Ryan Nugent-Hopkins broke a 3-3 tie with a shorthanded goal with 4:03 left in the third period as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Washington Capitals 5-3 Wednesday night.
The Oilers are 5-0-1 in their last six games.
The Oilers came out firing, scoring three goals in the first 5:07. Leon Draisaitl notched his 32nd when he chipped in a pass from Cody Ceci. Evander Kane deflected Duncan Keith’s point shot for his second. Then, on a power play, Connor McDavid banked a shot from behind the net off Washington goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s back and in.
Samsonov was pulled after allowing three goals on four shots. Lars Eller replied for Washington, and the Oilers were up 3-1 after one.
“They continued to play hard after they made the goalie change and we were fortunate we found a way to win,” head coach Dave Tippett said after the game.
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The Caps carried the play in the second and pulled within a goal when Conor Sheary fired a loose puck past Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen.
Joe Snively had two chances to tie it in the last minute of the period. Koskinen made a pad save on the first shot, then Snively had his reload on the rebound blocked by Darnell Nurse.
Washington tied it before the third was three minutes old. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bad angle shot ticked off Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie and eluded Koskinen.
Barrie took a hooking penalty with 4:23 left. Oilers forward Zach Hyman led a shorthanded rush and kept the puck alive for Nugent-Hopkins, who slammed home his fifth of the season.
“I think Nuggy (Nugent-Hopkins) and I read off each other real well and if there’s an opportunity to go, we go,” Hyman said.
Nugent-Hopkins would add an empty-netter.
“Mikko held strong for us and we found a way to win, so obviously that’s the important thing,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “But we’ve got to get comfortable in those situations and be able to close teams out.”
Koskinen made 24 saves for the win. Pheonix Copley stopped 21 of 22 after replacing Samsonov in Washington’s net.
“They didn’t have a whole lot of zone time,” Evander Kane said. “I thought we made significant pressure and when we got pucks we attacked and there’s no better example there then on that last one with Hyman and Nuge getting that goal for us.”
The Oilers go into the NHL All-Star break with a record of 23-16-3. They’ll host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.