Wednesday, February 10, 2010 11:47pm
By Joe Beninati
You can't win 'em all, but boy they sure did try. The Caps haven't been anywhere near their best in the last four games, but they've managed to win consistently and they almost pulled victory from the jaws of defeat again this evening.
The third period was another exceptional comeback performance. The team reversed what had been an otherwise uneven effort with a dramatic three goal explosion. More on that in a moment.
For the first two periods there was too much of a lackadaisical effort from the visitors. They practically slept walked through the first minute of each of the opening frames and Montreal cashed quickly both times. But the resilient Caps just keep pushing forward.
Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom answered with goals each time the Canadiens grabbed the lead. Both of those markers were beautiful. Tomas Fleischmann set up Laich in the first and Backstrom was on the scoring end of a brilliant four-man passing play in the second.
With the score tied 2-2, the Canadiens went on a tear to close the period. Glen Metropolit and Maxim Lapierre scored 12 seconds apart and Tomas Plekanec built the lead to three after 40 minutes.
Jose Theodore was the man in goal for the last three goals of the second, as Michal Neuvirth was lifted by Bruce Boudreau after he complained about an injury that nagged him recently in Hershey. Theodore was to be a factor in the third. He made at least three spectacular saves to keep the Caps close.
Mike Green zipped in an early power play goal to give Washington life in the early stages of the period. That wave of momentum was cresting all throughout the last 20 minutes.
Brooks Laich would be the regulation hero, with two more goals before the final horn. His first NHL hat trick was capped when he tipped in a Mike Knuble centering pass with 19 seconds left.
All night long Sergei Kostitsyn was a threat and he created the winning goal for Plekanec. Just when you figured there was no way the Caps would let the Canadiens slip away with the win -- the streak was over.
After 26 days they were darn near close to perfect. 14 straight wins is an extraordinary accomplishment. The entire club needs to be congratulated. It was a privilege to be connected to something this special, but an emotional test awaits on Thursday in Ottawa against a team that suffered the end of it's own long winning streak recently. Should be a real good game on Comcast SportsNet.