Travis Boyd said Monday morning that his idea of a successful team debut was all about getting the Washington Capitals a win, not necessarily about individual statistics.
It turned out he got to have it both ways — some offense and one big win.
Boyd assisted two goals in the first six minutes of the Capitals’ game against the Edmonton Oilers, boosting Washington to a 4-2 win Monday night at Capital One Arena.
“To be completely honest, I wasn’t coming into the game hoping to score or hoping to get a point,” Boyd said. “I just wanted to feel comfortable, get back to the game reads, get back to the speed of the game and it was just a bonus that our line was able to pop a couple tonight.”
Jakub Vrana and Devante Smith-Pelly scored on Boyd’s plays, and T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin added goals. John Carlson matched Boyd’s two assists, and Pheonix Copley made 31 saves to win his second straight start and his first-ever start at Capital One.
The Capitals (6-4-3) snapped a two-game losing streak and recorded an all-around solid win with three more games looming in the next six days. The Oilers slipped to 8-5-1.
Boyd set up the first goal by making a play at the net himself. He put the puck on Cam Talbot, who couldn’t track the rebound. Smith-Pelly gathered it and hit Vrana, whom Edmonton’s defenders lost, for a wrister from the slot.
Vrana played on the top line just one game ago. He personally didn’t have a good game Saturday night, so his rebound was a welcome response for coach Todd Reirden and company.
“I talked to him earlier this morning, and I wasn’t in the least bit concerned about his game,” Reirden said.
The fourth line wasn’t done showing off.
After the first score at 2:44, Smith-Pelly’s goal came exactly three minutes later. Boyd brought the puck into the slot, and when Kyle Brodziak got his stick in the way, Boyd perfectly timed a drop shot to Smith-Pelly to let him finish the play.
Connor McDavid made it 2-1 on a power play goal midway through the period with Ovechkin in the box for slashing. His slap shot glanced off Copley’s arm and into an impossibly narrow opening between his body and the near post.
Scoring resumed halfway through the second when Nicklas Backstrom pulled off a backwards-spin pass in the O-zone to hit Oshie and set up a goal.
“You’re gonna have to ask (Backstrom) how he does that stuff,” Oshie said. “We kind of locked eyes when he was a little lower in the zone, I was up at the blue line. I was kind of just waiting for my right time to shoot through the middle and figured he’d just give it to me on his forehand, but apparently that wasn’t available to him so he did the old spin-around-the-backhand, right on the tape. I’ve been spoiled for a little while here playing with 19 and tonight was no different.”
But Edmonton kept it close, scoring two minutes later when Leon Draisaitl redirected Adam Larsson’s blue line shot.
With 6:51 left in the period, Ovechkin scored his 234th career power play goal, tying Marcel Dionne for seventh in NHL history. After Talbot blocked a John Carlson, Ovechkin slapped home the rebound.
The third period moved slowly, and the Capitals protected their lead while only taking two shots on goal in the entire final frame.
The Oilers beat the Capitals 4-1 last week in Edmonton, so Washington split the season series. The Capitals only face each Western Conference team twice a year. They’ll host the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.
• Adam Zielonka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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