That Road Trip Blew: Canucks beat Caps 4-2

Jeff Vinnick

800 games for this big lug (Photo: Jeff Vinnick)

You shoulda gone to bed. The Washington Capitals blew the final game of their trip through Western Canada with a loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Caps let the Canucks take a ton of shots, which would’ve been fine if Justin Peters could’ve been perfect for two more minutes.

The first period was a disappointing affair, but the Caps survived it without giving up a goal. Marcus Johansson scored in the second after a great setup from fellow Swede Andre Burakovsky to put the Caps up, but the Canucks came back with a burst of scoring. Within two minutes, Vancouver struck thrice– first by Henrik Sedin on the power play, then with two more by Bonino and Sbisa. Things looked grim for the Caps until Liam O’Brien scored his first NHL goal late in the middle frame.

The third period wasn’t fun at all. Radim Vrbata got a long bomb into the empty net with 61 seconds left.

Canucks beat Caps 4-2.

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Caps at Canucks Pregame: Justin Peters vs Ryan Miller

vancouver-riot

The Caps beat the Flames early this morning and are ready to do the same tonight to the Vancouver Canucks. Expect Braden Holtby to get a break, so it might be Justin Peters vs Ryan Miller in net. Puck drops a little after 9:30 on CSN-DC, and then your sleep schedule can finally return to normal.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 4-1-2 55.2% 102.0 28.0% 84.0%
Vancouver Canucks 4-3-0 51.1% 97.6 17.9% 83.9%

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stanley1

This is only marginally hockey-related, but it’s too cool not to share. Calarts student John Cody Kim has made Steadfast Stanley, the story of a corgi searching for his human in the zombie apocalypse. This zombie apocalypse seems to be set in Vancouver and stocked with a bunch of undead hockey fans.

If you love dogs, hockey, cartoons, and zombies– well, first we should be best friends. Second: you need to watch this.

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Kuznetrick! Caps beat Canucks 4-3

Nick Wass

Photo: Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals have been taking it on the chin since the Olympic break. Friday’s game against the similarly struggling Vancouver Canucks was a primo opportunity to save face and play some thick and proud Caps hockey. Plus, the new guy was freaking superb.

The third line opened it up with a terrific shift. Eric Fehr drove the puck, but got bounced away by Eddie Lack. Luckily, Jason Chimera served it up to Joel Ward, who scored on his second swing. Jordan Schroeder tied it up for the Canucks on a broken play.

In the second, Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his first career NHL point on an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot and then set up Tom Wilson via a glorious slap pass to give the Caps a dreaded two-goal lead.

Shawn Matthias and Nicklas Jensen tied it up in the third– erasing the Caps’ 12th two-goal lead of the season. No matter. Mike Green found the net three minutes later, set up by some nifty behind-the-net moves by Backstrom and Kuznetsov. Alexandre Burrows rang post with eight minutes left but found no twine.

Caps beat Canucks 4-3.

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All Tomorrow’s Penalties: Canucks beat Caps 3-2

Jonathan Hayward

Photo: Jonathan Hayward

Man, it is late. Are you awake? Okay, just stick with me for a minute and then you can go to bed.

It’s been a long, tough road trip for the Capitals. Western Canada has been mostly forgiving to the team’s softer features (e.g. like everything that happens in their end of the ice), but the Caps needed a win over Vancouver in this final game to get  back to .500 on the season. The thing about wins, though, is they require your team to score more goals than the other team.

Zack Kassian beat the Caps 4th line to a loose puck and scored the game’s first goal. Jason Chimera knotted the score a bit later with a Kanooblian goal up in Luongo’s face. After a scoreless second period, Jason Chimera dived to feed Mikhail Grabovski on the go-ahead goal. Ryan Kesler nullified the lead soon after with a lay-up on a loose puck, and then Daniel Sedin put the Canucks up after a lengthy O-zone occupation against the Caps top line.

Canucks beat Caps 3-2.

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Canucks beat Caps 7-4, Get Out of America’s Hat ASAP

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

The Washington Capitals ended their expedition through Western Canadia with a game against the Vancouver Canucks. These being the two most offensively potent teams of the last two seasons, the Saturday night bout had the rapt attention of all of Canada and the five or six D.C.-area fans who didn’t get invited to Halloween parties (e.g. us).

Tomas Vokoun left the net to play the puck, but retreated back just in time for Maxim LaPierre to bank it off his skates and into the net. Alex Ovechkin returned fire with a swat that rolled behind Roberto Loungo’s tuchas. On the power play, Christopher Higgins had all night to shoot, grab a rebound, and shoot again. Alexander Edler zeroed in on the net early into a power play to make it 3-1. Alex Ovechkin fired a laser pew pew pew on the power play. Mike Knuble put enough stank on his penalty shot for it to wobble past the goalie– tie game.. Edler struck again, one-timing from wide open after a pass from one of the Sedin twins. Marcus Johansson seized on a bad Canucks line change to beat Luongo and tie the game.

Then Alex Ovechkin committed interference, and it all went to hell.

Relief goalie Michal Neuvirth bobbled the  puck to give Henrik Sedin for an easy tip-in. Soon after, Chris Higgins skated past a wiped-out Sean Collins to give Canucks a two-goal lead. Maxim LaPierre’s semi-breakaway made it a three-goal lead. Canucks beat Caps 7-4.

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Jonathan Hayward

You know the deal: Doug Johnson. Puck Buddys. Twitter.

The Puck Drop: Well, that was unpleasant, Caps.

That “nervous feeling” we had?  A little too much rest, a little too little regard for the opponent? That, combining with a too many penalties, snapped our garters and our streak. Lookie here, Canada: we tried being nice, and you had to go and dump all over our parade. We obviously need to approach this in a different way.

The Set Up: If you’re anything like us – and frankly, what are the chances of that? – you’ve always had a secret crush on Vancouver. It’s like Portland, but with less smug. And more Olympics. So we were seriously pulling for the Canucks to smear Boston’s smelly faces all over the ice last June, which they didn’t. (They did sort of try to riot, however, which was really very cute.) But now it’s different. City-crush be darned; we want the Canucks, and we want to break them, especially after that Edmonton nonsense with the Jonas Brothers Line, and that brick-wall Japanese netminder of theirs, Kabuki something.

And we just might get them. From last year’s highs the Canucks have fallen… well, not to new lows, but certainly somewhere in the mid-level yawns. 4-5-1 is not the start of a championship season. Pucks on net seems to be the biggest problem; in only 10 games so far they’ve been shut out three times. So….

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Update: Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet reports that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the rest of regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

During Sunday’s Penguins vs. Rangers game, Matt Cooke was up to his old tricks. The 32 year-old former Capital delivered an elbow to the head of a defenseless Ryan McDonagh. The Ranger player went down like a sack of potatoes but fortunately was uninjured. Cooke received a five minute major for elbowing on the play and a game misconduct. As Daniel Tolensky points out, Cooke has played in 881 NHL games yet has only been suspended a total of ten matches in his career. The League obviously deserves some of the blame for allowing Cooke’s dirty play to continue without significant consequences for his actions.

A month ago, Pens owner Mario Lemieux criticized the NHL for being too soft on the Islanders’ players that participated in the mega-brawl between New York and Pittsburgh. Just a week ago, Sidney Crosby said the NHL needed to fight deliberate head-shots. But now their own player, Matt Cooke, is once again under Colin Campbell’s review. Below, we’ve chronicled Cookie’s dirty deeds throughout the years.

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willie-mitchell Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images North America

“We need a blueliner” is a typical Caps Fan’s lament this offseason (second only to DAMMIT!) and recently unrestricted free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell has been rumored to be in the Capital’s cross-hairs. Mitchell has been training and skating for 18 days and is finally symptom-free after his latest concussion – all fueling speculation that his signing is imminent.

But would Wilie Mitchell a good fit on the Capitals’ blueline?

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Hart Trophy Should Be A Two-Horse Race

It's a two-horse race. Will Henrik Sedin win the Hart Trophy this year? (Photo by Harry How)

With the regular season winding down it’s only fitting we should start seeing opinions on who should win the Hart Trophy, “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”

Edward Fraser feels there are a quintet of contenders while Ken Campbell argues Henrik Sedin deserves to be included in the conversation but doesn’t deserve to win it. Tim Morgan thinks both Gaborik and Lundqvist deserve nominations but when it comes down to it, based on previous voting, it is shaping up to be a two-horse race: Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin.  (Sorry Sidney, maybe next year?)

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