The Washington Capitals visit the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday for the first of two meetings between the two teams over the next 11 days. The Capitals swept the season set against the Oilers last season and have won five of their last six games versus Edmonton. Puck drop from Rogers Place will be at 9 PM on NBC Sports Washington.
The Capitals will play the second game of a four-game Canadian road trip in Edmonton. They kicked-off the road trip beating the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday night by a score of 5-2 in arguably their most complete performance of the season. Captain Alex Ovechkin tallied two goals and three points, center Nicklas Backstrom posted three assists (including his 600th in his career), and defenseman John Carlson recorded a goal and three points against the Canucks.
Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov share a four-way tie for the team lead with 13 points. Ovechkin leads the Capitals with eight goals and Backstrom leads Washington with 11 assists.
Tonight marks the 6th time @cmcdavid97 and @ovi8 will square off. The two players boast identical stat lines against each other, but the @Capitals own a 4-1-0 record in the five all-time matchups. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/DNQIh9jcLi
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 25, 2018
Washington enters Thursday night’s tilt leading the NHL with a power play efficiency of 38.7%, with each of their four team leaders recording at least seven points on the man advantage. Kuznetsov leads the league with power-play goals (five) while Backstrom and Carlson share the league lead in power-play points (eight). Four of the top five leaders in power play points are Capitals (Kuznetsov and Ovechkin – seven). The other one, in fact, is Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who is tied with Kuznetsov and Ovechkin for third in that category. The Capitals also lead the NHL with an average of 4.25 goals per game.
The Capitals have faired very well against the Oilers as of late, winning three consecutive games and going 5-1-1 in their past seven games against Edmonton.
Goaltender Braden Holtby will likely start against the Oilers on Thursday. Holtby made 22 saves against the Canucks on Monday. On the season, he is 4-1-1 with a save percentage of .885 and a goals-against average of 3.46. In his career against the Oilers, Holtby has recorded a 7-2-1 record, a .939 save percentage, a 1.78 goals-against average, and two shutouts.
Forward Alex Chiasson will face the Capitals for the first time since signing with the Oilers last month. He was on a PTO agreement with the Oilers and made the team out of training camp. Chiasson has played two games with Edmonton this season and is coming off of a two-goal performance in the Oilers’ most recent game, a 6-5 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
The Oilers wrap up a four-game homestand against the Capitals on Thursday. They have gone 1-1-1 in that span. Before falling to the Penguins in overtime on Tuesday, the Oilers beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime in their home opener, but fell 3-0 to the Nashville Predators the next game.
After making the postseason for the first time in 2016-17, where they finished second in the Pacific Division with 101 points and fell to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in Round 2, the Oilers were arguably one of the league’s most disappointing teams a year ago. Expectations were high in Edmonton going into the season, but the team started slowly and never recovered, finishing sixth in the Pacific with 78 points. The Oilers finished last season with the worst power play in the league with a 14.8% efficiency.
Edmonton boasts the back-to-back NHL scoring champion in Connor McDavid. The 21-year old center has posted consecutive 100+ point seasons for the Oilers. McDavid leads the team with 13 points so far this year. Last season, McDavid had 38 more points than the Oilers’ next highest point getter, center Leon Draisaitl (70) which was one of the largest gaps in the NHL between a team’s top two scorers.
The Oilers are 3-3-1 so far this season. Goaltender Cam Talbot will likely be in net against Washington on Thursday night. After tying Holtby for the league lead with 42 wins in 2016-17, Talbot took a huge step back last season when he posted a record of 31-31-8, with a save percentage of .908 and a goals-against average of 3.02. So far this season, the 31-year old goaltender has started all of Edmonton’s games while posting a save percentage of .891 and a goals-against average of 3.15. Lifetime against the Capitals, Talbot has recorded a 2-4-0 record, a .917 save percentage, and a 2.51 goals-against average.
–T.J. Oshie has earned 24 points (six goals) in 28 career games against Edmonton
-Holtby had a save percentage of .957 in two games against the Oilers last season
-In his last 59 games, including the regular season and playoffs, Kuznetsov has recorded 79 points (30 goals)
A Look Back In Time
Kuznetsov tallied the only hat trick of his NHL career against the Oilers in a 7-4 Capitals victory when Washington came to Edmonton three years ago. The game was their last in Rexall Place before the Oilers moved to Rogers Place. Kuznetsov added two assists for a five-point night. Backstrom, forward Andre Burakovsky, forward Marcus Johansson, and forward Justin Williams also scored for the Capitals. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves in the victory.
By Harrison Brown