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Montreal kicked off their annual Super Bowl weekend double matinee on Saturday with a game against the Capitals.  Despite a strong finish at the end, they weren’t able to take home the victory and lost 3-2.

The Habs made one lineup change from their loss in Philadelphia on Thursday night as Sven Andrighetto came back into the lineup in place of David Desharnais.

The game didn’t get off to the best of starts for the home team as Jay Beagle opened up the scoring just past the three minute mark on a perfectly-placed wrister that beat Carey Price glove side.  It didn’t look like Price saw the shot as Nathan Beaulieu unintentionally provided a perfect screen for the Washington centre.

A couple of minutes later, a collision along the boards wound up creating a crack in the yellow dasher behind Washington’s net.  That resulted in a delay for 12 minutes and Montreal came out stronger after that break.  Shortly after play resumed, Phillip Danault made a nice play to keep the puck in the offensive zone and wound up setting up Alexander Radulov seconds later to tie the game.

The Canadiens didn’t have a ton of chances after that but were able to hold the Caps at bay for the most part as well.  In particular, a penalty kill that lasted nearly four minutes didn’t yield many opportunities for Washington and their play down a man was a big reason why it was tied at ones heading to the break.  Shots on goal in the period were 12-7 for the visitors.

The second period saw Montreal come out with as much intensity as they had in the first.  In other words, they basically had none.  Just prior to the midway mark, Alex Galchenyuk failed to get the puck deep in the zone as he tried to skate it in.  The Capitals went the other way with numbers and Andre Burakovsky beat Price to make it 2-1.

Moments later, it looked like Radulov had his second of the game to tie it up again but Max Pacioretty collided with Braden Holtby to negate the goal.  Montreal had a pair of power plays in the period and managed to generate little in the way of offence and the buzzer went with the score still at 2-1.  Shots on goal in the second were 12-5 for Washington.

The third period didn’t get off to a great start for the Habs.  Radulov took a hooking penalty early on and Nicklas Backstrom beat a screened Price to make it 3-1.  Moments later, the Capitals should have been called for delay of game but it went undetected.  (Although with the way Montreal’s power play performed, that may not have been a bad thing.)

Montreal didn’t give up though and got the deficit back to one shortly after as Pacioretty atoned for his goalie interference from the previous period, scoring his 25th of the season with just over 12 minutes to go.  However, despite a strong push in the final few minutes (after killing an Andrew Shaw penalty), they weren’t able to beat Holtby a third time.

Price made 27 saves in a losing effort while Holtby turned aside 20 Montreal shots.  The power play turned out to be the difference as the Caps went 1/4 (with that goal being the winner) while the Habs were 0/3.

HW Habs 3 Stars of the Afternoon

1st Star: Alexander Radulov – Radulov was by far Montreal’s top offensive threat and when his line was on the ice, good things often happened for the Habs.  Yes, he took the penalty that led to the winner but that was the only blemish in an otherwise stellar performance.

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 3 shots, 5 hits, 3 giveaways, 20:02 TOI

2nd Star: Phillip Danault – He may not be an ideal top line centre candidate but he seems to have chemistry with Radulov and Pacioretty and it showed in this one.  Unfortunately, he missed the second half of the third period after taking a high stick and is questionable for Sunday’s game.

Stats: 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 shots, 6/12 faceoffs, 16:33 TOI

3rd Star: Max Pacioretty – He wasn’t quite as dominant as Radulov was on a shift-to-shift basis but he was still one of their most consistent threats.  Negating what would have been Radulov’s second goal certainly proved costly though.

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 1 shot, 2 takeaways, 19:48 TOI

Honourable Mention: Sven Andrighetto – He responded well after being a healthy scratch and was quietly effective.  He drew an early penalty and had a couple of strong drives to the net.  He played well enough to stay in the lineup tomorrow against the Oilers.

Stats: 0 points, 1 shot, 1 takeaway, 1 block, 14:54 TOI

Stat Sheet