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Capitals @ Oilers Recap: Caps Put Together A Full 60 in 3-2 Victory

Stuart Skinner gave it his best effort with 47 saves, but Nic Dowd’s game-winner sealed the deal for a Washington win.

Washington Capitals v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers faced off for the second and final time this season tonight, this time at Rogers Place. The last time these two teams met, the Caps came away with the win in a high-scoring 5-4 affair that saw two goals each from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome. Could a repeat performance be in the cards for tonight?

Here’s what the Caps looked like in warmups:

With Martin Fehervary on IR, Coach Laviolette had to do some shuffling on the blueline. Of note: two right-handed defensemen on the second pair and two left-handed defensemen on the third. Darcy Kuemper was also out tonight, so the Caps turned to Charlie Lindgren in net with Hershey call-up Hunter Shepard backing him up. Lindgren faced the Oilers earlier this season in DC when he recorded a 25-save win.

Here’s Monday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Tonight was an incredible full effort from the Capitals. They controlled possession, fired shot after shot on net (they finished the game with 50 SOG), and rallied to take the lead in the third. If not for Stuart Skinner, Washington would have run away with this game early.

Minus: If you’re going to let Connor McDavid score a shorty, at least make it difficult for him. That weak pass from John Carlson was Not It™.

And now, congratulations on the milestones, boys!

A few more thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Darnell Nurse was called for interference on Nick Jensen at 7:01 of the first. The Oilers have struggled on the penalty kill and have allowed 29 power play goals this season, which is second-worst in the league. The Capitals did pretty much everything but score on this man-advantage – they had eight shots on goal but could not convert. Stuart Skinner absolutely stood on his head for the Oilers and he saved the day for his team.

2. The Oilers got their first power play opportunity at 11:18 of the first after Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for tripping Mattias Janmark. Unlike their penalty kill, Edmonton’s power play is a formidable opponent; their man-advantage is third-best in the league at 29.4% on the season. Fortunately, Washington’s penalty kill survived its first test of the night, holding the Oilers to one shot and keeping them off the board.

3. The Capitals had 22 shots on goal in the first period, which is tied for a single-period season high. They outshot the Oilers by 11 and dominated possession for arguably their best period of the season so far.

4. Despite being badly outplayed by the Capitals in the first period, the Oilers got on the board first with a goal from Brett Kulak just 1:44 into the middle frame. With traffic in front of the net, there wasn’t much Charlie Lindgren could do with Kulak’s point shot through the bodies. Unfortunately for the Caps, the Oilers are 8-2 this season when they score first.

5. The Capitals got their second power play chance of the night at 3:18 of the second when Tyson Barrie took a seat for tripping Anthony Mantha. There were some excellent chances on this power play…for Edmonton, as the Caps only had two shots on goal this go around. It was almost disastrous for the Caps when John Carlson broke his stick on a 2-on-1 breakaway for the Oilers that included that guy Connor McDavid, but thankfully Alex Ovechkin was there on the backcheck.

6. Tiger goal alert! After some solid puck movement from Washington’s third line, Lars Eller tied things up for Washington. He scored on a filthy backhand-forehand move, making Skinner look silly on a deke and flipping the puck to the back of the net. Sonny Milano got the lone assist on the tally after forcing the turnover from Leon Draisaitl, but Anthony Mantha deserves a lot of credit for his hard work on the play as well.

This is Eller’s fourth goal of the season, and we have a whole new hockey game.

7. Erik Gustafsson was cross-checked by Evan Bouchard with five minutes left in the second, which put the Caps on the power play (yay!) but immediately sent Gustafsson down the tunnel to the locker room (yikes!). Connor McDavid picked off a lazy pass from John Carlson and was off to the races on a shorthanded breakaway that he did not waste. 2-1 Edmonton.

However, fear not, Caps fans! Skinner denied T.J. Oshie on a high-pressure flurry with about 30 seconds left on the penalty, but Oshie would not be denied again! Tyson Barrie was focused on Ovechkin in the left circle, leaving Oshie open in the slot. His goal came on a killer passing sequence from Kuznetsov, down to Strome, then back up to Oshie. Tie hockey game, folks.

Also: Gustafsson was back on the bench a minute after he left the ice, not missing a shift. Phew.

8. Aliaksei Protas was a man possessed in the third period (at one point, the 6’6” forward was clocked at 23mph on a breakaway!), and his incredible effort led directly to a Nic Dowd goal with 12:47 left in the third. On his second breakaway of the period, Protas lost control of the puck a bit. Instead of trying to force a shot, he made a stunning drop pass to Dowd, who went bar down over Skinner’s left shoulder.

This was Dowd’s first goal in 19 games, since October 24. And fun fact: Protas’ billet family is in the building tonight to watch him play! Gotta love that!

9. The Oilers pulled Skinner with 1:32 to go for the extra attacker. The Oilers put some pressure on, but Lindgren and the Caps stood tall and held on for the 3-2 win.

Up next for the Caps: the last game on this road trip, a stop at Wells Fargo Center to face the Flyers this Wednesday, 7pm ET.