Washington would get the last laugh in the 6-3 victory, but for much of the game, every time the Caps scored the Oilers answered, and vice versa.
It took a four-goal second period by Washington to break that cycle. Peter Bondra led the second-period charge with a goal and two assists.
Rookie Stefan Ustorf had a goal and an assist for the Caps, who finished with a 39-20 advantage in shots on goal. Washington is 4-0-1 against the Oilers at home since February 1990.
"I thought eventually we would go up by a couple of goals," Caps forward Joe Juneau said. "We worked hard offensively the whole game. Their goalie and defense weren't playing as strong as usual. They were a little soft back there tonight."
Washington's forwards took command 11:24 into the second period, with the score tied at 3, and drew the crowd of 11,200 out of its seats.
Ken Klee connected with a bouncing puck in the slot that eluded Oilers goalie Bill Ranford's glove and ended the punch-counterpunch scoring sequences.
Just 1:40 later, Keith Jones stuffed in a wraparound that gave the Caps a 5-3 lead and chased Ranford from the game.
Juneau iced the victory with a beautiful breakaway goal with 2:17 left.
"I felt like if we kept skating, we would get a lot of scoring chances," Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "Fortunately, we widened the spread."
The teams entered the second period tied at 1. Then Edmonton's David Oliver converted a cross-crease pass to give the Oilers their first lead at 4:02. Doug Weight assisted on the goal, extending his point-scoring streak to eight games.
A mere 94 seconds later, Bondra tied the game again with a short-handed blast that careened in off the right post. Steve Konowalchuk was left unattended in the crease at 10:16 and converted a pass from Michal Pivonka for a power-play goal to give the Caps a 3-2 lead.
But the Caps returned the favor 42 seconds later, leaving Zdeno Ciger equally unguarded in the crease for a tip-in goal to tie the game at 3. Ciger has a team-high 16 goals for Edmonton.
"We just kept going without thinking about the lead changes," Juneau said. "We knew we were getting a lot of shots on goal and creating chances."
Washington dominated early, and outshot the Oilers 15-3 in the opening period. But the teams would enter the first intermission tied at 1.
The Caps came out flying, and pumped five shots on Ranford in the early minutes of the game before Ustorf scored his fourth of the year to give Washington its first lead.
The Oilers tied it on Kent Manderville's short-handed goal at 9:52.
"Our line got a lot of opportunities tonight," Bondra said. "This performance gives us a lot of confidence to maybe even play better in New York.
"We need a couple of wins to get back on track."
Edmonton ..1 2 0 -- 3
Washington 1 4 1 -- 6
First period--1, Washington, Ustorf 4 (Juneau, Peake), 1:56. 2, Edmonton, Manderville 2 (Richardson, Buchberger), 9:52 (sh). Penalties--Eagles, Was (hooking), 7:47; Olausson, Edm (interference), 7:58; Marchment, Edm (hooking), 13:48; Thornton, Edm (interference), 17:53.
Second period--3, Edmonton, Oliver 13 (Ciger, Weight), 4:02 (pp). 4, Washington, Bondra 17, 6:36 (sh). 5, Washington, Konowalchuk 11 (Pivonka, Bondra), 10:16 (pp). 6, Edmonton, Ciger 16 (Weight, Oliver), 10:58. 7, Washington, Klee 6 (Ustorf), 11:24. 8, Washington, Jones 11 (Bondra, Pivonka), 13:04. Penalties--Ustorf, Was (tripping), 3:07; Klee, Was (boarding), 5:12; Hunter, Was (roughing), 8:48; Olausson, Edm (roughing), 8:48; Arnott, Edm (roughing), 8:48; Kaminski, Was (roughing), 14:56.
Third period--9, Washington, Juneau 4, 17:43. Penalties--Marchment, Edm (interference), 4:39; Tinordi, Was (kneeing), 7:16.
Shots on goal--Edmonton 3-13-4--20. Washington 15-15-9--39. Power-play opportunities--Edmonton 1 of 5; Washington 1 of 5. Goalies--Edmonton, Ranford 11-15-5 (24 shots-19 saves), Brathwaite (13:04 second, 15-14). Washington, Carey 13-10-3 (20-17). A--11,200 (18,130). Referee--Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen--Gord Broseker, Stefan Provost.
Opponent: New York Islanders
Site: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
TV/Radio: Ch. 50/WNAV (1430 AM)
Outlook: The Islanders, last in the Atlantic Division, are tied with Ottawa with seven wins, fewest in the NHL. Longtime Caps nemesis Kirk Muller recently was asked to rejoin the club but has declined and remains a holdout awaiting a trade. Washington beat the Islanders, 4-3, on Dec. 14, the Caps' only overtime victory of the season.