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Nic Dowd lets Caps capitalize late for an uplifting win in Edmonton

Capitals 3, Oilers 2

The Capitals' Nic Dowd points to teammate Aliaksei Protas after Dowd scored the winning goal Monday night. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press/AP)

EDMONTON — Playing one of their best games of the season, the Washington Capitals notched a gutsy 3-2 win Monday night by holding the dangerous Edmonton Oilers mostly in check and finally capitalizing on a shot-filled showing.

With the score tied at 2 in the third period, Nic Dowd recorded an emphatic game-winner at 7:13 off a great feed from Aliaksei Protas. Protas, 21, got his second breakaway in an eventful period and stared down goaltender Stuart Skinner (47 saves). He could have tried to get another shot off but instead made a heady play and dropped the puck to a trailing Dowd — who buried it for the go-ahead score, his fourth goal of the season.

“It might have been Pro’s best game as a Washington Capital,” Coach Peter Laviolette said of Protas, whom Laviolette praised for his defensive efforts against the Oilers’ top line.

Washington improved to 11-12-4 overall and 2-2-1 in its past five games. The Capitals conclude their six-game trip Wednesday in Philadelphia. They finished with a whopping 50 shots on goal Monday and improved to 11-1-1 when scoring at least three times to complete a season sweep of the Oilers following a raucous 5-4 win Nov. 7 at Capital One Arena. Edmonton fell to 14-12-0.

“That was big,” Dowd said. “We needed something positive to happen there. It’s been a tough road trip.”

Capitals goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 28 saves. He was in net after starting netminder Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s loss at Calgary. Kuemper is listed as day-to-day.

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan ‘concerned’ about his team’s lackluster start

The banged-up Capitals had a few more injury scares Monday. Forward Marcus Johansson missed time in the first period for undisclosed reasons but played his normal minutes for the rest of the game. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson took a hard crosscheck to the body and briefly went to the dressing room late in the second but quickly returned to the bench.

Washington played one of its best first periods of the season but ended up with nothing to show for it. The Capitals racked up 22 shots on goal and shut down the Oilers’ highflying top line. The only thing missing was a goal — Skinner held firm in the crease. The Capitals had eight shots on goal during their first power play, but Skinner turned them all away.

“We did the right things in the first period, and we had gotten away from that in the last couple games,” Laviolette said. “The game had been dictated by the opponent, and I thought we did a good job [Monday] of trying to push it and trying to control the pace.”

Defenseman Brett Kulak gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead on a point shot through traffic at 1:44 of the second period. The Capitals’ Lars Eller tied it at 7:25 with a nice individual play. Robbed twice in the first period, Eller got the puck all alone in front after a nice feed from Sonny Milano and scored after some nifty stickhandling. It was his fourth goal of the season.

“It felt like, on our line, we’ve had opportunities to score one, two goals in so many games, and we haven’t been rewarded. ... It felt like it was coming, and I think that we have a lot more to give still — but always a good feeling to get on the board,” Eller said.

Oilers superstar Connor McDavid put Edmonton up again at 15:25: He took advantage of a turnover by defenseman John Carlson and blitzed down the ice for a shorthanded breakaway goal. Just before the man advantage expired, T.J. Oshie answered at 16:55 with a one-timer from the slot, setting the stage for Dowd’s game-winner in the third.

“We gave everything we had, and it was enough today,” Eller said.

Here’s what else to know about the Capitals’ win:

Last time out: For Capitals, injury woes continue to mount with punishing loss in Calgary

Shepard recalled

Given the injury to Kuemper, the Capitals recalled goaltender Hunter Shepard from the Hershey Bears, their American Hockey League affiliate. Shepard was Lindgren’s backup against the Oilers.

Shepard, 27, was 6-0-2 for Hershey and was named the AHL’s goaltender of the month for November with a 6-0-0 record. He has a 1.83 goals against average and a .932 save percentage but has yet to make his NHL debut.

Fehervary on IR

Defenseman Martin Fehervary was placed on injured reserve after he suffered an upper-body injury Saturday against Calgary. Players on injured reserve have to miss at least seven days, so Fehervary will not be eligible to return any earlier than Sunday at Winnipeg.

Fehervary was hurt in the second period when he was hit along the boards by physical Flames forward Milan Lucic. Fehervary sported a sling on his left arm after the game against Calgary but did not have one on Monday night.

Orlov still out

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov missed his 14th straight game, continuing a long stint on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Orlov has been making progress in the past week but has yet to be medically cleared. General Manager Brian MacLellan said over the weekend that Orlov’s injury has been hard to diagnose and treat.