In the wake of Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadiens, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau certainly didn’t hesitate to talk about the struggles of his team’s superstars in Game 1.
On the top of his list was captain Alexander Ovechkin, who was largely held in check by Montreal during the contest.
“[Ovechkin] didn’t play [well],” Boudreau said. “I mean, they gapped up on him really well, but I don’t think Alex played very well. I can’t put my finger on it right now, but when you get  shots on goal and Ovechkin doesn’t get any — and you have four power plays. They took him away pretty good, but I just didn’t think he was very good tonight.”
Ovechkin was held without a shot and a point in the loss, something that happened only once during the regular season.
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“Right now I’m mad, and right now we’re disappointed, but tomorrow’s a new day,” Ovechkin told reporters. “They just don’t give us the room. They put two guys in front of me. … We’re going to watch the game and make some changes.”
The Caps’ coach also he said he wasn’t thrilled witha pair of penalties on the team’s other two stars, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. While the Capitals were able to kill off the hooking penalty on Semin, Backstrom’s cross-checking minor led to the Canadiens’ first goal.
“They know you can’t do it, but every now and then you make a mistake,” the coach said. “[Backstrom] retaliated and you can count on one hand how many times Nicky’s retaliated this year. I think it was an honest play.”
It certainly wasn’t a banner night for the Capitals’ superstars. Washington’s 50-goal scorer, Ovechkin, was held in check by the Canadiens, as was the team’s 40-goal scorer, Semin. While Backstrom did score a go-ahead goal in the third period, Boudreau pointed out he also missed a glorious chance to end the game when he passed up a shot in overtime.
Washington, the top-ranked power play in the league over the regular season, also failed to connect on four chances Thursday — including one in the third period that could have put the Caps back in front after Scott Gomez tied the game for the Canadiens.
Ovechkin’s linemate, Mike Knuble, said the Caps had to work harder to get Ovechkin chances.
“This time of year you’re not pulling up trying to find someone,” Knuble said. “[Ovechkin] is a gifted scorer. I’m sure he’s been shadowed half of his life. We got to figure a way around.” For his part, the Caps’ captain said the team will have to improve on Saturday to send the game back to Montreal even up.
“It’s the playoffs,” he said. “You try to do well every shift. I think we play [a] great first period. We had a lot of great chances, but we didn’t score. We score the first power-play goal and we feel good and then we stopped playing. It’s OK. It’s one game. We’ll have 24 hours to think about what we did wrong.”
Ovechkin also acknowledged that part of the problem was the Caps’ style of play Thursday, as the tendency to pass up shots to make the perfect pass cost Washington a couple of good chances on goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
“Maybe we just need to play [a more] simple [game]. We’re going to think about it and make some changes.”
WASHINGTON CAPITALS vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS
(Montreal leads series, 1-0)
Game 1: Montreal 3, Washington 2 (OT)
Game 2: April 17 at Washington, 7 p.m. ET, CSN, Versus
Game 3: April 19 at Montreal, 7 p.m. ET, CSN
Game 4: April 21 at Montreal, 7 p.m. ET, CSN
Game 5*: April 23 at Washington, 7 p.m. ET, CSN
Game 6*: April 26 at Montreal, 7 p.m. ET, CSN
Game 7*: April 28 at Washington, 7 p.m., CSN
* = if necessary