Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) makes a save on a shot by Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle (14) in the first period at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on November 23, 2015. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON -- On a night when Washington coach Barry Trotz admitted the other team was better, his goalie was stellar.
Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots and defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored with 6:32 left as the Capitals blanked the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 on Monday night.
"He absolutely deserved the shutout. He's been one of our top players all year," Trotz said. "Tonight he was by far our best player. There wasn't even anybody in the same universe as him."
Washington broke the scoreless tie when right winger Tom Wilson sent the puck across the ice in the Edmonton zone. The puck came off the boards to Orlov in the right circle and he one-timed a blast over goalie Anders Nilsson's left shoulder for his second goal in two games.
Once in the lead, Washington closed it out.
"I thought we managed [the game] really well once we got the lead," Trotz said. "We managed it much better than we managed the game in total."
At 8:14 of the third period, Holtby kept it scoreless when he robbed defenseman Eric Gryba with a sprawling glove save during a two-on-one break.
"If we have any other goalie in the league I think playing that game [for us] we don't win this hockey game," Wilson said. "You'll be seeing the replays on that save for probably the rest of the year."
A minute later he denied left winger Taylor Hall alone in front.
It was Holtby's first shutout of the season, and the 21st of his career.
"Shutouts only matter if it's 1-0 like it was, so yeah, it's a good night to have it," the low-key Holtby said of getting his first shutout.
Washington (14-5-1) is 4-1-1 in its last six contests.
Monday night's contest was a stark contrast from the teams' first meeting, a 7-4 Capitals win in October at Edmonton.
"It was a good effort, we did a lot of really good things tonight. We created enough to score," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said. "The points are very, very important in the standings but the growth and the development of the team is just as important. I think we lost the points but grew as a team."
The Oilers (7-13-1), tied for last place in the Western Conference points race coming in, were beginning a five-game road trip. They've lost four of five.
"That's a good team, in their building and it was just a really good effort by us," Hall said. "Sometimes you're not going to win those ... their goalie played really well, he's having a good season. Our goalie played great too."
Nilsson finished with 29 saves.
"I thought we locked things down pretty good," McLellan said. "Tonight, it wasn't the defensive part of the game that let us down, it was our lack of finish on some of the really good chances we created."
The Oilers outshot Washington 23-15 over a scoreless first 40 minutes.
Washington center Nicklas Backstrom earned a double minor when his high stick to the face of Oscar Klefbom sent the defenseman to the ice midway through the second period.
The Oilers had several solid chances during the ensuing power play, the best coming when Holtby made a nice glove save on right winger Jordan Eberle in the slot.
Washington had an early chance when center Evgeny Kuznetsov took a feed alone in the slot in the first period, but he looked to pass instead of shooting and the play was broken up.
NOTES: Washington tied its second best 20-game start in team history, behind a 15-5 beginning in 1991-92. ... Capitals D Brooks Orpik (lower body injury) missed his sixth straight game. ... Washington LW Andre Burakovsky was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. ... Edmonton C Anton Lander was a healthy scratch, with Lauri Korpikoski taking his spot on the fourth line. D Griffin Reinhart and Andrew Ference were also scratched. ... Oilers LW Luke Gazdic (undisclosed illness) and D Andrej Sekera (flu) returned after missing one game. ... The Capitals rank second in the NHL in shots against per game (25.6) and sixth in goals against per game (2.32).