Photo Credit: © Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Capitals 2, Oilers 1 (SO) post-game Oil Spills: It’s too bad you don’t get points for moral victories

How many times this season have the Oilers come out with a loss in a game that they should have won? They must lead the league in moral victories, but unfortunately, those don’t count in the standings.


This clip nicely sums up what happened last night. The Oilers peppered a lot of shots on goal, but Braden Holtby was a damn rock in net. The Capitals looked completely hopeless on this sequence as the Oilers continued to assert pressure. They all owe Holtby dinner after this one.

The Oilers finally opened the scoring a few minutes into the third period off of a gritty goal from the third line. Iiro Pakarainen tried a wrap around, shoved the puck out front, and JJ Khaira buried his first goal of the season on the rebound.

Washington quickly answered back with a nice goal from Dmitry Orlov. He and Tom Wilson executed an excellent give-and-go that started from the blueline and left the skilled defender with a shot from a place he isn’t going to miss. As good as Khaira was on the earlier goal, he got completely walked by Orlov here.

In overtime, Connor McDavid stripped Orlov of the puck and got a partial breakaway that was broken up on the backcheck. Then, soon after, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was given a penalty for a virtually identical defensive play on John Carlson. I don’t know if I would have called Orlov for the play on McDavid, but the lack of consistency is infuriating.

Sticking with frustrating calls, the Oilers appeared to get on the scoreboard in the first period when Milan Lucic redirected a shot from Oscar Klefbom past Holtby, but the goal was called back due to goalie interference. RNH skated by Holtby, tapped him with his skate, and he collapsed on the ice. After this play, every Oilers fan was wondering where the call was back in the playoffs against Anaheim.

By the numbers

Like I said, the Oilers really got robbed by Holtby here. At even strength, Edmonton had 62 shot attempts and 14 high danger chances to Washington’s 28 and six. The Capitals offence was barely able to get anything going while at even strength and the Oilers ultimately dictated the play. I’ve seen a few people suggest Todd McLellan has the Oilers playing a style that looks good for Corsi but not for scoring goals. I think this game, where the Oilers had way more chances down low than the Capitals, suggests otherwise.


  • On the bright side, the special teams were better last night. Edmonton killed both of the power plays Washington had (all three, I guess if you count the 10 second overtime power play) which is a plus considering the Capitals have a fairly lethal attack with the man advantage. The Oilers didn’t get a single chance on the power play, which is sort of shocking considering they controlled the play at even strength and had the Capitals chasing for most of the game. Last season, the Oilers were a good-not-great team at scoring at even strength and relied quite a bit on special teams to score goals. This season, they rank dead last in the league with 47 power play opportunities through 17 games.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi had a strong showing in both games this weekend. He adds an element of speed and a nose for the net to the RNH and Lucic line that they didn’t have before. Though his five points in 10 games with Bakersfield is far from spectacular, it had been reported that Puljujarvi was getting a lot of shots on net in the AHL. Based on the way he’s played in his two game showing so far, you can definitely see that he’s driving offence. He looks a lot stronger and more confident than he did last season.
  • I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Darnell Nurse has continued to look better game in, game out. Last night, he was easily Edmonton’s No. 1 defenceman, logging a team-leading 25:46 of ice time in all situations. At even strength, he was on the ice for 23 shot attempts for and only seven against. He looks a lot more calm than in previous years. Before, he would try to force a play, make a big hit or pinch that would leave him out of position, but now he’s waiting for the play to come to him and things are working better because of it.
  • The Oilers ended up going 2-1-1 on their four-game Eastern road trip, which is solid, but they’re going to have to play at a better pace in order to climb back up the standings. They’re only four points out of a playoff spot as of right now, but jumping over six teams in a league where three-point games are so common isn’t easy.

Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 11/12/2017, 7:15pm MST

  • btrain

    It is sad that this is what goalie interference has come to. A tender can just feel the slightest tap and go down and be fairly certain if a shot goes in it won’t count. Not saying holtby did this but if that’s how it’s going to be, if I’m a tender and can’t see where the puck is being shot from and I feel an opener graze me, I am going down.

    • gregolas

      All the best goalies: Holtby, Quick etc. do things like that. It’s sad. They know how to throw the net off and make it look like an accident, or if their helmet is dislodged halfway off and halfway still on, instead of simply throwing their head down to put the helmet back on and carry on with the play, those guys are known to make an effort to purposely make their helmet fall off.

      People say all sorts of things about Niemi and how he is the worst goalie/player in the NHL, and some if not most of the things about him being bad is well deserved and true. But he never did anything like that. Take for example a game in October, his glove was knocked off his hand. Every goalie pretty much would raise their hand to notify the reff so he could blow the play dead. Niemi actually kept playing and made a save trying to catch the puck with his bare hand (look up the video, it’s cool) . In a league were goalies will do the most sleezy things to gain an advantage, that was really admirable.

      • HOCKEY83

        C’mon…Because you once saw Neimi not fall down when a player knocked his glove off once means over his entire 10 year career…which you’ve watched every moment of apparently…know that he’s never embellished ever??? He’s done it, Talbot has done it, Holtby did it last night every player in the league who ever played has done it…Big deal. It’s part of a players repertoire. One of his desperate tricks in his bag. There is no way that Holtby, Quick and the rest of the top NHL goalies are known to purposely knock their Helmets off. Just a silly statement. Even if the Helmet was dislodged halfway off…the whistle should be blown instantly if a ref catches it. The last thing any teams needs is a goalie taking a puck to the cheek bone because their helmet was half off.

  • Spoils

    the problem seems so simple. The oilers have traded away a ton of points and have lost one of their top defencemen. AND even then the team was lacking puck movement from the back end.

    Pulj and KY are going to bring the scoring back a little in the coming years. but if we have to give up RNH or Maroon during the process, we are just going to tread water.

    sure this team will get better this year, but they feel too far off. getting better won’t get them to the elite level…

    I think PC has overcompensated for his poor cap mgt in Boston. We need a move, and he needs to win that trade.

    We also need to fine a Kempe or Klingberg in our system – Ethan Bear maybe?

  • HOCKEY83

    Someone commented yesterday that the Oilers needed to be 12 games above 500 to get into a playoff spot. Last night they did what they need to do…just keep grinding out the points win or lose.

  • Me

    Seriously, guys, for the first ten games, you were all like, “It’s just bad luck, underlying stats are good, things will be okay once the luck evens out.”

    Now you’re still going on about opposing goaltenders, bad calls, blah, blah, blah.
    These games all have different opposing teams. They all have different referees.

    The one and only thing all these games have in common is the Oilers. At what point do you stop blaming the world and look inward?

  • OldOilFan

    Too many excuses! Nearly 20 games in…and no scoring to speak of…. yikes.

    It’s sad to say, but this is the prime situation where the coach gets fired (i.e. because you can’t fire/replace all the players). TM is a solid coach – but – this is the top rung in the ladder. A LOT of a team’s success now depends on motivation and other finer points of dressing-room-only nature. Maybe Todd isn’t the guy to be a catalyst for this final/next step in the team’s evolution? It’s no reflection on him, it’s all about progression. Sometimes you don’t dance “with the one who brung you.” In other words, the Oilers look tight, messed up, lacking identity. The 20 game mark is about as far as a GM can let a team go on [floundering] before making a change. I hope it’s not Todd, but I don’t see anyone in the system, i.e. California, who looks like a game changer. So it’s gonna be either a trade or a coaching change. Seems inevitable, but that’s hockey at the highest level.