Boudreau returns to Washington with Canucks in pursuit of 600th NHL win

WASHINGTON — Bruce Boudreau would’ve preferred to get his 600th NHL win in one of the Vancouver Canucks’ first two games this season or their finale last season.

Instead, the Canucks coach has a chance to reach the milestone in familiar surroundings against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Monday (7 pm ET; CITY, SNP, NBCSWA, ESPN+, SN NOW).

Boudreau’s NHL coaching career began with the Capitals on Nov. 23, 2007, after replacing Glen Hanlon. He went 201-88-40 over five seasons, including 37-17-7 during his first season to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

“Honest to God, before this season started, I didn’t think about it,” Boudreau said Sunday. ” … When you start thinking about it, it drags on and on, but it would be a nice place. I’m sure they don’t want me to win it here, but I just hope we win a game for the guys’ mental [confidence]”

The Canucks are 0-2-0 after letting a three-goal lead slip away in a 5-3 loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, and a two-goal advantage before a 3-2 defeat at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. With three games remaining on a season-opening five-game road trip, Vancouver feels urgency to get a win Monday, even if it is two games into the season.

“I never think of it as only two games because you look at the standings every day and go, ‘Oh man, we’re four points back,’ or ‘Vegas has won three in a row, we’re six points back, ‘” Boudreau said. “So, you want to get that first win. Every team does.”

That will be the focus Monday, though the Canucks would love to get No. 600 for Boudreau, who is 599-319-125 in 16 seasons with the Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Ducks. Vancouver went 32-15-10 in 57 games after Boudreau replaced Travis Green as coach Dec. 5, 2021, but fell five points short of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Canucks ended last season with a 3-2 shootout loss to Oilers on April 29 in their first attempt at Boudreau’s 600th win. The 67-year-old would be the 22nd coach to reach that number.

“We’ve been trying to get his 600th win since Edmonton last year, so it’s unfortunate,” Vancouver forward Brock Boeser said. “We just want to win. We obviously know we need the first one [of the season]. It’s his 600th, so if we do get that first one, it will be a special moment for him.”

Looking for a spark, Boudreau shuffled line combinations Sunday, with center Bo Horvat replacing J.T. Miller on the top line between Tanner Pearson and Boeser, and Miller moving into Horvat’s previous spot between Vasily Podkolzin and Conor Garland. Curtis Lazarus also replaced Nils Hoglander at right wing on a line with Andrei Kuzmenko and Elias Petttersson, and Hoglander shifted to Lazar’s previous spot with Dakota Joshua and Nils Aman.

The Canucks also worked on their power play, which was 1-for-13 (7.7 percent) with two short-handed goals allowed in their first two games. Their penalty kill, which has allowed four goals in nine times short-handed (55.6 percent), has also struggled.

“We haven’t played the way we want to, so we’ve just got to learn from that,” Pettersson said. “I think we’ve played some partially good hockey, but we haven’t played two full good 60 minutes and I think we’ve been sloppy in some areas. The power play hasn’t been good, but we’ve just got find a way and work hard for 60 minutes.”

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