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Oilers, Capitals, look to return to win column

by Eric Goodman /

OILERS (1-3-1) at CAPITALS (1-4-0)


Season series: This is the first of two games this season. The Edmonton Oilers took the lone meeting of the 2011-12 season when Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Rexall Place on Oct. 27, 2011.

Big story: The Capitals and Oilers both need to snap out of their respective cold spells, with Washington having dropped three straight and Edmonton looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. Both teams have been losing big as well, with the Oilers and Capitals averaging five and four goals against, respectively, this season.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Each new season breeds increasing hope that Edmonton will finally return to glory, but it has yet to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. There is no reason to hit the panic button since it's still early, but the Oilers will try to improve upon their efforts on the road, where they have given up six goals each over their first two losses.

The Oilers were on the wrong end of a back-and-forth affair Saturday as they fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Veteran forward Ryan Smyth had two goals, but that wasn't enough to help his team earn the extra point in the standings as Toronto's Joffrey Lupul tied the game with 31 seconds left in regulation and Dave Bolland won it 2:09 into OT.

"We generated a lot of offense but we gave up some on the other end," Smyth said. "[The Maple Leafs] were hungry. They found some odd-man rushes that they capitalized on and it's frustrating, taking the loss with 30 seconds to go."

Capitals: Coming off their worst loss of the new season, the Capitals will try to avoid a third straight defeat at home. If starting goaltender Braden Holtby gets the nod Monday, he'll try to earn his first victory in his fifth start of the season. Holtby got a rest Saturday as backup Michal Neuvirth surrendered the first four goals of the game in a 5-1 blowout at the hands of the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, a result that left forward Troy Brouwer unhappy.

"It’s looking at yourself and wanting to win. It’s about wanting to work hard, wanting to help your teammates out, wanting to win," Brouwer said. "That’s all it comes down [to]. Our talent level is there. Our effort’s not."

Who's Hot: Oilers forward Taylor Hall will try to extend his point streak to four. He has a goal and three assists total in the past three games. ... Although he was held scoreless Saturday, Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitals with five goals and seven points in five games this season.

Injury Report: For Edmonton, forwards Ryan Hamilton and Steve MacIntyre are questionable with knee injuries. Defenseman Corey Potter hasn't played a regular-season game yet and remains questionable with a back injury. Center Sam Gagner (broken jaw) is skating, but does not expect to return to the Oilers' lineup until early November. ... For Washington, defenseman John Erskine is questionable with an upper-body injury and fellow blueliner Jack Hillen is on injured reserve with a leg injury.

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