutes later. Nilsson was replaced by Cam Talbot in the Edmonton net.

The Oilers got one back with five minutes left in the second as Nugent-Hopkins picked the top corner on a broken play.

Kuznetsov scored his third goal of the game on the power play with three minutes remaining.

Edmonton returns to action on Sunday when it host the Los Angeles Kings. The Capitals are off until next Wednesday, when they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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