This was a game of hits, speed, penalties, and strange goals. Special teams matter, especially when you face the best Power-Play unit in the league. In a game that had just about everything....LETS DIVE IN TO IT!
This one started off quite promising in the first minute. 13 seconds in to the game and Antoine Roussel, yes Travis Green started the shutdown line of course, has a quality look after dancing around the net. Holtby makes a clean save. Then things got chippy. After a bowling-ball of a hit from Ovi on Edler, Roussel decides to get in to it with Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Who started it is tough to judge but it was such a disgraceful “fight” so they each got 2 minutes for roughing, two minutes in to the game.
Ah 4 v 4 hockey. There really is no set opinion on 4 v 4 hockey, it’s just a thing and NHL fans accept it. Anyways, Granlund brings the puck in to Washington’s zone and turns it over to Lars Eller, who’s a great two-way Center by the way, and he flips it ahead to Jakub Vrana who skates it in to Vancouver’s zone and all of a sudden the smell of a $64 million dollar man joins in on the rush, and all Vrana has to do it sauce it past Norris Trophy candidate Derrick Pouliot, which surprisingly is a success, resulting in John Carlson tipping it past Nilsson for his 5th goal of the season. 1-0 Caps.
Shortly after, Orpik gets a 2:00 tripping penalty. We had 1 shot on goal on the PP. One. Thanks Brock. Oshie hits a cross bar soon later which leads in to this crazy, not so-crazy stat that shows Timothy Jimothy having 21 points in 27 career games versus Vancouver. Insane right? No? Oh.
I was extremely impressed with our 3rd line containing Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter, and Loui Eriksson. Virtanen got moved up to the 2nd line to play with Baert, and Adam Gaudette. Virtanen and Gaudette seemed defensively responsible in the 1st.
A couple of decent shots later, throw in a hooking penalty on Bo Horvat, with Ovechkin only wireing a total of one slap shot on Nilsson, and we have a successful PK of our own. I should mention that Caps centerman, Evgeny Kuznetsov had a nice feed in the slot from Carlson but Nilsson looked really sharp in the 1st period, saving 12 out of 13 shots against him. Our PK mostly contained the looks of Tyler Motte, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, which I thought looked subtle. End of the 1st. Caps lead 1-0.
Props to Travis Green for whatever he said to the boys at the end of the 1st period. The Canucks came out flying to start the 2nd. Four hits in three minutes as a result and the momentum shifted.
It starts off with a dumb giveaway by Nic Dowd (that won’t be the only dumb play he has in this one), and a high-danger shit from Gaudette who gets tripped in the process by John Carlson. Canucks going on the PP for the second time. Nikolay Goldobin had a whooping slap-shot, but man did Holtby look good facing shot after shot from Vancouver. Much better PP, results stay the same. Nada.
Just when you thought luck couldn't get any worse for Vancouver, it was the former Canuck who’s luck was bad. A pedestrian shot by Troy Stecher from the point and Nic Dowd gloves it aside. Nice play by.... wait what? HA HA HA!! Turns out this tweet was right for all the wrong reasons.
Our very own Kent Basky called that one. 1-1.
Having that as your 2nd goal in 90 games, I think Stecher will take it any way he can get it. A stat I heard on the Sportsnet broadcast was that the Canucks have 5 unassisted goals this year for most in the NHL. Interesting.
Just when you thought the Canucks were finally playing really well, first ballot Hall of Famer Erik Gudbranson takes a cross-checking penalty on T.J. Oshie at 8:47 in the period. Washington’s famous 1-3-1 power-play setup is designed for big slap-shots from Ovechkin, Carlson, and now Kuznetsov. A precise shot from the right-circle leads to Kuznetsov’s 5th goal on the season, in which every one of them has came on the power-play. Apples go to John Carlson who tallies his 7th assist, and Ovechkin who gets his 4th of the season.
Later in the period Alex Ovechkin notches his 7th goal of the season with assists coming from Oshie (4) and Backstrom (9). Lucky Goal.
A late tripping penalty on Backstrom leads to a VAN PP to start the 3rd.
Caps lead after two. 3-1.
Right off the bat on the PP, Sven Baertschi, who I’ve stood up for numerous times, shows his worth with his 4th point. Brock Boeser throws a shot on net and terrible rebound control from Holtby leads to a wide open net for Baertschi to pound it home to cut the lead to 3-2.
Alex Edler has not been great lately. 3 penalties against Winnipeg and now he takes a costly one here. Not only is Edler a key penalty-killer but his game revolves around confidence, and this won’t help. Ben Hutton helps out on the PK and does really well. Penalty killed. Phew!
Edler must’ve told Stecher it was comfy in the box so Stecher wanted to have some box time to himself. He takes a tripping penalty. 4th time is a charm for the Caps PP unit. Ovechkin does his famous shot from the circle and gets his 2nd goal, and 3rd point of the game. The helpers were John Carlson (8) and Nicklas Backstrom (10). Backstrom records his 2nd assist, and gets his 600th career NHL assist. Many resulting in a goal from his Russian teammate. 4-2 Caps.
I saw some notable line changes half way through the final period. Horvat was playing with Eriksson and Roussel. Baertschi was grouped with Gaudette and Sutter. Backstrom teamed up with Andre Burakovsky, who had a fantastic 2nd period, and Chandler Stephenson. Those players eventually grouped back up with their original linemates. It’s a game of chess not checkers.
Caps through 16 minutes only gave up 4 shots in the 3rd period. We lack resiliency which needs to be addressed asap.
An empty net goal from Oshie makes it 5-2. Pass came from Alex Ovechkin who records his 5th assist of the season, and Nicklas Backstrom who tallies his 11th.
Conclusion: We needed to stop the top heavy Capitals tonight. Which did not happen due to the lack of defensive play. The Canucks need to figure out the d-zone issue we are having right now. We have a chance to rebound tomorrow.
Next Game: @ Vegas