MONTREAL -- Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at the Bell Centre:
How it happened: The Caps weathered an early storm by the Canadiens, then received goals from Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer 68 seconds apart to grab a 2-0 lead on their first three shots. Brouwer made it 3-0 early in the second period with a bullet over Carey Price’s blocker and Nicklas Backstrom rang one off both posts and over the goal line for a power-play goal and a 4-0 lead. Ovechkin made it 5-0 with a third-period power-play goal, his 30th of the season. Max Pacioretty spoiled Braden Holtby's shutout bid with 5:09 left.
What it means: The Caps opened up a three-point lead on the Winnipeg Jets in the Southeast Division standings with three games to play, reducing their magic number to four. Any combination of four points gained by the Caps or lost by the Jets would clinch a division title for Washington.
Remaining schedules: The Jets can close to within one point of the Caps with a win in Buffalo Monday night. But no matter what the Jets do in Buffalo, if the Caps beat Winnipeg in regulation at home on Tuesday night the Caps would clinch. The Jets close out with the Sabres, Caps and Canadiens. The Caps finish with the Jets, Senators and Bruins.
Holt-beast: With his win over the Canadiens, Braden Holtby improved his regular season record in the months of March and April to 18-5-2. He was 4-0-1 after being recalled from Hershey last season and is 14-5-1 down the stretch this season.
Rocket man: With his 29th and 30th goals of the season Ovechkin opened up a three-goal lead on Steven Stamkos in the NHL’s goal-scoring race. Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning have four games remaining. Ovechkin and the Caps have three. The Isles’ John Tavares sits four goals back with three to play.
Brouwer power: With his two goals Saturday night Troy Brouwer now has 19 on the season, putting him on pace to score 35 goals in an 82-game season.
Did you notice: John Erskine talked before the game about dumping the puck into places were Carey Price could not handle it. That was the case on Ovechkin’s first-period goal. Erskine’s puck placement allowed Backstrom to gain possession and find Ovechkin.
Ribeiro’s quiet effectiveness: Mike Ribeiro picked up secondary assists on each of Brouwer’s goals. The first came when he beat Lars Eller on a faceoff. He also raced back into his own zone to thwart a Montreal scoring chance.
Riding the PK: The Caps held the Habs scoreless on five power plays, extending their streak to 13 over the past four games.
Looking ahead: With a two-day break in the schedule the Capitals will be given the day off on Sunday. They’ll return to Kettler on Monday for a team photo and a practice and face the Jets on Tuesday.