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Oilers must contend with Ovechkin, Capitals

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com

CAPITALS (3-0-2) at OILERS (1-4-1)

TV: SN360, SN1, CSN-DC

EDMONTON -- Two nights after shutting down a premier goal scorer in Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, the Edmonton Oilers will play against another in Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday at Rexall Place.

Like Stamkos, Ovechkin goes into the game with five goals in five games as the Capitals have not lost a game in regulation this season (3-0-2).

"Ovechkin is definitely a guy you have to key on," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "You can't give him much space and room to shoot the puck, because obviously he has that great shot.

"He and Stamkos play very similar in that you can't give them too much room. They get that chance and a lot of times they bury it. You have to limit their space, be hard on them and definitely try to keep them out of the game."

Stamkos was held pointless against the Oilers on Monday as Edmonton earned its first victory of the season, 3-2. The Oilers' top line of Eberle, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and left wing Taylor Hall were given the responsibility of playing against the Lightning's top line, featuring Stamkos.

They are expected to line up across from Ovechkin and the Capitals' top line Wednesday, which also features center Nicklas Backstrom and right wing Troy Brouwer.

"It's always a challenge going up against the premier guys in the League, whether it's Stamkos, Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, those kind of guys," Nugent-Hopkins said. "But we have to embrace it and try to play well offensively against them. The more time we spend in their offensive zone, the less time they can spend in ours."

The Capitals started the season well under new coach Barry Trotz and enter Wednesday on a two-game win streak.

Trotz has Ovechkin and the Capitals playing a strong two-way game early in the season.

"He [Ovechkin] has been outstanding right off the hop," Trotz said. "He was great through training camp, he was great through the first games. I would say his last game was probably his weakest of all, but the first four were magnificent on both sides of the puck. He was physical, he was detailed, he was scoring goals, he was doing all those things. He's actually been a real pleasure to coach."

Ovechkin has five goals and one assist in five games. He's been moved back to left wing after playing right wing for the majority of the previous two seasons.

"The last two years I played on the right side and I got used to it, but before that I was always on the left wing," Ovechkin said. "Right now it doesn't matter where I play.

"If you are skating well, if you're feeling good, it doesn't matter whether you are, on the left side or right. If you're going to have the puck you're going to move around and you're going to score goals from both the right and left side."

Goaltender Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals; Ben Scrivens will make his fourth consecutive start in goal for the Oilers.

Here are the projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Marcus Johansson - Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle

Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Liam O'Brien - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Michael Latta

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt - Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Jack Hillen, Chris Brown

Injured: Aaron Volpatti (neck), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), Brooks Laich (shoulder)

OILERS

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

David Perron - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Benoit Pouliot - Mark Arcobello - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Jesse Joensuu

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Martin Marincin - Mark Fayne

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Ben Scrivens

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Will Acton, Brad Hunt

Injured: Viktor Fasth (groin), Luke Gazdic (shoulder)

Status report: Beagle was activated from injured reserve and will make his season debut Wednesday. Beagle sustained an upper-body injury in a preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens. … Fasth was back on the ice Wednesday for the morning skate and is close to a return, according to Eakins.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has five goals in five games. ... Green and Burakovsky each has five points this season. … Hall had one goal and one assist Monday against the Lightning. He has six points on the season.

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