First, the injuries — Nicklas Backstrom left with a migraine headache in the third period. Tyler Sloan and Sergei Fedorov did not play in the third period, and Bruce Boudreau did not disclose why.
“Oh yeah, we only dropped two or three guys, so it was an easy night,” Boudreau said. “I’m afraid to go in that [trainer’s] room.”
Second, Simeon Varlamov had himself a very nice start to his NHL career. Bruce Boudreau said this morning that the plan was to go with Varlamov whether Brent Johnson could play or not, and he delivered. The 20-year-old Russian stopped 32 of 33 shots to earn his first NHL win.
“It was great for me because it was pretty tough to concentrate before the game,” Varlamov said through an interpreter. “It was a really tough game, but I’m glad to have won today.”
Here are the other notes:
* Alex Ovechkin gave Varlamov a shaving cream pie to the face to commemorate the victory. Donald Brashear also tagged Fedorov with one to celebrate his 39th birthday. Needless to say, there was shaving cream everywhere in the dressing room.
Varlamov went with an English reponse to a question about the shaving cream: “He’s [Ovechkin] a pretty funny guy.”
* Michael Nylander hadn’t scored in 25 games — 26 when you factor in the game he was a healthy scratch. He had a great chance earlier in the game but was robbed by Jaroslav Halak. But then he got a nice bounce with 2:32 remaining, backhanding a rebound from the side of the net off Halak’s skate and into the net for the game winner.
“You feel like you are sure about scoring in those situations, but then he made a good save,” Nylander said of the grab by Halak earlier in the game. “It was, ‘Here we go again. No goal.”
* The goal for Nicklas Backstrom was his 10th of the season and his 100th NHL point. Ovechkin had an assist thanks to his blast from the left point, and it was the 350th point of his career.
* The Caps went 8-for-8 on the PK tonight, as the struggling Habs power play was pretty brutal save for the four-minute PP after an Ovechkin high-stick. Montreal had six shots on that man-advantage, but only ONE in the other power-play scenarios.
* Brooks Laich got into a fight and was pinballed by three guys later in the game. It was a pretty chippy night, and the officiating let a lot of rough stuff go.
“It was a good hockey game for us,” Laich said. “We showed we can win in a hostile environment. It was the second game of back-to-backs, but guys played hard tonight … It was Saturday night in Montreal. It was Hockey Night In Canada. We knew they were going to be an energized team. Knowing we have a day off [Sunday], we were emptying the tanks tonight and we’re happy with the win.”
* Don’t look now, but the Caps have won five of six and have a seven-point lead in the SoutheastDivision. Washington is also alone with the third-most points in the conference behind Boston and the N.Y. Rangers.