Kuznetsov Shines, Caps beat Vancouver 4-3Posted on March 15, 2014 by Brad Herson
By Brad Herson
Mike Green said post game that this game had a “playoff feel.” That is because the Washington Capitals currently have their backs against the walls in the division standings, fighting for a playoff spot. The matchup against Vancouver on paper looked like their easiest opponent this month. So this contest, like the rest of them, was a must win. Not only that, the Caps needed a statement victory.
The first period was rather even. The Capitals did a good job of keeping the Canucks shots to the outside. At 08:17, Joel Ward (19) scored the first goal of the game with assists from Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera to give Washington an early lead. However moments after a Capitals penalty kill from a Jay Beagle tripping penalty, Vancouver center Jordan Schroeder tied the game 11:41 into the game with his third goal of the season. After another penalty kill from an Alex Ovechkin slashing call, the Caps ended the period 2/2 on the penalty kill and would end the period tied at one. Vancouver did well defensively, and the Caps were looking to find more rhythm.
The second period started with a few Washington turnovers. 07:02 into the period, Tom Wilson was hit hard into the boards by Tom Sestito which earned a power play for Washington. However, it was called hooking. Minor penalty, looked like a major. Shortly into the power play, Ovechkin scored his 45th goal of the season giving the Caps a 2-1 advantage. The assist came from John Carlson and Kuznetsov, which was Kuzya’s first NHL career point. This was only the beginning for him. At 12:35, Wilson scored his third goal of the season off of a stellar pass from Kuznetsov to give Washington a two goal lead going into the third period. This was the Capitals first two goal lead in six games.
A two goal advantage has not always been a good thing for Washington this season. 04:28 into the third period, center Shawn Matthias put Vancouver within one of the Caps. Nick Jensen then tied the game at three at 07:34. It was yet another blown two goal lead for Washington. The question running through my as well as every other Caps fan was how they were going to respond. It seemed like Vancouver took control of the game, and the Caps looked sluggish. Washington was held without a shot on goal for over eight minutes of the period. Finally with a great set up around the net, Mike Green (9) put the Caps ahead and never looked back as Washington won 4-3.
It was a much needed victory for the Capitals, who sit two points out of third in the division behind Philadelphia and Columbus. For Kuznetsov, he registered his first 3 NHL career points off of 3 assists. Coach Adam Oates said, “I think last game in Pittsburgh he actually got a little feel of it. You know you get your first point on the power play, which is kind of an easy point, but it still counts. You get your juices going. Great play on the second goal and then protecting the puck on a cycle, which is kind of something you don’t necessarily expect.”
It was also a good night for the 3rd and 4th line. Wilson explained, “when it comes down to it we have to win hockey games. I said before, its crunch time now, and we have to be going hard. You need all of the lines rolling, and we had their fourth line’s number a little bit tonight, and that’s got to be the case.” The Capitals play next on Sunday, 3/16 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov's first career NHL point:
- Alex Ovechkin snaps his four-game pointless drought, which was tied for his longest of the season.
- Jaroslav Halak had 38 saves. “He played fantastic tonight, we left him hanging.” Halak earned his second win with the Capitals.
-3 assists, 3 points, Time On Ice-09:58
- Kuznetsov is the first Capitals rookie to earn three assists in a game since Nicklas Backstrom on March 3, 2008 vs. Boston.
-Seems to have adjusted pretty quickly with the Caps and NHL.
Posted in: Washington Capitals