VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks' loaded-up top line took over in the third period by taking advantage of the Washington Capitals' top forwards in their own end.
Playing against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' No.1 line, Ryan Kesler tied the game 2:53 into the third period and Daniel Sedin put Vancouver ahead 2:08 later. The Canucks outshot Washington 41-19 en route to a 3-2 win at Rogers Arena on Monday night.
"They had the puck a lot," Canucks coach John Tortorella said of his new No.1 line of Kesler with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. "(Kesler) did a lot of forechecking for them and winning battles. Danny's goal was just puck possession, and I haven't seen a goal like that in quite a while."
Despite being outshot badly, Washington went ahead 1:52 into the third period when Jason Chimera, who scored in the first period, made a diving pass to send Mikhail Grabovski in alone for a perfect shot over Luongo's glove.
The lead didn't last long.
Kesler tied it on a rebound, and Daniel Sedin, who assisted on Kesler's goal, put the Canucks ahead after a dominant 78-second shift spent cycling the puck in the Washington end. Sedin walked along the blue line and into the high slot before sending a high shot past Michal Neuvirth, who couldn't see around Kesler's screen.
"We had them in there for at least over a minute, grinding them out and Danny somehow got wide open coming down the pipe there and it was a great shot," said Kesler, who has five goals in four games.
Zack Kassian also scored and Roberto Luongo made 17 saves for the Canucks, who returned home after wrapping up the road trip with a 5-1-1 record and extended their winning streak to four games.
"Resiliency," Kesler added. "We find a way to battle back and get the go-ahead (goal). That's the way our team's been all year."
Ovechkin, who was held off the score sheet for a second game after scoring 10 goals his first 10 games, was more upset about blown coverage than missing a penalty shot 79 seconds into the game.
"Our line got minus-2 in third period," Ovechkin said. "We can't give them that kind of chances. It starts with me and (linemate Marcus Johansson)."
Asked what needs to improve defensively, Ovechkin said: "everything."
"When Kesler goal was scored, it was my guy," he continued. "Third goal, he make great move and (Johansson) was kind of guessing. Again, two shifts cost us the game. … We get 2-1 lead and we have to play simple. We didn't."
Capitals coach Adam Oates was more forgiving of his top line's defensive play, calling the Kesler goal a good bounce.
"The last one the Sedin line is a great line and they are great players and we were a little tired and they circled us and we couldn't recover," Oates said, adding the early penalty shot could have changed things.
But with Canadian Olympic coach Mike Babcock watching from the press box – his Detroit Red Wings play in Vancouver on Wednesday – Luongo stayed with Ovechkin and got enough of his shot after the puck started to roll on a quick fake. Luongo has stopped 21 of 24 penalty shots in his career.
"I make a great move," Ovechkin said. "I beat him, but I didn't finish it up. It's all my fault. If I make penalty shot, we have the lead and play much better."
Luongo made a couple more great saves during a Capitals power play midway through the period, and Kassian opened the scoring the shift after it ended. But Luongo also pointed back to the penalty shot as an early turning point.
"(Ovechkin) will be flying the rest of the game (if he scores)," he said. "I think it was a huge point in the game. If he gets that, I'm sure that he's sniffing around for more."
Chimera did tie it with 5:24 left in the first period, tapping in his third goal in as many games when Mike Green's point shot got through a crowd and onto his stick on the back door. But Vancouver outshot the Capitals 16-3 in the second period, including a couple great scramble chances on power plays that forced Neuvirth to be great.
The Canucks finished 0-for-6 on the power play. Washington was 0-for-4, but Vancouver generated momentum with every advantage.
"They took momentum on their power play every time," said Neuvirth, who finished with 39 saves in his second start of the season. "They put a lot of pucks on net and it wasn't an easy game. They are a pretty good team around the net and we took too many penalties and I think we got tired a little. … We gave up way too many shots."
It was the result, Chimera added, of not playing simple enough.
"You don't have to make the pretty play all the time," he said. "You gotta get pucks out and pucks in. It's not rocket science. That's how you win games, especially against good players like the Sedins."