Coming home from a two-game road trip through Florida where they took the lead in the Southeast Division, the Capitals used their dormant power play Wednesday night to fuel a 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center.
Washington earned its sixth straight win with the victory, tying a season high, and also recorded a pair of power-play goals in the same game for the first time since Nov. 26 - which also included Alexander Ovechkin's first power-play goal at home in nearly a year.
"I think our power play finally worked. We scored two goals and we won the hockey game," Ovechkin said afterwards. "It was a good night for us and a good night for the fans too."
Ovechkin passed the 600-point mark for his career with his 3-point effort on the night, but he wasn't the only one to reach a milestone.
Newly-acquired Jason Arnott got his 900th career point with his assist on Ovechkin's second-period goal and Dennis Wideman recorded his 200th career point with a helper on Alexander Semin's third-period goal. Braden Holtby, the 21-year-old goaltender who was recalled last week from Hershey to fill in for the injured Semyon Varlamov, recorded his first NHL shutout in just his 10th game in the league with a 22-save effort.
"It feels good," Holtby said afterwards. "It almost feels better just to get the win after coming off an emotional game in Tampa, just to come back and make sure our team played well [tonight] and we did that."
After a scoreless first period against the NHL's worst club, the Capitals roared to life in their second period, thanks to the man advantage. With the Oilers' Tom Gilbert off for slashing, Arnott fed a cross-ice to Ovechkin, and the Capitals' captain slammed the puck in the net for Washington's first goal of the evening 5:38 into the second period.
Less than five minutes later, the Capitals struck again with the extra man, as Eric Fehr was parked in front of Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and scored to give a 2-0 lead. With an assist, Ovechkin reached the 600th point of his career, and moved him past Michal Pivonka into third place all-time on Washington's scoring list.
Washington continued the offensive barrage in the third, as Ovechkin potted his second of the night 3:10 into the period, as he and Marcus Johansson broke in on Khabibulin together and passed back and forth until the Caps' captain roofed the puck past the goaltender.
Fehr then took advantage of a Khabibulin miscue less than five minutes later. The Oilers goaltender went out of his crease to play a puck along the boards, but Jason Chimera blocked his clearing attempt and fed a wide-open Fehr in front, who scored his second of the night. Fehr, who had missed 17 games due to injury after being injured by teammate David Steckel on Jan. 14, was happy with his effort in his return.
"I felt good out there tonight," Fehr said. "That was the first time I've scored two goals in a long time, so if we can get the power play going, we're going to win a lot of games."
Semin capped the night with another nice passing sequence, where he and Marco Sturm traded passes before Semin slid the puck off a Sturm cross-ice feed with 5:30 left in regulation to close out the scoring.
The only question left on the night was if Holtby would earn his first shutout of his career, and he held off a barrage late to keep Edmonton off the scoreboard.
"John Carlson was joking that [the defense was] just trying to give [me] a little action to keep [me] awake," Holtby said. He added earning the shutout was a little more satisfying since he didn't like the Oilers growing up in Saskatchewan.
The win moves Washington into second place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and keeps them two points ahead of Tampa Bay - who beat Chicago in a shootout Wednesday night - in the Southeast standings.
The win also left Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau happy with the rare easy night for his club.
"Five goals and the guys that scored them," Boudreau said afterwards. "The way they usually score goals is with flair. .... Plus the fact that they [Edmonton] only had 22 shots, we’re liking it."
The Capitals continue their three-game homestand Friday night against Carolina.
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