Washington Capitals bounce back for 5-1 win over Canadiens
MONTREAL (AP) - Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin each scored twice to lead the Washington Capitals past the sagging Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday night.
Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who had an eight-game winning streak stopped in Ottawa on Thursday but rebounded with their 13th win in 16 games.
They stretched their lead over second-place Winnipeg in the Southeast Division to three points with three games to play.
Ovechkin took a step toward a third Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer with his 29th and 30th of the season. He has 20 goals in his last 18 games.
Max Pacioretty spoiled Capitals goalie Braden Holtby's shutout bid when he banged in Tomas Plekanec's pass from behind the net with 5:09 left to play.
The Canadiens beat Tampa Bay 3-2 on Thursday to end a three-game stretch in which they conceded 18 goals, but the lackluster play and shaky goaltending returned with a vengeance in their final home game of the regular season. The Capitals scored four goals on their first 11 shots against Carey Price, who still avoided being pulled for a third time in four starts.
Montreal, which has lost five of its last seven but remains solidly in second place in the Eastern Conference, dominated the opening minutes and led 5-0 in shots when the game turned.
A careless P.K. Subban went to Backstrom, who fed Ovechkin before the Russian winger faked a pass and beat Price with a low wrist shot at 4:49.
Mike Ribeiro, who had three assists, won a faceoff in the Montreal zone and Brouwer's long shot sailed past a screened Price only 1:08 later.
Brouwer, who has six goals in his last five games, got his second of the night on the Capitals' first shot of the second frame. Ribeiro won a battle in a corner and Marcus Johansson fed it to the right circle for Brouwer's high shot that beat Price cleanly at 3:49.
Washington needed only 18 seconds on its first power play to score on a tic-tac-toe play from Mike Green at the point to Ovechkin in the left circle and then to Backstrom at the side of the crease at 7:50.
Ovechkin was parked in the left circle for a one-timer through Price's pads on Washington's second power play at 13:23 of the third.
Montreal ends the regular season with games in New Jersey, Winnipeg and Toronto.
Notes: Raphael Diaz returned after missing 25 games with a concussion and it was newcomer Davis Drewiske who sat out as Yannick Weber played a third game in a row. ... Brandon Prust was awarded the Jacques-Beauchamp Trophy as Montreal's unsung hero as voted by the local media. He returned after resting a bad shoulder for a game.