There was a lot of skating, not much scoring, and little (if any) in the way of physical play. But the Caps did enough to subdue the Canucks for their fourth straight win.
Alex Ovechkin started the scoring mid-way through the first period when, on a power play, he took a pass from John Carlson, cradled it in the curve of his stick, and rifled a shot past goalie Jacob Markstrom on the short side at the 13:46 mark.
The Caps could not expand on that lead through the rest of the first period and the entirety of the second period, but Justin Williams got the Caps some insurance in the final frame. It started with Williams scooping up a loose puck along the left wing wall in the Vancouver end and chipping it to Dmitry Orlov at the left point. Orlov fired a shot that Markstrom blockered away to his right where Ovechkin picked it up. Ovechkin centered the puck to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who one-timed a pass back to the weak side where Williams was closing toward the net. From low in the left wing circle, Williams snapped a shot high over Markstrom’s blocker, and it was 2-0, 5:06 into the period.
That would be all for the competitive portion of the contest, Tom Wilson getting an empty net goal with 51.1 seconds left to give the Caps their final 3-0 margin.
“Now, witness the power of this fully operational battle station.” The Ovechkin power play goal was the Caps’ fifth power play goal in five games, over which they are 5-for-18 (27.8 percent). It extends a productive run in which the Caps are 10-for-46 over their last 12 games (21.7 percent), eight of those games featuring power play goals.
“Hmm! Adventure. Hmmpf! Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” Well, maybe not too much adventure. This was Vancouver’s third game in four days and the fourth game in a five-game road trip. It was a team that might have been ripe for the taking, but the game devolved into a tepid affair that suited the Canucks more than it did the Caps. Give credit to the Caps for not succumbing to that situation.
“It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two meters.” Good for Tom Wilson getting the empty netter at the end. It was a nice reward for a solid game killing penalties. It is a part of his game that has developed remarkably over the last season, far more than one might have envisioned for him.
“Stay on target…STAY ON TARGET…” The Caps had 29 shots on goal, 29 shots attempts that did not make it to the net (15 blocked, 14 misses). Vancouver had 20 shots on goal, 21 that did not make it to the net (10 blocked, 11 misses).
“I find your lack of faith…disturbing.” A week ago, the Caps were nursing the wounds of a three-game losing streak, and there were grumblings in Capitals Nation. With this win, they are on a four-game winning streak, their third streak of three wins or more this season.
“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dustin’ crops, boy!” Jakub Vrana had a couple of excellent chances to add to his goal total after scoring his first NHL in his last outing. He was unable to connect, but his four shots on goal and seven attempts brought to mind visions of a young sniper like Peter Bondra of 25 years ago.
"Master Kenobi, you disappoint me. Yoda holds you in such high esteem. Surely you can do better!” Lars Eller… 1-for-11 in the faceoff circle. Tough night.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Five shorthanded situations, 10 minutes of shorthanded ice time, one shot allowed, and that one came on the last power play. The Caps held the Canucks without a shot on goal over their first 9:23 of shorthanded ice time.
“Somebody has to save our skins.” After a four-game slump in which he allowed at least three goals in each game, goalie Braden Holtby is 3-0-1, 1.45, .950 over his last four games after the 20-save shutout over the Canucks. It was his 25th career shutout. He is one of ten goalies with 25 or more shutouts since the 2010-2011 season, Holtby’s first.
“Remember: Your focus determines your reality.” The Caps did dominate the 5-on-5 possession numbers, recording 41 total shot attempts to 30 for the Canucks (57.75 percent Corsi-for; numbers from Corsica.hockey).
In the end…
“The force is strong with this one...” For one night, anyway, the Caps were a team that were in control of the game throughout, especially on defense, where they seemed not to anticipate as much as know what the Canucks were trying to do (letting the Force flo-o-o-ow through them, as Yoda might say...getting tired of the Srar Wars references?). In that respect they did take advantage of the Canucks having played three games in four nights, not making the big, galactically stupid mistake that would give the opponent life and let them back in the game. If the offense isn’t blowing up opponents like the Death Star blowing up Alderaan, then the defense was frustrating the Canucks like a tribe of Ewoks frustrating a brigade of Imperial Stormtroopers. And that is a formula for the Rebels celebrating a victory over the Empire.
May The Force be with you...