Goals by Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin in the third period sent Washington home with a 3-2 loss and a split of this four-game road trip through Western Canada. The Capitals (5-7-0) have lost two straight.
“Two bad shifts from our line cost us the game,” said Backstrom, who along with his linemates finished without a point and a minus-2 rating.
The defeat in Vancouver offered the latest example of the Capitals far-too-frequent inability to escape their own zone as an opponent put on a near clinical display of how to work a cycle. Washington allowed 41 shots against Michal Neuvirth, who finished with 38 saves in his second start of the season, while only mustering 19 of their own against Roberto Luongo.
Shots on goal are one thing, but when every line and defensive pairing is spending the bulk of their ice time chasing the play and looking only to clear the puck across the defensive blue line, it’s all but impossible for Washington to drive the play forward in the way it wants to. Taking six minor penalties didn’t help either, draining the energy of anyone who was part of the penalty kill.
“We’re spending too much time in our end, even though we got the lead, maybe that’s where the penalties come from,” Coach Adam Oates said. “We wear our guys out, wear our defense out and that turns into momentum swings and zone time for them. We got a little tired.”
The Capitals have done little to establish momentum in the opening periods this season, so when Ovechkin failed to convert on a penalty shot just 79 seconds into the contest after being tripped by Alexander Edler it loomed large. Washington managed to play a relatively even first period, though, despite giving up the first goal for the seventh time this season.
A pass by Eric Fehr went off Mikhail Grabovski's skate in the offensive zone, sending the Canucks racing in the opposite direction. Chris Higgins made a pass through both Mike Green and Nate Schmidt over to Zack Kassian, who was streaking down the right side. By the time the Capitals’ rookie defenseman realized where the puck was, Kassian was firing a shot that beat Neuvirth low glove side for a 1-0 Vancouver lead 11 minutes 31 seconds into the first.
The Capitals responded quickly, however, as Jason Chimera’s nose for the net paid off for the third consecutive game. A wrister from the point by Green trickled past Luongo and toward the left post, precisely where Chimera was positioned and the puck went off the veteran winger’s stick blade to tie the contest at 1 at 14:36. The goal was Chimera’s fourth of the season, no small accomplishment considering he recorded three in the full 48-game season last year.