With the Capitals (13-5-1, 27 points) and Edmonton Oilers (7-12-11, 15 points) set to battle tonight at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame CSN), here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
When we last met: This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Caps enjoyed a 7-4 victory over the Oilers at Rexall Place on Oct. 23. Evgeny Kuznetsov put up a career-high five points in that game, including his first career hat trick.
Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who is celebrating his 28th birthday today, said the Oilers are a quick team.
"They're always dangerous, wherever they are,” he said. “They can score from everywhere. They go to the net and crash the net. We really better be good defensively and I think it's important too that we have a good start and we play the same way and have the same start as last game."
The Caps scored four first-period goals in Saturday night’s 7-3 win over Colorado.
Who’s in goal: The Caps will turn to Braden Holtby (11-4-0, 2.01 GAA, .920 SP) for the 16th time in 20 games this season while the Oilers will go with Anders Nilsson (4-1-1, 3.04, .901) for the seventh time in nine games.
No puck luck: T.J. Oshie has an assist in each of his last two games but has just one goal in his last 10. He’s currently on pace to set a career-high with 22 goals, but feels like he should have more.
“I’m getting a lot of chances and when you get that many they’re going to go in,” Oshie said. “I just need to keep shooting the puck. There were a couple on the power play last game that I dished off and I should have shot. If I keep shooting they’re going to go in eventually. I’m getting some bad puck luck.”
Special teams: The Caps are ranked seventh in the NHL on the power play and seventh on the penalty kill. The Oilers rank 14th on the power play and 22nd on the kill.
No McDavid: Caps fans will miss their first opportunity to see Oilers phenom Connor McDavid, who played junior hockey with Andre Burakovsky but will miss his eighth straight game with a broken clavicle. The Caps will be without defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) for the sixth straight game.
Straight shooters: The Oilers’ Taylor Hall ranks fourth in the NHL with 85 shots on goal this season, including 25 in his last five games. Alex Ovechkin leads all shooters with 96 and is on pace to finish with more than 400 shots for the first time since recording a career-high 528 in 2008-09.
Little Mess: Leon Draisaitl’s 17 points in 10 games are the most by an Oilers player in his first 10 games of a season since Mark Messier in 1989-90.
Remember me?: Former Capitals tough guy and fan favorite Matt Hendricks is expected to be in the lineup tonight. In 10 games with the Oilers he has one goal, one assist and 10 penalty minutes. Hendricks spent three seasons with the Caps from 2010-13.
Passing Langway: John Carlson’s next point will move him past Rod Langway and into eighth place on the Caps’ all-time scoring list among defensemen.
Hot to Trotz: Barry Trotz is three games away from 1,300 in the NHL and three wins away from passing Jacques Lemaire (617) for 11th place on the NHL all-time coaching wins list.
How about a hat trick?: Justin Williams is three points shy of 600 in the NHL.
Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)
Scratches: Andre Burakovsky