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Capitals vs. Oilers Recap: Oilers Stifle Caps In 5-3 Edmonton Win

The Oilers chased Samsonov after just five minutes and scored a late shorty to stop a potential Washington comeback.

Edmonton Oilers v Washington Capitals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Fresh off an overtime win in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals headed home to face the Edmonton Oilers at Capital One Arena. This is the first time the Oilers have been in DC since November 5, 2018. The Caps beat the Oilers 4-2 with goals from Jakub Vrana and Devante Smith-Pelly and 31 saves from Pheonix Copley.

Today was a busy news day for the Capitals. The team announced that Alex Ovechkin has tested positive for COVID and is currently in COVID protocol, making him unavailable both for tonight’s game and this weekend’s All-Star Game in Vegas. The corresponding roster moves were recalling forward Brett Leason and goalie Pheonix Copley and reassigning goalie Hunter Shepard to Hershey. With all of those moves, the lines during warmups looked a little something like this:

Coach Laviolette said that Vitek Vanecek was being held out due to precautionary reasons, which is a good sign. A not-so-good sign: healthy scratch Connor McMichael. An excellent sign to make up for those bad vibes: NHL All-Star Tom Wilson.

Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Pheonix Copley came into the game after Ilya Samsonov gave up three goals in five minutes and he was great with the exception of the one goal he allowed, especially after going almost three years without an NHL appearance.

Minus: The power play was even worse than usual without Alex Ovechkin. They looked confused and entirely disorganized. It’s been bad all season, but it was atrocious tonight.

And now this, just in case you forgot:

Eleven more notes on the game:

1. Leon Draisaitl got the Oilers on the board just 1:30 into the game. Draisaitl worked a bit of a give and go with Cody Ceci down the ice, and Ceci sent an excellent pass across the crease for Draisaitl to chip it over Ilya Samsonov’s glove. Definitely not the start the Capitals wanted.

2. 1:31 later, Evander Kane doubled up Edmonton’s lead with a deflection that went five-hole on Samsonov. After an Oilers’ faceoff win, Duncan Keith fired a point shot on net that Kane redirected perfectly. Kane now has 25 goals in 31 games against the Capitals. 2-0 Oilers with 18:29 to go.

3. Tom Wilson took an offensive-zone tripping penalty at 4:18 of the first, putting a recently struggling Edmonton power play to work. Connor McDavid made an excellent play driving to the net and banked the goal in off Samsonov’s back from a sharp angle after an excellent cross-ice pass from Draisaitl. That’s three goals allowed on four shots for Samsonov, which was enough for Coach Laviolette. Exit Ilya Samsonov, enter Pheonix Copley. Copley has not seen NHL action since April 6, 2019.

4. Lars Eller got the Caps on the board at 12:24 with his eighth goal of the season after a turnover by the Oilers. Evan Bouchard accidentally passed the puck right to Justin Schultz just below the blue line, and Schultz sent a perfectly placed pass to Eller in front of the net. With his eighth goal, Eller tied his season total from the 2020-2021 season.

5. Garnet Hathaway absolutely launched Evander Kane into the Washington bench in the second period, and the replay is just as delightful as you’d expect:

6. Conor Sheary pulled the Caps within one with 10:44 left on the clock in the second period at the end of an excellent offensive-zone shift from the Sheary-Backstrom-Sprong line. Nicklas Backstrom fired the initial shot from the point, Martin Fehervary sent the bouncing puck on net again, and Sheary pounced on a prime rebound off Mikko Koskinen’s right pad. With an assist on the tally, Backstrom now has 13 points in 14 games this season.

7. Duncan Kieth took an interference penalty on Short King Sheary with 4:18 to go before second intermission, putting the Capitals on the power play without Alex Ovechkin for the first time this season. The Caps barely got set up in the Edmonton zone before the Oilers’ penalty kill took control, holding the Washington power play to zero shots. It was another unwatchable power play from the Caps, folks.

8. Just 2:48 into the third period, Evgeny Kuznetsov tied things up at 3 apiece after a sharp angle shot to the left of Koskinen. Kuznetsov capitalized on a loose puck by the boards and sent the puck on net from a severe angle, a shot he has loved lately. It looked like Joe Snively might have gotten a piece of it on the way to the net, but it appeared to go off Tyson Barrie instead. This is Kuzy’s 14th goal of the season and his 17th point in the last 18 games.

Of note after this goal: Copley is now the Capitals’ goalie of record tonight, getting Samsonov off the hook.

9. Kailer Yamamoto took exception to a hit Garnet Hathaway laid on Connor McDavid and cross-checked Hathaway, putting the Washington power play to work for the second time tonight four minutes after Kuznetsov’s tally. The Caps’ man-advantage unit was once again very disorganized and struggled to get anything set up, and they once again recorded no shots on goal. Still 3-3 with about 11 minutes to go.

10. The Caps got their third power play opportunity with 4:23 to play after Tyson Barrie took a hooking penalty on Carl Hagelin (or Peter Hagelin, if you’re the TNT broadcast crew). There was a goal only 20 seconds into the power play, but it was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a shorthanded tally to put the Oilers back on top. Pheonix Copley missed a poke check on Zach Hyman and fell over, leaving the net wide open for Nugent-Hopkins in front. 4-3 Edmonton with 4:03 to go, and the Caps once again did not record a shot on this power play.

11. The Capitals pulled Copley with a few minutes to go, and Nugent-Hopkins scored his second of the night on the empty net with just over a minute left on the clock. Oilers win 5-3.

Up next for the Caps: a meeting with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, February 8 at 7PM after the All-Star break