Instead of dwelling on the negative, Oates focused on what was good about the club's recent play.
One day after Oates' positive power talk during practice, the Capitals scored three goals in less than four minutes of the second period en route to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.
Joel Ward, Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer scored 3:55 apart — including two power-play goals — and Washington was on its way to snapping its skid.
"We feel confidence here. Of course we were kind of upset about the beginning of the year," Ovechkin said. "We win only one game."
Ovechkin scored his sixth goal and added an assist in the outburst. Nicklas Backstrom assisted on all three goals for Washington (2-4).
"Finally, we get the lead and we play with the lead like most of the game," Ovechkin said.
With the score tied at 1, Ward took advantage of a power play and scored his first goal of the season at 10:06.
Ovechkin added his sixth goal 3:12 later, and Brouwer — during another power play — netted his first 43 seconds after that. Brooks Laich scored Washington's first goal of the game.
The Capitals scored four times on 20 shots against Edmonton goalie Jason LaBarbera. The Oilers have given up at least four goals in each of their six games.
"I thought everything was going fine until we brought a puck back into our zone, and that basically started a few dominos to fall," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said.
The Oilers (1-4-1) have four games left on their season-high six-game road trip.
"It goes back to the adage of every moment in the game is important. For three minutes we went backward, and it cost us the game," Eakins said.
Boyd Gordon and Will Acton, with the first of his NHL career, scored for Edmonton.
The Oilers took a 1-0 lead 9:48 in on Gordon's fourth goal.
Justin Schultz recovered a loose puck near centre ice, skated down the right wing and sent a pass to Gordon, who flipped a shot past goalie Braden Holtby.
Just 3:53 later, Laich scored his first of the season when he fired a shot past LaBarbera.
Ward gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead one second after Brouwer and Edmonton's David Perron returned to the ice following roughing penalties.
Washington had been working with a 4-on-3 power play, and patiently moved the puck in front of the net until Ward scored. Barely three minutes later, it was Ovechkin's turn, and then Brouwer's.
"We were kind of in a tough spot after last game, 1-4, losing ground a little bit," Brouwer said. "Guys are always a little bit upset when they're not producing because they feel like they're not helping their team out as much as they could, especially if you're expected to score."
Ovechkin was called for interfering with Mike Brown at 12:19 of the third period. A melee ensued with Ovechkin, Brown, the Oilers' Luke Gazdic, and Washington's Mike Green and Karl Alzner all sent off the ice for various infractions.
Acton cut the Oilers' deficit to 4-2 with 1:42 left in the game.
By then, the Capitals had been playing with a three-goal lead for 24 minutes, and that helped boost their confidence.
"You're not scared to make mistakes. You're not as tentative," Holtby said.
NOTES: Edmonton F Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 draft is pointless in four games. ... Washington D John Erskine missed his second straight game because of an upper body injury. ... In the first period, Green collided with the Oilers LW Jesse Joensuu in front of his own bench and tumbled headfirst over the boards. He didn't miss any ice time. ... Ovechkin has nine points in six games. . It was the 22nd time Backstrom had three assists in a game. ... Edmonton allowed its NHL-worst 10th first-period goal.