After a lousy all-around showing against the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals needed to bounce back, and hoped to do so against the Montreal Canadiens before setting off for Toronto on Saturday. The Capitals surged late in the game, but fell to Montreal, 3-2.
Before the end of the 1st period, the Capitals once again found themselves at a multi-goal deficit. Down 3-0 on the scoreboard, it looked like a repeat of the thrashing by the Penguins.
Marcus Johansson drew a cross-checking penalty on Alexei Emelin, giving the Caps a power play with less than two minutes to go in the first period. Alex Ovechkin scored his 18th goal of the season just before the power play expired, a wrist shot assisted by John Carlson and Troy Brouwer.
Neither team scored in the second period. Aaron Volpatti, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, and Brooks Laich all had quality scoring chances, but weren’t able to get anything through Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj.
The Capitals looked like a different team in the third, thanks to a late surge that led to an Ovechkin goal, a deflection from Carlson’s point shot, to make the score 3-2, but were unable to complete the comeback.
The Capitals once again struggled to stay out of the penalty box, giving Montreal five power plays. There were a few calls that were arguably questionable, but good teams are able to rebound from the disadvantage and not dwell on supposed injustices.
““We waited until about 18 or 19 minutes left in the first period to look like we had some jump,” said Brouwer.
“We spotted them a three goal lead,and things that we’re trying to avoid, turnovers on the first [goal] and taking penalties on the third [goal]. The second [goal] was a tough call, but that’s how it goes. We have to have better starts. We can’t expect to win games if we’re down 3-0.”
Michal Neuvirth, got the start over Braden Holtby, and though he was shelled throughout most of the game, was superb aside from allowing three goals in the first period.
“[Neuvirth] made some great saves in the second period, gave us a chance,” said Oates. “[The Canadiens] are up 3 and miss that open net, and then we score one at the end of the period, so that gives us a little life. He played well after that and he gave us a chance, stopped some [shots].”
Ovechkin has scored six goals in his last five games, and 19 on the season.