Winning streaks have been rare for the Edmonton Oilers, but they’ve put together one in October for the second straight season.
This time, though, they hope they can sustain their improved play.
Edmonton aims for a fourth straight victory Friday night against the visiting Washington Capitals, who are looking for a fifth consecutive win of their own.
The Oilers (3-4-0) opened with four losses in a row, going 1 for 14 on the power play and totaling five goals. They’ve scored 10 in their three victories while converting 3 of 9 chances with the man advantage.
A win Friday would put them in a position similar to last year when they started 4-4-1 and had a four-game winning streak. They then lost 24 of their 27 en route to a 24-44-14 finish, however, tying their second-worst winning percentage in club history.
After failing to record a point in his first two games, Connor McDavid is doing his best to live up to the hype that comes with being drafted No. 1 overall and the expectations of being a franchise cornerstone at 18 years old. He has four goals and two assists in the last five contests, and his 0.86 points per game have him on the best pace by an Oilers rookie since Jason Arnott (0.87) in 1993-94.
He scored in the second period of Wednesday’s 3-1 win against Detroit, Edmonton’s first regulation victory in 18 meetings.
"It was a good win," coach Todd McLellan said. "It is one that we will bank and be proud of, but there are still areas of our game where we have to get better. We’re going to be saying that in February. We need to keep plugging away."
While this marks just the sixth winning streak of three-plus games for the Oilers since the 2012-13 season began, the Capitals (5-1-0) are on their 20th in that span, taking a 3-2 win in Vancouver on Thursday for their fourth straight.
Washington hadn’t trailed past the first period in its first three consecutive wins, but overcame a 2-1 third-period deficit Thursday behind goals by Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin.
"We’ll take the win, maybe not our best game, but that’s what we’re trying to do – collect points," coach Barry Trotz said.
Ovechkin, who has one goal in all five games in which he’s played, had the last of his three six-game goal streaks in 2008. He also has eight goals and four assists in his last seven matchups with Edmonton, including three multi-goal games.
Washington’s only loss came 5-0 to San Jose on Oct. 13 when Ovechkin sat out after missing the team’s morning skate.
The Capitals are limiting opponents to an NHL-low 24.3 shots per game, while the Oilers’ 27.0 shots rank near the bottom of the league.
Philipp Grubauer will make his first start of the season for Washington, spelling Braden Holtby, who has posted a 2.03 goals-against average while starting each game. Grubauer is 7-6-5 with a 2.44 GAA in 20 career games.
While the Capitals own one of the NHL’s best power plays with five goals on 18 chances, Edmonton is killing off a league-best 92.0 percent of penalties after finishing 28th last season (76.7 percent).
The Oilers won both meetings last season and own a 31.4 percent power-play success rate while winning nine of the last 11 meetings in Edmonton.