Photo: The Hockey News
The Washington Capitals host the Edmonton Oilers for the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Oilers won the first meeting by a final score of 4-1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on October 25. Puck drop from Capital One Arena is at 7 PM on NBC Sports Washington.
After being the biggest disappointment of last season, when they recorded 78 points and finished 12th in the Western Conference, the Oilers have gotten off to a solid start to this season and occupy the third divisional spot in the Pacific Division with a record of 8-4-1. Edmonton comes into town on a hot streak with points in six of their last seven games, where they have gone 5-1-1 in that span.
The Oilers play the second game of a four-game road trip against Washington on Monday night. They kicked it off with a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. After Monday night’s meeting with the Capitals, the Oilers will immediately turn around to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. They will wrap up their road trip against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
The Oilers are led by captain Connor McDavid, who is currently tied with Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon for second in league scoring with 21 points, three points behind Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen for the league lead. McDavid, 21, has also recorded a team-high nine goals this season. He is the back-to-back league scoring champion with consecutive 100+ point seasons (108 last season and 100 in 2016-17). McDavid finished sixth in the NHL with 41 goals last season.
Center Leon Draisaitl has also averaged a point-per-game with seven goals and 14 points so far this season.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Edmonton’s season so far has been the play of forward Alex Chiasson, who won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals last season. Chiasson, 27, has been getting consistent time in the Oilers’ top-six forward corps and breaking out offensively with six goals in his last seven games. He comes into Monday’s tilt against his former team riding a three-game goal scoring streak, where he has tallied three goals in that span. Chiasson scored against the Capitals the first time these two teams met. He recorded nine goals and 18 points in 61 regular season games and one goal and one assist in 16 playoff games with the Capitals last year.
Goaltender Cam Talbot will start against the Capitals on Monday. The 31-year old goaltender is 5-4-1 with a save percentage of .904 and a goals-against average of 2.81 this season after a disappointing season last year. Lifetime against Washington, Talbot is 3-4-0 with a save percentage of .924 and a goals-against average of 2.31. He made 31 saves against the Capitals the first time the two teams met earlier this season.
The Capitals play the second game of a five-game homestand against the Oilers on Monday. They opened it with a 4-3 loss in overtime at the hands of the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, their third loss in their past four games. Washington has scored at least three goals in five of their six home games this season and has averaged 4.33 goals per game at home.
Washington is tied for first in the league with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first in the NHL with an average of 3.75 goals per game. They are also first in the league in power play efficiency, which clicks at a rate of 35.9%. The Capitals boast four of the NHL’s top seven league leaders in power-play points: centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov are tied for second with New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly with nine while forward Alex Ovechkin and defenseman John Carlson are tied with McDavid and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron for sixth in the league. Kuznetsov, 26, leads the league with five power-play goals.
The Capitals could get defenseman Brooks Orpik back in the lineup on Monday night against the Oilers. Orpik, who has missed the past two games due to a lower-body injury, has posted a goal, two points, and a +2 rating in 10 games this season. Defenseman Madison Bowey has played the past two games in the 38-year old defenseman’s spot.
The team made a pair of roster moves on Sunday, sending defenseman Aaron Ness to Hershey and placing forward Nathan Walker on waivers. The Oilers claimed Walker off of waivers on December 1 of last season.
While the offense has been hot as of late, the defense has been trending the opposite direction. The Capitals have allowed an average of 3.83 goals per game, which is the fourth worst in the league. Washington has also yielded an average of 32.5 shots per game, which is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 11th most in the NHL.
Goaltender Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals on Monday night. Holtby, 29, is 4-3-2 with a save percentage of .888 and a goals-against average of 3.62 this season. In his career against Edmonton, Holtby is 7-3-1 with a save percentage of .936, a goals-against average of 1.89, and two shutouts. He made 28 saves against the Oilers 11 days ago.
-Kuznetsov is four assists shy of 200 in his career
-Forward T.J. Oshie has earned 24 points (six goals) in 29 career games against Edmonton, tied for his fifth-most points against an NHL franchise (Chicago Blackhawks: 29, Avalanche: 25, Blue Jackets: 25, Stars: 25, Nashville Predators: 24)
-Through the first 12 games of the season, Brett Connolly has nine points (two goals), a 0.75 points per game average. Connolly’s single-season high in points per game is 0.39, set last season with the Capitals; his eight even-strength points are tied with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Oshie for first on the team
A Look Back In Time
When the Capitals and Oilers clashed at Capital One Arena last season, the goalies stole the show. Holtby made 29 saves while Laurent Brossiot made 18. There would be no scoring in this one until 1:32 into the third where forward Jujhar Khaira opened the scoring for the Oilers on a goalmouth scramble. About four minutes later, Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov played a little give-and-go with forward Tom Wilson and went glove side to tie the game. The game would go to a shootout, where Oshie would go five-hole on Brossoit to start it. That would prove to be all the Capitals would need to defeat the Oilers by a score of 2-1.
By Harrison Brown