The Washington Capitals were unstoppable over this past week, making unbelievable strides forward as they continued to climb the Eastern Conference. However, their six-game winning streak ended Saturday with a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
With that loss, the Capitals remained tied with Philadelphia for third in the Metropolitan Division with 41 points, which makes their upcoming Wednesday game against the Flyers even more important to win.
Washington was unable to figure out Carey Price and the Canadiens defense in the first frame and to make matters worse, they let the Canadiens strike first. About six minutes into the game, the Habs struck first, thanks to an Artturi Lehkonen wrap-around goal off a loose puck.
The Capitals were limited to just eight shots on net through the first period and couldn’t score on a power-play chance shortly after the goal against.
Penalty-filled is probably the best word to describe the second period Saturday. Both teams combined for eight penalties, with Montreal taking five. Eventually, one of these chances proved to be key to Washington finding twine.
On a 5-on-3 early in the second period, Alex Ovechkin gave the puck Justin Williams, who then slid the puck cross-ice to Nicklas Backstrom, who buried a one-timer past a split Price to tie the game at one. This marks a four-game point streak for Williams and five straight games where Washington has scored a power-play goal.
Unfortunately, the tie lasted for all of about two minutes. Jeff Petry would give the Canadiens their lead back, leaving the Capitals right back where they started. Montreal outshot Washington 12-8 in the second frame.
You would think that the Capitals would add more urgency to their game in the third period, but they only managed five shots on net. It was rather uneventful, and for the most part, Washington looked fatigued and simply out of it.
There were no more power-play opportunities, and toward the end, the team was missing that urgency we had seen so often over the last six games. Once the horn sounded, Washington’s six-game winning streak had vanished.
MTL- Artturi Lehkonen (6), unassisted
WSH- Nicklas Backstrom (9) assisted by Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin
MTL – Jeff Petry (6) assisted by Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault
THW Three Stars
First: Justin Williams (one assist, four-game point streak)
Second: Nicklas Backstrom (one goal)
Third: Alex Ovechkin (one assist, three shots, six hits)
Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center, 8 p.m. EST on December 21
Broadcast Channels: NBCSN
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.