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Oilers make it two in a row with win vs. Capitals

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers were able to shut down another premier goal scorer Wednesday in a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Rexall Place.

Two nights after keeping Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos off the score sheet, Edmonton limited Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin to two shots on goal in the third period.

The Oilers were able to hold on for the win despite a territorially-lopsided third period.

"We had players in the right spots," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I will say that's not how we want to play in the third period. We started backing up and we don't want to do that as a group. We'll get better at that for sure. Even though we ended up in our zone a lot, we were able to cover off that bad area, that red zone and when Ben Scrivens needed to, he was there for us. He was excellent."

Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin scored his first goal of the season, which held up as the game-winner.

The goal was Nikitin's first with the Oilers; he signed as a free agent with Edmonton this summer. Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers, who have won two in a row (2-4-1).

John Carlson and Mike Green scored for the Capitals, who lost their first game in regulation this season (3-1-2).

"We don't like third periods to go that way, but to be able to hold on for the win, which was huge," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It's definitely a really good sign for us. I think our line played a pretty good two periods. Like the rest of the guys were hemmed in a little in the third period. To be able to hold both those guys off the score sheet is a real positive for us."

Scrivens made 13 third-period saves and 32 in total for the win. Braden Holtby made 17 saves for the Capitals.

Nikitn's goal was scored at 16:08 of the second period on the power play. The Oilers defenseman stepped into a rolling puck at the blue line, and it found its way through a maze of players past Holtby.

The Capitals pushed hard for the tying goal in the third period, but fell short.

Ovechkin created a good opportunity early in the period, getting around Schultz and in on Scrivens, who was able to make the save from in tight.

Moments later, Capitals center Liam O'Brien forced a good blocker save from the Oilers goaltender. Scrivens was making his fourth consecutive start with Viktor Fasth out because of a groin injury.

"It kind of falls on the goalie sometimes to come up with a save or two to stop the bleeding and I don't think I did a great job of that in the first three games," Scrivens said. "But I thought I was doing some good things well and I just tried to build off that. I haven't tried to do anything different the last couple of games. The guys are tightening up in front and our hard work is starting to pay off."

Schultz opened the scoring at 6:53 of the first period, finding open ice in front of the Capitals net and converting a centering pass from Teddy Purcell. The goal was Schultz's second of the season.

Carlson tied the game at 10:15 on the power play. The Capitals defenseman took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and fired a shot past Scrivens.

"I thought we played well enough to win, but I don't think we managed the situations," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We had the lead and the momentum and then the next shift, we give up a goal and give them the momentum back.

"They had a little bit of fortune and we couldn't find the back of the net. We were a little bit loose in the first period, but we dictated much of the play in the second and third. They just came out ahead."

Green put the Capitals up 2-1, 4:50 into the second period with a rising shot through sprawling right wing Jesse Joensuu and past Scrivens.

Washington's lead lasted 20 seconds. Nugent-Hopkins stripped Ovechkin of the puck at the Oilers blue line, raced down the right wing and beat Holtby with a shot off the boards.

"It's your job as a goalie to make them beat you with a good shot and I opened up and misread the shot," Holtby said. "The puck went through me, through my seven hole [under right arm] and you can't get beat there. It was my job to make up for the turnover and I didn't."

Ovechkin went into the game with five goals and an assist. It was the second straight game and third of the season he was kept off the score sheet.

"We're improving each game and we're definitely trying to clean that up, not be running around and leaving guys open," Schultz said. "It's been working for us in the last few games. We played two of the top players in the League and shut them down basically. If we can keep doing that, we'll be good."

The Oilers continue their seven-game homestand Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Washington travels to play the Calgary Flames on Saturday in the second game of a three-game Western Canada road trip.

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