VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Teams coming off long road trips often find it hard to get going in their first game back home.
The Vancouver Canucks made it clear early on Thursday that wasn’t going to apply in this case.
Sven Baertschi had two goals and an assist to lead the Canucks to their fourth straight win, 6-2 over the Washington Capitals.
Derek Dorsett, with his team-leading sixth of the season, and Bo Horvat each added a goal and an assist for Vancouver. Thomas Vanek and Markus Granlund also scored, and Brock Boeser added three assists as the Canucks’ 29th-ranked power play went 3 for 6.
”(The power play’s) done a lot of good things,” said Baertschi, whose three points all came with the man advantage. ”It’s just a matter of getting rewarded.”
Anders Nilsson made 25 saves for his third victory in four starts.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chandler Stepheson, with his first NHL goal, scored for Washington. Braden Holtby allowed five goals on 22 shots before getting pulled with five minutes left in the second period. Philipp Grubauer came on and finished with seven saves.
Coming off a successful 4-1-0 road trip where Nilsson picked up shutouts in two of his first three starts after signing in the offseason to be Jacob Markstrom’s backup, the surprising Canucks showed zero letdown in grabbing a 3-0 lead in a dominant first period.
”We’ve said from Day 1 we want to be a four-line team,” said Vancouver coach Travis Green. ”That’s the only way we’re going to have success. The guys have bought in.”
Vanek got things going at 12:53 with his fourth goal of the season when he batted a puck out of the air that Holtby couldn’t corral with his glove.
Horvat doubled that advantage on a power play that was on a 0-for-10 run just 2:10 later when he tapped home a slick between-the-legs feed from Baertschi off Boeser’s point shot for his fourth.
Granlund continued the onslaught with 1:17 left in the period when Dorsett took the puck from defenseman Dmitry Orlov before centering in front of Kutznetsov and right to Granlund, who made no mistake for his second.
Washington came in 1-2-1 over its last four as the club continues to look for its identity in a new reality that includes a younger roster after forwards Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams, and defensemen Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk departed over the summer.
”We didn’t play right way,” said Washington captain Alex Ovechkin. ”It starts from our leaders.”
The Capitals came close to getting back into the game when T.J. Oshie rang a shot off the crossbar in the second period, but the Canucks put things out of reach with another power-play goal at 9:41 when the puck pinballed off Baertschi’s skate and over the line for his third of the season and the 100th point of his career.
Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly hit the crossbar later in the period before Dorsett, who is coming off major neck surgery and has seen his role increase substantially under rookie coach Green, made it 5-0 with five minutes left in the period he scored his team-leading sixth goal on a wraparound.
With members of Dorsett’s family looking on from a private suite at Rogers Arena, some fans in the upper bowl directed ”M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants toward the grinding forward after recording his fifth goal in the last five games.
The signaled the end of the night for Holtby, and Kuznetsov responded 17 seconds later with his first on a shot that beat Nilsson low.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson hit the post behind Nilsson early in the third period – Washington’s third time hitting iron – before Nilsson made a nice pad stop on Kuznetsov a few minutes later.
Baertschi scored Vancouver’s third goal on the man advantage at 10:29 when he scooped a rebound past Grubauer for his fourth in three games after failing to connect in Vancouver’s first seven outings.
Stephenson scored his first NHL goal and point with 2:08 left in his 14th career game on a sharp-angle shot.
NOTES: Already without injured F Andre Burakovsky (fractured thumb) and D Matt Niskanen (upper body), the Capitals were also minus C Nicklas Backstrom because of an illness. … Capitals F Brett Connolly left in the second period with an upper-body injury after a hit by Vancouver D Erik Gudbranson and did not return.
Capitals: At Edmonton on Saturday.
Canucks: Host Dallas on Monday night.