Dorsett keeps rolling as Canucks rout Capitals
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — There were questions last winter whether Derek Dorsett would ever play hockey again.
Only 10 games into the season, the hardnosed Vancouver Canucks right winger has removed any doubts.
Dorsett scored his team-leading sixth goal and added an assist as the Canucks won their fourth consecutive game by trampling the Washington Capitals 6-2 on Thursday night.
“I’m just enjoying it,” Dorsett said. “I’m enjoying every moment of it, playing hard. I’m not going to change the way I play.”
Only 6 feet, 192 pounds, Dorsett has always been a scrappy player more known for toughness than finesse around the net. He played only 14 games last season before undergoing the same neck surgery NFL quarterback Peyton Manning had in 2011.
Dorsett was forced to wear a neck brace for two months after a bone was taken from his hip, ground into a mesh disc and fused with his vertebrae.
In 164 games with the Canucks prior to this year, Dorsett had 13 goals and 385 penalty minutes. His best season was 2011-12, when he had 12 goals in 77 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In his past five games, Dorsett has five goals. He also leads Vancouver with 44 penalty minutes.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep playing the way I’ve always played. Hopefully (the puck) keeps going in.”
Vancouver left winger Sven Baertschi said Dorsett has stepped up on a team expected to struggle scoring goals this year.
“He’s been great for us,” said Baertschi, who had two power-play goals and an assist against Washington. “He’s been doing it all.
“He’s been making plays with the puck, he’s been a gritty guy. He gets pucks back, he’s great on the forecheck. All that combined, then adding the scoring, it makes him a really effective player right now.”
Baertschi’s first goal Thursday was his 100th NHL point in 216 games.
“It took me awhile to get that,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.
“As a young kid you dream of playing in the NHL. You get little milestones like that, it’s even more special.”
Other Canucks goals came from Thomas Vanek, Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund. Right winger Brock Boeser had three assists on the power play for Vancouver (6-3-1).
Dorsett’s assist on Granlund’s goal was typical of his style of play. He laid a big hit on Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov behind the net, separating him from the puck. Dorsett then passed out front, where the puck deflected off a Capitals player and to Granlund, who scored.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chandler Stephenson, with his first NHL goal, scored for Washington (4-5-1).
Washington coach Barry Trotz was frustrated his team gave up three goals on six power plays. The Capitals’ penalty killers have allowed at least a goal in seven of the past eight man-advantages.
“We can’t kill anything,” Trotz said. “A lot of extra pucks, a lot of failed clears.
“When you are going through tough times, your top guys have to carry you. So, We’re going to need our top guys carrying us, from the goal up.”
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby was replaced by Philipp Grubauer in the second period after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Grubauer finished with seven saves on eight shots.
Holtby said everyone on the team, himself included, must play better.
“There’s a lot of things we need to work on,” he said. “Finding our identity is the main thing.
“We are still playing like our team from last year. Every team is different. We knew it wasn’t going to come easy, it wasn’t going to come quickly, but we are far enough into the season now that we are not going to use the excuse of being young and different anymore. It’s time to start performing, and that includes myself.”
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin had one assist and three shots on goal. He has one goal in his past five games.
“It starts with our leaders,” he said. “We took penalties, and they scored, and we didn’t bounce back.”
NOTES: Washington RW Brett Connolly left early in the second period after taking a hit from D Erik Gudbranson. He appeared to hit his head on the boards. ... The Canucks sent C Brendan Gaunce, who is still recovering from an offseason shoulder injury, to AHL Utica for conditioning. ... Healthy scratches for Vancouver were D Patrick Wiercioch and C Michael Chaput. ... Vancouver G Andres Nilsson made 25 saves. He stopped 29 shots in a 1-0 shutout win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. ... Washington went 10:47 of the first period without a shot on goal. ... Washington C Nicklas Backstrom, who didn’t participate in the morning skate, was scratched because of illness. ... Capitals C Chandler Stephenson made his season debut replacing RW Andre Burakovsky, who is out six to eight weeks after surgery to repair a fractured thumb. ... Washington D Aaron Ness was a healthy scratch.