Three things stuck out about this game, and they clearly fit into...
Caps Love Verizon, Perreault Hearts Habs
Before tonight, Mathieu Perreault had 10 goals and nine assists. For the Washington Capitals opening goal, Perreault added one more Sacre bleu “but” to that total, his second in three games against Montreal.
“It seems every time I play them, I get that little spark of energy and the puck seems to find me when I get around the net,” said the Drummondville, Quebec native who counts six goals alone against Northeast division teams.
Friday’s 4-1 over the Montreal Canadiens broke a drought for the Caps, both win-wise and energy-wise. The same team that carries a dismal 10-18-3 record on the road boasts an impressive 20-8-2 at home, and tonight the Caps played like that team.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Canadiens were held to one shot on Michal Neuvirth, whose parents happened to be in the building. The Caps couldn’t convert then, though Alex Semin almost had one on a feed from Perreault.
Carey Price may be facing some tough criticism for the opening goal. “It was kind of a weird play, seems like almost the whistle was blown ’cause Price kinda seemed to stop playing,” said Perreault, “The puck slowly glided to me and I tapped it in, just like ‘What’s going on? The whistle blew or something?'”
Goals from linemate Jason Chimera and captain Alex Ovechkin looked no better for the Montreal’s star, as Chimera’s forced both Price and the puck into the net. While his goal was still being announced, Ovechkin lazered a shot in, getting a 3-0 lead.
But as trends go, it was the power play that failed Washington. On four tries, the Caps struggled to sustain offense with the extra man and failed. On the fifth, all the faults coalesced, leading to a short-handed chance that Rene Bourque capitalized on. “We turned it over in our zone that caused a three-on-two, and they made a good play,” said coach Dale Hunter, “We’re playing more D back there, and trying to counter that.”
Fortunately for Washington, Montreal’s 29th-ranked power play didn’t provide any surprises either, as they went zero for four.
The night ended on a much needed high note as Joel Ward, who played his 300th game in Ottawa and hadn’t scored since Jan. 7, got his sixth goal of the season on an empty net.
The Caps go head-to-head in a fight for eighth tomorrow (should Florida lose) against a well-rested Toronto team, and if they’re lucky, the plane will keep tonight’s energy in their pores.