October 28 2013 11:48PM
The Sedinery was strong in this one.
In the preview I highlighted two reasons this could be an exciting affair; Alex Ovechkin's brilliant play, and the troubles the Washington Capitals have had in stopping opposing teams from doing what they've wanted to against them thus far. One of those came true, and considering that this is a Canucks blog, I'm sure that many of our readers will be happy with which one it was.
Read on past the jump for a recap of how the Vancouver Canucks were able to win their 4th straight game en route to improving their record on the season to an impressive 9-4-1. I'll give you a quick hint: it had to do with the picture above.
The game got off to quite the start when Alex Edler took Ovechkin in as we went to the net just 1:19 in. It was a rather dubious call as Ovechkin didn't even really seem to have possession of the puck, but whatever.. as a fan of hockey that was exciting as heck, and Luongo stopped him - improving to 21/24 on penalty shots in his career - so no harm was done by the questionable decision. I'll get to Ovechkin later, but that was one of the only moments in the entire game that saw him be al that dangerous.
Kassian, reunited with Santorelli and Higgins on this particular play - a trio whose tires I've been pumping for a few games now - scored on a sweet shot as he came down the right wing with speed and fired it past Neuvirth. The Caps goalie probably should've had that one, which was made obvious by the "man I wish I was back in witness protection" look that Adam Oates had on his face following it, but regardless it was a nice play by Kassian.
Speaking of Kassian..
Torts says Kassian was "good at times, crappy at times"... That was Dickens wasn't it?— Blake Price (@blakeprice1040) October 29, 2013
I think the "crappy" part is referring to the awfully lazy backcheck he put together on the 2nd goal by the Capitals, as he casually glided down the ice while Grabovski skated right by him for the goal. It didn't help his cause that Jason Chimera - a player he'd be jawing back and forth with all game - put together a great effort to set the play up. Unfortunately at this point of his career you've got to take the bad with Kassian, especially if he keeps putting forth the good as often as he has lately..
It's time we get to Tom Sestito, who was quite frankly abysmal in this game. I sang his praises (well not really, but I said he "wasn't useless", which is quite the compliment all things considered) after the game against the Blues, but his lumbering and awkward nature played a part in both goals by the visitors on this night. He hardly saw the ice after the 2nd one, and then there was this comment by Tortorella:
Torts on Archibald: "I want him to take someone's job. There's really something there." #Canucks— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) October 29, 2013
Luongo had a quiet night altogether, only facing 19 shots (of which he stopped 17). His .895 save% won't do anything to help satisfy the people who continue to cite his October numbers and discuss his struggles, but on a night like this he did enough to get the job done. It's hard to take issue with his performance, so I won't.
There's not too much to say about Alex Burrows' outing in his return to the lineup, other than that he looked healthy, and didn't suffer a setback. He played just under 16 minutes - mostly with Higgins and Santorelli on the team's 2nd line - and on the 2nd unit power play, and registered 3 shots on goal. It's good to have him back.
Highlight of the Night
.. so you're probably wondering why I haven't talked about the Sedins and Kesler yet, and it's because I've been saving the best for last. Just a minute after the Capitals took a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd, Kesler tied it right back up with a wicked slapper from in close following a juicy rebound. It's impossible to say for sure, but given his history of nifty plays and creativity, it sure looks like Daniel intentionally redirected it to an open Kesler with his skate on that play. Fantastic.
Then just a few minutes later, this happened:
The Youtube clip actually doesn't do it justice, because the play initially started with Kesler entering the offensive zone with 15:50 left in the period. The Canucks went on to control possession for 51 seconds, with everyone on the ice getting in on the fun. The sweet shot by Daniel finished off what was such a classically dominant clinic put on by the Sedins and Co. Someone needs to pinch Ryan Kesler at this point.
Image via Extra Skater.
But there's more...
Why was Ovy invisible for the latter 59 minutes on Monday? He spent 70% of his five-on-five TOI against the twins + Kesler. In his own end.— Grandma Wolf (@ThomasDrance) October 29, 2013
As you can see from the shot attempt graphic above this was a great 'believe in the process' game. The Canucks dominated the 2nd period but had nothing to show for it, but eventually things broke open for them in the 3rd.
The top line for the Canucks - which once again played over 23 minutes on the night - was on the ice for 20 shot attempts for, and only 9 against. The end result was pretty clearly Ovechkin's worst performance of the season. A commendable effort by the Canucks on that front, to be sure. I should also point out that Ovechkin also saw the Hamhuis/Tanev pairing for nearly 2/3 of his 5v5 shifts.
Coming into Monday night's game the special teams play was definitely something to keep an eye on, seeing as the Capitals had excelled in that area; they were 11/41 on the PP, and had killed off 33 of 37 man advantages. The Capitals had 4 opportunities on this night, but only managed 4 shots on goal during that time and weren't able to generate a goal.
There was also the consternation amongst Canucks fans about the fact that the team couldn't really draw any penalties through 13 games. They had 6 PP opportunities in this one, and while they didn't score a goal, they managed 20 shot attempts (and 15 actual shots on goal) in just under 11 minutes of 5v4 play. You just have to think that if this keeps up they'll go on a successful run sooner rather than later..
One final thought: who knew that Martin Erat was even playing in this game?
At least the Capitals didn't give up a top prospect for him or anything like that.