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Game 25: Canucks at Capitals (12.02.14)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks look to get back in the win column tonight when they battle Nicklas Backstrom and the Washington Capitals in the third game of their seven-game road trip.

Whether you chalk it up to sloppy play or bad bounces, either way the Canucks know they have to be much sharper tonight than they were two days ago in their 5-3 loss to the Red Wings. After a recent run of three straight wins where the Canucks were unquestionably the better team in all three of those victories, Vancouver came back down to earth on Sunday in a game where Detroit controlled the play for long stretches even though you could argue that the Red Wings got the lion's share of the fortuitous bounces. The good news for the Canucks is that, this season, they've been quite adept at rebounding from defeats only losing consecutive games once. They'll hope that trend continues tonight when they battle a Capitals team that has been in a bit of a funk recently.

The Caps come into tonight's game having lost three of their last four outings and are coming off their most lopsided defeat after dropping a 6-2 decision to the Maple Leafs on Saturday. Despite boasting a roster loaded with offensively-skilled stars that would make just about any team in the league envious, Washington's offence has struggled of late. With the exception of a five-goal outburst against the Islanders on Friday, the Caps have been held to three-or-fewer goals in seven of their last eight outings. Ryan Miller will likely get the call again tonight as he tries to bounce back from Sunday's disappointing outing while Braden Holtby is expected to be between the pipes for the Caps in what will be his first career meeting against the Canucks. This is the second and final meeting between Vancouver and Washington this season. The Canucks earned a 4-2 win back on October 26 at Rogers Arena. Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins each had two points that night, while Luca Sbisa scored the eventual game-winner.

Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

16-7-1 10-9-4

2014.15 Season Series

1-0-0 0-1-0

All-time Series

39-38-11 40-38-10
 

Keys to the Game

Win the first. The Canucks haven't been strong starters offensively in first periods this season - their 12 first period goals are among the fewest in the league - so they can't afford to lose games in the opening frame like they did on Sunday. Vancouver has just one first period goal in their last five outings. Tonight would be a good time to add to those totals.

Kill or be killed. On Sunday, the Canucks gave up multiple power play goals for the first time this season. Hopefully it was just an aberration because they'll have to deal with a red hot Caps power play tonight that has scored in four straight games while clicking at a whopping 50 percent (four goals on eight opportunities).

Holtby stays hot. Not counting his brief relief appearance in Saturday's loss to Toronto where he gave up three goals on nine shots in 20 minutes of action, Holtby has been on quite a run lately. In seven of his last eight starts, he's given up two-or-fewer goals and has a save percentage of .936 (221 saves on 236 shots) over those eight contests.


By the Numbers

.250

Win percentage for the Canucks this season when they allow four-or-more goals (2-6-0).

.400

Win percentage for the Capitals this season against the West (4-4-2). They've won two in a row.

1

Goal needed by Henrik Sedin to reach the 200-goal mark in his NHL career.

3

Years since the Canucks last win in Washington (January 14, 2011). They have played just once there since (last season).

4

NHL teams that Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has never faced before: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Washington and Vancouver.

73

Career game-winning goals for Alex Ovechkin, tied for first place in Capitals franchise history with Peter Bondra.

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