The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Capitals and wasted a two-goal effort from Alex Ovechkin, who now has 667 goals in his career and is just one shy of Luc Robitaille for 12th on the NHL’s all-time list.
The Capitals, who will play the second leg of the back-to-back Friday night in Vancouver, were undone by the Oilers’ speed in the final 20 minutes.
“We want to be an aggressive team, but we have to be smart while we do it,” forward T.J. Oshie said. “And in that third period we did not play quite smart enough.”
Up 3-1 to start the third, Washington allowed the first of Leon Draisaitl’s two goals at the 4:25 mark. The sublime Connor McDavid knotted the game with 1:38 remaining and the Oilers’ net empty.
In the extra period, Draisaitl finished a lightning-quick two-on-one rush, beating Braden Holtby at 1:18 off a stunning feed from McDavid. Holtby had no chance on the end-to-end burst, with McDavid waiting until the last possible second to put the puck onto Draisaitl’s stick.
“With the mistakes we make, we knew we could not give McDavid the speed through the neutral zone, and, those mistakes, they will use it,” Ovechkin said, “And obviously their speed that they have, we cannot give them freedom. Overall I don’t think we played well first and third.”
Earlier in the day, Ovechkin had talked about how hard it was to score goals in the modern era, with the evolution of advanced skill and speed of players. But against a dangerous, young Oilers team with the electrifying player in McDavid and the league’s only other 50-goal scorer last season (Draisaitl), Ovechkin looked to win the bout early on.
After Darnell Nurse put Edmonton up 1-0 with the only goal of the first period, Jakub Vrana tied the game 5:40 into second. Just 47 seconds later, Ovechkin scored his eighth of the year, deflecting a long shot off the stick of Jonas Siegenthaler past Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen.
A little over seven minutes later, with the Capitals on the power play, Ovechkin struck again to make it 3-1.
“Ovechkin has been doing it for  years, one of the best ever to do it,” McDavid said. “He holds the gold standard when it comes to goal scoring. Leon, he’s finding his way. Fifty goals last year; he scores in different ways. Two real good players.”
John Carlson, playing in his 700th NHL game, got his league-leading 21st point of the season on Ovechkin’s first goal.
Carlson’s assist extended his point streak to nine games. Only one other defenseman in NHL history has recorded more points in October: Al MacInnis (25 points in 13 games in 1990-91). Carlson has recorded at least one point in all but one game this season. Opponents have continued to heap praise onto the 29-year-old defenseman for his hot start, with his teammates pushing for the defenseman’s first Norris Trophy.
The Capitals’ three-goal second period continued a season-long trend — they have outscored opponents 21-6 in the middle frame.
“I liked our second period a lot, and we weren’t able to carry some of the things we did well in the second into the third, Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. “But if you are going to play that style of game against that team, we made some really poor reads.”
Holtby had 36 saves on the night, more than a few of them dazzling. But Draisaitl denied his chance for a fourth straight win in the three-on-three period.
“He played great,” Oshie said of Holtby. “He was the best player out there for both teams, I think. It sucks that we didn’t get two points from that.”