- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2010

With upsets of three of the four higher seeds playing Wednesday in the Stanley Cup playoffs, coach Bruce Boudreau was concerned over what the NHL’s top-seeded Capitals would do Thursday night in their series opener against the team with the fewest points in the postseason, the Montreal Canadiens.

It turns out he had a right to be worried.

Facing a Canadiens team that had won two of four games against the Caps in the regular season — including handing Washington one of just five regulation losses at Verizon Center — the Habs took Game 1 of the series as Tomas Plekanec scored with 6:41 left in overtime for a 3-2 victory over Washington.

Montreal was able to hang with the Caps through a first period dominated by Washington — but yielding only one goal — and erasing a 2-1 deficit in the third period to force the extra session. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak had 45 saves for Montreal, keeping the Canadiens in the game with some key saves.

For his part, Jose Theodore also had some nice stops for Washington, turning away 35 of 38 shots, but couldn’t stop Plekanec’s shot over his shoulder for the game-winner.

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With the win, the Canadiens take the home ice earned over 82 games of the regular season away from Washington after just one contest, and grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.

“We’re happy with the win,” Montreal forward Michael Cammalleri said. “If you look at the game, especially in the first, [the Capitals] created a lot of chances. They were definitely the powerhouse we expected and showed us what they could do in that first period. I thought [Halak] played really well. We were able to capitalize on a few and get a big victory for ourselves.”

“[Montreal’s] got a great hockey team,” Caps forward Boyd Gordon said. “They come at you in waves and have good transitions at forward. They’re a good, solid team. They’re a hard-working team. We know we’re in for a tough series.”

Washington got an early power-play chance when Marc-Andre Bergeron was whistled for hooking Jason Chimera just :52 into the contest. Despite a couple of good chances with the extra man, Halak kept the Caps scoreless.

The Capitals kept pressing, getting the first seven shots of the contest, dominating play until Alexander Semin took Washington’s first penalty of the series with 6:01 gone. Theodore was able to hold steady and quell the threat.

However, Montreal got its second power play with 7:49 left in the period thanks to a cross-checking call on Nicklas Backstrom, and the Habs cashed in. Cammalleri scored the first goal of the series with a shot that beat Theodore over his shoulder just :25 into the power play for an early 1-0 lead for the Canadiens.

The Caps got a chance to pull even quickly when they got an extra-man advantage of their own when Benoit Pouliot was called for charging just :17 after Cammalleri’s goal, but Washington couldn’t convert.

However, the Capitals did finally get a goal out of their strong first period effort with 4:27 left in the frame when Joe Corvo’s shot from just inside the blue line just eluded Halak to send the sellout crowd of 18,377 into a frenzy and deadlock the game at 1-1.

Washington outshot the Habs 19-7 through 20 minutes, but still only were tied up at a single goal apiece, as Montreal survived the early onslaught — which helped swing the momentum back to the Canadiens after the visitors made a couple of changes.

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