The scoring droughts are over for Montreal Canadiens Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri as they each notched a goal in the Habs 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals last night at the Verizon Center.
Tomas Plekanec, who led the Habs with 70 points in the regular season, came up big when he shot a rocket from between the circles over José Théodore’s shoulder with 13:19 left in the first overtime.
It was a game controlled by the Canadiens, who got on the board first with Cammalleri’s power play goal in the first period. The Caps answered back about three minutes later when Joe Corvo blasted a shot from the blueline and it sailed past Jarslov Halak on his stick side.
But after the first period, the Caps gradually began to fall apart. With numerous amounts of turnovers in the second period, the Caps gave the Habs all the chances they could have wanted to take the lead. Luckily for the Caps, the second period was Théodore’s best period by far as he stopped all of the Habs 13 shots. He had 45 saves on the night.
Nicklas Backstrom redeemed the Caps after a tense second period when Mike Knuble dropped a past back to him in front of the net and he shot the puck over Halak’s glove side.
The sell-out crowd erupted in cheers, but the celebration didn’t last long as Scott Gomez skated through the Capitals players in neutral zone about seven minutes later and tapped in Brian Gionta’s pass in front of Théodore.
With the exception of Backstrom, the Caps star players were almost invisible on the ice. The Canadiens were able to keep Alex Ovechkin, a player who had 50 goals on the season, from getting a single shot on goal. Fellow Russian teammate, Alexander Semin was able to take some shots, but most were nowhere near the net.
”Our best players weren’t our best players tonight and their best players were,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Our role players were really good.”
The Canadiens best players did come through after struggling in the last few games of the regular season. Cammalleri snapped a 12-game scoreless streak, while Gomez finally found the net after not being able to score in the Habs final 14 games of the season.
Even with a poor performance, the Capitals are not worried about Game 2 on Saturday night. After the game Ovechkin, Backstrom and Matt Bradley all reiterated the fact that this was only game one of a seven game series.
Going into Game 2 the Caps will be looking to get Ovechkin and their prominent players more opportunities, while the Habs will be looking for a game one repeat.