Recap: Capitals @ Oilers (Oct. 26 2016)

Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images

Pouliot, Talbot spoil Capitals’ first visit to Rogers Place with 4-1 rout to open Washington’s  four-game, 4,924 mile road trip Wednesday night in Edmonton, Alta.

The Capitals began their annual Western Canada road swing under the lights of the exceptionally elegant Rogers Place, the brand new 18,550-eat venue that has quickly become the most spectacular arena in the NHL. Standing between Washington and a return to the win column following a disappointing 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers in D.C. on Oct. 22 were the resurgent Edmonton Oilers led by their emerging superstar Connor McDavid, who has already carved out a place for himself in the 2016-17 Art Ross Trophy race, among the league leaders with four goals and nine points in his first six games.

McDavid, the newly-named captain of the Oilers, displayed his world-class talent early in the first period, getting a shot off at point blank range that nearly bested Washington’s world-class goaltender Braden Holtby.

Neither of the head coaches were likely to be happy with the discipline of their respective squads to start the game with each side taking two minors in the opening frame. The Capitals earned a power-play opportunity midway through the first period courtesy of a cross-checking minor to Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, one of the many first-round picks in the Oilers lineup. But even with four shots on net, the Capitals failed to pierce goaltender Cam Talbot.

Not to be outdone in undisciplined penalties, Capitals center Jay Beagle took a holding-the-stick minor midway through the first period giving the visitors an early opportunity to improve on their 27th ranked penalty killing unit. The penalty-killers were ample to the task of slowing the Oilers vaunted power-play in the early frame, holding the Oilers to one shot on their power play.

Washington’s special teams have been a hot topic in the early going of the 2016-17 season as they are among the bottom of the league in both power play (12.5%) and penalty kill (71.4%) thus far in October. While unrewarded for their effort, Washington’s power play certainly looked more impressive in their first two chances against the Oilers, generating five shots on goal during the man advantage.

After killing off the remainder of a Daniel Winnik minor from the first, the Capitals got a jump on the Oilers to open the second, putting the Oilers defense on its heels with several quality scoring chances, but were unable to solve Talbot.

Meanwhile, Edmonton capitalized on their first shot of the period when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins waisted a shot from the slot that ricocheted off the leg of Benoit Pouliot past Braden Holtby, marking the first time the Capitals have allowed the opening goal during the 2016-17 campaign.

The lucky fortunes continued for Pouliot and the Oilers as he shoveled the puck off the end boards and fired it off the back of Holtby’s pads with 2:54 remaining in the period. Unfortunately for Pouliot, his luck appeared to run out shortly thereafter taking a delay of game penalty in the following sequence.

During the power play, Capitals winger T.J. Oshie took the puck to the net and collided with Talbot, continuing to whack at the puck while it was underneath Talbot’s pads, an enthusiasm that did not sit kindly with Talbot who retaliated by punching Oshie while he was at the bottom of the scrum. Despite outshooting the Oilers 13-7 in the second frame, Washington would enter the locker room down 2-0 with a period remaining.

Understanding the severity of the situation, the Capitals wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with Alex Ovechkin stashing in a rebound off a Matt Niskanen shot, nine seconds into the period. The play started with winger Andre Burakovsky, moved to the top line prior to Wednesday’s game, forcing a turnover in the neutral zone right off the opening face-off.

Sadly for the Capitals, the Oilers made short work of an odd-man rush less than eighty seconds later, as Patrick Maroon stashed a rebound off the goal post resulting from the handiwork of passing from Connor McDavid and rookie Jesse Puljujarvi to restore Edmonton’s two-goal advantage.

Edmonton continued to make the most of favorable bounces, as an innocent looking Andrej Sekera point shot was redirected off the stick of Milan Lucic into the net midway through the third period.

As the horn sounded, the Capitals retreated to the locker room to a raucous Edmonton crowd, the weight of enduring their first string of back-to-back regulation losses in more than a year. And behind the disappointment lurks a realization that has already donned on teams in the Western Conference: the Edmonton Oilers are a force to be reckoned with once more.

The Capitals will next be in action Saturday, Oct. 29 against the Vancouver Canucks.

By Keith Leonard

This entry was posted in Game Re-Caps, News and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Recap: Capitals @ Oilers (Oct. 26 2016)

  1. Pingback: Game Preview: Oilers @ Capitals | NoVa Caps

Leave a Reply