VANCOUVER — Nicklas Backstrom scored the shootout winner and the Washington Capitals completed a massive comeback to beat the Canucks 6-5 in Vancouver on Friday night.
The Canucks (6-3-1) had a four-goal lead late in the second period but couldn’t withstand a late surge from the Capitals (8-2-3). Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny each put away two goals for the Capitals, who also got a tally and a helper from Lars Eller. Goalie Ilya Samsonov stopped 29-of-34 shots for Washington in his fifth start of the year.
Tim Schaller scored twice for Vancouver, Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist, and Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen also buried the puck. Jacob Markstrom turned away 24 shots for the Canucks.
The Capitals got the scoring started early after Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev turned over the puck deep inside his own zone.
Markstrom was forced to make a tough stop on a shot by Washington’s Jakub Vrana, but the netminder couldn’t control the rebound. Kuznetzov got the puck and fired a wrist shot into the Canucks net 3:18 into the game.
Vancouver replied just over two minutes late with a power-play marker after Kempny was called for hooking. The Canucks struggled to start the man advantage, but Quinn Hughes turned things around, streaking past several Capitals on his way into Washington’s end. The rookie defenceman sent a laser of a pass to Boeser and the right-winger fired a one timer in past Samsonov to tie the score.
The message from Horvat post-game was clear: "That's not good enough." pic.twitter.com/IK3DpoMWeN
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 26, 2019
Vancouver added a short-handed tally midway through the first period after Tanner Pearson was called for hooking. Jay Beagle sliced Schaller the puck off the faceoff in Vancouver’s end.
Schaller escaped a trio of Capitals to get over the opposing blueline and let a shot rip from the top of the face-off circle, beating the Washington netminder to give the Canucks the lead.
He added another goal 13:59 into the second frame, batting a rebound out of the air and into the Capitals net. Schaller has now equalled his goal total from last year, when he had 10 points (thee goals, seven assists) for the Canucks.
Vancouver added another tally less than a minute after Schaller put away his second goal of the night. Micheal Ferland streaked into Washington’s end, then dished the puck off to Horvat. The Canucks captain found Virtanen in the slot and his wrist shot sailed past Samsonov.
Pettersson also scored for Vancouver in the second period, firing a rebound into the top corner of the net.
The Canucks held a comfortable four-goal lead deep into the frame but couldn’t hang on.
Kuznetzov put a wrist shot past Markstrom with just 0.3 seconds left on the clock in the second. Eller cut Vancouver’s lead to two 1:57 into the third period after Vrana was called for high sticking. The centreman’s shot trickled through Markstrom’s pad for a short-handed goal.
The Canucks struggled to get the puck out of their own end and Washington made it a one-goal game nearly five minutes into the final frame.
Kempny collected the puck from Carl Hagelin and sent a rocket past Markstrom, beating the goalie glove side to make the score 5-4. He tied the score 2:44 later with a massive slap shot from near the blue line.
Washington scored three goals on six shots in the third, and was outshot 32-22 by the Canucks in regulation. Both teams had ample chances to end the game in overtime, but stellar goaltending from both Markstrom and Samsonov forced the shootout. Both sides now have the weekend off, with the Canucks back in action on Monday when they host the Florida Panthers. The Capitals will play the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday.
NOTES: The Capitals were coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. … Washington defenceman John Carlson saw his nine-game point streak snapped on Friday. He continues to lead the league in scoring with 21 points (five goals, 16 assists).
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press