Canucks 3, Capitals 2

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo had lots of help shutting down Alexander Ovechkin at one end, and Canucks forward Mason Raymond did his best impression of the Capitals' superstar at the other.

Raymond tied the game with a nifty move late in the second period, and then patiently lifted in the winner on a power play with 6:04 left, lifting the Canucks to a 3-2 victory over Washington on Friday night.

``We stayed with it and got some big goals there by Raymond,'' said Luongo, who struggled on first-period goals by Alexander Semin and Chris Clark, but stopped Semin on a penalty shot with 5:45 left among his 25 saves.

Ryan Kesler had a goal and an assist playing with Raymond. But more impressive was the job their line did playing against Ovechkin, who received all the hype coming into Vancouver for just the second time in a five-year career that has produced two league MVP awards.

With lots of help from the defense pair of Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell, the Canucks held the Russian star without a shot through two periods, and without a point for only the sixth time all season.

``We were trying to capitalize off their mistakes,'' Raymond said. ``We knew if we kept shutting their top lines down we would be heading back the other way.''

That was exactly how Raymond tied the game with 2:21 left in the second period, finishing off a 2-on-1 rush after Luongo turned away Mike Green from point blank in the slot.

Raymond put the Canucks ahead while Capitals defenseman Tom Poti was serving a double-minor - a cross check, and unsportsmanlike conduct call for slamming the door to the penalty box.

Jose Theodore stopped Christian Ehrhoff's point shot and Kesler on the first rebound, but was down as Raymond scooped up the second rebound and patiently lifted the puck over the goalie for his fifth goal in the five games.

``Confidence is a funny thing,'' said Kesler, who has four goals in his last six games after going 14 without scoring. ``When you have it you feel good and it s effortless out there. Mase is playing good, were using our speed to our advantage and Mase is capitalizing on his scoring chances.''

But only after working to take away Ovechkin's scoring chances first. Ovechkin, who was denied by Luongo's shoulder save on one of three third-period shots, had little to say about his rare off night offensively.

``I just didn't have the puck,'' he said, walking away after about two minutes.

Jose Theodore made 17 saves for the Capitals, who came in with eight wins in the last 10 games and looking to become the first team this season to reach 50 points. But after dropping two of three on a four-game road trip that wraps up in Edmonton on Saturday night, Washington remains a point behind New Jersey and Pittsburgh atop the Eastern Conference.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't happy with the call that led to the winning goal, but was even less impressed with his own power play, which came in No. 1 in the NHL but was blanked on four chances by Vancouver's 20th-ranked penalty kill.

``Our power play was horrible,'' Boudreau said after the Capitals failed to register a shot on three of the four man advantages. ``We didn't generate anything.

Luongo made Raymond's second goal stand up after Semin was hauled down by Kevin Bieksa on a partial breakaway and awarded a penalty shot 19 seconds later. He kicked out the left pad to turn away Semin's shot as the Canucks won for the fourth time in five games on their season-long, eight-game homestand.

``I was playing the shot the whole way, took as much net away as possible and once he went for the shot I went down right away and was able to get a pad on it,'' Luongo said.

NOTES: Canucks C Henrik Sedin had an assist to extend his point streak to nine games, with one goal and 15 assists in that span. But identical twin Daniel had his streak stopped at eight games, with six goals and seven assists. Green played despite being knocked out of the last game early on a hit from behind by Colorado's David Koci, who was fined for the play. ... Canucks RW Pavol Demitra, out all season with a shoulder injury that required a second surgery in mid-October, has returned to his native Slovakia to see a specialist he has worked with in the past.

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