Edmonton comes into tonight's match-up with 20 wins, while Washington has 18 wins...at home. Still, that does not take away the importance of the game. The Caps are on the verge of losing a season-high three straight, while the Panthers are quietly creeping back into contention, having gone 4-0-1 in their last five.
Edmonton has not been too fond of playing in the Nation's capital of recent years. The Oilers have won just once--in 1997-- since 1990, losing the other 11 games.
Goals have become a rarity at Verizon Center with just three in as many games. Edmonton gives up the 13th most in the league on the road, including six in their loss at Calgary. Dwayne Roloson should start between the pipes and is 3-0-1 this year against the Eastern Conference. Roloson also boasts two shutouts in seven games against the Caps.
While Sergei Fedorov and John Erskine are both returning to action tonight, the Oilers are going to be without their top scorer, Ales Hemsky. Hemsky was injured on a what seemed like a regular check December 28th against Nashville, and has missed the Oilers' last five games. Edmonton will also be without Zack Stortini who broke his leg, Joe Theisman style, in a fight with Brad Staubitz on January 9th.
The Oilers have the fifth worst record (for teams above .500) when surrendering the first goal, while the Caps rank fourth in 1st period goals for... Are you thinking what I'm thinking?