Washington Capitals vs Vancouver Canucks Post Game Recap: A Capital Sized Defeat

The Rundown

After a gritty effort in their win against the Boston Bruins a few nights ago, the Vancouver Canucks had to host another top-tier team from the Eastern Conference this evening as the defending Stanley Cup champions came into Vancouver. The Washington Capitals were another tough test for a team off to a surprisingly strong start to the season, and another opportunity to showcase themselves around the league.


1st Period

Right away, there was some feistiness with Antoine Roussel getting into a little tilt with Michal Kempny just under a minute into the period. Both players would receive roughing minors on the play, sending the teams to 4 on 4 early in the game. A little over a minute later, Troy Stecher would get burned on a pinch in the Capitals zone, and Jacob Vrana received a pass and came in on a 2 on 1 opportunity. After taking a quick look, he sent the puck to a streaking John Carlson who tipped it past Anders Nilsson to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.


The Canucks didn’t relent pressure after the goal and nearly tied the game when Nikolay Goldobin made a nifty move and fed Bo Horvat the puck in the offensive zone. Horvat would proceed to make a power move to the net only to be stopped by Braden Holtby on the doorstep. The Canucks kept up the pressure, and shortly after the Horvat chance, Brooks Orpik would stick his leg out and collide with Markus Granlund. Orpik would be given a penalty on the play, which sent the Canucks to their first power-play opportunity in 2 games. The Canucks power-play was strong, but the only shot by Brock Boeser was kicked out by Holtby. No goal would be scored with the man advantage.


The 1st period would continue along without much to it. A few good chances from the Capitals would put the Canucks on their heels, with none better than a TJ Oshie shot that rung off the crossbar, but no change in the score.


The next notable event of the period would come with 5 minutes left, as Horvat was forced to take down Oshie while he cut through the slot towards the Vancouver goal, which allowed the league’s best power-play to go to work. A great save by Nilsson 30 seconds into the man advantage wouldn’t allow the Capitals to extend their lead, and the Vancouver penalty kill would complete the task at hand and killed the remainder of the penalty. The period would come to a close with the Canucks trailing the Capitals 1-0.

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2nd Period


The 2nd period saw both teams try to break the other’s will early, and would see the Canucks Adam Gaudette driving to the net which drew a tripping minor against Carlson around 3 minutes into the period. On the Canucks 2nd power-play of the evening, they didn’t look as strong as earlier and would fail to capitalize. The Canucks would then see Goldobin again setting up Horvat, and just like before Holtby was there to shut the door.


Holtby wouldn’t make every save tonight, and it’d be a weird deflection to put the Canucks on the board. Just under 8 minutes in, it’d be Stecher sending a shot towards the goal. The puck would bounce off former Canuck Nick Dowd’s glove and past Holtby to tie the game at 1!

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The next minute and a half would be all Capitals, with the end result of their efforts being another power-play opportunity when Erik Gudbranson would be called for a cross-checking minor. On the Capitals 2nd chance with the man advantage, they’d make no mistake. Only 30 seconds into their power-play, the puck would be worked to Evgeny Kuznetsov who’d rifle a one-timer under the arm of Nilsson to help the Caps retake the lead.


More back and forth play would follow, as the Canucks struggled to break through and find an answer to the skill of this Capitals team. One of the highlights of the period came off the ice though, with one of the merchants in the stands catching a puck while he was making his trip down the isles.


Wouldn’t be the only fancy handiwork in the building, as after a great chance goes by the wayside for Vancouver, the Capitals would come back down the ice, and it’d take a great glove save from Nilsson to keep this game at only a 1 goal deficit.


Unfortunately, the Capitals would strike again in the last minute of the second period. After a rebound got away from Nilsson, Ovechkin would crash the crease, only to have the puck bounce off his leg to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead. Brandon Sutter would draw a late penalty on Nicholas Backstrom, but the Canucks would trail by 2 heading into the 3rd period.


3rd Period

It’d only take 20 seconds for the Canucks to strike on their 3rd power-play of the evening. A Boeser slap shot was too much for Holtby to handle, and the rebound would land right on the stick of Sven Baertschi, who’d deposit the puck into the yawning cage to make it 3-2 with basically a full period to play.


A minute and a half later, it looked like Boeser was going to have a great opportunity to tie the game, but Edler would get called for an interference penalty, and the Capitals would be given their 3rd power-play to regain their 2 goal advantage. The Canucks would stand tall and be up to the challenge, keeping it a 1 goal game as they killed off the penalty, but after the Edler penalty expires, Stecher would immediately take a tripping minor and the Capitals would be sent right back to the power-play.


Vancouver could only play with fire so many times, and they’d be burned for a second time tonight while down a man. This time, it’d be Alex Ovechkin doing what he does best and blasting a one-timer from his spot just above the left circle. 4-2 Washington…


The rest of the 3rd period would see the Canucks unable to mount any sort of offensive pressure against the reigning cup champs, and Ovechkin would cap off a 4 point night by setting up Oshie for an empty net goal to give the Capitals the 5-2 win. Sven Baertschi would take a late penalty but nothing would come off the abbreviated power-play chance for Washington.


Advanced Stats

Both photos courtesy of naturalstattrick.com


Wrap Up

The Canucks have been a surprising team this year. They’ve pulled out some wins against some tough competition while on the road, and then pulled out a gutsy win over Boston. Tonight, the Canucks just couldn’t find that extra gear needed to propel them over the Capitals. A couple of missed opportunities right in front of Holtby, some misfortune with pucks bouncing over sticks, and too many penalties all led to the Canuck’s downfall.

There weren’t any truly awful performances, but in that same breath nobody stood out tonight. It was a game in which the Canucks were outclassed by a better opponent, and they just didn’t have an answer to the speed and skill Washington possessed. While Nilsson made some good saves, he struggled with his rebound control for a majority of the game, and couldn’t bail the overall team defense on a couple of key opportunities. Both goals on the power-play for Washington were absolute lasers from their star Russians, but the 3rd goal was one Nilsson probably wishes he had back. While Stecher was able to score a goal tonight, he was caught up the ice on the 1st Washington goal and was in the box when Ovechkin ripped home the Caps 4th goal. No one really stood out on offense tonight, and the Canucks couldn’t capitalize on a number of quality scoring chances other than the Baertschi rebound goal. 

All in all, a game Canucks fan shouldn’t be surprised at; the better team won tonight.

  • Braindead Benning

    This was by far the most frustrating game this season… The team didnt play poorly, but its painful to watch the D not being able to make a first pass out of their zone or not making simple up the board chip outs instead of constantly being hemmed up. BB, allthough had a point still looks a bit slow and seems easy to take off the puck, whether its a confidence thing or teams are zoning in him? either way, he doesn’t seem to have the same “pizzazz” he had last year. The last 2 penalties in the 3rd were borderline weak calls IMO which took any momentum the Canucks had after Baetschi scored its like the refs were trying to even things up after he scored.

  • Braindead Benning

    Oh, and Eriksson brings absolutely NOTHING !!! besides living off the coattails of EP & NG the first 3 games of the season…no net presence or playing hard on the puck at all, regardless of his veteran leadership and a few safe defensive plays he seems disinterested…

    • Beer Can Boyd

      When Eriksson dumps the puck in the corner and goes in to forecheck, he’s always late, never ever wins the battle, and the other team easily clears the zone. I’m really not sure what he’s doing in the lineup, although the only alternative on the roster right now is Leipsic, who has looked even worse in his limited playing time this year. If this keeps up, can anyone see Benning going the Gagner route and putting Loui on waivers? Would any team claim him?

      • Dirty30

        Looks Kelly wouldn’t get picked off waivers, but once he cleared and the Canucks were willing to retain salary, some team might take him for call-up depth. But it’s a heck of a lot of salary for what he’s contributing these days.

        Benning should be meeting Loui as he comes off the ice with a WTF!!! lecture while every other player files past. It would either improve his play or he might request a trade just to get away from the lectures.

        • Puck Viking

          You cant retain salary on a bonus which is the majority of his contract. How contract is untradable and buy out proof. No one will claim him.

          JB gave the same sorts of deals to beagle and roussel which is half the reason people hated those signings so much. The guy really doesnt fer it.

          • His salary is probably untradeable and it is definitely buyout-proof, but where did you get the idea you can’t retain salary? As long as you trade him before July 1st, when the signing bonus portion is paid, I don’t think there’s any reason you can’t retain that salary.

          • gnam

            Actually, while I’m not certain about this, I don’t recall Beagle, Roussel, or Schaller’s contacts having major bonuses or NTC’s. If I recall correctly, the problems there were just that money and term were a ways above market. Still means they’ll be hard to trade … But they can be bought out I think.

  • Kanuckhotep

    I agree those two calls on Edler and Stecher in the 3rd period were very lame and you can only give the Capitals so many chances to score on the PP before they will. but the 4-2 goal took the wind out of the sails of a Canucks team who IMO kept skating very hard. Gaudette had his best game to date and want to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet soon. How anyone can defend Eriksson is mysterious to me. If he was there for a million a year I wouldn’t care but he’s taking up valuable cap room. Sin City is up next.

    • Braindead Benning

      Gaudette is a gem man, for a player who has basically only played around 10 NHL games thus far he seems poised defensivly and has confidence carrying the puck into the zone while trying to cycle. He is going to be a very reliable 3rd line centre in the future

  • Rodeobill

    I really didn’t like the reffing very much this game, and Gudbranson had one of his worst. The team as a whole did well enough though against the champs, Gaudette and Goldy seemed to be a few to really step up and try to make things happen. Also, I’m liking Rousell more each game. Can’t wait for EP to get back.

  • Saint Albert

    Men against boys out there, the Caps coasted through this one and still burned us. Yet management insists we are a playoff team… what gives?

    “I like our goaltending, I like our defence now and I like our centre ice. I can’t wait until the season starts.” – Benning

    “The bottom line is our goal is win games and to be competitive to make the playoffs. That’s what we’re here for.” Jim Benning Feb 14th 2018

    Last i checked .500 hockey (or below) doesn’t get you playoff hockey, am i wrong?

  • DJ_44

    Like other, I was impressed with Gaudette last night. He looks to be the best defensive centre on the team with respect to puck support in the defensive zone. He also worked the hardest (along with Motte) on the team.

    Nilsson was solid last night. They were beat by the Stanley Cup champs, but were not embarrassed. The Canucks did not get the bounces last night, the Capitals did; however the Capitals also matched or exceeded the Canucks effort.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      I thought the same about Gaudette last night, and I don’t think he’s going back down any time soon. Certainly not until Beagle is healthy. And although Sutter has been great all year, he’s still only 29, and has a decent cap hit with 2 years left. I think he’s worth a low first rounder to a playoff team needing a shut down guy at the draft.
      Also agree that Motte has earned his place in the lineup, Nilsson was not to blame for the loss, and that they simply got beat by a better team last night. No shame in that.

      • Saint Albert

        “Sutter is still ONLY 29″… wtf, didn’t you know everyone is washed up by 27 in the NHL and that’s why CA editorial and commenter blowhards on here didn’t want the likes of Tavares, Stammer, James Neal or Erik Karlsson on the Canucks lol… gotta play them kids, you know, like Deadmonton did for 10 years of no playoffs! Nextttt

        • crofton

          Apparently about 1/2 the players in the NHL are washed up then. More alternative facts from PQW. 27 is the average age of players in the NHL. And most people wanted the likes of (some) of the players you mention, they just agreed, wisely, that the ask was too high.

  • Kootenaydude

    The better team won. The Canucks don’t have a defenceman that can do a controlled exit. As soon as they get the puck. They just dump it and chase it. Every Washington line was better than every Canuck line. I don’t know the stats of this team, but their puck possession numbers must be terrible. Maybe I’m old school, but you work so hard to get the puck. Why give it away?!

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Edler and Tanev are both satisfactory at zone exits. Pouliot and Guddy panic the second they are both pressured and often turn it over (Pouliots only redeeming quality is his skating, which is average). Hutton is ok, not great. He shows positives but also is sometimes prone to being pressured also. Stetcher is the Dman I enjoy watching the most die to his skill and speed but due to his size, he occasionally takes a massive bodycheck.
      All in all, the defence sucks overall, yet for some reason (unknown to everyone) yet Benning sees actual improvement potential in this group which only speaks volumes to his professional scouting abilities. The constant dumping the puck out of the zone has always been an issue with this team save for a couple yrs when we had fast puck moving players.


    If our defence could only make a simple 6 foot pass we could get out of our own end so easily. When does Hughes arrive ? Will Olli ever make this team or will he be in the AHL forever ?