WASHINGTON — The Edmonton Oilers visited Washington on Monday night to face the Washington Capitals for the second time in less than two weeks. Just 11 days ago, the Oilers handled the Capitals by a final score of 4-1, in Alberta.
The first period was all about the Capitals new fourth line, made-up of Jakub Vrana, Devante Smith-Pelly and Travis Boyd. They broke open the scoring early with Vrana slamming home a slapper five feet out for the game’s first score.
Boyd gets a secondary 🍎 in his first game back, Vrana gets the goal, #Caps get the 1-0 lead!
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) November 6, 2018
Then, exactly three minutes later, the fourth line struck again. This time Smith-Pelly fired a wrist shot past Cam Talbot from the same spot as Vrana, between the dots. Then Oilers captain brought Capitals fans back to reality, cutting the lead in half with a speedy breakout.
Boyd, who has been sidelined since the beginning of the season with an injury, finally got back into the Capitals lineup and made it count. Boyd had a standout game, recording assists on both Vrana’s and Smith-Pelly’s goals. After the game Travis noted, “Overall it was a good first night back for me and a great night for the team to get back in the win column too.”
Capitals Coach Todd Reirden was happy with the change in lines saying, “having four lines that can provide different elements.” Reirden also commended on the effort by his fourth line, saying “loved the response by Vrana, he and Boyd have had some chemistry in the past playing together. And I think Smith-Pelly had a real strong game as well.”
Even Ovechkin couldn’t help but sing the forth line’s praises, noting “They set the tone. Two shifts, two goals – it’s pretty big.”
But the second period was all about the Capitals’ star players. TJ Oshie caught a mind-boggling spin-o-rama pass from Nicklas Backstrom on his forehand and beat Talbot to put the Capitals up by two goals. The Oiler’s goalie Cam Talbot had no chance at stopping the goal.
Shortly after that, the Capitals own captain put another goal on the board with a power-play goal of his own, tying himself for eighth place on the all-time power-play goals list.
In fact, the only line to not score tonight for the Capitals was their third line of Burakovsky, Eller and Connolly. This group struggled all night without getting many chances. Burakovsky seems to have reentered a bit of a slump with only two points (1G, 1A) on the season so far. But that’s okay as long as his teammates continue to produce, and the goaltending continues to be sharp.
Even Pheonix Copley, who normally backs up Braden Holtby, had a soild night in net stopping 31 out of the 33 shots he faced, and only allowing one even-strength goal.
And tonight, a well-rounded team effort helped this team overcome a loaded and red-hot Oilers offense.
By Charlie DiPasquale