The Vancouver Canucks were in Washington today taking on Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
It was the third game in four nights for the Canucks, and it showed. They got only 20 shots on goal, and none of them got past Braden Holtby as the Canucks took a 3-0 loss.
Ironically, the one Canuck who should’ve been the most tired from the back-to-back was also the one who played the best – Jacob Markstrom.
After stopping 39 of 42 shots in a loss last night, Markstrom had another solid game, stopping 26 of 28 shots today. If not for him, this game could have gotten ugly in a hurry for the Canucks.
Coming into this game, Alex Ovechkin hadn’t scored a goal in seven games, only two shy of his career-long goal drought of nine games.
He wouldn’t risk it getting to an eighth game, as he wired his first of December past Markstrom on Washington’s first power play of the game.
It was the 13th goal of the season for Ovechkin, and also his 200th career power play goal. That ties him for 17th in all-time power play goals, and only 74 behind the leader, Dave Andreychuk.
After getting his goal, Ovechkin seemed determined to set up his teammates. He passed up a number of shots in favour of a pass to a teammate, and he was finally rewarded with an assist in the third period.
The refs had their whistles ready in this one, as it seemed like everything borderline was getting called.
Nearly 16 of the game’s first 40 minutes were spent with one team shorthanded, with eight minutes of penalties apiece.
Ovechkin capitalized on the Capitals’ first power play, but all attempts beyond that were unsuccessful.
Every Canucks power play is another opportunity to question if the right players for the power play are actually on the ice.
Typically that argument centres around Brandon Sutter, but today a new target was thrown in the crosshairs by Willie Desjardins. That target was Alex Biega, on the 2nd power play unit.
Alex Biega: not good enough to crack this lineup until three defensemen got injured, good enough to send out on the power play
— nobody (@petbugs13) December 11, 2016
Yes, the same Alex Biega who has played a grand total of four games this season is now getting a look on the power play.
The Canucks power play featured Alex Biega and did not score. The Capitals power play featured Alex Ovechkin and did.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 11, 2016
Not only did the Canucks not score with the man advantage, they didn’t even generate a shot until their fifth power play opportunity! If that doesn’t tell WD the power play isn’t working, nothing will.
The Canucks were heavily outplayed in this one, especially in the middle period when the Canucks went 15:23 without a shot on goal, which included three embarrassing power plays.
The only reason this game wasn’t over after 40 minutes was due to the play of Markstrom, who had one of his better games this season despite also having a busy game last night. Looks like he’s okay with handling a heavier workload.
Markstrom has really only gotten opportunities to string some games together when Ryan Miller has gone down with injury, and has been deployed similarly to a backup when Miller’s healthy.
Today he played like a starter, not a backup. Markstrom allowed just two goals; one was a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play, while the other was scored by the greatest sniper of this generation. Hard to fault him there.
The 26-year-old netminder is proving he can handle more starts with play like this, and should warrant more action even when Miller is back to full health.
One of the decisions under the microscope prior to today’s contest was WD’s decision to make Sven Baertschi a healthy scratch.
After a stretch where he had six points in five games, Baertschi is without a point in his last three games. Still, it seems odd that he would get scratched for this reason alone, especially when Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput are the ones being put in the lineup instead.
The Canucks got shut out for the fifth time this season, and their 20 shots on goal was only one more than their season-low of 19. They could’ve used a skilled guy like Baertschi today, even if he’s cold right now.
It took him 20 games, but Jack Skille is finally starting to show why he earned a contract out of Canucks training camp back in September.
He scored three goals in his previous two games, and today got to skate with Alex Burrows and Bo Horvat with Baertschi out of the lineup.
Despite not scoring, the line looked pretty dangerous and Skille fit right in and created some of Vancouver’s best scoring chances of the game.
Horvat, Skille, Burr was #Canucks best and only corsi-positive forward line. Skille def added some push that's been lacking.
— Omar A (@omarcanuck) December 12, 2016
After a game as uneventful as this one, we need to end on a lighter note.
Luckily, it was Star Wars night in Washington, which included this intermission display:
Such a Sith move pic.twitter.com/0MogRm3Kz2
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 11, 2016
The Canucks will have tomorrow to put this game behind them and recharge their batteries a bit before finishing their five-game road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.