The Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 Thursday night at Verizon Center, improving the Capitals record to 33-7-3 (69 points), the best in the NHL. The Capitals now hold a 14-point lead over the second place New York Islanders. The Capitals are back on the ice Saturday night when they face the Sabres at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
Prior to the start of the game, the Washington Capitals honored Alex Ovechkin for his 500th goal last Saturday night. The Capitals presented Ovechkin with the traditional golden stick to commemorate the rare milestone. The starting lines for the Capitals:
John Carlson missed his ninth straight game since sustaining a lower body injury against Montreal on December 26th. Brooks Orpik missed his 30th straight game since sustaining a lower body injury in Detroit on November 10th. Jay Beagle missed his seventh straight game due to an injury to his hand he sustained in the game against the Buffalo Sabres on December 30th.
The Capitals started with a quick pace and an early advantage in offensive zone time, showing no signs of rust from the four-day break. The Caps would open up the scoring in the second period with goals by Kuznetsov and Alzner. Braden Holtby had another solid game from start to finish. With tonight’s win, Holtby passed D. Beaupre with 129 wins on the Capitals all-time win list. Holtby is 172 behind Olie Kolzig who has 301 wins. Tom Wilson scored his second goal in as many games. Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals and an assist on Wilson’s goal. The Capitals outshot the Canucks 39-30 for the game. The NHL’s stats for the game can be found here: Individual player stats for the game can be found here: Face-off stats for the game can be found here:
A quiet but quickly paced start to this one, with a majority of play in the Caps offensive zone, as the Caps led in shots on goal, 5-1 through the first six minutes of play. The Canucks were able to dial-up a little more offensive pressure during the middle five minutes of the opening frame. The whistle-free play would continue throughout most of the first period with the opening stanza ending scoreless. The Caps led in shots on goal, 13-8. No penalties were called during the opening period.
The Caps would get the game’s first power play on a tripping call on the Canucks’ Alexander Edler at 3:59 of the second period, but the Caps couldn’t do much with the man advantage. Shortly after the power play expired, Dmitry Orlov found Evgeny Kuznetsov on a break-away for the game’s first score at 6:12 of the middle frame.
Karl Alzner would stretch the Caps lead to 2-0 on a top-shelf slapshot from the left point at 12:03 of the second period.
The second period would end with the Caps leading 2-0. The Caps led in shots on goal 28-22 through two periods of play.
The Capitals would go two men down at the mid-way point of the third period, and it would cost the Caps. The Canucks’ Radim Vrbata would punch one in at 11:09 of the third period, just as the Caps first penalty was about to expire.
The Capitals would shut the door on the Canucks from that point forward. Evgeny Kuznetsov would score an empty netter at 19:58 to seal the win for the Caps, 4-1.