WASHINGTON — The Canadiens backed up a strong performance by Carey Price with a four-goal explosion in the second period and defeated the Washington Capitals 5-2 Friday at Capital One Arena.
With the win over the team with the best record in the NHL, the Canadiens have earned at least one point in eight of their last nine games (7-1-1).
Canadiens @ Capitals game recap: Capital punishment
Price has had his problems with Washington, but he made 25 saves to boost his career record against the Capitals to 8-14-5.
The floodgates opened for the Canadiens after a strong forecheck led to the first Montreal goal at 6:33 of the second period. Pressure from Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot forced T.J. Oshie into a turnover as he tried to exit the Washington zone. Brendan Gallagher picked up the loose puck and Tomas Tatar, who was filling in for a banged-up Jonathan Drouin, found Phillip Danault alone in front, and he showed patience as he faked a shot and then lifted a backhander over rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s glove.
Weber beat the 22-year-old goaltender with a shot from the left faceoff circle at 9:16 and Samsonov looked weak when Jordan Weal beat him on a backhander to the far post at 11:42. Weal was returning to the lineup after four games as a healthy scratch.
The Canadiens enjoyed the first power play of the game and, while they didn’t score, they gained momentum and made it 4-0 seconds after Garnet Hathaway retuned to the ice. Rookie Nick Suzuki was credited with the goal when his attempt to set up Gallagher in front caromed off a defender.
It appears the Canadiens see an inordinate number of backup goaltenders, but Samsonov is already pencilled in as the No. 1 next season because cap-challenged Washington can’t afford to re-sign Braden Holtby, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
Samsonov, who had a 5-0-1 record coming into the game, was tough to beat in the first period. The Canadiens had the better of the play, outshooting the Capitals 15-8 on the strength of a flurry when they fired five shots on Samsonov in the final minute. Washington’s best scoring chance came midway through the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov hit a post.
The Canadiens did a good job of containing Alex Ovechkin, but he scored a power-play goal in the third period to end Price’s shutout bid. Ovechkin has made life difficult for Price and the Canadiens throughout his career. He has 32 goals and 53 points in 49 games against Montreal. He has scored 21 of those goals in 26 games against Price.
Kuznetsov scored on a breakaway with less than five minutes to play and the Capitals pulled their goalie. Price made made a save on Richard Panik to preserve the two-goal lead and Tatar scored an empty-netter to cap a four-point night.
Drouin was blindsided by Ovechkin early in the second period. He left the ice on his own power, but immediately went to the dressing room. He missed the rest of the period, but returned for the third.
12h ago Canadiens respond to Ovechkin’s hit on Drouin, beat Capitals Shea Weber scored to extend his point streak to five games, Carey Price made 25 saves and the Montreal Canadiens responded to a big hit by Alex Ovechkin on Jonathan Drouin, beating the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Friday night. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — By the time Capitals coach Todd Reirden called a timeout to tell his team to wake up, it was too late.
Montreal scored four goals in the second period following Ovechkins hit and went on to beat Washington 5-2 on Friday night, ending the NHL-leading Capitals 13-game point streak. Drouin returned for the third period, and the Canadiens won their third in a row.
“I think it just woke us up, Montreals Phillip Danault said. That was not great, but it definitely woke up the team. Jo took a hit for the team and came back and is healthy, so thats all that matters.”
Danault, captain Shea Weber, Jordan Weal and Nick Suzuki each scored over a span of eight and a half minutes after Ovechkin flattened Drouin with an open ice hit that knocked him out for the rest of the second. Ovechkin appeared to leave his feet to deliver the blow, and Drouin was slow to get up before skating to the bench and going down the tunnel.
Its hockey; its not a ballet, Ovechkin said. Its a hockey play. He didnt see me. Its a clear hit.
At the time, Ovechkins hit was the first big highlight of the night after a ho-hum first period. Montreal coach Claude Julien wondered if it should have been a charging penalty on Ovechkin but acknowledged it wasnt an illegal check to Drouins head.
Ovechkin wasnt penalized, but the Capitals made a series of errors on the ensuing shifts and the game slipped away.
“I think they just have momentum on their side, Ovechkin said. After first goal, they score another one and we just didnt execute the play, we make lots of mistakes. It was not our best period. We didnt play our game at all.
The Canadiens played their textbook style of game in front of Carey Price, who made 25 saves to beat the Capitals for just the eighth time in 27 games against them. Prices biggest save came a few shifts after Drouins injury when he denied Jonas Siegenthaler and was bailed out by defenceman Brett Kulak blocking the rebound, and he made a series of crucial stops in the final minutes.
Hes our backbone, Weber said of Price. Hes a solid reason back there that we have a chance to win every night. Same thing was the case tonight. He makes those big saves in the first and gives us a chance to settle in and get going from there.
Ovechkin scored on the power play in the third period, his 14th of the season, and Evgeny Kuznetsov added a breakaway goal with 4:22 left to make things interesting.
Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov allowed four goals on 39 shots in what was likely his final NHL action before being sent to the American Hockey League for a couple of days to clear salary-cap space. Washington lost in regulation for the first time since Oct. 14 but has dropped two of its past three.
You know at some point thats going to happen, Reirden said. We werent as good as we could be.
NOTES: Weber extended his point streak to five games. … Ovechkins goal was his fourth in seven games in November. … Kuznetsov has four goals in his past four games. … The Capitals dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen with Nic Dowd injured because salary-cap constraints only allowed them to recall D-man Tyler Lewington. Lewington took a few shifts at right wing. … Washington winger Carl Hagelin missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury. … Montreal forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi missed his seventh consecutive game with a groin injury.
Canadiens: Return home to face the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Former Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid could get the nod in net.
Capitals: Turn to Braden Holtby to start Saturday at the Boston Bruins. Holtby is 16-3-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in his career against Boston.