In their second game in as many nights, almost halfway through their five-game roadtrip, the Washington Capitals finally broke their seven-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Braden Holtby earned his ninth career shutout and only faced 21 shots from the Canadiens, who mustered a mere three shots in the first period, and didn’t have a shot on goal in the second period until the 13-minute mark.
Alex Ovechkin, back in action after missing one game with a still-vague lower-body injury, scored the first of the Capitals four goals in the second period. John Erskine, Jay Beagle, and John Carlson contributed to the Caps second-period offense. Fresh from Hershey, recent call-up Casey Wellman scored the Capitals’ fifth and final goal of the game in the third period, off a nice feed from Ovechkin after the veteran drew the defense away on the break.
Sometimes, all it takes to break a bad streak is playing a team that’s a little worse off than you, and taking advantage of them. That’s what the Capitals did to the Canadiens, a team that should be better than they are currently playing, because they are actually a good team.
It remains to be seen if the Capitals will be able to clean up the wreckage of their six-game skid and make their way to the playoffs. Their remaining schedule is tough, and packed with skilled teams both before and after the Olympic break.
The Capitals still have lingering issues on the blue line and at forward depth that need to be addressed. Another bad blow would be Mikhail Grabovski missing an extended period of time, which hopefully is not the case. That’s not to say fans shouldn’t be happy to see the Caps finally come out on top after what seemed like an endless stretch of disappointments in the month of January. They’ve been playing some of their best hockey and not getting the points to show for it. Ganging up on the Canadiens was just what the Capitals needed.