Snively scores twice as Capitals beat Canadiens 5-2

© David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, but the Capitals got back into the win column with a 5-2 win over the league-worst Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at Bell Centre. 

With the win, the Capitals are now 26-14-9 on the season. They’ll be back in action Sunday against the Ottawa Senators. 

Here are a few takeaways from the night:

Snively owns the night

Joe Snively’s first NHL tally came early in Montreal, as the Herndon, Va. native put the Capitals up 1-0 just 5:04 into the night. In place of Alex Ovechkin on the top line, Snively skated with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson as the trio dominated the Canadiens from start to finish. 

In the second period, he put the Capitals up 4-1 with an impressive snipe as he cut to the middle of the ice around veteran defenseman Jeff Petry. 

It was just Snively’s sixth game of the season, and his NHL career, as the 26-year-old has impressed in his latest stint in Washington. 

Samsonov starts

The Capitals turned to netminder Ilya Samsonov for the start, and for the first time in four games, their starter finished the night. 

In the previous three games, the starter was unable to finish (once due to a Vitek Vanecek injury and the next two to performance). But Samsonov finished the night, as the Canadiens certainly made him very busy. He stopped 42 of the 44 shots sent his way. 

Samsonov allowed the game-winner late against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and was pulled early in last week's contest against the Edmonton Oilers.


Late in the night, however, Samsonov appeared to tweak something in his lower body — though he stayed in the game for the final minutes.

No Ovechkin, no problem

The Capitals were without captain Ovechkin due to COVID protocol, as Quebec requires a 10-day isolation period for those who have tested positive for COVID. Ovechkin did not qualify under those restrictions. It was just the second game he’s missed all season.

But if there were a night for the Capitals to be without their leading goal scorer, this was the night. 

Ovechkin will be able to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Senators. 

A new bench boss in Montreal

Perhaps one of the weirdest stats of the season thus far, Thursday was the second time this season the Capitals faced a team playing its first game with a new coach on the bench. In December, the Capitals played the Winnipeg Jets in their first game after Paul Maurice resigned. 

The Canadiens played Thursday’s game under their new coach Martin St. Louis after firing Dominique Ducharme on Wednesday. The Canadiens run to the Stanley Cup Final last summer seems long ago, as they had an 8-30-7 record under Ducharme — the worst mark in the league.