The Caps avoided the trap game against the scrappy Canucks with a dominant 3-1 win on Tuesday. Here's how.
Two bizarre goals
Don't get me wrong, the Caps were the better team in this game, but they were lucky too. Washington tied the game at 1 in the first period on a bizarre goal in which the net was actually tipped over onto goalie Jacob Markstrom. The net never came off its moorings. Michael Del Zotto came to his netminder's rescue, but John Carlson fired the puck through Markstrom just as Del Zotto got the net back on the ice. In the second period, Kuznetsov extended the Caps' lead to 3-1 as the rebound of his initial shot took a lucky bounce past Markstrom. Just what it hit exactly is unclear—it was either Kuznetsov's stick as he swung at the rebound, Erik Gudbranson's glove or both—but it still counted to put Washington up by 2.
The second period
Usually the Caps' weakest frame, the second period was when Washington really took control of the game. Washington was dominant on both ends of the ice and outshot Vancouver 18-4 for the period. Kuznetsov's goal put Washington up by 2, but it felt like 20 by the time both teams headed for the locker room.
Bottling up Boeser
If the NHL season ended today, Brock Boeser would likely win rookie of the year. Coming into the game, Boeser led the Canucks in goals with 22. No one else had more than 12. He led Vancouver in points with 40. No one else had more than 29. Clearly, Boeser has established himself as the Canucks' top offensive threat, but he was invisible in this game. Through the first two periods, he did not have a single shot attempt. He finally got two shots on goal in the third period with a missed shot for good measure, but by then the game was no longer in doubt.
Philipp Grubauer standing tall
Grubauer usually gets some pretty lousy assignments. This time, he got a start at home two days after the Caps' last game. With a rested team in front of him and some goal support to work with, Grubauer did the rest. He ultimately turned aside 37 of Vancouver's 38 shots with the lone goal coming on a two-man advantage in the first period. As dominant was Washington was in this one, a Canucks goal in the third period would have pulled them within one making it a game. Grubauer made sure that did not happen.