If the Washington Capitals plan to advance their way through the Stanley Cup playoffs, they better find the team that played the first period of last nights 3-2 loss, and ditch the team that played the final two periods.
Washington played good, tough hockey the first period, utilizing quality puck possession and out shooting Montreal 19-7. The period ended in a 1-1 tie. Montreal struck first with a Mike Cammalleri goal at the 12:36 mark. But the Capitals jammed packed the center alley, blocking the vision of Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak as D Joe Corvo sent a long wrister past Halak a little over two minutes later to knot the score at 1-1.
From there on, the Washington Capitals we are used to failed to show up as Montreal dominated puck possession and pressure throughout the second and third periods. Give credit where credit is due, the Habs came with a game plan to neutralize the Great 8 and they did just that, stunning holding Alex Ovechkin to zero shots on goal during the regular three periods. The Habs out shot the Caps 13-8 for a scoreless second period.
Nicklas Backstrom struck early in the third period, like the Caps have done 19 times this season, just 47 seconds into the final period to put the Caps up 2-1. The lead lasted 6 minutes when Scott Gomez struck to tie the game at 2-2, which is where it ended in regulation.
Tomas Plekanec sent the Caps faithful home angry an upset, scoring at the 13 minute mark to life the Canadians to a 1-0 series lead. Jose Theodore stopped 35 of 38 shots. But give it up for Habs goalie Halak, who was masterful in net, stopping 45 of 47 shots. You can't say the Washington Capitals did not have many opportunities to score. They had plenty. The fact is, Halak was one fo the best players on ice last night and was like a vacuum in net. The Caps, who boast the top ranked power play, went a dismal 0-4.
Washington and Montreal face off in Game Two on Saturday at the Verizon Center, 7 PM.