Capitals

Capitals

The Washington Capitals fell to the Montreal Canadiens in a narrow 2-1 loss on Saturday.

How it happened: Artturi Lehkonen got inside positioning on Matt Niskanen in the corner to take possession of the puck. Seeing a clear lane behind the net, Lehkkonen called his own number and caught Braden Holtby by surprise with the quick wraparound that went five-hole to put Montreal up 1-0. The Caps took advantage of a two-man advantage in the second period as Justin Williams found Nicklas Backstrom for the sharp angle shot on the wide open net, but Montreal responded just 2:23 later.

With Max Pacioretty driving into the Caps' zone, Karl Alzner called for Marcus Johansson to cover the trailing Jeff Petry, but Johansson lost his man and Petry was all alone in front of the net for the easy tip in.

What it means:  The loss snaps what was a six-game win streak and a seven-game point streak. The Caps are now 5-3-0 against Canadian teams this season and 7-2-1 against teams from the Atlantic Division. The loss is also the first regulation loss of Braden Holtby's career against Montreal. His career record coming into Saturday's game was 8-0-2.

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Turning point: The game was close for much of the game, but trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, Washington did not register a shot on goal until there was less than seven minutes remaining in the game. Washington put on a good push at the end of the period, but goalie Carey Price was up to the task. Had the Caps been able to generate that kind of pressure throughout the period, perhaps it would have had a different outcome.

 

Slow start: Saturday’s game was the third straight in which the Caps gave up the first goal. Starting strong was a focus of the Caps coming into the season and, for the most part, they have done well, scoring first in 20 of their 30 games so far. The difference in win percentage is significant. When scoring first, the Caps are 15-3-2. After Saturday's loss, Washington is 4-5-1 when yielding the first goal.

Weber scare: Montreal's workhorse defenseman, Shea Weber, left the game in the second period after taking a puck to the knee on a blocked shot. Weber played nearly half of the first period with 9:38 of ice time. Luckily for Montreal, he returned for the start of the third period.

Staying special: When you get a two-man advantage against Carey Price, considering how tough an opponent he is, you have to score. The Caps did just that in the second period. With the goal, Washington has now scored a power play goal in seven of its last eight games and has 14 power play goals in its last 15 games.

We're going streaking: Backstrom's second-period goal gives him six points in his last six games (2 goals, four assists) and 18 in his last 16 games (8 goals, 10 assists). Williams and Alex Ovechkin picked up assists on the play. The assist extends Williams' point streak to four games. He now has seven points (5 goals, 2 assists) in his last seven. Ovechkin, meanwhile, has four points in his last four games. He now sits just 11 points shy of 1,000.

Look ahead: The Capitals get a few days off before they return to action on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers who just saw their 10-game win streak snapped on Saturday. Washington then returns home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday in the last game before the NHL’s winter break.

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