Khabibulin stops 34 as Oilers bottle league's best

Ryan Dittrick  - | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:49 AM

Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle each scored a power-play goal, but Nikolai Khabibulin was the story once again, stoning Capitals shooters on 34 occasions to capture a well-earned 2-1 win Thursday night at Rexall Place.


With the Capitals leading 3-1 in shots, Theo Peckham was charged with cross-checking at 2:52, putting Washington on the game's first power-play. The visitors were unable to generate another attempt on Nikolai Khabibulin, keeping the scoreless tie intact.

Monents later on the Capitals' fourth shot, 23-year-old D man Karl Alzner wired a slapper past the orange and blue's 'tender, putting the home side down 1-0 at 5:34 on an even-strength marker.

With 10:05 remaining, penalties to Anton Lander and Washington's Matt Hendricks (hooking and diving) put the teams in a two-minute 4-on-4 situation. The Capitals added two shots, but nothing too dangerous as the squads returned to even-strength action with under seven minutes to play.

Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle orchestrated a strong sequence at 15:23, allowing Cam Barker to walk into a slapshot on the scrambling Capitals; No. 13 cranked the iron, but the Oilers did draw a penalty when Alex Semin was assessed a hooking minor.

One minute into the chance, a slashing minor to Ryan Smyth canceled the power-play opportunity; but 14 seconds later, the Capitals were charged another when John Carlson's delay of game minor provided the home side with a 4-on-3 man-advantage.

That chanced passed without incident, but the penalty box doors continued to swing with 2:17 on the clock to keep the Oilers on the PP. With Roman Hamrlik in the box, an incredible tic-tac-toe play choreographed by Corey Potter and Eberle ended with Hall polishing the puck into the gaping cage behind Tomas Voukon.

The Oilers' late power-play goal at 18:15 pulled the home team even 1-1 on the scoreboard, but headed into locker room down 9-5 in shots.


The parade to the box continued in the second when Washington's Jeff Schultz was called for hooking at 4:29. The Oilers struggled to maintain possession, turning the puck over several times as the advantage passed.

As the period's 10-mintue mark passed, the Oilers surrendered to a 13-8 shot disadvantage but began to chip away at the Capitals in the hitting department. Ben Eager and Andy Sutton in particular crushed Marcus Johansson and others during a minute-long sequence in the Oilers end, setting a positive tone.

With 7:56 on the clock, Washington's Troy Brouwer was assessed a hooking minor, sending the Oilers to their third power-play chance. It took the home side 39 seconds to cash; a point blast by Potter was stopped, but a rebound popped into the circle where Eberle pounced, sliding the puck into the wide-open net and giving his club a 2-1 lead.

The Capitals' seventh, eighth and ninth penalties came late in the period, putting the Oilers on additional man-advantage opportunities (including a 5-on-3 chance for 57 seconds). RNH, Eberle and Hall worked some more magic, but the 3-1 goal couldn't be recorded.

With 40 minutes in the books, the Oilers held a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard and had closed the shot gap to a 16-13 Capitals edge.


Khabibulin was tasked to come up big early, turning aside several Capitals attempts before Ladislav Smid was assessed a roughing minor at 1:22. No. 35 stopped another four on the power-play, including a spectacular sliding denial to preserve his club's lead.

The Oilers battled back, peppering Vokoun with goal-line chances at will, but the 35-year-old netminder stoned Ryan Smyth at the doorstep to keep the Oilers' 2-1 lead on the board.

Once the period's midway point passed, the Capitals had extended to a 28-16 shot edge but were unable to come any closer on the scoreboard.

With 5:01 remaining, the Oilers' 3-3 PK got a chance to improve and keep the team's lead in the waning moments; Anton Lander was charged with tripping. The Caps came close on the advantage, but Khabibulin's glove-side post denied Washington's Dennis Wideman to keep the Oilers within minutes of a win.

A roughing call to Andy Sutton at 18:56 put the Capitals back on the power-play at the most important time. The visitors' advantage was extended to a two-man chance when Vokoun was pulled for an extra-attacker at the time of the minor, too.

With 15.3 seconds to go, Alex Ovechkin burst down the wing, escaping checks before rifling a shot off the cross-bar and into the netting behind Khabibulin. That's as close as they would come, however, as the remaining seconds elapsed without incident, and the Oilers closed a 2-1 win over the league's best squad.

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Scoring Summary
1st Period
05:36WSH Karl Alzner (1) ASST: Jeff Halpern (3), Jason Chimera (1) 1 - 0 WSH
18:15EDM PPG - Taylor Hall (3) ASST: Jordan Eberle (7), Corey Potter (4) 1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
12:44EDM PPG - Jordan Eberle (2) ASST: Corey Potter (5), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4) 2 - 1 EDM
3rd Period
Three Stars of the Game
Nikolai Khabibulin
Nikolai Khabibulin
SA: 35TOI: 59:46
GA: 1EV: 27-28
PIM: 0PP: 5-5
SV%: .971SH: 2-2
Jordan Eberle
Jordan Eberle
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: -1TOI: 17:58
Troy Brouwer
Troy Brouwer
G: 0Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 4
PTS: 0PIM: 2
+/-: 0TOI: 13:46
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:52EDM Theo Peckham  Cross checking against  Matt Hendricks
09:55EDM Anton Lander  Hooking against  Matt Hendricks
09:55WSH Matt Hendricks  Diving against  Anton Lander
15:23WSH Alexander Semin  Hooking against  Taylor Hall
16:23EDM Ryan Smyth  Slashing against  Marcus Johansson
16:37WSH John Carlson  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
17:43WSH Roman Hamrlik  Hooking against  Shawn Horcoff
2nd Period
04:29WSH Jeff Schultz  Hooking against  Magnus Paajarvi
12:04WSH Troy Brouwer  Hooking against  Tom Gilbert
13:23WSH Marcus Johansson  Closing hand on puck
17:11WSH Mathieu Perreault  Slashing against  Ryan Smyth
18:14WSH Karl Alzner  Holding the stick against  Jordan Eberle
3rd Period
01:22EDM Ladislav Smid  Roughing against  Marcus Johansson
14:59EDM Anton Lander  Tripping against  Troy Brouwer
18:54EDM Andy Sutton  Roughing against  Matt Hendricks
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/42/8
Faceoff Wins2924
Blocked Shots1218
Penalty Minutes1812
6D. WidemanD0003023:26
8A. OvechkinL0007018:11
15J. HalpernC0111010:26
19N. BackstromC0004017:00
20T. BrouwerR0004213:46
21B. LaichC0002016:48
22M. KnubleR0001016:49
25J. ChimeraL0112010:34
26M. HendricksL000129:59
27K. AlznerD1011218:06
28A. SeminR0002217:47
42J. WardR0010012:33
44R. HamrlikD0001222:45
55J. SchultzD0000217:01
62S. CollinsD0013012:45
74J. CarlsonD0001221:35
85M. PerreaultC000029:16
90M. JohanssonL0002216:09
29T. Vokoun1719.89558:46
4T. HallL10-12018:32
5L. SmidD0000216:41
10S. HorcoffC0000020:58
13C. BarkerD0002021:22
14J. EberleR11-11017:58
20E. BelangerC0000017:13
24T. PeckhamD0000213:01
25A. SuttonD0000217:40
28R. JonesL0002011:48
37L. PetrellL0000012:58
44C. PotterD02-14020:12
55B. EagerL000007:27
57A. LanderC0001412:13
77T. GilbertD00-11023:52
89S. GagnerC0001013:13
91M. PaajarviL000008:39
94R. SmythL0004217:49
35N. Khabibulin3435.97159:46