The Washington Capitals will look for a bounce-back win against the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
The Capitals ended a five-game winning streak when they fell 4-3 in overtime to the visiting Ottawa Senators on Thursday. The Canadiens were hammered 7-2 by the host Florida Panthers on Thursday for their season-high fourth straight loss, with the past three coming in regulation.
After Alex Ovechkin scored his team-leading 23rd goal of the season and 803rd of his career to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the second period, Dylan Strome doubled the advantage a little more than two minutes later.
Jake Sanderson pulled Ottawa to within 2-1 at the 8:30 mark before Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 3-1 with 4:04 left in the period.
But the Capitals, who were outshot 45-23, couldn’t hold the lead.
Tim Stutzle made it 3-2 with 16 seconds left in the second period before Alex DeBrincat’s goal with 5:34 left sent the game into overtime.
DeBrincat ended it by scoring 91 seconds into the extra session to deal Washington just its second loss in its past 12 games.
“I think we got away a little bit from why we’ve been having such a good month here,” said Washington goalie Darcy Kuemper (10-9-3, 2.47 goals-against average), who made 41 saves. “I think it will be easy to recognize and turn things around. Not worried from that standpoint. Got to make sure we are better next game.”
Ovechkin leads Washington with 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists), well ahead of Kuznetsov’s 30 points via six goals and a team-high 24 assists. Strome has 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists).
Montreal gave up a first-period hat trick to Florida’s Aleksander Barkov, but goals by Arber Xhekaj and Josh Anderson pulled the Canadiens within 3-2 after 20 minutes.
The Panthers scored the game’s final four goals, turning a close game into a rout.
Sam Montembeault (6-4-2, 3.23 GAA) made 34 saves for the Canadiens, who were outshot 41-27.
The Panthers went 3-for-6 on the power play and the Canadiens have allowed seven goals on their past 12 penalty kills.
“Our (penalty kill unit) is struggling right now,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “For a good part of the early season, we were going really well. Now, we’re facing some really good power plays and we’re just off a little bit. You’ve got to give them credit, and for us, as much as it’s growing pains a little bit, you can’t buy those reps.”
Nick Suzuki is second on the team in goals (15) and assists (16) for a team-leading 31 points, while Cole Caulfield has a team-high 19 goals to go along with nine assists for 28 points.
Washington defeated visiting Montreal 3-1 in the team’s first meeting this season on Oct. 15.
Suzuki gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at the 2:01 mark of the second period, but Washington received goals from Conor Sheary, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie in a span of 6:18 later in the period.
The teams will meet for the final time in the regular season in Montreal on April 6.
–Field Level Media