An explosive three-goal second period and effective power play propelled the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers tonight, handing the visitors from the north their third straight loss.
All five of the Oilers losses this season have come after the team has scored first, as they did tonight.
"We're on a tough streak right now and we came in here desperately needing this game," said Oilers forward Will Acton. "When you don't get it, it hurts."
Former Capitals player turned Phoenix Coyote, turned Oiler Boyd Gordon opened up the scoring at 9:48 of the first period. Justin Schultz stopped the puck at his own blue line and then skated up the right wing patiently waiting for the Washington defenceman to bite. Schultz then found Gordon alone in the slot and the Oilers centre sniped it over the blocker of Braden Holtby.
Washington answered back at 13:41. A wide-shot that missed the net was played by Oilers goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the corner. A failed Oilers clearing attempt was stopped at the point by Steve Olesky who put a perfect pass on the tape of Brooks Laich's stick. Laich went five-hole on LaBarbera to tie the game, 1-1.
The Caps took their first lead of the night, this one on the power play, at 10:06 of the second period. After a Ladislav Smid tripping penalty, Nicklas Backstrom set up Joel Ward backdoor on a perfect cross-ice feed and Washington took the 2-1 lead with Alex Ovechkin recording the second assist.
With 6:42 remaining in the second, Washington stretched their lead to 3-1 when Ovechkin tallied his sixth goal of the season and second point of the night.
The Oilers dug themselves a deeper hole when Mark Arcobello took a high-sticking penalty just moments later. On the power play, the Capitals connected on a quick tic-tac-toe passing play to take a 4-1 lead at 14:01 of the middle frame.
Backstrom from the circle sent the puck to Mikahil Grabovski who, planted at the post, one-tapped the puck to Troy Brouwer in the slot. Brouwer fired the puck inside and the shot trickled by LaBarbera for the big lead.
"We get what we deserve," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought for the other minutes we played well enough to be even or better. The game is not 57 minutes long, it's 60. All it took was one moment of an old habit and we paid the price."
With just over seven minutes remaining in the game Ovechkin checked Mike Brown into the boards from behind resulting in a massive scrum between the Oilers fourth line and the Capitals top line. The Oilers ended up being rewarded a power play while multiple players were penalized from each side.
The Capitals would kill off the penalty.
Oilers forward David Perron passed the puck from behind the net to defenceman Jeff Petry who slapped it across the crease to Acton who scored his first NHL goal with under two minutes remaining to draw within two.
"It felt pretty nice, but obviously it was a tough game for us, a tough loss," said Acton. "There might be a little happiness for me because of that, but mostly it's over-clouded by the loss."
The late rally would fall short as Washington's second period was enough to carry them to victory as they drop the Oilers to 1-4-1 on the season.