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PREVIEW: Oilers at Capitals

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
TV: Sportsnet West (HD)

RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 5:08 p.m. MT



The Edmonton Oilers are in the capital of the United States preparing to take on the Washington Capitals tonight and they'll do so with the same lineup as their last game against Toronto with the exception of the new goalie between the pipes.

"I don't want to change much from our game in Toronto," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought we were really going and I want that same kind of passion."

Eakins says the team will zero in on Alex Ovechkin tonight.

"With Washington, obviously we want to get pucks at their net. Both of their guys in net have struggled a little bit. The second part is, I've heard number eight is pretty good so we'll keep a close eye on him."


For the second game in a row the Oilers head coach made the decision to sit former first overall pick Nail Yakupov. Eakins explained why following morning skate.

"I really liked our group of forwards last game," said Eakins. "There was absolutely nobody there that deserves to come out. So we'll stick with the same group and that's the challenge of the player. Not just for Yak, for all of our guys. It's such  privilege to play in this league and you want to give everything you have every night so you never end up like Wally Pip."

Pipp was a first baseman in Major League Baseball most famous for being the player to lose his starting job to Lou Gehrig.


The Oilers decided to make a change in net for the time being by going with Jason LaBarbera over Devan Dubnyk.

"Jason is going to play," said Eakins. "Depending on his play, that will make the decision for the next game."

LaBarbera is excited to slide into that role tonight against Washington and eager to help get the team a much needed victory.

"Obviously, we'd like to get a win here and get things going in the right direction," said LaBarbera. "We've got to go out and play the way we did the other night and for me, I've just got to play well and give the guys a chance to win."


For Oilers centre Boyd Gordon tonight marks his return to the team which made him the 17th overall pick in 2002 and the city in which he played from 2006-2011.

"It's exciting for me to come back here and I'm looking forward to it," said Gordon. "It's always a little bit weird before the game playing one of your old teams but once you get back on the ice, everything falls into place."

-- Chris Wescott,


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 coach Adam Oates 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," Oates said. "That’s all it comes down [too]. 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.

-- Eric Goodman - Staff Writer

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