Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Alex Ovechkin Returns, Washington Back On Track With 4-1 Win

Alex Ovechkin returned to the ice on Friday night, and immediately made an impact with a goal in Washington's 4-1 win over Montreal.

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals Recap: Washington Back On Track With 4-1 Win Over Montreal

After perhaps their worst stretch of the season, the Washington Capitals got back on track Friday night and ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals won their 30th game of the season with a strong first forty minutes, building a 3-0 lead heading into the final period.

Montreal tried to make it interesting at the start of the third, when Rene Bourque scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead to 3-1. But that would be only time the Habs beat Michal Neuvirth, who was solid all evening stopping 30 of 31 shots sent his way.

For all your NHL news as the trade deadline approaches, be sure to follow along at SB Nation's NHL news hub.

The Caps overcame some sloppiness in the third, with Montreal failing to convert several Washington turnovers. A Joel Ward empty-net goal from the neutral zone sealed the 4-1 win for the Capitals. The Caps have little time to enjoy the win, as they now travel north to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Capitals, visit Japers' Rink, SB Nation's Caps blog. For the opponent's perspective, check out Habs Eyes On The Prize.

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Caps Find Offense, Lead 3-0 After Two Periods

The Washington Capitals have had trouble scoring lately, but they remedied that situation early and often Friday.

Jason Chimera and Alex Ovechkins cored 16 seconds apart in the second period to give the Caps a 3-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens after 40 minutes.

Chimera's 16th goal of the season at 8:42 gave the Caps a 2-0 lead. Chimera took a breakout pass from Alexander Semin and cut down the center of the ice. Chimera tucked a backhand past Carey Price as the latter slid into the goal. Chimera is just two goals away from setting a career-high.

Sixteen seconds later, Ovechkin extended the lead to 3-0. Ovechkin's 25th goal of the season was the product of finishing a tic-tac-toe sequence with Dmitry Orlov and Marcus Johansson. He has 24 points in his last 26 games and is the third active player in the NHL to score at least 25 goals in each of his first seven seasons.

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Mathieu Perreault's Goal Gives Caps 1-0 Lead

It has been a while since the Washington Capitals entered an intermission with a lead. Fortunately for the Caps, Mathieu Perreault changed that.

Perreault's first period goal has the Caps leading the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Perreault put the Caps up 1-0 for the first time since February 9 at 6:58. As Montreal attempted to clear the puck, Jason Chimera intercepted it along the left boards and threw it on net. Chimera's pass dribbled across the ice and towards the crease, where Perreault was waiting to tap it past Carey Price for his 11th goal of the season. It was the Caps' first first period goal since February 7.

Michal Neuvirth, in his first home start since December 20, made nine saves. Carey Price made nine of his own.

Shots are 10-9 in favor of Washington.

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Alex Ovechkin 'Ready To Go', Could Return To Lineup

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said after Friday's optional morning skate that he is "ready to go" and could be in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens Friday.

"We just try a couple days ago skating and I don't feel well," Ovechkin said. "Last night, I don't feel. Today, I feel normal."

Ovechkin missed Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators with a "lower-body injury." It is uncertain when Ovechkin suffered the injury, but it is possible that he was hurt by a check from the Hurricanes' Bryan Allen during the second period of Monday's 5-0 loss to Carolina. Ovechkin did not practice with the team Thursday, but skated for about 15 minutes beforehand.

Meanwhile, Michal Neuvirth will likely start for Washington. If he does, it will be his first appearance at Verizon Center since December 20.

John Erskine and Roman Hamrlik took part in extra work, so they will likely be the defensive scratches.

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Caps Return Home To Face Habs

The Washington Capitals' recently-concluded four-game road trip did not end well. Three straight losses has the Caps mired in mediocrity with seemingly no end in sight. Yet, despite that, Washington is still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race and will look to gain ground Friday against the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center.

A 1-3-0 road trip has the Caps in 10th place in the East, two points behind ninth-place Toronto and three behind eighth-place Florida (the Winnipeg Jets are four points ahead of Washington and lead the Southeast Division). Meanwhile, the Canadiens are the East's worst team with 58 points (just five behind the Caps).

Washington might be without Alex Ovechkin for the second straight game as he continues to suffer from a "lower-body" injury. Ovechkin missed Thursday's team practice, but skated for about 15 minutes beforehand. Without Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion), the Caps are without their two leading scorers.

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Roman Hamrlik On Dale Hunter: 'He Should Know Better'

If the rumors are true that Roman Hamrlik is being shopped around to other interested NHL teams with the league's trade deadline four days away, then making him a healthy scratch --as Dale Hunter did in Wednesday night's 5-2 loss to Ottawa--is a hell of a way to goose his value.

However, Hamrlik may have lost whatever ethical high ground he had when he spoke to the media after Thursday's practice.

Via CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley:

"People talk. Media talks," Hamrlik said when asked about a report that he has asked to be traded before Monday's trade deadline. "Nothing I can do about it. I'm happy to be here and do my job. I don't have control over that. I hope I stay here and make the team better and help them make the playoffs. I don't have reason to leave."

Standard boilerplate stuff. Then things got ugly.

Asked if Hunter discussed with him the reasons for being scratched, Hamrlik said. "No, he didn't."

Asked what he thought the reason was, Hamrlik replied, "I don't know. You should ask him."

Hunter said a penalty taken by Hamrlik early in Monday night's 5-0 loss in Carolina was one of the reasons he sent Hamrlik to the press box two nights later in Ottawa.

"You should ask him about the penalties because when he played I think he make lots of penalties himself," Hamrlik said. "He should know better. This is a game and guys (play with) emotion. I know I took a bad penalty, but if that's the reason I didn't play that's his decision."

Apart from Hamrlik's somewhat questionable logic, he does realize that it's generally not a good idea to take this stuff to the media, right? Right?

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Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Alex Ovechkin Skates Before Practice, Listed As 'Day-To-Day'

Alex Ovechkin did not practice Thursday and is listed as "day-to-day." His status for Friday's game against the Canadiens is uncertain.

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