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“We were playing not to lose at that point, and allowing them to come on and making afraid passes,” he said. “We had to get back to playing the game. I’ve seen it happen too many times you play not to lose, and you end up losing.”

Knuble gave Montreal another chance with the power-play, but this time, the Capitals held to temper the momentum the Canadiens had built following the goal.

Washington added an extra tally in the game’s final minute, as Matt Bradley poked the puck past Halak with :44.1 left to play to seal the final at 5-1.

The game was an aberration of the first seven games of the series, as four of the six games had needed overtime, and only one in the series decided by more than one goal.

But now, the Canadiens have to decide which goaltender gives them the best chance against the Caps’ offense that now has nine goals in the last five periods of play. While Halak helped the Canadiens win Game 1, he has wilted as Washington turned up its offense in the last two games of the series.

On the Washington bench, it appears the controversy is settled for now, as Varlamov’s effort were a big reason that the Caps are able to take a 2-1 series lead Monday thanks to his strong play in the first period. While Boudreau didn’t say for sure Varlamov would start in Game 4, he certainly indicated he’d be his goalie of choice as Washington looks to take command of the series.

Game 4 will be held Wednesday night at Bell Centre before the series shifts back to Washington Friday night for Game 5.