Montreal Canadiens hold off Washington Capitals, 3-2

The Caps' late comeback bid falls short after Mike Green's shot caroms off the post.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Washington Capitals began the game missing six players who started the season on the opening night roster, and by the middle of the second period, were down a seventh.

But injuries weren't the reason the Capitals fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, on Friday night at Verizon Center after a mad scramble to tie the game in the final minute came up short.

They lost, according to Coach Bruce Boudreau, because they weren't ready to play in the first period and because they weren't committed to going into high-traffic areas of the ice and "paying the price" necessary to score.

"We didn't have any second shots until the end of the game," Boudreau said. "Good goalies are going to make the first save. You have to pay the price to score goals. We were getting outmuscled."

The Capitals poured 27 shots on Carey Price in the final 40 minutes of the game, but managed to squeeze just one past him. And that didn't come until there were 2 minutes 32 seconds left when Brendan Morrison intercepted Mike Green's point shot and flipped the puck past the Canadiens goalie.

After Morrison's goal, the Capitals put four shots on Price, including one by Green that trickled between the goalie's glove and his side before clanking off the goal post with 21 seconds remaining and bringing the fans to the edge of their seats.

"I thought we had a chance to tie it," Boudreau said. "If we did the right things we would have scored."

Boudreau also said he thought Alex Ovechkin struggled all night. In his second game back from an injury near his left shoulder, the two-time MVP took only one shot on goal through 40 minutes (before finishing with five) and finished without a point for just the fourth time this season.

"As far as I know," Boudreau said when asked if Ovechkin is healthy. "He says he is. I just didn't think he was on top of his game tonight."

Although the loss was only Washington's second in seven games, what they lost in the second period might end up hurting worse. Big-minute defenseman Tom Poti suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. Boudreau said the team will have to recall a player from the minor league Hershey Bears ahead of Saturday's game in Toronto.

Poti is just the latest Capital to go down, joining Alexander Semin (wrist), Shaone Morrisonn (head), Milan Jurcina (groin), Boyd Gordon (back), Mike Knuble (broken finger) and Quintin Laing (broken jaw).

Despite the depleted lineup, the Capitals took an early lead on a goal from Eric Fehr, who opened the scoring at 11 minutes 52 seconds of the first period thanks to 174-pound Mathieu Perreault, who won a puck battle in the corner against 234-pound Ryan O'Byrne. Perreault threaded a back-handed pass to Fehr, who fired the puck from the middle of the circle into the upper corner -- just about the only spot Price couldn't reach.

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