Top-seeded Washington Capitals fall, 3-2 in overtime, to Canadiens in Game 1 of first-round Stanley Cup playoff series

The top-seeded Caps fall to No. 8 Montreal, 3-2, in overtime in the playoff opener.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2010

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals hoped to show everyone that they're more than a regular season wonder.

Instead, Jaroslav Halak, Tomas Plekanec and the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens made the big statement -- while Ovechkin failed to muster a shot on goal -- in the teams' opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Halak made 45 saves and Plekanec scored from between the circles at 13 minutes 19 seconds of overtime to send the NHL's top seed to a 3-2 loss at Verizon Center.

While a lot went wrong for Washington, Ovechkin's subpar performance stood out the most. It was only the second time this season the NHL's shots leader failed to register at least one.

"He didn't play good," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I can't put my finger on it right now, but when you get [nearly] 50 shots on goal and Ovechkin doesn't get any, and you have four power plays, there's something. . . . They took him away. But I didn't think he was very good."

Ovechkin, who entered with 15 goals and 30 points in 21 career playoff games and a reputation for torching teams from Canada, said he must make adjustments to escape Montreal's suffocating coverage.

"They just don't give us the room," the two-time MVP said. "They just put two guys in front of me, two guys in front of [Nicklas Backstrom]. I don't know. We just have to talk each other and what we have to do better."

The other prominent story line after Game 1 was, of course, the fact that Plekanec scored the winner on Theodore two days after the former teammates traded barbs through the media. The Canadiens star slighted Theodore, saying, "It's not as though we were up against [Martin] Brodeur or [Ryan] Miller." Theodore responded with, "Tomas who? Jagr? Oh, Plekanec. Okay. I thought you meant Jagr."

Well, for one moment Thursday, Plekanec did his best Jaromir Jagr impression. A broken play led to Plekanec getting the puck at the top of the Capitals' zone, where he took aim, waited for Washington defenseman Joe Corvo to screen Theodore before he unleashed a perfectly placed shot to steal home-ice advantage from the Capitals, who dropped the opening game of the playoffs on home ice for the second straight spring.

"He did a good shot shooting against the grain," Theodore said. "I was moving one way, and he went the other. He's a skilled player, and he was able to make that shot."

Plekanec's overtime winner spoiled what was an otherwise solid showing by Theodore, who stopped 35 shots.

"I thought he was good," Boudreau said of Theodore. "In the second period, when they were putting a push on the last 10 minutes of the period, he made some big, big saves to keep us in it."

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