Oilers snap Caps' streak
Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency
|Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin (in goal) and Corey Potter defend the net against Washington's Brooks Laich during the Edmonton Oilers NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Thursday, October 27, 2011. CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers did what seven other teams before them couldn’t, beat the Washington Capitals.
Thursday’s 2-1 victory ended the Caps streak while extending Edmonton’s to three wins in a row heading into Friday nights game in Colorado.
It came with an assist, though. On a night when the Edmonton Oilers wanted to earn their stripes against the best in the NHL, they got a major help from the zebras.
The power plays were 8-1 Edmonton after 40 minutes as Dan O’Halloran and Stephane Auger gave Washington five straight in the second period.
Nevertheless, the Oilers held up their end of the bargain, sweeping the Canucks and Capitals in a span of three days to serve notice that they’re not to be taken lightly.
“We talked about it, with Vancouver and Washington back to back we’re looking at what the media says are two of the top teams in the East and West,” said Shawn Horcoff. “We figured it was going to be a good test for us.”
While the Flyers and Jets were playing a 9-8 game, the fireworks never materialized in Edmonton. This win was like Edmonton’s other four, down to the last minute, with no room to breathe.
“There’s a certain level of maturity on our team that’s incumbent with winning,” said head coach Tom Renney. “We have a very good team concept about how to do things that’s helping us feel good about who we are and it doesn’t matter who we play and that’s a really important place to be mentally.”
The Capitals were up 1-0 on a bullet from Karl Alzner five minutes in and were leading 8-1 on the shot clock when it was starting to look like it was going to be one of those painful growing pains games. They had Edmonton hemmed in their own end for most of the first 10 minutes before Auger and O’Halloran starting handing out penalties like Halloween candies. In all, there were six minors in the last 10 minutes, resulting in a pair of 4-on-3 power plays for Edmonton. The Oilers capitalized on the second one, a lazer-fast tic-tac-toe from Corey Potter to Jordan Eberle to Taylor Hall for the one-timer at 18:15. It was, to borrow Alex Ovechkin’s quote on the kids from the morning skate, sick.
“Eberle made a perfect pass to me back door and I couldn’t really miss it,” said Hall
The second period was a bit of an embarrassment for O’Halloran and Auger, who gave the Capitals five straight minors, three of them borderline and one of them flat out ridiculous. Washington’s fifth minor came when Shawn Horcoff pitch-forked Alzner in front of the Washington net, then couldn’t get his stick out of Alzner’s groin in time to fetch a loose puck. Alzer got two for “holding the stick,” to put the Caps two men down .
Edmonton managed just one goal on the five power plays, Eberle on a Potter rebound at 12:44 to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. After 40 minutes and eight power plays they only had 13 shots.
Auger and O’Halloran let their whistles cool off in the third period and Edmonton had some trouble five-on-five. Washington outshot them 21-2 through the first 10 minutes but Nikolai Khabibulin was brilliant again to keep it 2-1.
Three late even-up calls on the Oilers gave Washington a chance to square it, but Khabibulin and the penalty killing saved the day.
HE SAID IT - “They have some young guys who don’t really know any better playing hard, playing tough and they’re having fun out there. It’s a dangerous team, and Khabibulin is playing as well as any goalie out there.” - Jason Chimera.