Vancouver opened the scoring mid-way through the first period when Daniel Sedin tipped an Alexander Edler drive on a 5-on-3 power play. It was a lead that lasted less than seven minutes, John Carlson tying the game with a shot from the top of the right wing circle that snuck through a maze of bodies and past goalie Jacob Markstrom at the 15:13 mark. The goal was reviewed to determine if the net was off its pegs, as it was tipped just before the Carlson shot and leaning over Markstrom. The replay showed that the net returned to its moorings, and the goal stood.
Lars Eller broke the tie four minutes later when he took a feed from Madison Bowey just outside his own blue line, weaved his way through the Canuck defense in the neutral zone, carried the puck over the Vancouver blue line, and snapped a shot through the legs of defenseman Ben Hutton and over the shoulder of Markstrom to make it 2-1 at the 15:13 mark.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had the only goal of the second period on an odd play. His initial shot from the inside edge of the right wing faceoff circle was stopped by Markstrom, but the puck popped into the air in front of him. In his effort to swat the puck out of harm’s way, defenseman Eric Gudbranson managed only to bat the puck off Markstrom’s shoulder and into the net to make it 3-1 at the 4:57 mark.
-- Lars Eller’s goal was his 200th career point in the NHL.
-- Only one player for the Caps had penalty minutes, but Devante Smith-Pelly got his money’s worth. He took a hooking penalty in the first period, and then in the third period, coming to the defense of Brook Orpik, who was decked by Ben Hutton, he was whistled for an instigator, fighting, and instigator-misconduct penalty. He finished with 19 minutes in penalties for the night. The other Caps penalty was a bench minor for too many men on the ice.
-- Philipp Grubauer stopped 37 of 38 shots, including all 20 shots he faced in the third period. In his last ten games he stopped 257 of 273 shots (.941 save percentage).
-- Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson each had six shots on goal to lead the Caps. For both it was a season high in shots on goal.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal…nice, but not uncommon. He had ten faceoff wins (in 16 draws). That was the fourth time this season he had double digit wins in the circle, something he has now done once a month (October, November, December, and January) this season.
-- Chandler Stephenson did not have a shot attempt in 9:37 of ice time (low for the club).
-- The Caps were out-shot, 38-36, but they were out-attempted, 73-55.
-- As a team, the Caps registered eight points from eight different players. Fourteen of 18 skaters finished as “plus” players, Smith-Pelly the only one with a plus-2.
-- Jay Beagle had an odd night, losing nine of 11 draws, his worst winning percentage in any game this season (18.2 percent).
-- The Caps won their 18th game of the season on home ice, tying the Vegas Golden Knights for the league lead.
In the end…
On one hand, it might be looked at as a solid, workman like win. Okay, there were too many instances of trying to make the pretty play instead of just pounding pucks at the net against a team that has been very leaky lately. And the goals were a bit odd. A tipped net here, an own goal there, a between-the-defenseman’s-legs goal in between. Still, two points is two points, and the Caps are now four points clear of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. It sets the Caps up well for a back-to-back, home-and-home set with the Carolina Hurricanes later this week.