The Washington Capitals have experienced plenty of regular-season success during their run of four consecutive Southeast Division titles, but they've never begun a campaign quite this well.
Washington looks to become the sixth team in NHL history to start a season with eight straight victories when it visits the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
The Capitals (7-0-0) are the only team yet to lose after beating previously undefeated Detroit 7-1 on Saturday, extending their best start in franchise history. Only five teams have started 8-0-0, most recently when the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres matched the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs' record by winning their first 10 games.
Coach Bruce Boudreau remains cautious despite the strong start, especially since Washington hasn't been able to turn its previous regular-season runs into playoff success.
"We're getting lucky bounces at the right times, and Thursday we might not get any of the bounces," Boudreau said. "Things are going our way right now, but as we all know in sports, they can change in a heartbeat."
A victory in Edmonton would mark the first time the Capitals have won their first three road games since their 4-0-0 road start to the 1991-92 season.
Alex Ovechkin, who had two assists in Saturday's win, contributed two goals and an assist in each of his last two games against the Oilers, who are off to a solid start of their own.
Edmonton (4-2-2) beat Vancouver 3-2 on Tuesday, getting second-period goals from Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff and Taylor Hall. All of the Oilers' victories have come against teams that made the playoffs last season.
"We looked at this game as a statement game," Hall said Tuesday. "These are the games that good teams win, the games that really matter in the standings at the end of the year. These are the games that, if we are the team that we think we are, that we have to win."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft, added an assist and leads the team with five goals and eight points. The Oilers have yet to say if he'll remain with the club or be sent back to juniors, though Thursday is the final NHL game Nugent-Hopkins can play before his entry-level contract kicks in.
Nikolai Khabibulin improved to 3-0-2 with a 0.97 goals-against average after making 35 saves against Vancouver. The 38-year-old veteran has been sharp after posting a 3.40 GAA last season -- his highest since 1994-95, his rookie campaign.
"I think he sees the effort the guys are putting forth in front of him," coach Tom Renney said of Khabibulin, who has allowed nine goals in losing his last two starts against the Capitals. "We're getting great goaltending from him."
Defenseman Ryan Whitney suffered a slight knee sprain against Vancouver, though Renney said the injury wasn't serious. The status of Whitney, who played only 35 games last season and missed the first four this fall after right ankle surgery, is unclear for Thursday.
Washington hasn't played in Edmonton since a 4-2 victory Dec. 19, 2009, which ended a seven-game road losing streak in the series.
The Capitals have won three of the last four meetings overall.
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