Carey Price tried his best to halt the Washington Capitals’ hot streak, but rookie Marcus Johansson had other ideas.
With Nicklas Backstrom out of the lineup with an injured thumb, Johansson scored twice to help the Caps in their 4-2 victory over the Canadiens Tuesday night in Montreal.
Johansson’s first strike, a power play goal, is likely the easiest goal of his career. It all started when newly acquired defenseman Dennis Wideman dumped the puck behind the net. From there Price went to clear the zone, but before he could get to it, the puck had awkwardly hit the glass and landed at Johansson’s feet with an empty net.
Despite the Habs going behind after just one minute of play, some quick thinking from Travis Moen tied the game just 20 seconds later. Braden Holtby’s clearance from behind the net found Moen and his quick shot eluded the Wahsington netminder to tie up the scores.
The game had the feel of a playoff game, and the Capitals were able to compete with the Canadiens’ usually dominant speed. A fine example was seen in Brooks Laich’s goal, which gave Wahsington a 2-1 lead. Laich latched onto a clever stretch pass from Karl Alzner and left defenseman Hal Gill for dead before snapping a quick shot past Price.
The Habs responded again early in the second period with a bullet from Andrei Kostitsyn, but offered very little in pushing for the lead. Alexander Ovechkin had a fairly quiet night, but with him distracting PK Subban, Johansson’s quick backhander took Price by surprise to net his 11th goal of the season.
The Canadiens relied on Price to keep the game close, but he couldn’t stop Mike Knuble adding a forth goal with a late power play.
The Habs were outplayed by a Capitals team that is coming together just in time for the playoffs. Price made an impressive 37 saves, but the power and depth of the Capitals was too much for the Canadiens to overcome.
Jacques Martin’s depleted roster took yet another pounding as forwards Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern left the game in the second period with lower-body injuries.
With the loss, the Habs fell four points behind the Bruins – who defeated Columbus in a shootout – in the Northeast Division standings. Meanwhile, the Caps stay within one point of the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Flyers after the win.