WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby characteristically downplayed his performance in a 33-save shutout Monday, his first of the season.
"Shutouts only matter if it's 1-0 like it was," Holtby said. "It's a good night to have it. We battled through and got a huge goal from [Dmitry Orlov] at the right time. To be honest, after we scored that, that was our best hockey of the night, and that's a good thing."
Holtby and Orlov helped the Capitals to a 1-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center.
Last season, Holtby set NHL career highs in games played (73), wins (41) and shutouts (nine). He got a new contract this offseason and hasn't let anyone down with 12 wins in 16 starts.
"He absolutely deserved the shutout," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's been one of our top players all year. Tonight he was by far our best player. There wasn't anybody in the same universe as him."
Orlov scored with 6:32 remaining in the third period. Trotz thought Orlov's goal helped Washington (14-5-1) take control of the remainder of the game.
"We didn't have much going on all night," Trotz said. "That was huge, guys stepped up. I thought we managed it really well once we got the lead. We managed it much better than we managed the game in total."
Anders Nilsson made 31 saves for the Oilers (7-13-1) in his seventh start in nine games.
"It's never fun to lose, but if you look at our performance, we played a pretty good game today," Nilsson said. "Played a solid game throughout the whole team. I almost think we were the better team today, so it's unfortunate that we weren't able to score, but I think [Holtby] stood up and played a great game for them and won the game."
Edmonton outshot Washington 13-7 in the first period and led 23-15 after the second, mostly thanks to a four-minute double minor penalty on Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom.
"I feel like a lot of their supporting-cast players are starting to come into their own," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said of the Oilers. "They're starting to play, what seems like, a more mature game, which I think is what they've been building towards. They've been open for that. They've got a ton of good players there. They're definitely playing a more mature game, and their goaltending was great tonight too, so that always helps."
Orlov scored his second goal of the season, in back-to-back games. Tom Wilson sent the puck across the left circle and Orlov scored with a slap shot from the hash mark. He previously had not scored since March 2, 2014.
"That's just the way hockey goes sometimes," Holtby said. "The first period was a good period to get into it. Overall, I thought we played not too bad defensively in front of our net especially. I thought the guys had a lot more to do with this one than it looked."
Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his sixth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Forward Andre Burakovsky was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.
The Oilers were missing forwards Connor McDavid, out indefinitely with a broken clavicle, Rob Klinkhammer, and defenseman Justin Schultz, who has missed 12 games with a back injury but is expected to return to the lineup before the end of Edmonton's five-game road trip that started Monday.
"It's just a close game," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "That's a good team, in their building, and it was just a really good effort by us. Sometimes you're not going to win those. Their goalie played really well, he's having a good season. Our goalie played great too. [Nilsson] held us in there, gave us a chance to win. Sometimes those are going to go your way, sometimes not, but it seems like we've been on the wrong side of a lot of those this year."
Washington has two games remaining in its season-long five-game homestand.
"This game was going to be hard on us, and we needed to be ready for this team," Orlov said. "They're good offensively, so we needed to be ready and [Holtby] played unreal. I think it's his win."