Happy Week 2, Capitals fans! The Washington Capitals are facing the Vancouver Canucks tonight, the first of two matchups between these teams this season. Bruce Boudreau enters tonight’s game one victory shy of 600 career NHL wins, but also with a healthy fear of Alex Ovechkin (spoiler alert: this was entirely justified). The Canucks have dropped their first two games of the season, losing to both the Oilers and Flyers, and the Capitals are coming off their first win of the season on Saturday night.
The Caps emerged for warmups like this:
Capitals lines in warmups vs Vancouver:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 17, 2022
Kuemper (vs Demko)
Despite some uncertainty about Evgeny Kuznetsov’s gametime status this morning, he is in the lineup tonight centering the second line. Kuzy will have Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie on his wings, which could prove to be a very entertaining combination. Darcy Kuemper starts in net for his third game as a cap, playing opposite Thatcher Demko in the Vancouver crease. Can the Caps hold their former bench boss to his 599 wins? Let’s find out.
Here’s Monday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season. And his second.
Minus: This penalty from Evgeny Kuznetsov was entirely unnecessary and was a total lack of discipline on Kuznetsov’s part.
And now, you know what time it is…
Twelve more notes on the game:
1. Brock Boeser took a penalty mere seconds into the game, putting the Capitals on the power play at the 36 second mark. It didn’t take that much longer for Alex Ovechkin to score his first goal of the season, just 20 seconds into the man-advantage. Thatcher Demko thought he stopped it, but when he moved his left pad he kicked it behind him and into the net. This is the first time this season the Caps have scored the first goal of the game, and it came just 56 seconds after puck drop. Alexa, play “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” for number 781.
Ladies and gentleman...we got him.— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 17, 2022
Alex Ovechkin is officially ON THE BOARD in 2022-23!! pic.twitter.com/0viLF5BMb6
2. The Canucks got on the board with just 8.2 seconds left in the first period. Darcy Kuemper was in position to play a standard dump-in from Quinn Hughes. Unfortunately, the puck took a weird bounce over the blade of his stick after rebounding off the boards and he whiffed on it. Elias Pettersson was there to capitalize on it and score on the essentially empty net. 1-1 after 20.
Who doesn't love presents? pic.twitter.com/0YkhS65Gtf— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 17, 2022
3. 8 seconds into the second period, Lars Eller was the beneficiary of an odd bounce off the boards. The puck went off the end boards, glanced off Demko, and found Eller in the slot for a layup of a goal that beat Demko blocker-side. It looked like Demko potentially thought the play was going to get whistled for icing, because he did not move to play the puck at all. Either way, the Caps take advantage of a weird play and retake the lead.
*oprah voice* YOU GET A BOGUS GOAL OFF A WEIRD BOUNCE, YOU GET A BOGUS GOAL OFF A WEIRD BOUNCE, YOU GET A BOGUS GOAL OFF A WEIRD BOUNCE!— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 18, 2022
Eller puts the good guys on top!! pic.twitter.com/KL9bUTrucl
4. Bo Horvat tied things back up at 8:03 of the second. Kuemper made an incredible stop with his right pad on the initial shot from Tanner Pearson, but Horvat was in the perfect position to snag the rebound and find the back of the net. Conor Sheary was just a split second too late to corral the puck and save the day. Brand new hockey game, folks.
5. Well that brand new hockey game didn’t last long! A mere 11 seconds later, the Canucks took their first lead of the game off an accidental deflection. Andrei Kuzmenko fired the puck on goal and Curtis Lazar had his stick in the air while driving to the net, and the Canucks’ fates aligned perfectly for a pretty bonkers redirect. All of a sudden, it’s 3-2 Vancouver nine minutes into the second.
6. After almost scoring on a good chance down in front, Evgeny Kuznetsov took a bad offensive zone high-sticking penalty with 3:16 left in the second. JT Miller beat Kuemper cleanly gloveside 50 seconds into the man-advantage from the top of the left circle. Washington’s PK has now allowed a power play goal in three of four games this season. Kuznetsov apologized to his teammates when he returned to the bench.
7. Bo Horvat took a cross-checking penalty 1:06 into the third, and it took Dylan Strome 10 seconds of power play time to score his first goal as a Capital. John Carlson fired a point shot on net, and Strome was there to score on the rebound. His initial attempt was no good, but it rebounded off the post and he stuck with the play to tap the puck over the goal line.
Strome with his first regular season goal as a Capital and the good guys are within one!!!— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 18, 2022
That PP been cookin' ♨️ pic.twitter.com/y1D5j3XKIe
Marcus Johansson recorded an assist on the tally, which brings him to three points in four games.
8. Connor Brown took a big hit from Noah Juulsen early in the third, and he appeared unable to put much if any weight on his right leg. He went immediately down the tunnel to the locker room, and the Capitals announced shortly after that he would not return for the rest of the game.
Capitals winger Connor Brown took this hit from Noah Juulsen by the bench and had to be helped off the ice before heading straight to the locker room. He didn't appear to put any weight on his right leg. pic.twitter.com/IQvnMUivJQ— Matt Weyrich (@ByMattWeyrich) October 18, 2022
9. Conor Sheary was called for holding, but Dakota Joshua was called for interference during the delayed penalty to negate Vancouver’s power play opportunity. Instead, the offsetting minors 3:38 into the third cued up some four-on-four hockey. Both teams put some offensive pressure on, but neither was able to convert. Still 4-3 Canucks with 14:12 to go.
10. John Carlson scored the third equalizing goal of the game with 11:17 to go. He had all of the time and space in the world to waltz in across the right circle, and he fired an absolute dart of a shot topshelf over Demko’s head. How he picked that corner, we may never know...
WHAT A SHOT, JOHNNY— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 18, 2022
We have a tie game, folks! pic.twitter.com/yTVPI39wte
Brand new hockey game, take two!
11. With 7:16 to go, Short King Conor Sheary scored the Capitals’ fifth goal of the game to regain the lead. Kuznetsov sent a great pass to Ovechkin, and Ovechkin sent an absolutely stunning pass to Sheary. It was perfectly placed, and all Sheary had to do was angle his stick on net to tap the puck in.
OVI THREADS THE NEEDLE FOR SHEARY AND WE HAVE THE LEADDDDDDDD pic.twitter.com/ptKOtDV6fG— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 18, 2022
That’s three points for Ovi tonight (1G, 2A), and goals for Sheary in all three of Washington’s home games.
12. One goal was not enough for Mr. Ovechkin this evening, and he scored his second of the game and the season with 2:58 to go. It was Kuznetsov who made the beautiful pass on this goal, threading the puck through a lot of net-front traffic for Ovechkin to tap it in past Demko. Ovechkin was so excited about his insurance tally, he almost fell over on the celly.
WHAT IS THIS GAME WHAT IS HAPPENING pic.twitter.com/8679GjwPO3— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 18, 2022
Bruce Boudreau challenged for an offside review (lame), but the call on the ice stood (not lame) and the Caps get a power play out of the failed coach’s challenge (also not lame). Nothing came of the power play, but the Caps still hung on for the 6-4 win.
Up next for the Caps: a two day break before heading up to Ottawa to face the Senators on Thursday night, 7pm ET.