Capitals miss chance to clinch series, fall 2-1 to Canadiens in Game 5

Montreal forces a Game 6 with a 2-1 win over the Capitals on Friday night at Verizon Center.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Washington Capitals had an opportunity to put the quarterfinals behind them and get a week's worth of rest before opening the second round.

Instead, they're headed back to Montreal after a slow start, a struggling power play and a sublime effort by Jaroslav Halak sent them to a 2-1 loss at Verizon Center in which Coach Bruce Boudreau said afterward that the team had "five or six passengers" along for the ride again.

"Of course," an exasperated Boudreau snapped when asked if his team had let a chance slip away. "What do you think? We let it slip away. We have Game 5 in our building, and we play like crap the first 10 minutes, and the game's over."

Game 6 is Monday at Bell Centre.

The Capitals had many deficiencies, but their biggest issues were obvious: Yielding goals to Michael Cammalleri and Travis Moen in the opening 7 minutes 1 seconds of the game on home ice, and a wretched 0 for 5 night for the regular season's top-ranked power play.

"Our power play is not helping us," Brendan Morrison said. "It's not helping us right now. They're doing a good job of pressuring us. We've talked about adjustments, but it hasn't translated onto the ice yet. If we want to win this series, it has to help us win a game. But it really hasn't done that."

The power play is now 1 for 24 in the series. It mustered 11 shots in 9:20, but whenever it seemed the Capitals had a prime scoring chance, the shot was either missed or Halak was there with a glove, stick or pad.

As well as Halak (37 saves) played, though, Boudreau wasn't letting his skilled players skate without taking some of the blame.

"He played very good," Boudreau said of Halak. "There's no doubt. [But] we missed some really good looks, and when you have players that are supposed to be scorers and they miss really good looks, it's like a checker not doing his job in my mind. You got to score those goals."

One of those players is Alexander Semin, the Capitals' second most dangerous scorer behind Ovechkin, who netted his fifth goal of the series in the second period. Semin, meantime, took a game-high nine shots on goal but, for the 12th straight playoff game dating back to last season, did not score.

"How many goals and assists did he have?" Boudreau said when asked to assess Semin's effort. Told it was, "Zero," an unusually testy Boudreau fired back, "Ok."

"He did put in a better effort I thought than he's put in the three or four previous games," Boudreau added. "But if we don't get him scoring, then it's too easy to check certain guys. He's just got to come through."

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