WASHINGTON DC - FEBRUARY 01: P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens is called for a roughing penalty against Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on February 1 2011 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Caps Fall To Montreal In A Shootout 3-2

The Capitals went 2-0 early against the Canadiens, but Brian Gionta scored a pair of goals to send the game to overtime and then a shootout where the Caps failed to score on Carey Price. They fall to Montreal 3-2.

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Capitals vs. Canadiens: Caps Blow Early Lead And Lose 3-2

Washington, DC-The Capitals early surge wasn't enough to overcome their lackadaisical play in the final two frames of regulation as a 2-0 lead evaporated with a pair of second period tallies from Montreal captain Brian Gionta.

Neither team was able to put another puck between the pipes in the third, sending the game into overtime and eventually a shootout. Habs goalie Carey Price stopped Nicklas Backstrom, Matt Hendricks, and Alex Ovechkin in succession, leaving Gionta's goal as the lone marker in the shootout and giving the Canadiens a 3-2 victory at the Verizon Center.

Montreal was in danger of letting the game get out of hand early as the Caps scored a pair of goals in the first 7:49 of the opening period. However, they didn't let another across the goal line and did just enough to come back despite the best efforts of Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

"We did a great job of sticking with it," said Gionta after the game. "I think that shows maturity that has come this year. Early in the year we might [have] shut it down. Today we stuck with our gameplan and it paid off."

Varlamov frustrated the Habs early and often, making 36 saves in a losing effort. Gionta scored on a breakaway, in which Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said Varlamov took a bad angle, and also on a two-on-one where he ripped it past the young Russian goalie.

"I think we kind of sat back on our two goal lead, and we can't afford to do that," said Mathieu Perreault who broke out of a month-long scoring drought to record a goal and an assist. "We need to keep going and keep pushing, and it came up to bite us in the [butt]."

Washington has been criticized for taking periods off and tonight it was evident that the team did not put in a solid 60 minute effort. The result was one point instead of two and another disappointing loss.

"At this time of year, we can't afford to just be good for 20 minutes, continued Perreault. "Playoffs are coming up and those are points we need if we want to get a good spot for playoffs. We gotta step up and play for 60 minutes."

Varlamov was one of the few who put in a good effort from start to finish as he continues to make a strong case to be the team's net-minder in the playoffs. He has allowed 17 goals in his past ten games for a 1.74 goals against average and a .946 save percentage. Despite the impressive numbers, he is just 4-3-3 in those outings.

Speaking of playoffs, the Capitals fell five points behind Tampa Bay for the Southeast division lead as the Lightning ripped off a convincing 4-0 win over the Eastern Conference leading Flyers. Washington visits Tampa on Friday for a crucial game that could allow the Lightning to seize an opportunity to lay a strong claim on the division title.


Capitals Vs Canadiens: Montreal Ties The Game 2-2 After Two Periods

Washington, DC-With their power play dormant, Montreal was able to crank up their offense in the even strength game. Habs captain Brian Gionta scored a pair of goals to even things up at two apiece heading into the third period.

Gionta found himself in the middle of a two-on-one opportunity after a Caps defender fell down in the neutral zone. He chose to keep the puck himself and shoot it from the right circle, beating goalie Semyon Varlamov.

Following the goal, the Canadiens ramped up the pressure in the offensive zone and Gionta struck again on a breakaway to tie it up. John Carlson made a risky drop pass on the rush, resulting in a turnover and Gionta's marker.

The Canadiens poured 14 shots on Varlamov in the second period and controlled play as the Capitals took a pair of penalties and spent much of the period struggling to establish puck possession.

Washington opened the second period killing off their third penalty and Alex Ovechkin's second of the game. They are 4-4 while playing a man down tonight as the PK unit continues to live up to it's second place ranking in the league.


Capitals Vs. Canadiens: Washington Takes A 2-0 Lead Into The Second Period

Washington, DC-It's Turn Back the Clock night here at Verizon Center and prior to puck drop the Washington Capitals honored legendary winger Dino Ciccarelli with a rousing pregame ceremony. Then, they set their sights on the Montreal Canadians.

Minus Eric Fehr, Tom Poti, and Alex Semin due to injuries, the Capitals still managed to storm out of the gates with a pair of early goals. Mathieu Perreault, goaless since Dec. 26th, lit the lamp 2:29 into the game, beating Montreal goaltender Carey Price from the left circle.

Price had little time to recover as the Caps went right to power play several minutes later. The man advantage finally snapped out of its slump as Mike Knuble scored on a beautiful pass from Mike Green to make it 2-0.

Green dangled his way past a Montreal defender and sent a crisp pass over to Knuble who put it past a helpless Price. It was Washington's fourth power play goal since the New Year.

Semyon Varlamov has been impressive, stopping all 11 shots against him while anchoring two solid penalty kills. He made several tough kick-out saves and a continuation of this performance will make it difficult for the Canadiens to overcome a two-goal deficit.


Canadiens Vs. Capitals: Caps Host Habs In First Game After All-Star Break

It seems that the Montreal Canadiens always appear on the Washington Capitals' schedule right before a big game. Earlier this season, the Canadiens provided a test for the Caps before their first game with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tuesday night at Verizon Center, the Caps and Canadiens will face off again in an important game for Washington.

After a sub-par ending before the All-Star Break that saw them lose a 2-1 shootout decision to the New York Rangers and a 1-0 shutout to the Atlanta Thrashers, the Capitals will look to get back on track against the Canadiens. Not only that, but Washington's next two games are incredibly important; the Caps travel to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning Friday in a pivotal Southeast Division contest and return home on Super Bowl Sunday to face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since the Winter Classic.

But before all of that, the Capitals will look to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference standings with a win. Washington is currently in fifth place, eight points behind first place Philadelphia and four points behind Tampa Bay for the division lead. The Capitals will have to find some type of scoring touch; they have scored nine goals in their last five games and are 17th in GF/G at 2.7.

It is possible that the Caps could regain some of that missing offense with the return of Alexander Semin, who signed a one-year, $6.7 million extension last week. Semin did practice with the team Monday despite starting off the day wearing a yellow, no-contact practice jersey. If he returns, Semin will play for the first time since January 8. The Caps need Semin to contribute; he hasn't scored since November 28.

Montreal, on the other hand, is clinging onto the seventh spot, two points ahead of eighth place Atlanta and three points ahead of ninth place Carolina. They will have to go the rest of the season without two of their top defensemen, Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, who are both out with injuries. Montreal is doing just fine so far, going 6-2-2 in their last 10.

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