Game preview #3: Canadiens-Capitals
(Best-of-seven series tied, 1-1)
Big Story -- Are the Capitals ready to get on a roll or will the Canadiens continue to put scare after scare into the Presidents' Trophy winners. Washington came back from deficits of 2-0, 4-1 and 5-4 to win Game 2 in overtime, 6-5. The series shifts now to Bell Centre, where the Habs were only 20-16-5 this season.
Capitals -- The superstars came to the fore Saturday night as both Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin had four points. Backstrom finished off his hat trick with the winner just 31 seconds into overtime. Ovechkin had a goal and three assists. The more interesting story is developing in the Capitals' net. Will Semyon Varlamov or Jose Theodore get the start in Game 3? Theodore was pulled 7:58 into Game 2 after giving up two goals on as many shots. Varlamov, who rose to prominence in the playoffs last season, made 19 saves to pick up the win. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday that he made the switch to energize the team and the crowd. After practice Sunday he would not say who will get the nod Monday.
"I didn't fault (Theodore)," Boudreau said. "We came out with a lot of energy and anticipation and it was a pretty deflating goal when you're coming out and excited to play and the first shot goes in. Then the second shot they get goes in, so that's why I made the change. One thing about (Theodore) is he's lasted this long in this League because he's been able to put that stuff behind him and play great when we ask him to play great again."
Canadiens -- By all accounts the 6-5 loss Saturday night in Game 2 should have devastated the Habs, but they claim it did not because the big picture is what matters, not one game. The Canadiens came to Washington to at least get a split and they did that by winning Game 1. They have stolen home-ice advantage in the series and have a chance to take control of it at the Bell Centre. However, they saw what the best offense in the NHL can do when it's rolling Saturday night. It's nearly impossible to contain, and that's got to be a concern going forward in this series.
"It's not one line and it's not one guy," right wing Brian Gionta said. "They have a lot of guys that can cause some damage and unfortunately they hurt us (Saturday), but we're happy with how things turned out in the two games here (in Washington)."
Who's Hot -- Backstrom, Ovechkin and rookie defenseman John Carlson had big nights for the Caps. You already know what Backstrom and Ovechkin did, but Carlson scored arguably the biggest goal of the night, at least in regulation, when he tied it up with 1:21 left in the third. Carlson also had an assist.
For the Habs, their top line of Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec is rolling. Kostitsyn is coming off a hat-trick performance, the first by a Canadien in the playoffs since Eric Desjardins in 1993. Plekanec has scored in each game, including the OT winner in Game 1, and Cammalleri has a goal and three assists in the series.
Injury Report -- Washington defenseman Milan Jurcina remains out after double hernia surgery. … Montreal winger Glen Metropolit is still out with a shoulder injury.
Stat Pack -- Washington's power play, the best in the NHL during the regular season, is 0-for-7 in the series. … The Habs' No. 1 line of Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Cammalleri has combined for 12 points in two games. … The Caps' win Saturday was their first at home in overtime since May 25, 1998. It snapped a five-game losing streak in home overtimes. … The Capitals rallied to win three times during the regular season when they were trailing by at least three goals and did so another five times when they were trailing by two goals. They were trailing 4-1 in the second period Saturday night.
Five Keys to the Game : Habs-Caps #3
Home, sweet home
Backstrom's OT goal gives Caps 6-5 win