WASHINGTON (AP) David Desharnais scored his long-awaited first goal of the season, and the Montreal Canadiens took an early three-goal lead Friday night and survived two goals from Alex Ovechkin in a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
Desharnais, whose scoring drought even attracted the attention of Montreal's new mayor, perched in front of the net to redirect Josh Gorges' drive in the first period. The goal stood after a video review to determine whether Desharnais had scored with a high stick.
Travis Moen also scored his first of the season, and Daniel Briere added a goal for the Canadiens, who have won two straight thanks to a resurgence of Desharnais and linemate Max Pacioretty. Desharnais assisted on two of Pacioretty's three goals in Tuesday's 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Ovechkin scored on a last first-period power play and again in the third period to give him an NHL-leading 19 goals, two ahead of Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues, but they weren't enough for the Capitals to overcome a 3-0 hole on the heels of their 4-0 drubbing by rival Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Peter Budaj made 25 saves for the Canadiens, and Michal Neuvirth stopped 28 shots for the Capitals as both teams went with their backup goaltenders, Budaj starting for Carey Price and Neuvirth for Braden Holtby. Budaj held firm as Washington made a push for a tying goal late in the game, blocking a point-blank shot from Martin Erat with the pads after losing the goalie stick.
Last week, Desharnais was the target of frustration from newly elected Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who tweeted: "Hello? Can we get a one-way ticket to Hamilton for David Desharnais please..."
The Canadiens weren't happy and didn't take up the suggestion to send Desharnais to the minors, but he was a healthy scratch for the next game.
On Friday, he was part of an outburst in which the Canadiens scored three goals on their first 12 shots. Moen capitalized after a turnover at center-ice to beat Neuvirth between the pads, and Briere netted on a power play.
NOTES: Washington D Mike Green was activated from injured reserve and played after missing three games with a lower body injury. ... The Capitals reassigned D Dmitry Orlov to Hershey of the AHL. ... Wayne Gretzky was a guest in Capitals owner Ted Leonsis' box.
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP