Joe B: Mirror image in Montreal

Joe B: Mirror image in Montreal
February 5, 2012, 3:40 am
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MONTREAL -- When you read the papers in Montreal you learn quickly how rough a season this has been for the Canadiens. It has been particularly bad at home for them. Bell Centre has been a friendly place for visiting teams this winter and doubly so for the Caps, who have earned a pair of duplicate 3-0 decisions here.

Michal Neuvirth was the man who blanked the Habs 17 days ago; today it would be Tomas Vokouns turn. The Caps veteran netminder finished with 30 saves, none of which were overly taxing to him. It was one of those games were Vokoun was squared up to every shot and rarely had to scramble for rebounds.

Montreal has plenty of issues when it comes to goal-scoring. Their power play is especially weak right now without the likes of the injured Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov. They had only one man-advantage today and it fizzled.

The Caps would face Peter Budaj in the goal for Montreal, as Coach Randy Cunneyworth gave Carey Price a seldom-seen day off. Hopefully Price will do the Caps some good and help down the Winnipeg Jets who are here on Sunday.

Washington took a 1-0 first-period lead on a fluke goal from Dennis Wideman. Brooks Laich pulled the puck back off the draw and Wideman stepped into a big slapshot wind-up. The puck came off his stick with an incredibly odd spin, almost what you could call a knuckle puck, and floated past Budaj who was startled by the change of pace and direction. Dennis appeared to be emabarassed to see that one go in, but it will look like a bullet in the boxscore.

A scoreless second period saw the Caps muster only three shots on goal. One of those came from a Troy Brouwer penalty shot, awarded to him when Budaj threw his stick at the Caps winger to thwart a breakaway chance.

Brouwer tried to beat Budaj between the pads, but the Slovak goalie shut that window to keep it 1-0 after two periods.

The middle period was sloppily played by the Caps. There were too many turnovers for anyone to approve, but fortunately no harm came from them. Montreal was determined to trap the entire game, and never really pressured out of that even when they were down by more than one goal in the third period.

The Caps would tally twice in the third frame to snap their two-game losing skid. Matt Hendricks jumped a loose rebound created by Laich, and drilled a shot into the open goal.
Five and a half minutes later Washington would seal the match thanks to another penalty shot. Alex Semin was fouled on a breakaway and awarded the chance to face Budaj 1-on-1. Semin elected to skate into about 15 feet from the goal line, from there he powdered a slapshot over the catching glove of the goalie.

It was the first time in the 38-year history of the Caps that they had two regulation-time penalty shot chances in the same game.

The Capitals play host to Boston on Super Sunday at 12:30 pm, a game you can catch on NBC Sports Network. Washington will entertain Florida on Tuesday, a crucial Southeast Division game you can see on CSN.

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