WASHINGTON — In the throes of adversity and a four-game losing skid, the Washington Capitals know that only they can get themselves out of the situation they’re currently in. And it won’t be an easy task as the Edmonton Oilers come into town.
In each of the last four games, Washington (5-6-2) has held the lead at one point or another and subsequently gave it up in an eventual defeat. The injured list has also gotten longer, as Dmitry Orlov suffered a lower-body ailment in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. However, head coach Peter Laviolette, and the team, aren’t blaming injuries; instead, they are stressing the need to play a full 60 minutes, and believe that finding a way to maintain the lead and play consistently through all three periods will make a difference against Edmonton.
“It’s hard. But, you know, we’re going to be the ones that are going to dig ourselves out of it. It’s not going to be anyone else’s help. So I think we know that within this room, that we have the capability to win games. And we just have to kind of figure out how to close them out.”
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The Oilers (7-5-0) have dropped their last two games and are fourth in the Pacific Division. However, they are one of the toughest opponents in the league. Edmonton has the second-best power play in the league at 31.9 percent, and both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl sit atop the league leaderboard in scoring with 25 and 23 points respectively. McDavid’s 12 goals also rank first in the NHL.
It will be a tough matchup, and the Capitals may be without both of their top-pairing blueliners for it, as John Carlson is out and Orlov remains a game-time decision.
Here are the expected lines based on Sunday’s practice:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano-Dylan Strome-Marcus Johansson
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Aliaksei Protas-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Martin Fehervary-Nick Jensen
Lucas Johansen-Matt Irwin
Charlie Lindgren will get the start for Washington. Meanwhile, Stuart Skinner will take the crease for the Oilers, with Jack Campbell likely starting on Tuesday in Tampa.
When it comes to players to watch, keep an eye on Alex Ovechkin. The Great 8 passed Gordie Howe for the most goals with one franchise in NHL history on Saturday, and he has points in five straight, with goals in four of those five outings. Also look out for Sonny Milano, who had a strong debut on that second line and got quite a few looks at 5-on-5. And, of course, Nicolas Aube-Kubel will be a name to watch as he makes his Capitals debut. Anthony Mantha is also coming off a multi-point outing and is hungry to stay on the scoresheet, and Evgeny Kuznetsov is still hunting for his first goal of the season.
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On the Edmonton side of the coin, obviously watch for McDavid and Draisaitl, who are both on pace for 170-plus points this season and have been outstanding. Monday is also career game No. 500 for No. 97. In addition to the dynamic duo, Zach Hyman has points in six of his last seven outings. Also, Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are also on a point-per-game pace to open this season.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena. The start time is due to the fact that this game is being broadcast nationally on Canadian television. In the U.S., the game will be on NBC Sports Washington.