The Capitals suffered a setback before the game even started—and things went downhill from there.
With star center Nicklas Backstrom unable to suit up due to illness, Washington surrendered three goals in the first period en route to an ugly 6-2 loss to the Canucks in Vancouver. The Caps also lost Brett Connolly (upper body) to injury as they suffered their fourth defeat in the past five games.
My three stars of the game:
1 – Sven Baertschi, Canucks
If you haven’t seen Baertschi’s assist on Bo Horvat’s goal that staked the Canucks to a 2-0 lead late in the first period, you will...a lot. Baertschi was at the side of Washington’s net—and in the process of getting decked by defenseman John Carlson—when the winger passed the puck between his legs and right onto the stick of Horvat. Baertschi added two goals to his score line, both on the power play.
2 – Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals
You had to squint really hard to find a positive for the Caps. But if there was one, it was Kuznetsov’s second period strike. Scored on a rebound, it was Kuzy’s first tally of the season. It also moved him into the team lead in points (13) over Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin (12).
3 – Chandler Stephenson, Capitals
Promoted from minor league Hershey to serve as an extra on the road trip, Stephenson got the call when Backstrom was unable to answer the bell. And although the game result was a forgettable one, Stephenson enjoyed an unforgettable moment in the closing minutes of a lopsided loss: he scored his first NHL goal, sneaking a short side shot past goalie Anders Nilsson. Rookie defenseman Madison Bowey was credited with the secondary assist, his first NHL point.
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