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Last week, an early lead was enough to give Montreal a victory on the road
over Washington.  One week later, on Friday night, history did not repeat
itself.  Although the Habs were able to get a pair of one goal advantages
and led into the third period, they were unable to hold on in the final minutes
and fell 3-2 to the Capitals in a shootout.

The game got off to a surprising start before it even started.  Michal
Neuvirth was supposed to be between the pipes for the Caps but he got injured in
the warmup before he even faced a shot.  As a result, Washington’s video
coach Brett Leonhardt was dressed as the backup for the second time, the first
coming back in 2008.  The first period was one of Montreal’s better
defensive efforts of the season, holding Washington to just four shots, allowing
zero in the final 15:40 of the frame (three of the four came in a six second
flurry).  Daniel Briere made sure the strong performance didn’t go to waste
as he wrapped one past Holtby to give Montreal the lead heading into the second

Unfortunately for Montreal, their attempt at surpassing Pittsburgh’s 25:05 of
shotless hockey ended early as the Capitals had a scoring chance less than a
minute into the frame.  Washington took advantage of a lucky break as Peter
Budaj and his defencemen weren’t on the same page on a dump in; instead of a
quick pass and a clear out, Budaj turned it over and it was quickly in the net
courtesy of Eric Fehr.  The Habs got their own fortuitous bounce shortly
thereafter though on an odd man rush.  Tomas Plekanec tried to pass it to
Brian Gionta but instead of corralling it with his stick, the puck hit Gionta’s
skate and bounced right back to Plekanec who had a largely wide open net and he
didn’t miss, restoring Montreal’s lead as they went into the third.

The Canadiens had several good chances to score in the first half of the
period but were unable to beat Holtby and it came back to bite them.  Ex-Hab
Mikhail Grabovski, who assisted on Fehr’s goal, beat Budaj in the five-hole to
square it up and send it into overtime.  In the extra session, Montreal had
the better of the chances but neither team could score, sending it to the
shootout.  Historically, Budaj has been hit or miss in the ‘skills
competition.’  In this one, he was in the latter category.  Here are
the results:


Lars Eller:
Eric Fehr: Goal
David Desharnais: Goal Alexander Ovechkin: Goal
Alex Galchenyuk:
No Goal
Backstrom: No Goal
Tomas Plekanec: No Goal Mikhail Grabovski: Goal

Holtby made 35 saves in the victory while Budaj turned aside 24 of
Washington’s 26 shots.  Both teams were scoreless on the powerplay,
Montreal was 0/2, the Capitals were 0/4. 

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star: Tomas Plekanec – This season, Plekanec has been put
into more of a secondary role than we’ve seen in recent years but this game
showed he can still be a #1 centre when asked to do so.  He was a threat at
both ends of the ice and was the Habs’ go-to guy on faceoffs.  His shootout
move left something to be desired but he was Montreal’s best skater in this one.

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 4 shots, 17/33 faceoffs (52%),
20:53 TOI

2nd Star: Brian Gionta – The captain has been quiet as of late
but he was much more of a positive on Friday night.  He wasn’t as much of a
threat as Plekanec but still made some good plays at both ends of the rink. 
He was due for a lucky break too and got one with his second assist on
Plekanec’s goal.

Stats: 2 assists, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 3 shots, 1 takeaway, 17:10 TOI

3rd Star: P.K. Subban – He wasn’t flashy and that’s what I
particularly liked about his game.  For the most part he kept things simple
and as much as some love his flare for the dramatic, I think he’s at his best
when he doesn’t venture outside the system too often.  It’s efforts like
this that will boost his odds of making Canada’s Olympic squad.

Stats: 0 points, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 2 shots, 2 takeaways, 2 blocks,
26:19 TOI

Honourable Mention: Peter Budaj – Yes, he looked terrible in
the shootout and both goals had an odour to them but he gets the nod for the
saves he made in between.  The Caps didn’t have a plethora of shots overall
but quite a few of them were prime scoring chances.  He was able to keep it
close the whole way and that’s what you look for when the backup is in.

Stats: 2 GA on 26 shots, 1.85 GAA, .923 SV%

Stat of the Night: Prior to this game, the Habs had scored at
least one powerplay goal in each of their road games.  That came to an end
in Washington.