January 19, 2015

After enjoying one of their best showings the season, the Washington Capitals are hoping their slow starts are a thing of the past.

They could be in store for another high-scoring performance Monday night against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

Washington (13-5-1) enters the third of a five-game homestand after a 7-3 victory over Colorado on Saturday. The Capitals had been held to two goals in three consecutive games and given up the first goal in nine straight, going 5-3-1 in that span.

They opened with four first-period goals against the Avalanche.

"That was a focus this morning, let's get a lead," coach Barry Trotz said. "We want this building to be a tough place to play. We want it to (be known) that if you come in here, you're in for a battle."

Each Capitals goal was scored by a different player with Evgeny Kuznetsov adding two assists, and Jason Chimera recording three.

Four defenseman scored goals, pushing Washington's season total to 11 from its blueliners.

"That's been a philosophy," Trotz said. "Teams are so good at tracking that if you don't get your defense involved either on transitional plays or beating forwards up the ice, or in terms of movement ... then it's harder to score. You've got to beat a lot of people 1-on-1."

Washington matched its season high for goals set in a 7-4 win at Edmonton on Oct. 23. The Oilers allow 3.2 per game, ranking 29th in the NHL, and last month's blowout came despite the Capitals recording only 26 shots. Edmonton's Anders Nilsson was pulled after surrendering the first six goals on 17 shots.

Evgeny Kuznetsov totaled three goals and two assists while Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie each assisted on two goals. John Carlson also registered three assists while Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams had a goal and an assist apiece.

The Oilers (7-12-1) have lost four of five on the road entering this five-game trip, but come off a 5-1 win over New Jersey on Friday.

Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and an assist. Draisaitl, the third overall pick in 2014, has 17 points in 10 games since being called up from the AHL on Oct. 29. He trails only Hall's team-leading 24 points despite playing in half as many games.

Draisaitl has helped alleviate the loss of Connor McDavid, who recorded 12 points in 13 games before hitting injured reserve Nov. 4 with a broken clavicle.

"Every time (Draisaitl) has the puck, he's poised, he's patient, he's making plays, it's good to see," said forward Jordan Eberle, who scored for the second straight game. "He had kind of a tough time last year and to come back and to rebound and to play as well as he is right now, it's awesome. Especially with McDavid being out, he's filled in really well."

The Capitals have won 12 of the last 16 meetings in Washington.

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