MONTREAL — The goals keep going in for Alex Ovechkin — and the Washington Capitals keep winning.
The Russian star stretched his league lead to three goals over Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos in his race for a third Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal-scorer. He has 20 goals in his last 18 games.
“It’s good, I’m pretty happy I scored some goals and we won the game,” said Ovechkin. “But we still have three games left to play and the next one is the biggest game of the year.”
The Capitals will be at home to face the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night with both teams battling for first place in the Southeast Division. Washington has a three-point lead and each team has three games remaining in the regular season.
“Now we have some time to relax and refresh our bodies and our minds and be ready for the next one,” Ovechkin added.
Max Pacioretty spoiled Braden Holtby’s shutout bid with 5:09 left in regulation, and the Canadiens were serenaded with a chorus of boos from the Bell Centre crowd in their final home game of the regular season.
Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said the team was “soft” and that it will have to get back on track if it hopes to go far in the playoffs. The Canadiens have conceded 25 goals while losing four of their last five games since clinching a playoff spot.
“We have to do that especially this week,” said Gorges. “I’ve been through enough (to know) you can’t just show up in Game 1 of the playoffs and think, ‘Now I’m going to start playing, now our team’s going to click.’
“That doesn’t work. We have to make sure we’re prepared this week and have the effort. If we get scored on, so what? We have to bounce back and have that championship mentality.”
Giving up early goals has hurt the Canadiens of late, and the trend continued as the Capitals scored on two of their first three shots and four of their first 11 against Carey Price.
Mike Ribeiro, who had three assists, won a faceoff in the Montreal zone and Brouwer’s long shot sailed past a screened Price only 1:08 later.