The heavy load for the week seemed to affect the Canadiens early. They had no offensive flow, and when they didn’t have the puck – which was often in the early going – they looked as if they were chasing it. The lackluster play caught up with them when Colby Armstrong took a retaliatory cross-checking penalty against Jason Chimera at the 4:13 mark of the first period. The Caps converted the power play opportunity 41 seconds later when Brooks Laich scored his eighth goal of the year, putting back a rebound of a Mike Ribeiro shot.
Montreal found themselves shorthanded again at the 11:28 mark when Yannick Weber was sent off for holding. The Caps made it two-for-two on the man advantage when Alex Ovechkin ripped a wrist shot past Canadiens’ goalie Peter Budaj at 11:43.
That was all the scoring in the first period, the Caps taking a 2-0 lead to the dressing room and holding a 12-7 edge in shots on goal.
Things did not get any better for Montreal to start the second period. Tomas Kaberle tried to use his stick to deflect a pass from Mathieu Perreault to Wojtek Wolski to the left of Budaj. Kaberle missed and was not able to recover as Wolski stepped around him and fired a wrist shot high over Budaj’s glove to give the Caps a 3-0 lead at 3:32 of the period.
Washington made it 4-0 less than six minutes later when Nicklas Backstrom performed some sleight of hand. Backstrom looked off the Montreal defense, giving the impression that he was going to send a cross-ice pass to Alex Ovechkin in the left wing circle. Instead, he whipped a pass behind defenseman P.K. Subban to Troy Brouwer for a tap-in to the right of Budaj.
Monttreal got one back at the 16:08 mark when Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth had trouble corralling a Colby Armstron shot. Travis Moen poked home the loose puck and ruined Neuvirth’s bid for his first shutout of the season. The Caps took back their four-goal lead on the next shift, though. After Nicklas Backstrom won the ensuing faceoff back to Karl Alzner, the Caps defenseman fed the puck up to Alex Ovechkin along the left wing boards. Ovechkin stepped over the Montreal blue line and fired a shot at Budaj. The puck ricocheted off the shin pads of defenseman Josh Gorges, but found its way onto the stick of Backstrom skating down the slot. Backstrom snapped a shot low and past the blocker of Budaj to give the Caps a 5-1 lead just nine seconds after the Moen goal.
Joel Ward capped the scoring for the home team when he poked the puck through Budaj’s pads from the top of the Montreal crease. Max Pacioretty made the final score a bit less one-sided when he wristed a shot through Neuvirth’s pads at the 17:22 mark, but the damage had long ago been done. The Caps closed their five-game home stand with their fourth win, a 6-2 win over the Canadiens.
Capitals 6 – Canadiens 2
We will be hobnobbing and egg-nogging with our fellow wizards for the next week. Have a happy holiday, and the cousins and I will be back next week.