The five game home stand of the Washington Capitals came to
an end on Thursday with a visit by the Montreal Canadiens. The visitors were
fresh off a tough 3-2 overtime loss in Ottawa on Wednesday night and were
playing their third game in four nights.
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
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.