Bonino, Vrbata lift Canucks over Capitals 4-2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa shook off a game to forget and had a much better performance against the road-weary Washington Capitals.
Sbisa was a minus-5 in Vancouver’s four-goal loss to Colorado on Friday. He bounced back two nights later and scored his first goal with the Canucks in a 4-2 victory over the Capitals on Sunday.
”That was a rough night,” Sbisa said of the Colorado loss. ”I didn’t have the best sleep after that. I’m not going to lie, I was thinking a lot about that game, and I knew (Sunday) was a big game for me and for the team.”
Sbisa blasted a shot through traffic at 15:47 of the second period for Vancouver’s third goal in a 1:47 span that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead.
”Every time I score it feels good. The past few years it hasn’t happened that much, so it’s even more special,” said Sbisa, acquired from Anaheim. ”The day you get traded or you join a new team it’s one thing you look forward to, getting that first goal out of the way.”
Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata both had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Sedin also scored for Vancouver (5-3). Chris Higgins had two assists.
Bonino, acquired in the same deal with Anaheim, helped set up Sbisa’s goal after giving the Canucks the lead 25 seconds earlier.
”(Sbisa) is a great player,” Bonino said. ”He plays really physical and I think he gets the short end of the stick a lot. All year he’s been that physical presence, and it was good to especially be on the ice with him when he got that one.”
Ryan Miller made 20 saves to earn his fifth win.
Miller had to be especially strong midway through the third period, stopping successive shots from John Carlson and another from Alex Ovechkin on a power play.
Vancouver notoriously gave up late leads last season, but the Canucks held off the Capitals.
”I thought we defended pretty well,” coach Willie Desjardins said. ”It’s hard because they’re always going to take some chances offensively, and they may get a few chances out of that, but Miller came up with a couple big saves.”
Marcus Johansson scored, Liam O’Brien added his first NHL goal, and Mike Green had two assists for Washington (4-2-2), which went 1-2 during a three-game swing through Western Canada. The Capitals won at Calgary on Saturday night.
”It was a great feeling to score my first goal, but it would have been even better if we would have got the win,” said O’Brien, who made the Capitals on a tryout this season.
Justin Peters, starting in place of No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby, finished with 30 saves.
”That was probably our poorest game in terms of puck management and puck protection,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”We turned over way too many pucks, gave up way too many odd-man rushes just by puck management.”
After a scoreless first period, the teams broke out for five goals in the second.
Johansson gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 5:28, beating Miller with a shot glove side – after he took a cross-ice feed from Andre Burakovsky – for his third of the season.
Sedin tied it with 6:00 to go in the period on the power play, netting his fourth of the season, and Bonino put the Canucks ahead with a shot high over Peters’ glove at 15:22.
”If we can all contribute and get three or four goals a night like we have been, usually we’re going to win games,” Bonino said.
Sbisa stretched the Canucks’ lead to two just 25 seconds later. Peters thought he should have stopped the drive.
”I just tried to battle and fight for the guys, and they got a little momentum there in the second period,” Peters said. ”I really wanted to have that third goal and nip it in the bud and settle it down.
”That’s the difference in the game.”
O’Brien brought the Capitals back within a goal by deflecting a pass from the slot in front of Miller at 17:18.
Washington turned up the pressure late, but Carlson was whistled for delay of game with 1:38 remaining.
Vancouver, playing for the third time in four nights, sealed the win when Vrbata scored into an empty net with just over a minute to go.
”I think some of us were moving well, but some of us were not ready, and maybe tired, maybe just was mentally not ready,” Ovechkin said. ”We have to figure out what we have to do to be mentally ready for back-to-backs.”
Aside from Peters performance, the Capitals’ only highlights in the first period were their 14-6 shots edge, and two big hits thrown by Ovechkin.
”(Peters) kept us in,” Trotz said. ”He was the star of the game in the first period. He needed some support tonight, and he didn’t get it.”
NOTES: The Capitals allowed more than 30 shots for the first time this season under new head coach Barry Trotz. … The Canucks will continue their three-game homestand on Tuesday against Carolina. The Capitals will host Detroit on Wednesday. … Vancouver will visit Washington on Dec. 2 in the only other meeting of these teams this season.