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Capital loss

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

 Heading into Vancouver's third game of the season, a road contest in Washington against the Capitals, spirits were high on the West Coast. A 2-0 start and it was smiles all around.

There certainly wasn't a parade being planned, it's much too early for that, but there were a few floats being decorated around town. They'll most likely be burnt to the ground following Vancouver's first loss of the 2008-09 season.

The Capitals were the men and the Canucks merely the boys in Monday night's Thanksgiving thumping, a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Caps.

The opening two games of the season were complete team efforts for Vancouver, this game was as well, just in the opposite direction.

The Canucks struggled to go anything going on this night, they looked lethargic and drained from the goal crease to centre ice and everywhere between.

Roberto Luongo didn't make it to the third period, he was replaced with Curtis Sanford after allowing five goals on 25 shots, the defence looked lost and confused on numerous Washington rushes down the ice, two of which led to goals, and the offence was nowhere to be found, three shots through two periods and 10 overall just isn't going to get the job done.

It was a long night for the Canucks in Washington.

Alex Semin opened the scoring in the first period, less than three minutes in, as this game looked like it was going to be a wash from the get go, but the Canucks responded just :68 seconds later.

Alex Edler tucked in his first goal of the season and Vancouver looked to be on the up and up.

Unfortunately it was just a blip on the radar, the Canucks only recorded one other shot on net in the rest of the first period.

"They're coming really hard but it's nothing that we're not used to," said Edler in the first intermission, when asked to compare the tempo from this game to that of Saturday's game against the Flames.

"Calgary is a team that comes hard too so we should be able to figure it out.

"We just need to play hard in our zone and be strong on pucks with our sticks and bodies and get our forecheck going and get more shots on the net."

Edler clearly knew what needed to be done as the Canucks started the second period trailing 2-1, too bad the rest of his teammates didn't get the memo.

Vancouver allowed Washington to score three times in the middle period to increase their lead to 5-1 going into the third; like a Band-Aid slowly being ripped off, this game was destined for a painful finish.

The good news for the Canucks is that they got seven shots on net in the final period, finishing the game with 10, that's two more shots than their fewest output ever, an eight shot embarrassment against the New Jersey Devils on December 18, 1996.

This game started decently, then went from bad to worse in a hurry, but hey, they were bound to lose one, right?

 "The emotion of the first two games was really good, the emotion through training camp was really good, having not lost a game in regulation in nine games we were probably due for a let down of some sort," said general manager Mike Gillis.

"It was a tough travel day for the guys yesterday, but our guys need to be ready to play, like they looked like they were from the outset of the season."

Avoiding the record books was definitely a plus for the Canucks on this night, the team can now sweep this game under the rug and forget it ever happened.

There actually is something they can take away from this loss though, reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin was held pointless.

Vancouver did a great job against AO, they met his intensity stride for stride, the Canucks just forgot about the rest of the Capitals. Namely Michael Nylander, Mike Green and Semin, the trio combined for seven points (4-3-7) and was a plus-6.

"You give them a lot of credit," assessed Canucks assistant coach Ryan Walter, "they came hard and they had a plan and I just didn't think we played very well. We obviously had our moments and had our players, some players certainly performed at a high level, but we've got to be much better than that."

Onward and upward is the attitude the Canucks will have to have following this loss to the Capitals, they've got four games left on their grueling six-game, 11-day road trip, so there's no time for sulking.

That and the fact that it's Thanksgiving, Vancouver may have lost but the team still has plenty to be thankful for. Most of all that this wasn't a home game and they didn't have to put up with any boo-birds.

That would have only added insult to injury.

0 – Points for Alex Ovechkin, the Canucks held him in check all night

– Shot on net for Vancouver in the first 20 minutes

2 – Shots in the second period

10 – Total shots by Vancouver, two more than their lowest output ever

26 – Hits dished out by the Canucks. Rick Rypien and Rob Davison led the attack with four each

Ten shots, all game. No one line is to blame, all four weren't on the ball. Coach Vigneault tried to mix things up with some line juggling near the end of the second period and in the third, but to no avail. 

They held AO in check, as mentioned, but forgot about everyone else. They were scrambled and confused on numerous occasions, this was far from the blueline's best game.

They continue to block shots well though, another 18 for them in this game, five for Mattias Ohlund alone.

Alex Edler's first period tally was on the power play, but after that the team went to sleep while up a man. They finished 1-for-4.

The Canucks did a good job staying out of the box, especially with this game out of reach in the second period. They gave the Capitals four chances on the power play, Washington was 2-for-4 but one of those goals was on a penalty shot after Ohlund shot a stick at Nylander.
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