VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks finally found the offence they were looking for, and it came from three unlikely sources.
Defenceman Alex Edler scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist, Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins also scored a pair of goals and Canucks cooled the red-hot Washington Capitals 7-4 before an appreciative sellout crowd of 18,890.
The only offensive star to score for the Canucks was Henrik Sedin, who had the winning goal at 6:18 of the third period.
“We talked about playing more aggressive and keeping our team together all over the ice,” Edler said. “It’s nice to score seven goals in a game.”
The Canucks, notorious for starting the season slowly, improved to 5-5-1 as they ended a two-game losing skid. It was only Vancouver’s third win at home in six games at Rogers Arena.
“It’s so important to get scoring by committee,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “That’s how you win on a consistent basis. For our team tonight to have both (Lapierre’s) line and (Manny Malhotra’s) line come up and score key goals at key times, it was really important, and we’re going to hope that that continues moving forward here.”
The Capitals (7-2-0) suffered their second straight loss after opening the season with seven consecutive wins for the first time in franchise history.
Alex Ovechkin led Washington with two goals while Mike Knuble, on a penalty shot, and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Capitals, who trailed 3-1 after the first period but created a 4-4 tie after 40 minutes.
“We had a bad first so the coach comes in and yells,” said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau. “Our team comes out and has a better second. They come back out, and we knew what was going to happen in the third as far as effort, and they got the first one, so it generates more energy in the building. We sort of sagged for five minutes and the game’s over.”
The offence on display was fitting for a game featuring three of the NHL’s past four scoring champions—Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.
The Canucks outshot the Capitals 43-32 as the clubs combined for 75 shots. Vancouver converted two of five power-play chances while the visitors were good on one of four.
“It was pretty open for a while,” said Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, who recorded 28 saves in the final game of a difficult October. “Those guys can generate some offence, like we can, and I think we shut it down pretty well in the third.”
Vancouver outshot the Capitals 17-10 in the first, prompting Washington coach Bruce Boudreau to replace starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun with Michal Neuvirth at the start of the second period.
“I didn’t think Tomas was very sharp,” Boudreau said. “He’s played eight games in a row at a very high level. The first and third goals weren’t very good. I thought this was as good a time as any–since Neuvy was sharp in practice–to get him in the game again.”
Ovechkin reduced Washington’s deficit to 3-2 just 1:25 into the second on a one-timer off a Nicklas Backstrom pass during a power play. Then Knuble scored on a penalty shot at 5:07 of the second after Luongo blocked the shot with his arm but then fell back into the net, knocking the puck in. The penalty shot was awarded after Edler tripped Knuble on a breakaway.
“I thought I could catch him, but I guess I got a little bit behind,” said Edler.
Edler quickly atoned for his miscue as his second goal of the game put the Canucks ahead 4-3 at the eight-minute mark of the second period. He cruised into the high slot and blasted in Henrik Sedin’s pass.
“I think Eddie played a real strong game,” Vigneault said. “He’s been getting a lot of opportunities since the start of the season, especially on the power play. He was little bit off, in some instances, on his execution–but tonight he was bang on.”
Henrik Sedin gave the Canucks an 5-4 lead just over six minutes into the third as he flipped in a rebound after Neuvirth made two saves but could not freeze the puck. The goal came three seconds after an interference penalty to Ovechkin on Edler expired.
“My penalty was at the wrong time in the wrong spot,” said Ovechkin. “I tried to go to it and…they used that. Next time we know how to play them.”
Notes: The Canucks will start a six-game road trip in Calgary on Tuesday. The Capitals head home to face Anaheim the same night.…Vancouver winger Jannik Hansen, one of only six Danes in the NHL, played his 200th career game. Capitals defenceman Mike Green (ankle) missed his fifth straight game. He is expected back next weekend.…Injured Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome (hand) and winger Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder) remained out, but are expected to return sometime during the upcoming road trip.…Many fans were dressed in Halloween costumes.…Monday will mark the 20th anniversary of former Canuck Pavel Bure’s signing of his first NHL contract with Vancouver.