WASHINGTON -- Adam Oates figured the goals would come sooner or later. The Washington Capitals coach didn't expect them to come all at once.
After netting just four goals in their previous three games, all losses, the Capitals erupted for three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 55 seconds of the second period Monday night to hand the Edmonton Oilers a 4-2 defeat at Verizon Center.
Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer each scored their first goals of the season, and Alex Ovechkin improved his team-high total to six for the Caps (2-4-0).
"It's nice to see those guys get their first ones," Oates said. "No one likes to have those zeros for a long time. It was tough sledding there for a while."
Former Capitals center Boyd Gordon and Will Acton scored for the Oilers, who have allowed the most goals in the NHL (29).
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said that aside from the brief stretch in the second period, he liked the way his team played.
"The game isn't 57 minutes long, it's 60," Eakins said. "Everything was working, and it took just one moment of an old habit and -- bang. That's when you pay the price, and we paid a dear one."
Tempers boiled over with 7:41 remaining in the game when Ovehckin checked Edmonton right wing Mike Brown into the boards from behind. Acton immediately confronted Ovechkin, who was assessed an interference penalty on the play. Four other players received roughing minors during the fracas.
"I think it was a clean hit," Ovechkin said. "I think the referee just blows the whistle because he (doesn't) want to get fights or mess with that."
Capitals coach Adam Oates agreed.
"My first view of it, I thought (Brown) had the puck as Ovi hit him," Oates said. "Clearly, those guys are on the ice to stir it up, which we understand. I thought maybe the referee made a mistake there."
The Capitals were the NHL's most dangerous team on the power play last season, and they turned Monday's game in their favor on the man-advantage.
A tripping penalty to Ladislav Smid led to Ward's power-play goal at 10:06 of the second period. Ward set up in Ovechkin's favorite spot in the left circle and pounded a perfect feed from Nicklas Backstrom past goalie Jason LaBarbera.
At 13:18, Ovechkin gave the Caps a 3-1 lead when he drilled a slap shot that found its way past Edmonton defenseman Justin Schultz and Backstrom before hitting the back of the net for his sixth goal and third at even strength.
The Oilers dug themselves a deeper hole when center Mark Arcobello went off for high-sticking Capitals rookie right wing Tom Wilson.
This time it was Brouwer who made the Oilers pay, snapping a pass from Mikhail Grabovski past LaBarbera at 14:01.
"It's real good for all the guys," Brouwer said of three Capitals finding their way into the goal column. "We were losing ground a little bit, and guys are a little more upset when they're not producing and we're not winning."
Both teams went into the game trying to correct poor starts. The Oilers were outscored 9-5 in their first periods prior to Monday, while the Caps were outscored 8-3.
The Oilers (1-4-1) started strong and opened the scoring when Gordon snapped a pass from Schultz past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby for his team-high fourth goal of the season at 9:48 of the first period.
Washington struck back at 13:41 of the first when Laich slipped a wrist shot just inside the left post.
Holtby made 28 saves. LaBarbera stopped 16 of 20 Washington shots.
"It's a lot of adversity," Oilers captain Andrew Ferrence said. "It's easy to be a good teammate and do the right things when you're winning, but it's a real test when things aren't going your way."
NOTES: Eakins made 20-year-old RW Nail Yakupov a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Taken first overall by the Oilers in the 2012 draft, Yakupov had no points and was a minus-3 in his first four games. He played in all 48 games as a rookie last season, totaling 17 goals and 14 assists. ... Capitals D John Erskine sat out his second straight game with an upper-body injury and was replaced in the lineup by rookie D Nate Schmidt, who played his second NHL game. ... Oilers C Sam Gagne sat out his sixth straight game with a broken jaw. ... The Capitals continue their five-game homestand Wednesday night when they face their new Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Rangers. They close out their homestand Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. ... The Oilers continue their six-game road trip Tuesday night with a game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. They follow that with visits to play the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens before returning home to face the Capitals again on Oct. 24.
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