Instant Analysis: Canadiens 3, Capitals 2

Instant Analysis: Canadiens 3, Capitals 2
November 22, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Ridiculous sharp angle goal from Ovechkin

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8) checks Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (79) into Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) as he covers the puck in the second period at Verizon Center.

(Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

How it happened: The Canadiens jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on goals by Travis Moen, David Desharnais and Danny Briere – not exactly the response Adam Oates wanted after Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Penguins. Alex Ovechkin breathed some life into the building with a late power-play goal in the first, but the Caps were outshot 14-3 in the second period and had trouble getting anything past Montrealgoaltender Peter Budaj until Ovechkin lit the lamp again, deflecting a John Carlson shot past Budaj with 7:33 remaining. That was as close as the Capitals would get.

What it means: The Capitals have lost two games in a row by a combined score of 7-1 but remain in second place in the Atlantic Division with 25 points, five behind the first-place Penguins and two ahead of the third-place New Jersey Devils, who have won three straight.

Feeling the love: Alex Ovechkin moved past Alexander Steen and into first place among NHL goal scorers with his 18th and 19th goals of the season. Ovechkin is on pace for 72 goals this season. His former coach, Bruce Boudreau, told NHL.com he thinks Ovechkin can do it. “Look at the two goals he scored Sunday night [against St. Louis],” Boudreau said.  “One was a backhand under the bar and the other was just a great slap shot. Those aren't typical Alex goals, but he can score in so many ways. There is no doubt in my mind that he still has the potential to score 70 goals."Ovechkin has not gone more than two games this season without a goal.

Peter the Great: The Capitals had some excellent scoring chances in the second and third periods, but Canadiens backup goaltender Peter Budaj was a tough nut to crack. Budaj came out to challenge Aaron Volpatti on a second-period blast early in the second period; closed his pads on a Nicklas Backstrom breakaway attempt midway through that period; and stoned Joel Ward and Jason Chimera on made rush up the ice midway through the third period.

Frustrated Ovi: With 11:33 remaining and the Capitals getting increasingly frustrated, Ovechkin took out his anger on Brian Gionta, grabbing the Canadiens’ 5-foot-nothing winger by the head and throwing him to the ice for a roughing minor. Exactly 4 minutes later he scored his league-leading 19th goal of the season.

Green returns: As expected defenseman Mike Green returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a lower body bruise. To make room for him on the 23-man roster the Capitals assigned Dmitry Orlov to the AHL Bears. Defenseman Steve Oleksy was a healthy scratch for the first time sinceOct. 3, replaced by Tyson Strachan on a third pairing with Alex Urbom.

What’s next: The Capitals are in Toronto Saturday night to face Mikhail Grabovski’s former team, the Maple Leafs. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 2-0-0 and has allowed just two goals in his career against the Leafs, will get the call. The Caps are expected to be off on Sunday, then hit the ice for practice Monday at Kettler in preparation for Wednesday night;s home game against the Senators.