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Caps vs. Canucks Recap: Washington Rolls, Grubauer Shines in 3-1 Fiesta

The Washington Capitals played like the leaders of one of the toughest divisions in the NHL Tuesday night, knocking off the visiting Vancouver Canucks 3-1.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Washington Capitals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals continue to roll like buttered biscuits, baby. Tonight’s thresher-fodder was the Vancouver Canucks, who learned that there’s neither pleasure nor honor in being dismantled by an ever-improving Washington uberhockeymachine.

Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: John Carlson was a stone cold stud tonight, recording a goal and looking sharp start to finish, keeping pucks in the zone and snapping off sharp passes all night.

Minus: Brooks Orpik took a questionable elbow from Ben Hutton, in addition to blocking a slapshot with the tiny bones of his wrist that sent him to the locker room for brief assessment.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. Do you smell crunchy granola and high quality of life? That’s right, the Vancouver Canucks rolled in from the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday night. With the chance to snag two non-conference points off a less-than-stellar opponent, would the Capitals, like, vibe, brah?

2. Early in the first period, Washington, already on the penalty kill, took a Too Many Men on the Ice™ penalty, and dropped to a 5-on-3 disadvantage. Thing 2 Daniel Sedin cashed in for the Canucks, giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead right out of the gate.

3. But, with 4:47 left in the frame, one of the weirdest goals I or probably you have ever seen took place. As Nicklas Backstrom battled around the back of the net (read: legitimately just bashed the hapless defender in the face as he tried and failed to stop him), the Swede pushed his Vancouver defender into the back of the net. The defenseman toppled the net halfway forward, tetter-tottering on its balance point and goalie Jacob Markstrom’s head. Vancouver’s Michael Del Zotto rushed over to the crease and held the net from falling, unsure whether to let it go or push it back in place. With the front net moorings still in place, play continued as Del Zotto finally set the net down. IMMEDIATELY, John Carlson ripped a shot on net that found the twine the very moment it was back in place. With no Caps interference involved (as a coach’s challenge would prove), the goal stood and the game was tied 1-1.

4. Then to pile on, mere moments later, Great Dane Lars “Bars” Eller loaded his rifle and sniped a bullet past Markstrom to give the Capitals the 2-1 lead at the first break.

5. Five minutes into the sophomore frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov, The Boy Who Scored™, streaked in on net and fired a shot. It bounced high into the air, and Vancouver’s Erik Gudbranson tried to swat it to safety. But like a mean mosquito, it went into the net instead. The Capitals jumped out to a 3-1 lead that they would hold the entire period, and dominantly. In the second period, the Caps led the Canucks in scoring chances 10-1.

6. How did the third period begin, you ask? WITH A CASUAL BROOKS ORPIK BREAKAWAY, THAT’S HOW! After a clever stick lift near the blue line, Orpik was off (at his own pace), streaking in and ripping off.......a shot, of sorts, that skied high and wide. Immediately after pulling the trigger, he was dropped violently with an elbow by Vancouver’s Ben Hutton. Orpik fell hard, and Devante Smith-Pelly came at Hutton with fists and fury without hesitation. Orpik was fine, and DSP took the noblest of noble Misconduct penalties for instigating and watched the rest of the game from the locker room.

7. The Capitals would keep their foot on the gas pedal and the throat of the Canucks for the duration of the third period (how about a mitzvah of a strong finish, huh folks?), and the contest ended with an empty net and a full belly for Washington, and a 3-1 victory.

8. Stellar in net tonight was Philipp Grubauer, who got the scheduled start and made Vancouver regret it. Finally getting a little offensive run support from his forwards, Grubauer performed like an NHL starter-calibre goalie, pitching 37-of-38 saves for a demigodly .974% save percentage.

9. The Capitals have won ten straight at home, and five straight overall. They lead the Metropolitan Division.

10. Washington is now 27-13-3. They have won nearly twice as many games as they have lost. With this roster. With this salary cap. With these rookies. With this turmoil. Ain’t that somethin?

About as good a top-to-bottom performance as the Capitals have put together this year. Next up is the Carolina Hurricanes at Capital One Arena on Thursday night.

Game highlights: