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Gionta nearly made it 2-0 in the first minute of the second, but Capitals netminder Varlamov got enough of the puck to send it off the post.

Jeff Schultz then gave Montreal its second power-play with 1:05 gone, but the Caps were able to kill of the penalty to stay within one despite some good Montreal chances.

The Capitals got their first chance with the extra-man with 8:18 left in the second, as Tomas Plekanec was called for hauling down Green on a scoring chance. Washington couldn’t get the equalizer, but got another chance with 5:39 left in the period as Josh Gorges put the Caps right back on the power-play.

John Carlson nearly put one in, but the league’s best power-play fell to just 1-for-32 on the series with the failed attempt.

Green headed back to the box with 2:38 after a bad giveaway, giving the Habs a chance to really put the Capitals in a big hole before the second intermission, but the penalty-kill held, keeping it 1-0 with the Caps putting 13 shots on goal to Montreal’s three.

Washington appeared to get on the board with just :24 gone in the first period when Ovechkin’s shot beat Halak, but the goal was washed out as the referee ruled Knuble was in the crease during the play.

Facing elimination, the Caps continued to press Halak, and Montreal thought it had a 2-0 lead when the puck went in the net with 11:37 to play, but the chance was washed out when Maxim Lapierre was ruled to have interfered with Varlamov to keep it a one-goal game, but just for the time being.

The Caps had a chance just over two minutes later on a scramble in front, but Carlson’s chance was deflected into the netting behind the glass.

Right after Ovechkin was denied by Halak on a good chance, the Canadiens took advantage of Green losing a race to the puck and Moore scored inside the post for the eventual series-winning tally.

Washington broke Halak’s shutout bid with 2:16 to play as Laich poked in the net to put the Caps back within one. O’Byrne then was called for a high-sticking penalty with just 1:44 to play in regulation, and the Caps pulled Varlamov for a 6-on-4 advantage to try for the equalizer and force overtime.

But Washington couldn’t convert, finishing the series with a 1-for-33 power-play performance and a rather stunned crowd who saw the Caps — who had only lost five regulation games at Verizon Center all season long — drop their second of the series at home to finish their season.

The Canadiens move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, while Washington faces a long offseason after seeing a commanding lead in the series evaporate.

After advancing to the second round for the first time in 11 years last season, the team took a major step backwards, became the first top seed in the NHL to lose a 3-1 series lead and fall in the series.

“If someone came to your work and stepped on your desk or punched you in the head, that’s how I feel,” Jason Chimera said in a subdued Caps locker room. “You come for a long playoff run, and it doesn’t happen it’s tough. Right now it’s weird.”

“It’s not fun at all,” Backstrom said. “We have been working hard, we thought, this season. Maybe we didn’t work hard enough. We were scoring a thousand goals in the regular season and we can’t even score in the playoffs. That’s kind of not acceptable for our team and for us. Of course, I feel bad for the fans that have been supporting us this whole season. I guess that’s hockey.”