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Game #10- Washington Capitals (8-2-3) @ Vancouver Canucks (6-3-1) – game recap

After a highly successful eastern road swing where the Canucks won three of four, the Canucks returned home for a brief two game home stand. Tonight, the Canucks took on Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, who were playing their third game in four nights. Alex Ovechkin, whose contract expires at the end of next season, could have played at Roger’s Arena for one of the last times. It was Diwali night, the Indian festival of lights celebrated around the world. Tonight’s entertainment in between play reflected this special cultural event. The lineup was pretty much the same, save for Jake Virtanen moving up to the second line with  and Tanner dropping down to the 3rd line with Brandon Sutter and Josh Leivo. Jacob Markstrom, who with Thatcher Demko, started breaking in the retro 90’s goalie equipment and mask that they’ll both don later this season, got his third straight start in goal. Could the Canucks make it three wins in a row? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Capitals opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game as Evgeny Kuznetsov walked in alone and snapped it by Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks got caught in their own end and Chris Tanev had a horrible giveaway
  • Just over two and a half minutes later, Brock Boeser snapped home a centering feed by Quinn Hughes over the glove of Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov for a PP goal.
  • Just under two minutes later, Tim Schaller went end-to-end and ripped it by Samsonov, who will definitely want that one back, for a SH goal
  • The Canucks added a goal just under 6 minutes into the 2nd period as Elias Pettersson grabbed a  loose puck at the side of the net and snapped it top corner
  • Eight minutes later, Schaller displayed some slick hand-eye coordination, whacking the puck home out of midair
  • Fifty-six seconds later, Jake Virtanen finished off a deft give-and-go play with Bo Horvat
  • Just over 5 minutes later, Kuznetsov scored a buzzer beater after being left all alone with a second left in the middle frame
  • The Caps got one back almost 2 minutes into the 3rd period after some sloppy play in the Canucks end. Lars Eller tapped the puck over the goal line through Markstrom’s five-hole for a SH goal
  • Three minutes later, Michael Kempny  hammered a slapper from the point through a slew of traffic
  • Almost three minutes later, Kempny unleashed another howitzer from the point for his second of the game
  • Nicholas Backstrom scored the shootout winner
  •  Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 of 32 shots, including 1 of 3 in the shootout
  • Final score: Capitals 6 Canucks 5 (shootout loss)

My Take:

  • In truth, the Canucks deserved the outcome they got tonight. At one point, they had a commanding 5-1 lead over the Washington Capitals, who are expected to go deep in the playoffs come April
  • A couple of positives: the Canucks held Alex Ovechkin pointless. Tim Schaller scored twice, and Jake Virtanen tallied once. Markstrom came up with some big saves, but he wasn’t as sharp as he could have been. He couldn’t really be faulted on any of the goals in regulation. Too many defensive breakdowns and not getting out of the defensive zone.
  • Quinn Hughes had a pretty rough night (he was on the ice for 4 of the 5 Caps goals)
  • Alex Edler might have been the best Canuck tonight (he was +2 with 3 shots on goal, a hit and 5 blocked shots)
  • The power play tallied once in 5 opportunites. Both teams also gave up a short-handed marker.
  • The Canucks won 60% of the faceoffs, led by Michael Ferland and Josh Leivo, who both won every draw they took. Brandon Sutter (71% success rate), Jay Beagle (67% success rate), JT Miller (60% success rate) and Bo Horvat (55% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks landed 14 hits, led by Beagle who had 3 hits
  • The Canucks blocked 18 shots, led by Edler who had 5 blocked shots
  • Up next, the Canucks take on the Florida Panthers. The Canucks won the season series last year, outscoring the Panthers 8-3. The first game of the season series last year was rife with controversy because of this bad hit on Petey. It will also be the Panthers’ first game in Vancouver since Roberto Luongo retired at the end of last season. There many be lineup changes after the poor 3rd period. Maybe Loui Eriksson will finally get another chance. Oscar Fantenberg may also make his Canucks regular season debut.
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