Capitals 5, Canucks 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Van Sun
It was the second straight game the Capitals had let in a goal on the first shot of the game by the opponent, but just like the home opener, they were able to overcome. The Vancouver Canucks could only muster 10 shots on net as the Capitals shut down what was considered a very high powered offense winning 5 - 1 on Columbus Day.
Scoring for the Caps were Alex Semin (netted two goals), Mike Green (power play goal), Milan Jurcina (his first of the season) and Micheal Nylander (who scored on a penalty shot). Brent Johnson was able to stop 9 out of 10 shots (not bad) for his 100th win. The Caps chased Roberto Luongo from the net after two periods of play, but it's all they needed. Luongo surrendered all 5 goals, but to be honest, it really wasn't his fault.
Semin was all over the place tonight. The puck seemed to follow him around, especially in high traffic areas in front of the net where he scored both of his goals and secured the game's first star. In both goals, which seemed identical in a way, the Caps drove hard to the net and Luongo had a hard time buttoning down the rebound. The puck squirted loose right to Semin's stick both times; once on the backhand, the other on the forehand. With the Canuck netminder down and out, Semin shot to a wide open gaping net high.
What created problems for Vancouver was the Caps' aggressive forecheck that seemed to rattle the Canuck defense. Nylander, who was then only Cap with 3 points (1g, 2a) tonight and the game's number two star, scored on a great deke on a penatly shot that was awarded late in the second period. It was the first successful penalty shot for the Capitals since November 2005.
Sergei Fedorov (who got the game's third star) was positioned on defense and the transition was seamless. He was the only Capital to finish a +3 and added an assist. Putting him back on D kept the speedy Vancouver forwards honest and his offensive skills kept the Caps in possession all night. His ability to move the puck up ice and his calm demeanor with the puck was a confidence booster for the whole squad. Apparently the switch worked perfectly as the Capitals defense held the Canucks to only 10 shots the entire game (35-10).
The Caps didn't need Alex Ovechkin, everyone seemed to be able to contribute. But boy, did Ovie throw his weight around in this one. Three goals were scored by forwards, 2 by defensemen which means the Caps are moving the puck around successfully. Penalties really were not a factor in this game has both teams stayed pretty clean throughout the game. Both teams did net a power play goal however.
Viktor Kozlov left the game in the second period with an injury and did not return. New NHL rules state that a team does not need to divulge any information on an injured player during or after the game. So as you can imagine, the Caps management were pretty tight lipped about what happened with him. I thought Kozzie played well in both home games. He was strong on his feet and his big size and speed helped him with his aggressive forecheck.
I have been hard on Nick Backstrom lately, but I made a point to watch him closely this game. I found out why he gets lost so much and the blame mostly comes from Green. Every time Green streaks up the ice, Backstrom holds back to cover his position. He is actually doing the correct thing. So while he is often slow to join the rush, especially if a defensemen decides to jump up on the play, Backs is being defensively responsible.
This was a very good showing for the Capitals, and if anything it shows how dangerous they can be if they play within their system and everyone works hard. Johnny looked good in net when he needed to be. The Caps kept a very explosive offense from getting no more than 10 shots on net, a new franchise record for the Caps.
In fact the only faults I could find was the only Vancouver goal and the not so sold out Verizon Center which broke it's consecutive sold out streak to 9 which includes the playoffs from last season. 16,847 was the head count, but the crowd was still pretty loud.
Bruce Boudreau is playing his cards pretty closely with Pittsburgh coming, neither confirming or denying that Fedorov would be back on defense. The Caps face off with the Pens Thursday 7 pm in Pittsburgh.
Highlights courtesy of NHL.com: