Washington, DC-Underwhelming is the word that most comes to mind when discussing the Washington Capitals this season. Despite coming into Wednesday night's game against the Oilers riding a five game win streak, the Caps have been dealing with injuries and a less than potent offensive attack for much of the year.
Tonight the Caps were anything but a disappointment, scoring five goals at home for the first time since December 21st and winning their sixth consecutive game with a 5-0 blanking of the Oilers. Two of those five goals came on the power play; the first multi-goal game with the man advantage since November 26th.
Rookie Braden Holtby, appearing in his 10th NHL game, stopped all 22 shots to become the third Caps goalie with a shutout this season. He hasn't given up a goal in five periods since taking over for Michal Neuvirth in the team's previous game against Tampa Bay.
Alex Ovechkin scored his first power play goal at home this season and notched the 600th point of his career on a second period assist. Newcomers Dennis Wideman and Jason Arnott also reached milestones; Wideman his 200th point and Arnott his 900th.
"I think our power play finally worked, we scored two goals and we won the hockey game," Ovechkin said. "I can't remember scoring five goals in a game [recently]."
After eight straight wins decided by one goal, the Capitals captured this victory in dominating fashion.
Marcus Johansson teamed up with Ovechkin in the third on a two-on-none breakaway as they passed it back and forth several times before Ovechkin snapped the puck past a bewildered Nikolai Khabibulin to make it 3-0. Minutes later, the Oilers goalie made matters even worse.
Khabibulin skated far out of his crease to play a puck, but Jason Chimera beat him to it and passed to Eric Fehr for an easy score. Semin converted a two-on-one minutes later, sending the Caps off in style.
Fehr's return to the lineup certainly provided a spark as he scored twice in 13:16 of ice time. He had missed the previous 22 games with a shoulder injury, but he showed no ill effects in his first game back.
"I felt good out there tonight," he said. "Our line got into it early and that helped. 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."
There was little wrong with the power play in this one. Arnott sent a cross-ice slap pass to Ovechkin who one-timed it home for a 1-0 lead in the second period. Then, Fehr chipped in a rebound from a John Carlson bomb at the point 4:54 later and the Caps never looked back.
"Two [power-play] goals; it's been a long time," said Bruce Boudreau. "It's nice just to not have to worry that it's a one-goal game. I can't remember the last time that's happened either."
With the win, Washington remains in first place in the Southeast Division. They lead Tampa Bay by two points and will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.