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Red-hot Ovechkin leads Capitals past Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Alex Ovechkin is back to doing what he does best -- score goals.

Ovechkin scored his League-leading 10th goal in 10 games, leading the Washington Capitals to a comfortable 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. He became the first player in the NHL this season to reach double figures in goals when he scored in the first period. He also had an assist as Washington won its third in a row.

"He's a goal-scorer," Capitals coach Adam Oates said of Ovechkin. "They're kind of broken plays and before you know it, with his release, they're tough on goalies."

Ovechkin led the NHL with 32 goals in last season's abbreviated 48-game schedule, including 22 in his final 21 games.

Joel Ward, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera also scored for the Capitals. Goaltender Braden Holtby made 30 saves and came within 2:04 of his eighth career shutout before defenseman Justin Schultz scored Edmonton's only goal.

"We did some good things, we were a little bit shaky in the first, but as the game went along, we did a better job playing the way we're supposed to play," Oates said. "The goal I really liked was the (second). We got the D involved and we talked about how every single team in the league plays defensively and we need to incorporate our D into the offense."

Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves for the Oilers, who returned home after winning the final two games of a six-game trip.

Ovechkin opened the scoring at 18:13 of the opening period when he wired a shot over Dubnyk from the top of the right circle after Marcus Johansson won a faceoff in the Oilers' zone.

Prior to the goal, the Oilers had a number of scoring opportunities, but Holtby kept them off the scoreboard.

"I thought we were playing with some pace and some heaviness to our game and we were being physical," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "But in the second period I felt like I could quietly feel the air coming out of the balloon. You could see it in their faces and they seemed to be short-shifting me a bit. I think all of our travel and the time change might have been catching up to us.

"I just felt like there was a leak in the balloon and we were starting to come off of our game. I thought we had some good offensive-zone play until that third period. I really believe they were trying to step on the gas, there was just no gas left. I give a lot of credit to their goaltender. He made some great saves. We had some good looks, we just couldn't get it past him."

Ward made it 2-0 at 15:35 of the second, when he got a stick on Karl Alzner's point shot and tipped it past Dubnyk. The goal originally was awarded to Chimera, who hails from Edmonton and started his career with the Oilers, but it was changed during the intermission.

"It was really hard to let him know," Ward said. "It's his hometown and the way he celebrated, I really didn't have the heart to tell him. For us, we just wanted a plus. We've been struggling a little bit in the plus-minus category a little bit, we try to take pride in that and we've come up short in a few games. We were just excited to get one five-on-five and contribute as much as we can."

Johansson set up Backstrom's tap-in 1:24 into the third period before Chimera got a goal that was unquestionably his by taking a feed behind the Oilers defense from Mikhail Grabovski and beating Dubnyk over his glove hand with 6:37 remaining.

"I should maybe play like I'm playing against Edmonton every game," Chimera said. "It's fun whenever you get the opportunity to play in front of family and friends and when your parents are here, it's always fun to play here.

"I think our line has to get going, we've been doing a good job of cycling the puck and not getting much out of it. It's nice to get a couple of goals tonight, which helps the team out tremendously. I think when our line gets a couple of goals, I think we have a pretty good chance of winning."

Schultz spoiled Holtby's shutout bid by taking a feed from David Perron and scoring from in tight.

"It was just a few mistakes," Perron said. "On the first goal, we have to be ready on that faceoff play. It just can't happen. You go down by a goal and these guys are pretty good. After that we let it go. There were a lot of positives about the game, but we have to be better."

The Capitals (5-5-0) continue their season-long, five-game road trip against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. The Oilers fell to 3-7-1 as they prepare to visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday in the opener of a two-game road trip.

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