A rare lack of discipline hurt the Washington Capitals in their first loss of the season, but they aren't having nearly as many issues as their next opponent.
The Capitals will attempt to bounce back Saturday night when they face the struggling Vancouver Canucks in a matchup of teams which finished atop their respective conferences last season.
The only team to post more points than Washington during 2010-11 was the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks, who went on to lose to Boston in the Stanley Cup finals. However, it's the Capitals (7-1-0) who are off to a fast start this season while Vancouver (4-5-1) has been inconsistent and enters this game looking to avoid a third straight loss.
Washington was the only team left which hadn't lost before a sloppy effort in a 2-1 defeat at Edmonton on Thursday.
The Capitals took an early 1-0 lead before giving up two power-play goals -- the same number they allowed in the previous six games combined. The Oilers had eight power-play opportunities as Washington totaled a season-high 18 penalty minutes after entering the game with the league's fewest.
"For whatever reason we took penalties not only in our zone but also in the offensive zone," goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "Penalties are tough to kill in this league. We had a chance to get a point but they had a bit more puck luck than us.
"You can't take that many penalties, no matter who you are playing. It cost us the game in the end."
Washington still has one of the stingiest defenses in the NHL, giving up 2.00 goals per game, and has allowed the fewest even-strength goals among East teams with 10.
Vokoun has allowed two goals or fewer in six straight starts overall, and five in a row in Vancouver.
Alex Ovechkin, who went scoreless Thursday, has been held without a point in three straight games against the Canucks after recording a goal and assist each of the first two times he faced them.
The Capitals are 1-6-1 in their last eight games against the Canucks, including three straight defeats in Vancouver since last winning there Feb. 14, 2001.
The Canucks (4-5-1) hope to extend that drought as they try to rebound from losses on back-to-back nights.
Cory Schneider got the nod in goal in a 3-0 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday after Roberto Luongo was pulled the previous night in the second period of a 3-2 defeat at Edmonton.
Vancouver has trailed going into the third period in all but one game.
"We can be better in a lot of areas," said coach Alain Vigneault. "We're not generating the type of chances that I think this group is capable of generating.
"We're playing under our level right now."
Despite his struggles this season, Luongo could be back in net Saturday. He is 12-1-0 in his last 13 starts against the Capitals while posting a 2.10 goals-against average.
Luongo, 2-3-1 with a 3.46 GAA to open this season, allowed three goals on 14 shots Tuesday before being pulled -- as he was twice in last season's Cup finals.
However, the Canucks know there's plenty of blame to go around for their slow start.
"It's never been about the goaltender, it's been about the whole team," Daniel Sedin told the team's official website.
Sedin, the team leader with 12 points, has been held scoreless the last two games.
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