Friday, October 23, 2015

Washington Capitals Recap: A TWO-Point Night: Capitals 3 - Canucks 2

The Washington Capitals went into Vancouver looking for their first win against the Canucks in British Columbia since Valentine’s Day 2001.  They got contributions from unexpected sources to keep them in the contest, then they got another jolt from a reliable source as they ended their six-game losing streak in Vancouver, 3-2.

It started well enough for the Caps, who took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a goal by Jason Chimera, who beat defenseman Mark Bartkowski down the middle of the ice to redirect a centering pass from Jay Beagle past goalie Ryan Miller.

The second period was less kind to the visitors.  Radim Vrbata and Henrik Sedin scored ten minutes apart to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead that they took into the locker room after 40 minutes.

Beagle scored a goal of his own in the sixth minute of the third period to tie the game.  It was part persistence and part odd luck for Beagle.  A shot by John Carlson appeared to handcuff Miller who did not stop it cleanly.  The puck flipped into the air, and Miller could only get a piece of it as he waved his arm at it.  With the puck still in mid-air, Beagle nudged it gently into the net, and the score was tied.

That set the stage for some late heroics from the Captain.  It was a thunderbolt of a play that started deep in the Washington end.  From behind his own net, Dmitry Orlov sent the puck long up the right side to Evgeny Kuznetsove just outside the Vancouver blue line.  Kuznetsov collected the puck, curled into the Canucks’ zone, then ladled a pass to Alex Ovechkin at the left wing circle.  Ovechkin one-timed the puck hard past Miller, and the Caps had their final margin of victory, 3-2.

Other stuff…

-- Goals in five consecutive games to start the season is a career first, even for Alex Ovechkin.

-- Jay Beagle’s two-point game was his first since March 7th of last season, and it was the fifth multi-point game of his career.

-- Nicklas Backstrom might have had his worst day ever in the faceoff circle.  He finished 2-for-17 (11.8 percent).  He was 1-for-10 against Brandon Sutter, 1-for-3 against Henrik Sedin, and 0-for-4 against Bo Horvat.

-- It is starting to look like one of those “on” years for Jason Chimera in his puzzling on-again off-again cycle of goal scoring.  With three in six games, including the goal in this game, he is almost half-way to his total for last season (7).

-- The power play goal by Henrik Sedin was Vancouver’s second power play goal of the season.  Going 1-for-3 on the night, they are now 2-for-23 this season (8.7 percent).

-- The power play goal allowed by the Caps broke a three-game streak without having allowed one.  They had not allowed a power play goal since doing so in their only loss of the season so far, a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 2.

-- The Caps had an uncommon ability to get pucks to the this game.  They had only 46 shot attempts overall, but recorded 35 shots on goal.

-- It’s one thing for a very green rookie to have his fourth line ice time cut back in the third period.  Chandler Stephenson skated only two shifts in the third period, none in the last 10:37. Brooks Laich is a different matter.  He skated three shifts in the last period, only one in the last 10:31, that coming in the last minute of play.

-- Braden Holtby dropped his goals against to 2.03 in this game, putting him in the top-ten among goalies appearing in at least four games so far.  His save percentage (.917) ranks 19th in that group of goalies.

-- The Caps spread their scoring around, getting nine points from eight players (Beagle the only two-point player).

In the end…

Nice road game.  Two nice road games, in fact. Check this off as another instance of the Caps taking care of business and getting a monkey off their back – not winning in Vancouver in more than a decade.  Doing it with third liners figuring heavily in the scoring speaks to the depth of this team, at least at this early juncture of the season.  The Caps looked a bit leaky on both goals allowed, Evgeny Kuznetsov permitting Radim Vrbata to step around him a little too easily on Vrbata’s goal, and Holtby not getting to the near post quite in time to foil Henrik Sedin’s power play shot.  But in the end, the Caps were tight when they had to be, and they had something Vancouver – no team, in fact – has.  That goal-scoring machine on the left wing.

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