The Edmonton Oilers (8-4-1) were in Washington to take on the defending champion Capitals (5-4-3) in their second of two meetings this season. The Oilers, in pretty good form at the moment, looked to continue their winning ways on the road. The Capitals hoped to stop them. What would happen? Would anything happen? Let’s find out.
The Capitals got the scoring started early. The Oilers fourth line - coming off a pretty good game - found themselves victimized for two goals against that saw Cam Talbot left hanging for two wide open looks from the slot.
First, a trio of Oilers were caught puck watching, leaving Jakub Vrana all alone to beat Talbot up high. 1-0 Caps.
Then, the Capitals took advantage of a poor turnover by Jujhar Khaira, and Devante Smith-Pelley made no mistake from about where Vrana scored his. 2-0 Caps.
In between the goals, the Ryan Strome, Milan Lucic, and Jesse Puljujarvi trio combined for a nice move in transition but Lucic’s poor run of finishing continued, and the chance went begging.
The Oilers began to push at this point (perhaps also a function of the Caps being content to simply maintain their two-goal advantage) and soon were rewarded with their first powerplay. In what can only be considered a huge surprise, McLellan threw out a PP1 that included a right-handed shooter: Alex Chiasson. Is he sick? Did he lose a bet?
Of course, the man advantage passed without yielding even a single shot, so perhaps Tod had a point this whole time.
Tod backed up this ineffectual power play with a coaching masterclass, getting his fourth line out there again. This is good coaching, see, because none of them are from Finland, so they aren’t subject to the accountability rules the Oilers seem to selectively enforce. Upon Finnish guys.
Jokes aside, the trio drew a penalty. So, good work Tod. And this time, the PP would make good. The new-look top unit flung the puck around real nice before it wound up on Connor McDavid’s stick in the left circle. The captain took his time before beating Pheonix (sic) Copley between his left pad and trapper. 2-1 Caps.
The Caps began to re-establish themselves at this point, and the Oilers would play the bulk of the last few minutes on their heels, including having to fend off a powerplay of their own with just under two minutes left in the period. They would, and the period ended with the home side up 2-1.
Both teams took a couple minutes to get their feet wet in the middle frame, but as time passed, the Oilers began to push. The top line generated a nice look via Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Drake Caggiula, as the former found the latter in front for a nice opportunity. No dice.
The Capitals found some joy shortly after with Dmitri Jaskin going just wide after a wrap around attempt.
During this brief pushback, the Capitals managed to find another thanks to a wonderful pass from Nicklas Backstrom to T.J. Oshie, who made no mistake up and over Talbot’s left shoulder. 3-1 Caps. Kevin Quinn thought he tied it for the Capitals. However many more years Sportsnet has the NHL rights, is too many years.
Not long after the goal, the Oilers began to bring the noise again. Unfortunately, it appears that they forgot the funk tonight. But they managed to force the Capitals into clearing the puck out of bounds, and returned to the man advantage.
And, once again, the Oilers top unit managed to score a goal despite looking like ass for most of their allotment. This time, Adam Larsson made a nice slap pass toward Leon Draisaitl, who deflected home to cut the deficit back down to one. 3-2 Caps.
But, alas, those special teams. Adam Larsson was forced to sit for two minutes after his usual exuberance with his lumber was this time noticed by the officials, and the Oilers were back to the PK. The Capitals were 50%(!!!) on the powerplay at home heading into tonight, so it was unfortunate. Of course, the Caps scored almost immediately as John Carlson’s effort deflected to a still-incredible Alex Ovechkin who scored his 11th(!!!) of the season from his office. 4-2 Caps.
After, the Oilers again started to tilt the ice in their favor but by that point it seemed pretty apparent that the Caps were happy to sit back, absorb the Oilers pressure, and defend their two-goal lead.
Granted, Copley was forced into some saves as the period came to a close, but the visitors couldn’t solve him and went into the break down two. Shots were in Edmonton’s favor 22-20, and the Oilers managed to gain the advantage in the shot shares, while pulling the scoring chance shares closer to level. All in all, they could have done worse, here. You felt like if they could get one, they could bring it all the way back.
Unfortunately, that one, they never got. The Oilers pushed for the majority of the third period, again, in my opinion in part because the Capitals allowed them to, but they couldn’t solve Copley.
The game would end with Cam Talbot on the bench with roughly two minutes left and perhaps the start of yet another goaltending controversy in Edmonton, with the Empty Net doing in two minutes what Talbot failed to all night: stop Ovechkin and stop DSP.
I thought the Oilers might have enough in them after the first period to bring this one all the way back. The third goal and fourth goals were real tough. As soon as the Oilers were rewarded for their efforts, they’d concede again and have to start all over. Good teams will make you pay for that almost every time.
Talbot was fine, and I don’t think he had a chance on any of the goals against really, but you’d still love to see him make a save or two he’s not supposed to in a game like this one.
CF%: 59-42, 58.42%
FF%: 41-34, 54.67%
SCF%: 29-26, 52.73%
HDCF%: 13-12, 52%
Keep in mind, the Oilers were trailing throughout, and by two goals for the bulk of the second and third periods. Likely some degree of score effects here, but the Oilers certainly tried after going down early. Jamie Benn wishes.
The Oilers are back at it again tomorrow night in Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning (10-3-1). Puck drop a shade after 5:30pm MST. Bookmark the website as we’ll have you covered all day. Til then.