Friday, January 14, 2011

Caps Can't Tame The Best In The West

Capitals 2, Canucks 4
Game Summary

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals got off to a good start, but some key miscues after taking a rare lead lead to a Vancouver Canuck dominated game as they defeat the Caps 4-2.

Matt Hendricks played the game of his career as a Capital scoring the first goal and playing solid all game long finishing with a +1, four shots and 2 hits. Marcus Johansson would pull the Caps close 3-2 with a goal half way through the third period, but that is as close as they would get. 

Nick Backstrom played an inspired game when faced with his fellow countrymen on the away bench at Verizon Center. He had an early chance when a bouncing puck eluded the Vancouver defender giving the Swedish centerman a free shot at Roberto Luongo. But his deke couldn't beat the net minder's glove. Backstrom would have a brilliant feed to another Swedish Cap, Marcus Johansson who buried a one timer after the Canucks defense broke down.

The game did start well for the Caps as Hendricks was set free by Boyd Gordon after a smart breakout by the checking line. Hendricks beat Luongo seven hole and the team seemed to play loose after the lead. Maybe too loose, because it only took 2:25 minutes later when the Canucks answered with a goal of their own.

The Caps would let their discipline slip when Jason Chimera took a penalty in the offensive zone by hitting the Canuck defender up high. While the Vancouver player embellished the shot, it was still a penalty and just :44 seconds into the extra man advantage the Canucks take the lead. The Canucks' power play would strike on their first chance and finish the night 1 for 3 on the PP.

Then disaster struck in the second period when the Caps seemed to take the momentum. But some cavalier series of passes that would end with Chimera getting poked checked in the neutral zone by Jannik Hansen jumped onto the stick of Daniel Sedin, fresh from the bench. The play actually looked off-side in the least, possibly too many men at the other extreme. Either way, it was some bad luck that gave the Canucks a two goal lead.

Again the Caps' power play was disappointing. They squandered all three chances they had the extra man, included a phantom tripping call on Green when he clearly got the puck first on a dive for Ryan Kesler. The power play could not handle the aggressive checking of the Canuck penalty killers and as a result, they could not even get quality chances to the net. The phone booth faithful showed their displeasure at the lack of production, especially on home ice.

Caps have a two days to rest up for a mid day special against the Ottawa Senators. A team that seems to play the Caps tough. They have to find a way to get back into the Southeast Division race and get some points on the board. In all fairness, the the Canucks are the best team in the west on a roll. The Caps are still looking for an identity and struggling to get their offense going.

Cap Notes:
  • Tom Poti and Alex Semin would both be injured scratches for this inter-conference game. Both are listed as day-to-day. Tyler Sloan was sent down earlier in the day to Hershey for a conditioning stint. 
  • The Capitals were 5-0-1 against Canadian teams this year. The Canucks will hand them their first loss of the season in regulation.
  • Brian Willsie's short stint with the Capitals was only one game. He was sent back to Hershey as Boyd Gordon returns to the lineup after suffering an infection in his foot. Willsie would score the Bear's second goal to help the Hershey Bears defeat the Adirondack Phantoms 3-0 tonight.

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