The Washington Capitals completed their western Canada swing with a sleepy game in Vancouver, able to muster just 19 shots on goal, in a 3-2 loss to the Canucks Monday night that was not as close as the score would indicate.
The loss drops the Caps to 5-7-0 on the season.
The Caps were dominated in most phases of the game, but especially in puck possession. Vancouver was able to generate 68 total shots (41 on goal, 12 blocked and 15 misses) compared to 42 for the Caps (19-11-12). The Canucks also controlled the faceoff dot, winning 67 percent of the draws.
The Canucks opened the scoring at 11:31 of the first, as Zach Kassian took a pass from Chris Higgins — that went through Nate Schmidt’s feet — along the right wing boards and beat Michal Neuvirth glove-side cleanly. It was a shot that Neuvirth, starting in place of Braden Holtby, should have handled.
The Caps evened the score three minutes later, with Jason Chimera tapping in a rebound off a shot from Mike Green that came in from the right point. For Chimera, it’s the third straight game in which he’s scored and the goal — his fourth of the season – -eclipses his season total from last year.
After a scoreless second period, one that saw the Caps record just three shots on goal, Washington broke the tie quickly in the third. Chimera dove for and won a puck at the right win blue line and chipped it ahead for Mikhail Grabovski, skating down the slot alone. Grabovski’s wrist shot rifled past Roberto Luongo (17-fo-19 saves) for a 2-1 lead.
That lead was short-lived.
Just 1:01 later, Vancouver took advantage of less-than energetic defense by the Caps top line. Defenseman Ryan Stanton was allowed to walk into the left wing faceoff circle and blast one on Neuvirth, who kicked the rebound out to his left. But both defensemen — Karl Alzner and Mike Green — were caught on Neuvrith’s right side, and Marcus Johansson didn’t track Ryan Kesler coming in down the slot. Kesler was wide open to bang the rebound past Neuvirth to tie the game at two.
On the next shift by both team’s first lines, the Sedin twins and Kesler controlled the puck in the Caps end for over a minute. Eventually the Caps legs gave out and they stopped skating. Daniel Sedin looped around at the top of the slot long enough for the Caps to just stop playing defense, and he then walked in and fired past a defenseless Neuvirth for the game-winner.
The Caps are off until Friday, when they play in Philadelphia. The team is expected to come back to Kettler for practice this week and head up Friday for the game, before starting a three-game homestand against Florida, the Islanders and Minnesota.