Washington Capitals at Edmonton Oilers
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Alex Ovechkin has led the NHL in goals four times and won three league MVPs, but it's been some time since the Washington Capitals' superstar has started a season so well.
His solid performance against Edmonton last week helped Washington begin its surge, and he'll look to stay hot Thursday night as the Capitals seek only their second road victory over the Oilers in 10 tries.
Ovechkin had two goals over his first nine games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, but he finished with 32 to win the Maurice Richard Trophy on his way to capturing another Hart Trophy.
He's scored nine goals in his first nine games for the second time in his career - the other being in 2009-10 - after netting two and adding an assist in Tuesday's 5-4 shootout win over Winnipeg to begin a five-game road trip.
"You've got to get in positions where you can get the puck and score," said Ovechkin, who leads the league in goals. "The most important thing, if I shoot and score goals, is that we win the game. It's working right now."
The Capitals (4-5-0) have won three of four, a stretch that began when Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and Nicklas Backstrom added three assists in a 4-2 win over Edmonton on Oct. 14.
Coach Adam Oates, though, wasn't exactly pleased with the effort against the Jets and said Washington will need to be much better Thursday.
"We made every mistake you can make basically in the course of the game," Oates said. "(Edmonton has) the fastest rink in the league and you've got to be prepared for that. It's a mental adjustment."
Ovechkin has five goals and three assists in his last four games against the Oilers, but the Capitals have dropped eight of their past nine visits to Edmonton.
The Oilers (3-6-1) are returning home after dropping the first four games on their road trip before winning the final two. They earned an emotional 4-3 victory over Montreal on Tuesday after Canadiens' winger Lars Eller called Edmonton a "junior team" before the contest.
"When you've got some young player who's trying to get his feet wet calling an organization a junior team, people take notice," coach Dallas Eakins said. "I knew it was going to turn. It makes for great banter in our dressing room."
Ryan Jones, taking the place of Taylor Hall who is expected to be out multiple weeks with a knee injury suffered in Saturday's 3-1 win over Ottawa, scored his first goal of the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added two assists as the Oilers overcame a two-goal deficit.
"It's what we needed at that point," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We were losing battles, we weren't playing with the passion that we need to win games in that situation."
Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves to earn the victory and is 2-4-1 with a 4.01 goals-against average. He's never faced the Capitals, who are likely to counter with Braden Holtby after he made 43 saves Tuesday.
Holtby, 3-4-0 with a 3.03 GAA, has won both of his career starts against the Oilers while posting a 1.00 GAA after making 28 saves in last week's matchup.
Washington has won three of the last four overall meetings with Edmonton.
Updated October 23, 2013