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Under the Scope: Oilers at Capitals

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton rolled into Washington hoping to move on and improve on Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Philadephia Flyers. While the scoreless opening period gave the visitors some hope, the short-lived optimism was cast aside in a hurry as the Capitals scored twice in the second period, both on the power-play, to set a frightening tone.

Alex Ovechkin led the way for his club, scoring twice and adding an assist to vault the Capitals to a commanding victory over the Oilers at Verizon Center. Alexander Semin, who registered a goal and an assist in the game, helped orchestrate the dominating third period that ultimately sunk the OIlers by the 5-0 score.

Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the crease for the first time since Feb. 22, allowing five goals on the 36 Washington shots he faced. At the other end, the Oilers registered 22 shots of their own, all of which were turned aside by rookie netminder Braden Holtby as he recorded his first career NHL shutout.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

Although the Oilers and Capitals skated through a scoreless opening period, quality chances for both sides began to come in quick succession as the middle frame got underway. Oilers speedster Andrew Cogliano was the beneficiary of Edmonton's best chance, with a breakaway opportunity that was turned aside by Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. Shortly after the save, Washington was credited with a power-play opportunity as they looked to record the ice-breaker. After receiving a beautiful feed from Jason Arnott, Alex Ovechkin cashed in the wide-open cage, putting the home side up 1-0.

40 The Oilers were successful on only 40% of the draws tonight. Faceoff-ace Shawn Horcoff led the way for the Oilers, posting a 12-7, 63% efficiency rate in the dot.
37 In a game that featured two teams founded on speed and young talent, the physical game was a central theme tonight. In total, the two teams combined to dish out 37 hits. Capitals forward Brooks Laich totaled the most on both sides with five of his own.
3 In total, the Oilers gave the puck away eight times tonight; a relatively low total for an NHL game. However, goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin accumulated three of his own.
1 Rookie netminder Braden Holtby recorded his first NHL shutout tonight in his 10th career start with the Washington Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin
G A P +/- Shots
2 1 3 +3 5

Braden Holtby
22 22 0 59:34 100

Eric Fehr
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +1 2

Braden Holtby
22 22 0 59:34 100

Nikolai Khabibulin
36 31 5 60:00 .861

Dennis Wideman - D

23:34 - 1A, +1 rating

Jim Vandermeer - D

22:27 - 0P, -1 rating

Alex Ovechkin's second goal of the evening was, perhaps, the most incredible goal scored across the league in weeks. After Kurtis Foster turned the puck over at his own blueline, Marcus Johansson and Ovechkin orchestrated a tremendous passing play en route to Washington's fourth tally of the night. After making a series of passes that were sure to confuse Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, the puck eventually landed on Ovechkin's stick. The Russian sniper wasted no time in releasing his shot with a one-timer, beating Khabibulin under the bar to increase Washington's third period lead.

In a game that featured one of the league's most dynamic goal-scorers, Alex Ovechkin came to feast against a visiting team that was looking to play spoiler. Ovechkin played a total of 18:39, in the process recording two goals and one assist, five shots on goal, two takeaways and a plus-one rating in the commanding 5-0 victory over the Oilers. With his performance tonight, Ovechkin now increases his lead in Capitals scoring, now having accumulated 72 points in 68 game this season.

Although the Oilers were on the wrong side of the shutout score tonight, Ryan Jones had a solid evening for the visitors. In his 18:42 of ice-time, Jones contributed with two shots on goal, two hits, one takeaway and one blocked shot. In addition, Jones' high ice-time total included 3:20 shorthanded, which put him among the team leaders in this category. Although the Oilers fell in their second consecutive defeat on this five-game road trip, Jones had a great evening for his club by leading the way defensively.

Recent call-up Alex Plante continues to find his rhythm at the NHL level. Tonight, his physical game stood out in an otherwise solid and appropriately uneventful evening. In the second period, Plante lined up Capitals forward Boyd Gordon with a violent open-ice crunch that stunned and effectively separated the centre from the puck. Edmonton's rookie blueliner got his hands up high, throwing them into the upper section of Gordon's body, in the process leveling his man with a fantastic physical display.

Ex-Oiler Jason Arnott recorded a milestone in Washington's 5-0 victory over Edmonton. On Alex Ovechkin's ice-breaking goal in the second period, Arnott picked up his 900th career NHL point with the primary assist on the play.

"We didn't manage the game well because we didn't manage the puck well. We put ourselves in a real bind with trying to man up and play a competitive game in other areas."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney summarizes Wednesday's 5-0 shutout loss to Washington.

Friday March 11 at Detroit
  5:30pm MST (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

Edmonton's five-game road trip continues with a stop in Detroit to take on the Red Wings Friday night. Game-time is 5:30pm MST and can be seen on Sportsnet West.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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