Johansson scores 2, Capitals hand Canucks 5th straight loss
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Washington Capitals have avoided long losing streaks the last 1 1/2 seasons, and did it again Saturday night.
Marcus Johansson scored twice and the Capitals beat Vancouver 5-2 to avoid their first three-game skid since February 2015.
“We’ve got good leadership, it shows all the time and I think they recognized what the message was and I thought we played really well,” coach Barry Trotz said.
T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson and Karl Alzner also scored for Washington, coming off consecutive losses to the New York Rangers and Edmonton. Philip Grubauer made 23 saves in his second start this season.
“We had to bounce back from the last couple of games and tonight we executed in all the areas of the game — penalty kill, power play — and it was nice to get the win,” Grubauer said.
Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks, who lost their fifth straight (0-4-1) since opening the season with four wins. Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots in his fifth start of the season.
Vancouver had been shutout in the previous two games, but Hansen scored with 6 seconds left in the first period for their first goal since the third period against Anaheim last Sunday.
“To get a couple of goals at least should give us a little bit of confidence,” said Horvat, who scored his fourth of the season in the second period.
The Canucks came out aggressive in the first period, but it was the Caps who opened scoring with two quick goals. After a failed Vancouver clearing attempt, Johansson tipped in Matt Niskanen’s shot from the point with two minutes left. Fifteen seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a pass from behind Vancouver’s net to Wilson, who scored on wrist shot.
Hansen, who replaced Loui Eriksson on the line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, scored with Grubauer way out of position in the closing seconds for the Canucks’ first opening-period goal at home this season.
“I thought the (top) line was better tonight,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “They had a little bit more jump. That’s a good step for us.”
However, the question still remains what to do with Eriksson. The Swedish winger was Vancouver’s big offseason acquisition and he’s yet to find the back of the net this season.
“I think (Loui) is feeling pressure to perform,” Desjardins said. “I think he feels responsible lots of night where he’s not creating stuff. I haven’t seemed to find a good match for him yet on a line. He hasn’t seemed to be real comfortable in a spot yet. We’ll keep working that.”
Washington appeared to have scored an ugly one early in the second, but Vancouver successfully challenged on goalie interference. The Caps got their goal at 8:58 while on the power play, as the rebound of a shot by Oshie went to Johansson for a tap-in to make it 3-1.
Vancouver cut into the lead when Sven Baertschi’s shot hit the post and ricocheted to Horvat for the easy tap-in at the doorstep with 2:43 left in the second..
With Lars Eller off for hooking, the Canucks pressed for the tying goal in the third, but Grubauer made an incredible save on Brandon Sutter’s point-blank shot from the slot.
Oshie put the game out of reach with just over two minutes left. His sharp wrist shot beat Markstrom high on the glove side. Alzner added some insurance with an empty-netter.
NOTES: Capitals star Alex Ovechkin had a four-game goal-scoring streak snapped. ... Canucks F Jayson Megna, who sustained an upper-body injury against Edmonton on Friday, is expected to miss at least 10 days. ... The Canucks and Capitals meet once more this season, on Dec. 11 in Washington.
Capitals: At Calgary on Sunday night in the third game of a four-game trip to Canada.
Canucks: At Montreal on Wednesday night in the opener of a six-game, nine-day trip.