An opportunistic foe and a punchless offense led to only the second regulation loss at Verizon Center this season for the Washington Capitals.
The Montreal Canadiens scored three times in a seven-shot stretch and Carey Price made 32 saves Friday night to fend off the Caps 3-2. Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped all 14 shots he faced in the opening period of his first start this season, but then turned away only six of the final eight.
The Caps dominated the final 13 minutes of the second period, but the first seven were a problem. Montreal Travis Moen tipped in a shot from the left point by Roman Hamrlik to level the score at 1-1 3:59 into the period.
Brendan Morrison dived to try to block Tomas Plekanec’s shot from between the circles, but it glanced off his hand and between Neuvirth’s legs at 6:46 to give the Canadiens the lead. Montreal had only four shots in the period — and zero in the final 11:54, but none of Washington’s 11 shots in the second bested goalie Carey Price.
Eric Fehr had the lone goal of the first period at 11:52. After Mike Green dumped the puck into the Montreal zone to facilitate a line change, Mathieu Perreault was the first one on it and controlled it in the corner while waiting for his linemates to arrive.
Perreault fought off two Canadiens defenders and sent the puck to Fehr near the left circle, and he snapped a shot into the top right corner of the net for his third goal of the season.
After taking no minor penalties in the first 40 minutes, the Caps were tagged with three in the final period; the third led to Montreal’s third goal. Mike Cammalleri blasted a one-timer from just above the right faceoff dot 22 seconds after Brooks Laich went to the box for tripping to make it 3-1 at 12:29.
Morrison backhanded the rebound of a Mike Green shot from the top of the zone past Price with 2:32 remaining to cut the lead to 3-2. It was Morrison’s seventh of the season. The Caps had a power play for the final 1:52 but could not muster an equalizer. One of Green’s blasts hit the right post and squirted free, but Price lost his helmet and play had to be stopped as the puck squirted under a pile of players in front of the net.
Washington was without seven players from the opening night roster (Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Boyd Gordon, Quintin Laing, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn and Jose Theodore), and Tom Poti left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury.
Without Poti, Tyler Sloan moved back to his normal position on defense, and the Caps went with 11 forwards. After beginning the game with Tomas Flesichmann on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau shuffled his lines twice during the game trying to find the right combinations. Both Matt Bradley and Morrison spent time on the Ovechkin-Backstrom line.
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