Nice Work Boys!
Just a couple days after the Flyers and the Jets combined for 17 goals in an early candidate for the game of the year, the Vancouver Canucks and Capitals produced a cheaper knock-off version last night.
11 times the red light went on at Rogers Arena as the much hyped match-up lived up to all expectations.
When the smoke finally cleared, the Canucks went home with a 7-4 victory and join the Edmonton Oilers as the only teams to defeat the Washington Capitals thus far.
1. It was a circus at Rogers Arena last night, so it’s only fitting that the Canucks’ clown Maxim Lapierre was front and centre. His opening goal was just the third time the Canucks have scored first all year and his second capped a three goal third that decided the game.
Like fellow trade deadline acquisation Chris Higgins, who also scored twice, Lapierre could have a career year in his first full season in Vancouver.
2. With the departure of Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler has stepped up to fill the offensive void on the blueline. His two goals and an assist last night overshadowed his trip of Mike Knuble that led to a successful penalty shot.
His two goals are his first couple of the season and the Canucks powerplay is hoping he’ll take off from here.
3. Luongo let in four goals including a dribbler on a penalty shot last night, but his third period defined his night. The pressured puckstopper shut the door on the Capitals and preserved the win for the Canucks. The Caps admitted after the game that Luongo was frustrating the Washington bench in the third.
His glove off save off an Ovechkin point-blank one-timer with the game at 6-4 was absolutely huge, possibly the most important save of the season.
The stunning save fed confidence to Luongo, the team, and the building and could be a turning point in the season going forward.
1. It’s hard to rag on Manny Malhotra, but the responsible pivot has been a passenger for most of the year and the weak link on his line with Higgins and Hansen last night.
Still recovering from his series of eye surgeries, Malhotra seems to be having trouble tracking the play and keeping up with the pace of the game.
It may not be long before Lapierre takes over the role of third line centre.
2. Keith Ballard regressed to his previous year’s form in this contest, highlighted by an absolutely brutal line change that sprang Marcus Johanson on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at four.
The Canucks have been hoping for a big season from Ballard without the nagging injuries that set him off on the wrong foot last year, but aside from his superb goal in the opener against Pittsburgh Keith simply hasn’t been bringing it.
3. Finally the Canucks have escaped the yearly horror that is October. Their middling 5-5-1 record and the hot starts of Colorado and Edmonton have created some room to climb in the Northwest.
November however won’t be a cake walk. The month opens with six on the road in 12 days and the loss of the October excuse safety net.
The Canucks should enjoy this win but also need to build on it and not let the game sit as an outlier like their 5-1 victory over Nashville did earlier this month.
The Canucks held a meeting on Saturday morning to address their lingering issues and the response was quite reassuring.
Speaking after the game, Henrik admitted that this was the first game this season that felt like last year and that it was a good start for the team heading into the rest of the year.
The Canucks were saying all the right things on Saturday night, but a stronger statement would be stringing a couple of wins together for the first time this season.