Komisarek, Habs cruise past Capitals
Mike Komisarek celebrates with Alex Kovalev after scoring his first NHL goal.
WASHINGTON - With the Canadiens in search of offense wherever they could get it, the unlikeliest of snipers stepped up. Mike Komisarek led the charge in a Canadiens 4-2 victory over the Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington Monday night.
The Canadiens (32-26-9) ended a three-game slide to hang on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With 73 points, Montreal continues to hold a slim one-point lead over the Thrashers, while sitting four points back of the Lightning for the sixth spot with two games in hand, and only three points shy of the Devils at No. 7. The Capitals (22-37-8) lost their sixth straight.
It may have taken 123 games, but in the end, Komisarek's first career NHL goal came in a game that his team desperately needed to win. The hulking blue-liner opened the scoring at the 5:47 mark of the first period when he accepted a pass from Alex Kovalev before wiring a low slap shot that managed to squeeze through Olaf Kolzig's pads. Richard Zednik immediately fished the puck out of the net and handed it to Komisarek, who was then mauled by his teammates as he skated past the Canadiens bench. Komisarek didn't stop there as he capped of his memorable night by adding an assist for his second two-point game of his three-year NHL career.
With the score tied 1-1 in the second period, the Canadiens exploded for three goals in a 2:06 span. Michael Ryder got things going with his team leading 25th of the year at 7:28, followed by Alexander Perezhogin, who scored his eighth 30 seconds later and Mathieu Dandenault, who notched his third only 26 seconds after that. Perezhogin snapped a nine-game drought, while Dandenault lit the lamp for the second time in three games after scoring once over his first 65 games this season.
In his return to the Canadiens crease after seeing newly-acquired David Aebischer make back-to-back starts, Cristobal Huet stopped 24-of-26 shots to improve to 12-7-4 on the year. Kolzig had a little busier night in turning aside 28-of-32 Montreal shots. Alexander Ovechkin and Brian Sutherby each scored goals for Washington.
The Canadiens will look to keep the ball rolling on Long Island Tuesday night when they take on the surging Islanders, a team among the cluster of clubs vying for Montreal's coveted No. 8 spot in the East.
NOTES: Francis Bouillon didn't make the trip after injuring his left ankle Saturday against the Penguins...Mark Streit, Niklas Sundstrom and Aaron Downey were healthy scratches...Acquired on trading deadline day from the Blackhawks, defenseman Todd Simpson made his Canadiens debut Monday night in Washington. The rugged rearguard logged 18:41 of ice-time and had a game-high four hits... Andrei Markov picked up an assist in his return to after missing the last three games with back spasms... With his assist on Komisarek's milestone marker, Kovalev extended his point streak to six games (1-5-6)...Komisarek became the seventh Canadiens player this season to score their first NHL goal, following Chris Higgins, Perezhogin, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Jonathan Ferland and Streit...
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com