BRITISH COLUMBIA

Luca Sbisa rebounds from tough night as Canucks down Capitals 4-2

10/27/2014 12:07 EDT | Updated 12/26/2014 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - The stat sheet for Luca Sbisa wasn't pretty after the Vancouver Canucks' last outing.

This one looked a whole lot better.

The defenceman rebounded from Friday's minus-5 showing in a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche by scoring his first goal with the Canucks on Sunday as Vancouver topped the Washington Capitals 4-2.

"That was a rough night," Sbisa said of the game in Colorado. "I didn't have the best sleep after that. I'm not gonna 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 to turn 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, who joined the Canucks this summer as part of the deal that sent Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks. "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.

"I'm glad it was tonight."

Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata added a goal and an assist each for Vancouver (5-3-0), while Henrik Sedin also scored.

Bonino was also acquired in the Kesler deal and helped set up Sbisa's goal after giving the Canucks the lead just 25 seconds earlier.

"(Sbisa) is a great player," said Bonino. "He plays really physical and I think he gets the short end of the stick a lot, but 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. It was a great shot."

Chris Higgins chipped in with two assists for Vancouver, and Ryan Miller made 20 saves for his fifth win of the season.

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 was notorious for giving up late leads last season, but stood firm on Sunday.

"I thought we defended pretty well," said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. "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 and Liam O'Brien — with his first in the NHL — had the goals for Washington (4-2-2), while Mike Green added two assists.

"It was a great feeling to score my first goal but it would have been even better if we would have got the win tonight," 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 stops for Washington.

"That was probably our poorest game in terms of puck management and puck protection," said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, whose team downed the Calgary Flames 3-1 a night earlier. "We turned over way too many pucks, gave up way too many odd-man rushes just by puck management."

After a scoreless first period where the Canucks carried the play but came up empty, the teams exploded for five goals in the second.

Johansson opened the scoring at 5:28, beating Miller with a shot glove side after taking a cross-ice feed from Andre Burakovsky for his third of the season.

Vancouver tied it up when Henrik Sedin squeaked a shot through Peters at the side of the net on a power play with six minutes to go in the period for his fourth before Bonino ripped his third high over Peters' glove at 15:22.

"You've got to support the Sedins," said Bonino. "They score every game and with that secondary scoring, if we can all contribute and get three or four goals a night like we have been, usually we're going to win games."

Sbisa then stretched the Canucks' lead to two with his first point with his new team, a goal Peters thought he should have stopped.

"I just tried to battle and fight for the guys and they got a little momentum there in the second period," said Peters. "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 then opened his NHL account by deflecting a pass from the slot in front of Miller at 17:18 for Washington's second of the night to cut Vancouver's advantage to 3-2.

The Capitals turned up the heat late in the third, but Carlson went off for delay of game with 1:38 remaining, and Vancouver killed the game off when Vrbata scored his fifth 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," said Ovechkin. "But we have to figure out what we have to do to be mentally ready for back-to-backs."

Vancouver was playing its third game in four nights and nearly had a dream start when Carlson turned the puck over to Vrbata for a great chances just 30 seconds into the game. Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen also had golden opportunities in the opening 20 minutes.

"(Peters) kept us in," said Trotz. "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. ... The Canucks continue their three-game homestand on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals host the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. ... Vancouver visits Washington in the teams' only other meeting on Dec. 2.

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