Olaf Kolzig sparkled in a 42-save performance but was beaten twice in the shootout Friday night as Vancouver registered a hard-earned 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.
“It was good to get the win but it took a little too long in my opinion,” said Markus Naslund who scored the first of Vancouver’s shootout goals after being stoned throughout regulation by the veteran Kolzig.
“But overall I think it was a strong game for us. I think we managed 42-43 shots on net so we have to be happy.”
The Canucks scored twice when they outshot the Caps 16-1 in the first period but Kolzig was unbeatable when Vancouver held a 15-2 shots advantage in the third.
“They got a couple of goals,” said Naslund.”One was a power-play goal and the other was a little bit weak but overall we played hard.”
Jan Bulis and Taylor Pyatt gave Vancouver a 2-0 lead that evaporated in the second period when a two-man advantage jump-started an offence that produced goals by Danius Zubris and Alex Ovechkin.
The Canucks, who outshot the Capitals 44-21, won for the fourth time in five games to improve to 7-4-1 while Washington suffered its third shootout loss in seven games to slip to 3-2-4.
“Washington definitely hung around through the game,” said Pyatt who scored his team-leading sixth goal and fourth in five games.
“I thought we were in control for most of the game but we ran into some trouble in the second period when they scored on the 5-on-3 … but we came through in the shootout.”
Naslund deked Kolzig and scored on the backhand while Brendan Morrison fired a shot that trickled through his legs.
Morrison’s clincher came after Ovechkin almost tied the shootout for Washington but hit the inside of the post with Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo faked to the ice.
“I didn’t know what it was at first,” Luongo, 7-and-0 against Washington last year as a Florida Panther, said of Ovechkin clanking the puck off the iron in the shootout.
“But we played great tonight for 60 minutes and I think we deserved the two points.”
The Canucks blitzed Washington in the first period and forced them into penalty trouble.
Bulis, who sat out the third period Wednesday in a 5-0 win over Chicago after taking a selfish unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, opened the scoring with a quick shot from the slot.
Pyatt tipped Henrik Sedin’s pass from the side boards on a Canuck power play.
But the Capitals took only one minute 33 seconds to tie the game late in the second period.
Zubris had Luongo out of position when an Ovechkin shot deflected to him off a Vancouver defender.
Ovechkin, robbed by Luongo on a first-period break-in, darted to the net to convert Brian Sutherby’s pass seconds after the second Vancouver penalty expired.
“We got the point, we were disappointed that we didn’t play well,” said Ovechkin. “We stayed in because of our goalie.
“He is our leader, he’s a tremendous goalie and saved us a lot of times.”
Kolzig, who made 45 saves Wednesday in a 5-3 victory over Colorado for Washington’s first road win of the season, was hampered in the third period when hit on the inside of the left leg by a Sami Salo blast.
“Obviously when you face 44 shots and you’re 36 years old things start to tighten up a little bit,” Kolzig said.
“I’m happy with the point (earned by forcing the shootout) but not happy with the way we played.”
Notes: It was the Canucks’ first outing after a five-game road trip. … They play eight of their next 10 at GM Place. … Capitals defenceman Shaone Morrisonn, a Vancouver native making his first NHL appearance here, purchased 40 tickets for family and friends. … The Caps continue their road trip Saturday in Edmonton and Monday in Calgary.