WASHINGTON – Washington Capitals goalie Brent Johnson let the Vancouver Canucks’ first shot into his net and finished with only nine saves. The Capitals’ offensive star, reigning league scoring champion Alex Ovechkin, was held without a point.
Sounds like a formula for a Washington loss, wouldn’t you say?
No way. That’s because the Capitals broke their franchise record by limiting the Canucks to a total of 10 shots Monday night, Alexander Semin scored twice, and Michael Nylander converted a penalty shot, lifting Washington to a 5-1 victory.
“After the first five minutes, we were just all over them. They couldn’t get out of their zone,” said Johnson, who didn’t have to work too hard to earn his 100th NHL win. “We do that to every team, and it’s going to be tough to get in our zone and put any pressure on us.”
One twist for the Capitals: 1994 NHL MVP Sergei Fedorov, usually a centre, played defence and helped with puck control. He also was a steadying influence on his defensive partner, Milan Jurcina, who scored a goal.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t commit one way or another as to where Fedorov would play in the team’s next game Thursday at Pittsburgh, saying only: “Sure is a great option.”
The Canucks scored a total of 11 goals in their previous two games, both victories over Calgary, but they managed only two shots in the first period Monday, one in the second, and seven in the third.
“It’s tough to play when they’re on offence the whole time,” said Vancouver centre Henrik Sedin, who wasn’t credited with a single shot. “You have to defend, defend, defend.”
With Semin and Nylander – who had two assists – leading the way, the Capitals scored all five goals in the first two periods against goalie Roberto Luongo.
“I don’t have any answers for what happened tonight,” said Luongo, who was replaced by Curtis Sanford to open the third period.
Semin flicked a backhander over the leg of a sprawling Luongo to make it 1-0 less than three minutes into the game. The Canucks tied it 68 seconds later on their very first shot, by Alexander Edler on a power play – and that was it for Vancouver.
“If not for that first, little goal,” said Johnson, who made his first start of the season over Jose Theodore, “it would have been an unbelievably perfect game.”
Oddly enough, it was the second consecutive game that the Capitals allowed an opponent to score on its first shot of the evening. But for the second consecutive game, Washington’s high-powered offence made up for the early miscue.
Washington already was ahead 4-1 when Nylander converted his penalty shot, the first successful one for the Capitals since November 2005. It was called when defenceman Willie Mitchell took a swipe at another player’s stick that was on the ice, sending the equipment into Nylander as he handled the puck.
Washington also got a goal from Mike Green, who led NHL defencemen last season with 18. He already has three, all on power plays.
Last season’s league MVP, Ovechkin, was kept scoreless for the second time in three games this season.
“That bodes well for the balance of the team,” Boudreau said, “because eventually, I mean, I think I could state that he’s going to start scoring on a regular basis.”
Notes: Capitals F Viktor Kozlov left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. He was listed as day to day. .. Only twice all of last season did a team manage only 10 shots in a game. .. The announced attendance of 16,847 ended the Capitals’ home sellout streak at nine games, including playoffs.