Caps drop opener in overtime

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“Pretty subtle,” Cammalleri said of Montreal’s tweaks. “Credit again to them in the first period. They got that skill level and they came pretty heavy on us and there was a little bit of pressure.”

Backstrom nearly put the Capitals up with just under five minutes gone in the period, as he put a shot on that Halak got just a piece of with his glove, but the puck just skittered near the goal line and past the post.

The Habs gave the Caps their third power play of the night with 11:26 left in the middle frame thanks to a too-many-men penalty, but the Caps again failed to convert. The Canadiens even got a couple of good chances at the other end of the ice once the penalty expired, but Theodore made some nice stops to keep the game tied.

Corvo was whistled for holding with just 1:41 left in the period, giving Montreal’s power play a chance to pull ahead heading into the dressing room, but the Caps held.

Just after the penalty expired in the opening seconds of the third period, the Caps took their first lead of the night, when Mike Knuble corraled a loose puck in the Canadiens’ end, fed Backstrom, and the Swede beat Halak just :47 into the frame.

Although Washington tried to hang on to the 2-1 lead, Montreal tied it back up with 12:26 to play when Scott Gomez took a cross-ice pass from Brian Gionta and tapped it past Theodore for the equalizer.

However, a poor penalty on Travis Moen, who hit Caps defenseman John Carlson on an icing call, gave the hosts an extra-man advantage with 9:18 to play in regulation after being assessed a boarding call. Washington’s power play again came up empty, and the score remained tied at two.

Carlson and Gordon had a 2-on-1 break with less than three minutes left in regulation, but Carlson couldn’t connect on his pass attempt and the chance passed without the Caps taking a shot on Halak.

With just :26.6 left in regulation, Green took a bad penalty to give Montreal a chance to win the contest. The Caps’ defenseman tossed the puck over the end glass on a clearing attempt around the back of the zone, earning a delay-of-game penalty and giving the Canadiens a chance to close regulation with a power play. Washington killed the first part of the penalty to force overtime — the third overtime game between the two teams in five meetings so far this season.

Washington was able to kill the remainder of Green’s infraction in sudden-death overtime to get the defenseman off the hook, and after the penalty kill, the extra session turned into a wide-open affair. Andrei Kostitsyn got a good chance at one end, and then Eric Fehr getting a good look at Halak but couldn’t deliver the game-winner.

But the best Washington chance had in overtime belonged to Backstrom. The center had a golden chance to shoot in close on Halak during a 3-on-1 break, but he held the puck too long, taking it behind the goal line, and didn’t generate a shot on goal and play continued.

It turned out to be a costly play to not make the shot, as not long after Backstrom’s missed chance, Plekanec didn’t miss his. The Canadiens’ center ended the game with a blast over Theodore’s shoulder, giving Montreal a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“We were screwing around with it [the puck] instead of taking it back and setting it up and coming out,” Boudreau said. “I think when Joe [Corvo] threw it across the ice, it got redirected and Alex [Ovechkin] was changing and Nicky [Backstrom] got beat and Mike Knuble was caught on the other end of the boards. They came up and our defense was caught in transition so they backed up so Plekanec got a chance to walk into the top of the circle and he had a perfect shot.”

For Plekanec, who was involved in a controversy before the game over a quote that appeared in Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, it was a bit of vindication — although he was also complimentary towards the goaltender he was accused of slighting.

“Again, I never said anything bad about the Capitals goaltending,” he said afterwards. “I said they have very good goalies and they proved it. I would never say anything disrespectful to [Theodore]. If they took it that way, then that’s what happens.”

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About the Author
Ted Starkey

Ted Starkey

Ted Starkey, a Web editor for the continuous news desk, has written for and edited high-traffic websites, including AOL News, AOL Sports, FanHouse.com, USAHockey.com and BuffaloBills.com. He also has covered the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, Stanley Cup playoffs, NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA hockey during his career.

He is a graduate of American University, with a double major in ...

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