Capitals win Metropolitan, beat Canadiens 2-1; Montreals playoff chances hurt – TimminsToday

Capitals win Metropolitan, beat Canadiens 2-1; Montreal\s playoff chances hurt - TimminsToday
Canadiens at Washington Capitals: Five things you should know
Two games to play for Carolina, Columbus and Montreal. Just one point separating the three teams. Two teams will make the playoffs. One team will not. You don’t get more exciting than that in this bonus season of unexpected drama from the Canadiens. The Hurricanes and Blue Jackets have poor opponents to finish the schedule. The Habs have two tough opponents. The Maple Leafs will be at home on Saturday in a game that the Habs are hoping will matter, and the Capitals are in Washington on Thursday night needing the win to take the Metropolitan Division. So not only do the Habs face a talented team, they face a talented team that has a high ‘care’ factor for the game.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens keep playoff hopes alive with 7-4 win over Buffalo Sabres

"I guess I don't think about it as those two individual things, but as a whole this season's been great," said Dowd, who spent his three previous NHL seasons with Los Angeles and Vancouver. "Obviously a great group of guys, and I've learned a lot coming to a new organization. It's a real privilege to be a part of it, and I'm excited for playoffs."

Capitals clinch Metropolitan Division title for fourth straight year

The Canadiens have been getting solid efforts from almost every player during their recent push for a playoff berth.

"I think we did the right things at the right time," Holtby said. "If we were under duress in our end, at least someone came up with a big play, flip it out or something. Live to fight another day. At the blue lines we were a lot better, a lot like we need to be in the playoffs and I thought the guys had a high-level commitment to winning."

Habs playoff hopes take serious hit with loss to Capitals

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Capitals game at Capital One Arena Thursday (7 p.m.,TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

Canadiens chances of making playoffs dealt a crushing blow by Caps

The matchup: Both teams have a stake in winning this game. The Canadiens need a win to stay in the hunt for a wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while a Washington victory would allow the Capitals to clinch first place in the Metropolitan Division. This is the third meeting between these teams and the first since two games at the Bell Centre in November. The Canadiens were 6-4 winners in the first game and dropped a 5-4 overtime decision in the other. This is the third consecutive game in which the Canadiens have faced a division leader and they are coming off wins over Winnipeg and Tampa Bay.

A little help would be appreciated: While the Canadiens like to think they are the masters of their destiny, they will need a little help in their quest for post-season action. They are one point behind Carolina, which is in New Jersey Thursday. They are tied in points with Columbus, but the Blue Jackets hold the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime wins. The Blue Jackets are idle Thursday and wrap up the season with back-to-back road games Friday against the Rangers and Saturday in Ottawa.

Canadiens @ Capitals: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

Montreal Canadiens centre Nate Thompson celebrates with teammate Jordie Benn after scoring his teams first goal of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning during first period on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like the Hurricanes, the Blue Jackets control their own destiny against opponents with little to play for. Columbus is 2-0-1 against the Rangers in 2018-19, but two of the teams three games went beyond 60 minutes. The Blue Jackets are 2-0-0 versus Ottawa — the team they acquired forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from ahead of Februarys trade deadline. While missing the playoffs would represent a blow for both Montreal and Carolina, Columbus failing to reach the post-season would be a disaster. Apart from the acquisitions of Duchene and Dzingel, who can both become unrestricted free agents this summer, the Blue Jackets went all-in this season by keeping their own pending UFAs in star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and sniper Artemi Panarin rather than trying to deal the pair at the deadline.

Canadiens say its not over yet after costly loss in playoff race

Role players step up: The Canadiens have been getting solid efforts from almost every player during their recent push. In Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, Max Domi scored his 28th goal, but the rest of the scoring came from unexpected sources. Fourth-liner Nate Thompson scored his first goal as a Canadien, third-liner Joel Armia scored his 13th, while Artturi Lehkonen —whose principal contribution to the second line has been his physical defensive play — finally saw a bounce go his way. Paul Byron’s return after missing two games with a concussion and Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s move to the wing provided Montreal with a reliable fourth line.

More needed from Drouin: One player who has not been producing is Jonathan Drouin. The talented winger needs one more point to match his career-high total of 53, but he was kept off the scoresheet yet again Tuesday and was a minus-1. Drouin has failed to collect a point in 21 of his 23 games dating to Feb. 9. He had one goal and five assists in the two games in which he did score, but he has also been a minus-9 during the drought. He’s the highest-paid forward on the Canadiens roster, but the hasn’t been earning his keep.

It has been an entertaining season series so far, with a total of 19 goals scored in the two previous games. The first was a great comeback by the Canadiens as they entered the third period down a goal. They found the tying marker with three minutes remaining, and then Max Domi put Montreal on top with just 22 seconds to play. Joel Armia put the game out of reach two seconds after the go-ahead goal.

Watch out for Ovie: Phillip Danault’s line has been matched against the opposition’s top lines all season and in the two recent wins, they’ve shut down Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele as well as the Tampa Bay triumvirate of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos (who had an unassisted goal Tuesday) and Brayden Point. There will be an even greater challenge in the U.S. capital as they face Alexander Ovechkin, who is on the way to his eighth Rocket Richard Trophy, with 51 goals. Ovechkin has 31 goals and 53 points in 47 games against the Canadiens.

The Canadiens know they might be eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff playoff contention before they take the ice for their next game, the regular-season finale against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell Centre on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN, SN1, TVAS, NHL.TV). Theyll have to watch and hope the New York Rangers give them a reprieve by defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on Friday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, MSG+, FS-O, NHL.TV).