The Washington Capitals welcomed the Vancouver Canucks to Verizon Center tonight by dubbing tonight “Canadian Heritage Night.” That was about the extent of the warmth of their welcome.
The Canucks had not lost a game in regulation including preseason. They were bringing with them a goaltender named Roberto Luongo who had not lost to the Capitals in his last 10 starts against them.
The Capitals started Brent Johnson in net this evening who was one win away from his 100th career victory.
Vancouver was looking to start off quickly and get the momentum on their side tonight but it was the Capitals that drew first blood when Michael Nylander found Alex Semin on the one-timer less than three minutes into the first period.
Vancouver responded with a goal of their own on their first shot of them game when Alexander Elder beat Brent Johnson on the glove side during a power play. It would be 17 minutes before the Canucks darkened Johnson’s door again as they ended the first period with just two shots on goal.
The Capital’s meanwhile were a busy bunch as they scored on the power play when Michael Nylander set-up another of his team-mates (this time Mike Green) to score a power play goal near the end of the first period.
When Milan Jurcina and Alexander Semin scored the Caps’ third and fourth goals respectively, early in the second, the difference became obvious as the Canucks really began to look tired.
The Canucks stopped chasing the loose pucks and had serious trouble even leaving their own zone.
Near the end of the second period with the Canucks on the PK, one of their defenders lost his stick and was playing defense empty handed. A few seconds later a Canuck penalty killer shot the wayward stick at one of the Capitals players drawing a seldom used Penalty Shot rule.
This seemed to draw some confusion as the refs were going to allow Washington to choose their shooter. The Capitals had chosen Alex Semin who began to warm up. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault disputed the refs decision and pointed out that the rule stated that only the player who had the puck last could take the penalty shot. After review it was determined that the puck-carrier was Michael Nylander who swept in and beat Luongo clean giving the Caps a 5-1 advantage to end the second period.
By the end of the second period the Caps had more goals than the Canucks had shots on goal. The Caps had outshot Vancouver 25-3. Vancouver would not recover.
—–The Capitals set a new franchise record for fewest shots-on-goal allowed at 10. Brent Johnson seemed absolutely bored through most of the game as he ran out to play pucks in his zone seemingly just to have something to do.”You don’t get bored, I mean, y’know from the weight of the pads your shoulders start to stoop down” said Johnson who began to chuckle a bit, “because you’re not really, y’know, in the action or anything.”
Johnson, still in his leg pads after the game explained how he kept himself busy; “You try and stay in it as best as possible. You play the puck and communicate with the D. I was talking the whole entire time just to stay focused, and stay in the game, y’know?”
Congrats to Brent Johnson on victory number 100!
—The Caps have now had a multi-goal scorer in each of their first three games. Mike Green had two versus Atlanta, Alex Ovechkin had two versus Chicago, and Alex Semin had two tonight.
—Victor Kozlov left the ice with an apparent injury midway through the second period. The Caps had no comment on his injury other than “he is injured.”
—Both teams saw very few penalties (4 minors each) adding further credence to my theory about the flavoring wearing off of the officials whistles (see my previous two blogs)
—Tonight’s three stars were Sergei Fedorv (1 assist and on the ice for three of the Caps 5 goals), Michael Nylander (1 goal, two assists, and on the ice for 4 of the Caps 5 goals), and Alex Semin (s goals).
—Alex Ovechkin had no goals or assists. Coach Boudreau seemed optimistic about Alex’s lack of scoring tonight; “It bodes well for the rest of the team. I mean I think I can state that he’s going to start scoring on a regular basis so if the other guys can keep that up then that’s pretty good.”
The Capitals’ (2-1-0) next game is this Thursday when the go to Pittsburg and take on the 1-1-1 Penguins.