Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 9:47 p.m.
By Ryan OHalloran
Observations from the Capitals 4-2 win over Montreal Tuesday night, which extended Washingtons winning streak to nine games (and tied the franchise record with six straight on the road) and its Southeast Division lead to five points:
1. Another night, another win, another slew of individual standouts. Marcus Johansson scored twice. Brooks Laich moved up to first-line center and scored a cool first period goal when he got around Hal Gill. Center Jay Beagle (for the injured Jason Arnott) and defenseman Tyler Sloan (for the ill John Erskine) stepped into the lineup after long healthy-scratch stretches and didnt screw things up. And rookie goalie Braden Holtby overcame an early flub to win his fifth game in eight days.
2. Its going to be fun watching Alex Ovechkin and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban joust for, oh, the next decade-plus. Both players are agitators, which makes it a great matchup when they try to take each other out with an open-ice hit (like Ovechkin did earlier this year) or jab a stick in their mid-section.
3. Johansson continues to impress and go against the stereotype of most European centers. As hes done throughout the year, hes unafraid to do the dirty work along the boards and as his second goal exhibited, hes willing to crash the crease. He worked himself into position in the low slot to receiver Ovechkins pass and beat Carey Price for the game-winning goal. Most of all, hes shown an ability to adapt to whatever line hes centering. After playing the pivot for Ovechkin and Mike Knuble, Johansson moved down a notch to skate with Knuble and Marco Sturm tonight.
4. The next time Alexander Semin plays at Verizon Center, all Capitals fans should shout, SHOOT! anytime he gets the puck. It happened against Chicago on Sunday and it happened again tonight against Montreal No. 28 is passing up shooting opportunities in prime real estate to a) make a pass that doesnt work and b) try a curl-and-drag to get closer to the goal. In several situations, Semin passed up shots that if he used his blistering wrist shot could have been goals.
5. No real qualms with Holtbys effort, which was his fourth straight start for the Capitals. The reigning First Star in the NHL looked like he might be a little shaky when he was late getting back into his goal, allowing Travis Moen to score an early equalizer after Johanssons equally fluky marker. But Holtby settled down from there, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Montreals second goal an Andrei Kostitsyn laser from the high slow was unstoppable.
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