Oilers' miscue helps Caps slip away with 3-2 OT win

EDMONTON, ALBERTA — EDMONTON, Alberta -- In football, it's called a missed assignment.

In the Washington Capitals' dressing room, they were calling it three wins in a row and a fine start to a road trip after beating the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, in overtime last night.


Kelly Miller scored the winner at 1:39 of overtime, putting the puck through Bill Ranford's legs from near the right faceoff circle. It was a play that began with the Oilers lining up improperly before a faceoff in the Edmonton zone. The draw went back to Kevin Hatcher, whose assigned opponent was in the wrong place. Oilers center Doug Weight went to Hatcher instead, and his man, Miller, was open for the goal.

"It was just circumstances," Ranford said. "Off a faceoff, everyone has his assignment. When Hatcher walked down [from the point], I knew we were in trouble. He found the open guy, and the game was over."


Capitals coach Terry Murray won't throw this one back. He was on the other end for the first six games, all Washington losses. "We have to get some wins on the road if we're going to climb out of this hole we've dug ourselves," Murray said. "Even if it wasn't one of the most pretty games you'll ever see."

The game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes and 2-2 after 40. Zdeno Ciger scored two for the Oilers, and Hatcher and Sylvain Cote scored for the Capitals.

Washington lost its first six games, then won two straight; the Oilers won their first two and have only earned a single point in seven games since.

In a city that could be playing host to an NHL team for the final season, the two clubs skated on to the Northlands Coliseum ice in front of the smallest crowd to watch an NHL game here. The announced crowd was a record low of 11,063, and only around 9,500 were actually at the rink on a cold, rainy night.

NOTES: LW Alan May and D Shawn Anderson were scratched by the Caps. . . . D Brian Curran played his second straight game for the Caps after a recent call-up. He was an Oilers farmhand all of last season, and last night faced several teammates from that AHL championship team in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.