Caps Oust Habs, Take 2-1 Series Lead

Washington's Alex Ovechkin celebrates with teammate Mike Knuble after scoring the fourth goal against the Montreal during the second period of Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals

MONTREAL (AP) – Alexander Ovechkin scored the fourth goal of Washington’s second-period outburst, leading the Capitals to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference series.

Semyon Varlamov, who got the nod over Jose Theodore, made 26 saves in his first start of the series for Washington, which has won two in a row after losing the opener 3-2 in overtime.

Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr each scored within a span of 7:27 as the Capitals chased Jaroslav Halak 8:33 into the second.

Ovechkin dropped to his knees at 13:50 to put a one-timer past Carey Price, who relieved Halak after Washington took a 3-0 lead.

Tomas Plekanec spoiled Varlamov’s shutout bid with a power-play goal 2:25 into the third.

Matt Bradley scored the Capitals’ final goal with 44.1 seconds left in the third.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Montreal.

Varlamov got his second straight win since relieving Theodore early in Game 2.

Theodore, the 2002 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP with the Canadiens, was pulled after allowing goals on Montreal’s first two shots Saturday. Varlamov stopped 19 shots the rest of the way for the win in Washington’s dramatic 6-5 comeback victory in overtime.

Two nights later, Halak was yanked after he was beaten on three of six shots in the second. The Slovakian goalie stopped 10 shots overall. Price made 22 saves.

Washington’s special teams play opened the scoring early in the second as Gordon scored a short-handed goal to put the Canadiens up 1-0.

The Capitals, who boast the NHL’s top-ranked power play, have not scored a goal with the man advantage in five straight games, including the last two of the regular season.

Gordon, who did not dress for Game 2, backhanded his own rebound past Halak for his first goal 1:06 into the second. Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek slid backwards into Halak, pushing the Canadiens goalie into his own net and clearing the way for Gordon’s shot.

Laich added his first goal at 4:42 to make it 2-0 before Fehr scored his second goal in two games, ending Halak’s outing with Montreal in a 3-0 hole before the midway through the second.

What a statement game for the Caps. After the initial twenty minutes, this one looked as if it would be another close contest just like games one and two were in D.C.

Washington wasn’t going to have any of that though as they silenced the Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 with four unanswered goals in the second period, three of which came within the first nine minutes.

By the way I have to mention the Habs fans. They were amazing in the first period, much louder and into the game then Verizon Center was in the first two games. They booed Ovechkin everytime he touched the puck and you could feel their energy. Obviously four straight goals will smother that energy, but I still applaud the effort of the Canadiens’ fans.

What a swing of momentum when you step back and think about where Washington was at one point in the second period of Game 2. They were trailing 4-1 in the game and 0-1 in the series. Things were looking bleak. But since that point, they have outscored Montreal 10-2 !

Pardon the basketball analogy but the ball is certainly in the Caps court right now and they can take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a victory on Wednesday night before heading back to D.C. for Game 5.


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