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AT THE OILERS' HOTEL
After a 4-1 loss last night in Philadelphia, the Oilers immediately departed for Washington to get ready for their next game which will be tonight against the Capitals.
The team skipped the morning skate in favour of a team meeting at the hotel. Much like the game against the Flyers, the Oilers will be put to the test against a tough Caps squad that is playing at the top of their game.
"They've got a reputation that you have to respect, naturally, but not to the point where we stand around and watch," said Renney.
"We're 67 games in which means we've probably had 60 video meetings and oodles of practices. We've done all kinds of things to prepare ourselves to play our game. Having said that, it's a brand new venue for a lot of guys, the first time they've seen the Flyers (and Capitals) who are certainly some of the best teams in the league, of course."
The head coach felt that the Oilers simply need to play their game to have success, even when facing strong opposition such as Philadelphia and Washington.
"We have our strengths as well, of course." he continued. "We have nothing to lose. The bottom line is we didn't just go out and go after them. And we had a power play fairly early and did nothing with that."
Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin gets his first start since February 22 tonight against the Caps. The day before that game - a 4-1 loss in Minnesota - he got an ice chip in his eye and it eventually forced him to go on injured reserve.
"It never happened to me before," Khabibulin said of his injury. "It was kind of weird but everything is back to 100% and I don't see any problems right now."
The Oilers netminder also talked about the Capitals, a tough team for any goaltender to play against let alone one who is just coming off a two-week layoff.
"They're obviously a good team. One of the better teams in the league and they have some of the best players in the league in Ovechkin. They have a lot of offensive threats. We have to be alert tonight."
"He always skates and hits hard and that gives more energy to the teammates. Also, the fans get behind him and that makes it much harder to play against them."
GIROUX STAYS IN
Oilers winger Alex Giroux, called up from Oklahoma City on Saturday, will get an opportunity to face his former team tonight.
Due to the NHL's post-deadline recall rule where a team is only able to make four AHL call-ups, Giroux would have to be sent back to Oklahoma City if Brule returned to the lineup since his return would give the team 13 healthy forwards.
"I'd like to see Alex Giroux one more game so I'm going to hold Bru out," said Renney. "There's the dynamic of the CBA and how we can move people back and forth. In fairness to Bru, he's ready to go but in fairness to me I want to see Alex play again, against his old team."
Giroux played 30 games over parts of three seasons with the Capitals, including last season. He had four goals and five assists for nine points during that time.
"We're not sure how many more chances we're going to see Alex, another callup possibly or the American Hockey League playoffs. A very, very intriguing player."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Edmonton 6-4-0; Washington 8-2-0.
Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They haven't faced each other since Dec. 19, 2009, when Washington earned a 4-2 win at Rexall Place.
Big Story: They've had to rally each and every time, but the Capitals enter Wednesday's action riding a five-game winning streak. Their recent surge has allowed the Caps to move back into first place in the Southeast Division, two points ahead of second-place Tampa Bay. Washington beat the Bolts in a shootout on Monday night.
"I don't think we're dwelling on first place," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think we're comfortable playing the underdog role or of that as a favorite, but at the same time we want to be as high as we can."
Oilers: Edmonton saw its three-game win streak end emphatically on Tuesday night, when it suffered a 4-1 loss at Philadelphia. The Oilers trailed 2-0 after the first 20 minutes, during which time they were outshot 17-1.
"It is one thing to respect your opponent and it is another thing to respect them and just stand still and watch them play," coach Tom Renney said. "Ultimately we got our legs under us when the horse was out of the barn. The fact of the matter is we came out in the second and third period and outshot the team in both, but they were up three goals so it was game, set and match."
Capitals: Washington had an unlikely hero in its 2-1 shootout win against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday night, as Braden Holtby entered the game for the injured Michal Neuvirth at the start of the second period and went on to stop all 21 shots he faced. Holtby then added an exclamation point when he went 3-for-3 in the shootout.
"I think it's one of the tougher things to do," Holtby said of entering the game cold. "But you have so much adrenalin -- especially at this level -- that when you get told you're going in that you usually feed off that and then just hope for the best, try and battle as hard as you can, and hopefully the pucks hit you."
Who's Hot: Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff was held off the scoresheet Tuesday night, but the veteran still has three points in as many games. … Caps forward Alexander Semin has a three-game point streak, while Alex Ovechkin has 4 goals and 9 assists in the last 10 games. Washington has won eight of those contests.
Injury Report: Edmonton is without Taylor Hall for the remainder of the season after the No. 1 pick at the 2010 Entry Draft injured his ankle during a fight last Thursday. Ryan Whitney (knee), Taylor Chorney (upper body) and Theo Peckham (head) are also out. … For the Caps, Tom Poti (groin) and Jay Beagle (upper body) are day-to-day, while Semyon Varlamov (knee), Nicklas Backstrom (finger) and Neuvirth (eye) are questionable. Mike Green (head) is out.
Stat Pack: The Oilers had outscored their opponents 11-4 during their three-game streak, but allowed the Flyers to score the first three goals Tuesday. … The Capitals last won six straight games from Oct. 30-Nov. 11.
Puck Drop: "He doesn't have to do anything. I've seen him play before, and he's been good. We have all the faith in the world. If we have to go with Braden, great. If we have to go with Neuvie, great. If we have to go with Varley, great." -- Caps coach Bruce Boudreau on his goaltending situation
-- Brian Compton - NHL.com Staff Writer